Syracuse. Decadrachm signed, by Euainetos circa 400 BC, AR 42.71 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., [Α]ΘΛΑ. Rev. ΣΥ – ΡΑ – Κ – [Ο – ΣΙΩΝ] 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; beneath, EY – AINE. SNG Copenhagen 689 (this reverse die). Dewing 880 (these dies). Gallatin C.IV/R.III.
Estimate: 50'000 CHF
Starting price: 40'000 CHF
Price realized: 50'000 CHF
Rare. A superb specimen of this desirable issue. Struck on a very broad
flan and with a light iridescent tone. Extremely fine
Ex Tkalec sale 8 September 2008, 20.
Coins of the artist Euainetos are among the most exquisite works of art from the ancient Greek world. Of special value are his decadrachms, which must have been distributed widely, for they were influential to artists in regions far removed from the shores of Sicily. It is unlikely that many were exported through the normal channels of commerce, and we might suggest that, much like the staters of Olympia, some were acquired as keepsakes and were carried to a variety of destinations. The decadrachms of Kimon and Euainetos were introduced early in the reign of the tyrant Dionysius I (405-367 B.C.), and those of Euainetos continued to be struck for decades, perhaps even beyond the 360s. We might presume that Dionysus took a personal interest in producing such large coins of fine style to evince his patronage of the arts and to promote the success of his rule. There is also good reason to believe that after Euainetos initial contributions, die cutting for the series eventually was carried out by understudies and successors. In some cases Euainetos’ signature appears to have been retained as a fixed element of the design until about midway through, when it was lost altogether. In general, these understudies meticulously copied the work of the master engraver. Gallatin notes that the entire series shows an amazing repetition of the details of the arrangement of the hair with locks and curls being slavishly repeated. Though a precise context has not been convincingly established for the Syracusan decadrachms of Kimon and Euainetos, it is tempting to associate their introduction with a military victory. The display of armour and weaponry that appears in the exergue is militant, and the inscription ΑΘΛΑ, which indicates prizes, or at least agonistic contests, only adds to that prospect. Since it was a common practice of Greek soldiers to engrave dedicatory inscriptions on captured armour, a connection might be drawn between that phenomenon and what is presented on the decadrachms. The obverse also appears to allude to victory with its vivid scene of a charioteer guiding his team through a bend.