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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Cabinet W
SICILY, Naxos. Circa 425 BC.

Triton XV, Lot: 1007. Estimate $275000.
Sold for $275000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, Naxos. Circa 425 BC. AR Tetradrachm (25mm, 17.14 g, 5h). Bearded head of Dionysos to right, wearing a hair band ornamented with an ivy wreath, and with his relatively short hair hanging loose in curly locks / ΝΑΞΙΟΝ, Nude and bearded Silenos squatting, facing, his right knee raised, his left on the ground, and his tail coming out to left, turning his head to the left towards the two-handled, stemless drinking cup he holds in his right hand, and holding an upright thyrsos with his left; to left, ivy branch. Cahn 100 (V66/R82); Jameson 677 (same dies); Kraay & Hirmer 8-9 (same obverse die); Ward 225 (same dies). Very rare. A lovely toned example, very well struck and centered. Extremely fine.

Purchased privately from an American collection in 2010, previously from the collection of William Conte, acquired by private purchase from Numismatica Ars Classica.

This head of Dionysos is fully classical in style: his hair is short, albeit fashionably unruly, his beard is composed of numerous pointed ends (but it is neither luxuriously full nor overly groomed), and he is wearing a beautifully made hair band (probably in gold) carefully ornamented with his favorite ivy leaves. This is a remarkably mannered head - the engraver has even given the god three ‘corkscrew’ curls hanging from his hair, which clearly suggest grape clusters, a remarkably apt coiffeur for the god of wine! As for Silenos, he is clearly human rather than part animal as were his early classical forebears. This transformation of an elemental, primitive creature, like the Silens or Satyrs, into more civilized and humanized entities was a feature of Greek culture during this period.