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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 6, Lot: 13. Estimate CHF50000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 7 May 2012. 
Sold For CHF56000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, Gela. Circa 480/75-475/70 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 17.04 g 4). Bearded charioteer driving quadriga moving slowly to the right; above, Nike flying right to crown the horses. Rev. ϹΕΛΑΣ Forepart of man-headed bull to right, the river-god Gelas. Jenkins, Gela Group II, 104. Randazzo 19. SNG Oxford 1727. Very rare. Lightly toned and probably the finest known example. A superb piece. Good extremely fine.

Ex Leu 81, 16 May 2001, 51 and Numismatic Fine Arts XVIII, 31 March 1987, 31.

This is the first of the main series of Geloan tetradrachms and is their prototype, produced from dies cut by an artist of real talent. It is probable that these tetradrachms were initiated by Polyzalos, the brother of Gelon, the tyrant of Gela who had conquered Syracuse in 485. After the conquest Gelon moved to Syracuse, leaving Gela to his brother Hieron I; upon Gelon’s death Hieron moved to Syracuse and Polyzalos took over Gela. Little is known about Polyzalos, save that he dedicated the famous Charioteer of Delphi to celebrate the victory of his quadriga in the games of 474. He clearly wanted to make his mark in Gela and producing a coinage combining a typically Sicilian quadriga (a symbol of aristocratic power; the die was surely based on the those found on the coinage of Syracuse) with the age-old river-god of Gela (as had appeared on the city’s earlier didrachm coinage) would have been a sensible innovation.