Estimate: 6'000 CHF
Starting price: 4'800 CHF
Price realized: 7'000 CHF
Calabria, Tarentum. Nomos circa 355-340 BC, AR 7.89 g.
Description Helmeted and naked horseman holding shield and vaulting from horse prancing l.; beneath horse, wreath. Rev. TAPAS Dolphin rider r., holding spear in r. hand and trident in l.; beneath, ÜA. References
Vlasto, NC 1907, pl. X, 6
Vlasto 392 (these dies)
Fischer Bossert 638b (this coin)
Historia Numorum Italy 870 Condition
Very rare and in exceptional condition for the issue. Of superb style and with a delicate old cabinet tone. Extremely fine Provenance
Hess-Leu sale 15, 1960, 32
In mythology, Taras was the one of the many offspring of Poseidon, produced from a union of the god of the sea with the Tarentine nymph Satyrion. Shipwrecked in a violent storm off the coast of southern Italy, his father sent a dolphin to deliver Taras safely to land. At the spot where he was miraculously delivered ashore and knowing the rescue to have been divinely inspired, he founded the city of Tarentum. Or so the story goes. Historically this important city was founded in the late eighth century B.C. by colonists under the leadership of Phalanthos from Sparta, the only colony of that city, and throughout its history the colony and mother city maintained close ties. The coinage of Tarentum began towards the end of the sixth century B.C. and copied the incuse fabric then prevalent at other mints in Magna Graecia, such as at Poseidonia and Thurium. The principal type of the city and the image most closely associated with Tarentum was the young male dolphin-rider, whose identity is still debated; some identify him with Taras, the city’s eponymous founder, others with the historical founder, Phalanthos. The incuse fabric that was prevalent on the city’s first coinage was soon replaced by types in relief on both faces, and by the end of the fifth century they had evolved to depict variously a youth or warrior on horseback on the obverse, and the dolphin rider on the reverse. The figure on horseback is at times merely agonistic, at others he is shown armed with spears and shield, and performing martial exercises. These probably do not relate to any historical event, but rather allude to equestrian exercises at sporting events popular amongst the Tarentine elite.