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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 8, Lot: 58. Estimate CHF7500. 
Closing Date: Monday, 21 October 2013. 
Sold For CHF6500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, Syracuse. Thoinon and Sosistratos. 278 BC. Hemistater or Dekadrachm (Gold, 16mm, 4.25 g 10). ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Head of Persephone to left, wearing wreath of grain leaves, pendant earring and pearl necklace; behind neck, bee. Rev. [ΕΠΙ ΙΚΕΤΑ] (but erased in the die) Nike, holding goad in her right hand and reins in her left driving biga galloping to right; below, Θ; above, earring (sometimes termed a moon or wreath); in exergue, erased inscription. Buttrey, Morgantina, 5-R (these dies). SNG Munich 1292. Very rare. Signs of ancient die repair on the obverse and erasure in the die on the reverse, otherwise, nearly extremely fine.

From a Swiss collection.

This coin provides particularly eloquent testimony to the troubled times of the 270s in Sicily. After the death of Agathokles in 289 there seems to have been constant fighting by various generals in an attempt to reconsolidate his power. Not only were there local tyrants, as usual the Carthaginians were involved as well. In Syracuse the people appointed Hiketas their general and protector in 288: he ruled as tyrant (he never took the royal title) until, after a severe defeat by the Cathaginians, he was ousted in 278 by Thoinon, who had been one of his officers. He was, in turn attacked by Sosistratos who was tyrant of Akragas; however, faced by a Carthaginian attack they joined forces and finally pledged their loyalty to Pyrrhos who had arrived in Sicily as the saviour of the Greeks. To avoid further strife Pyrrhos had Thoinon executed and forced Sosistratos to flee the city. The present coin was struck during the short period when Thoinon was in power: the dies were originally produced for Hiketas’ coinage but his name was carefully erased from the reverse.