Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 92 - Part I   |   23 - 24 May 2016 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Session 1, Lot 135

Estimate: 100'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 80'000 CHF Price realized: 130'000 CHF
Decadrachm signed by Euainetos circa 400, AR 42.44 g. Fast quadriga driven l. by charioteer, holding reins and kentron; in field above, Nike flying r. to crown him. In exergue, display of military harness set on two steps and below l., ΑΘΛΑ. Rev. ΣΥ – ΡΑ – ΚΟΣΙΩΝ Head of Arethusa (Kore-Persephone) l., wearing barley wreath, triple pendant earring and beaded necklace; around three dolphins, while a fourth makes dorsal contact with neck truncation. Below, EΥ – IΑNE. Boston 421 (these dies). Kraay-Hirmer pl. 34, 104 (these dies). Gallatin RIII / CII.
Rare and undoubtedly one of the finest specimens known of this prestigious issue.
Perfectly struck on a very large flan and exceptionally complete. A magnificent
old cabinet tone, two insignificant areas of oxidation and an almost invisible
mark on reverse field, otherwise good extremely fine
Ex Leu 22, 1979, 36 and NAC 18, 2000, 133 sales.
Both his contemporaries and successors regarded Euainetos as the ultimate master. No work of ancient coinage has been copied over a longer period or more frequently than his signed Syracusan decadrachm. Most Siculo-punic issues replicate the chariot and team, as well as the head on the obverse. The female head in particular must have made an unusually deep impression on the ancients, appearing not only on gold and electrum Carthaginian issues, but also on many 4th and 3rd century B.C. coins from sites as geographically disparate as Spain and Crete. In the 3rd century B.C., the head even served as the model for the tondo on varnished Greek bowls. From copyists’ embellishments of corn-ears and stalks, we can only assume that they interpreted Euainetos’ female head as an effigy of Kore-Persephone. Most researchers have nonetheless interpreted the work as representing Arethusa, in which case the corn ears are out of place, although reeds of similar appearance would have fitted in very well. Such long-lasting impact and exceptional ubiquity is nevertheless understandable only in the context of a much-revered goddess, certainly not a local nymph.

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