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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 8, Lot: 54. Estimate CHF35000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 21 October 2013. 
Sold For CHF28000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, Syracuse. Dionysios I. 405-367 BC. Dekadrachn (Silver, 35mm, 42.78 g 8), signed by Euainetos on the reverse, c. 400 BC. Charioteer, wearing long chiton, holding goad in his right hand and the reins in his left, driving a racing quadriga to left; above, Nike flying right to crown the charioteer; in the exergue on two steps, a panoply of arms; on the steps, ΑΘΛΑ). Rev. ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Head of Arethusa to left, wearing wreath of reeds, triple-pendant earring and necklace; around her head, four dolphins; below her chin, Δ; below her neck, ΕΥ-[ΑΙΝΕ]. Dewing 898, Gallatin R.IX/D.II. Jameson 827, and SNG Lloyd 1413 (all struck from the same dies). Very nicely toned and attractive, but with some minor marks. About extremely fine.

From a private collection in America, on display at the E. H. Merrin Gallery in New York City in 1985, previously in a French private collection.

The dekadrachms of Syracuse are among the most famous coins of the ancient world - they have been prized since the Renaissance, when they were thought to be commemorative medals, until the present day, though now we know they were produced to finance the wars of Dionysios I. We can also prove that those designed by Euainetos were well-known in antiquity since molds were made from them as decoration for pottery and metal objects and the head of Kore-Persephone served as the inspiration for heads of goddesses on coins from all over the Greek world. It is easy to understand why early numismatists thought these coins were medals since in their own time no coins were of such large size and beauty, and they could not conceive of anything like this being made solely for commerce. In addition, the word athla = prizes on the obverse must refer to the armor that appears on the steps below the chariot scene; such material would have been captured from the Athenians after their defeat at Syracuse in 413 and was, thus, eminently suitable for use as a reward for valiant Syracusans.