Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 96   |   6 October 2016 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 1024

Estimate: 200'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 160'000 CHF Price realized: 160'000 CHF
Greek Coins
Sicily, Syracuse. Decadrachm signed by Kimon circa 404-400 BC, AR 43.21 g.
Description 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., AQLA. Rev. SURAKOSIWN Head of Arethusa l., wearing earring with pendant and beaded necklace; her hair bound in a net behind and with a hair band inscribed ΚΙ over her forehead. Around, three dolphins, while a fourth makes dorsal contact with neck truncation. References
De Nanteuil 357 (this coin)
SNG Lloyd 1410 (these dies)
Jongkees 7l (this coin)
McClean 2733 (these dies) Condition
Rare and in unusually fine condition for the issue. A spectacular portrait, work of the most celebrated Sicilian master engravers struck in high relief on excellent metal. A wonderful old cabinet tone, almost invisible traces of over-striking, otherwise extremely fine Provenance
Florange & Ciani sale, 17/21 February 1925, 357
Nomos sale 10, 2015, 12
The Robert O. Ebert collection
The Henry de Nanteuil de la Norville collection
The Spina collection
From the Noto (Falconera) Hoard of 1908 (IGCH 2103)
Scholars have long attempted to ascribe Kimon’s decadrachms to an historical event as they seem in every way to be commemorative medallions. The Syracusan defeat of the Athenian navy in 413 at first seems an ideal choice, though current thought on the dating of this issue favors the victorious actions of Syracuse in the otherwise devastating invasion of Sicily by the Carthaginians from 406 to 405 B.C. The most compelling reason to associate the Kimonian decadrachms with a military victory is the display of armour and weaponry that appears in the exergue along with the inscription AQLA, which indicates 'prizes', or at least 'agonistic contests'. Since it was a common practice of Greek soldiers to engrave dedicatory inscriptions on captured armour, a connection might be drawn between that practice and what we observe here. The obverse scene of a charioteer guiding his team through a bend is devoted entirely to victory. Despite their inherent dissimilarities, the four elements of the scene exist in harmony: the driver is calm and composed, the horses toss their heads wildly as they charge forward, Nike floats above as if undisturbed by the great contest below, and the display of arms and armour is fixed, as if monumental. If possible, the head of Artemis-Arethusa on the reverse is even more impressive. This die is especially important, as it is signed twice by Kimon: his initial K on the ampyx near her forehead and his full name KIMWN on the body of the dolphin below her neck. Considering his signature also occurs in miniature letters on the exergual line on the obverse, we have a coin that the artist must have considered to be among his best creations.

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