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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton VII, Lot: 46. Estimate $7500. 
Closing Date: Monday, 12 January 2004. 
Sold For $4600. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, Gela. Circa 406 BC. AV Litra (0.86 gm). Forepart of bridled horse right / SWSIPOLIS, female head left, hair in ampyx. Jenkins, Gela 491 (O102/R198); SNG ANS -; SNG Lloyd 980 (same dies); SNG Copenhagen -; Jameson 590 (same dies); Rizzo pl. 19, 9; Gulbenkian -; Pozzi -; Weber -. EF. [See color enlargement on plate 2] ($4000)

From the James A. Ferrendelli Collection. Ex Numismatica Ars Classica 9 (16 April 1996), lot 156.

Sosipolis appears as a male name in Greek texts, but the figure that appears named as such on Geloan coins is clearly female. She has been variously identified with a water nymph, a Tyche (patron goddess of a city), a Nike (goddess of Victory), and Demeter. Likely regarded as a multi-faceted goddess combining many attributes, she was protectress of the city of Gela. Her first appearance is in the 440s, crowning the bull of Gela with a wreath, signaling a victory over the native Sikels by a combined Greek army in which Gela played a significant role. Her second, and last, mention is a more somber occasion, a plea for divine intervention on an emergency coinage struck as Gela and many other Greek cities in the west and south of Sicily fell to the Carthaginians at the end of the 5th century BC. For a discussion of the dating of this issue, see C. Boehringer, "Die Finanzpolitik und Münzprägung des Dionysios von Syrakus" in Essays Thompson, pp. 15-17 and C. Boehringer, "Ehrenrettung einer syrakusanischen Goldmünze" in FlorNum, pp. 73-79.