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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 8, Lot: 61. Estimate CHF100000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 21 October 2013. 
Sold For CHF125000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, Uncertain Punic military mint, “People of the camp”. Circa 320-310. Tetradrachm (Silver, 26mm, 16.80 g 10). Uncertain female head to left (Dido or more probably Tanit), wearing a necklace and a Phrygian cap that is encircled with a band embroidered with palmettes and tied above her forehead. Rev. s’mmhnt (= people of the camp) Lion walking to left, head facing front; behind, date palm. Jenkins, “Coins of Punic Sicily” 3 (SNR 56, 1977), 271 (same dies). ACGC 876 = Kraay/Hirmer 207 = PCG pl. 26, 41 = Rizzo, pl. LXVI, 7 (same dies). Extremely rare, one of six known examples. A magnificent, fresh and superb piece. Some minor corrosion and marks but, otherwise, virtually as struck.

From the ‘Exceptional Private Collection,’ Leu 76, 27 October 1999, 68, and from the collection of N. B. Hunt, I, Sotheby’s New York, 19 June 1990, 96 (= Wealth of the Ancient World 96).

This is probably the most beautiful of all Carthaginian silver coins and must have been designed and engraved by a Greek artist. In the past this head was identified as that of Dido, the legendary queen of Carthage but it seems more like to be the city’s patron goddess Tanit as viewed by a Greek artist. She seems to be shown with hair in curls that mark her as being ‘foreign’, not at all like the female heads that are shown on other Siculo-Punic issues. Her headdress is also very unusual, as is the palmette-ornamented ribbon that encircles it. It is more than likely that this splendid Tanit head was thought to be simply too exotic for general use and, thus, was replaced by the more standard, and more familiar, Tanit heads based on Euainetos’ conception of Arethusa.