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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 10, Lot: 8. Estimate CHF25000. 
Closing Date: Sunday, 17 May 2015. 
Sold For CHF26000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, Naxos. c. 420-403 BC. Hemidrachm (Silver, 13mm, 2.09 g 6). Head of the youthful river-god Assinos to left, wearing wreath of parsley and with a tiny horn above his forehead. Rev. Nude and bearded silen kneeling partially to left, holding kantharos in his right hand and branch in his left. Cahn 124. Hunterian 12. Extremely rare. A coin of wonderful style, exceptionally well struck and preserved. Some minor porosity, otherwise, extremely fine.

From the Spina Collection, ex Nomos 1, 6 May 2009, 26, and from the collection of A. Moretti, Numismatica Ars Classica 33, 6 April 2006, 81.

As is well known, the Sicilians were intensely proud of their coinage and during the last quarter of the 5th century the cities of the island actively competed to have the best available artists engrave the dies for their coins. Not only did this result in a flood of magnificent tetradrachms, but this competition extended down to very small denominations as well. This small piece is a perfect example: the head of the young river god is beautifully delineated and the kneeling silen on the reverse is cleverly foreshortened. Given how rare this coin is, it might well be that it, like contemporary fractions from Akragas and elsewhere, was only issued in very small numbers for presentation purposes.