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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton VII, Lot: 5. Estimate $400. 
Closing Date: Monday, 12 January 2004. 
Sold For $1400. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SPAIN, Carthago Nova. Carthaginian Occupation. Circa 237-209 BC. Æ 21mm (5.91 gm). Male head right wearing crested Corinthian helmet / Palm tree. MHC 113; CNH pg. 69, 41; SNG BM Spain 94; Robinson, Punic 4(d); SNG Copenhagen 292. Choice EF, beautiful green patina. ($400)

The portrait on this Carthaginian bronze of Spain is of exceptional interest because of the direct parallel it offers to the portrait on silver didrachms struck by the Epirote king Pyrrhus during his campaign in southern Italy (Rutter, Greek Coinages of Southern Italy and Sicily, no. 98; BMC Thessaly pl. XX, 11). They compare so favorably in both style and content that either one was inspired by the other, or, more likely, they share the same sculptural prototype. The fact that on the Spanish bronze the head faces right, and on the Pyrrhic silver it faces left, supports the idea of a sculptural prototype. The Pyrrhic issue seems securely dated to circa 288-277 B.C., and perhaps calls for a reconsideration of an earlier date for the Spanish bronze. The head on the Pyrrhic coinage is generally identified with the Trojan War hero Achilles, and if accurate, that attribution should be applied to the present coin without hesitation. However, an identification with Alexander the Great may be more appropriate.