Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 106 Part I   |   9 - 10 May 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 182

Estimate: 50'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 40'000 CHF Price realized: 60'000 CHF
Naxos. Hemidrachm circa 420, AR 2.05 g. ΑΣΣΙΝΟ – Σ Ivy-wreathed head of river god Assinos l. Rev. NAΞI – ΩN Silenus squatting facing, head l., holding cantharus in r. hand and branch in l. E. Boehringer, ZfN 42, 1935 pl. 9, 9 (this coin). Rizzo pl. XXVIII, 22 and enlarged pl. XXX, 5 (this coin). Jameson 638 (these dies). SNG Lloyd 1160 (these dies). AMB 387 (this coin). Campana 23 (this coin). Cahn 115.6 (this coin).
Very rare and undoubtedly the finest specimen known. A magnificent coin
with a superb portrait and an exceptionally detailed reverse composition.
Struck on a very broad flan and with an enchanting old cabinet tone.
Good extremely fine

Ex NAC 13, 1998, formerly exhibited at the Antikenmuseum Basel, 387; NAC 21, 2001, 104; Triton XV, 2012, 1056; Triton XVII, 2014, 58 and NAC 88, 2015, 365 sales. From the Pennisi and A.D.M collections.

Created at the vanguard of an age when so many signed dies were used at Sicilian mints, this hemidrachm of Naxos stands out as a near-perfect example of numismatic art in Classical-period Sicily. The artist responsible for the obverse die, Procles, is presumed to have been a citizen of Naxos since most of his known dies occur there. However, he appears also to have performed work for the mint at Catana, some 25 miles to the south, where an identical signature appears on coins of this era. His work was highly skilled and technically precise, if a bit hesitant in what must have been a desire to achieve perfection. Thus, on this restrained work we see none of the miscalculations that sometimes plague the dies of some of Procles' more daring contemporaries.
The obverse portrays the youthful, horned head of Assinus, who personifies a river that originated in the hilly interior along the base of Mount Aetna and drained into the sea just two or three miles from Naxos. The reverse, by virtue of its subject matter, preserves a link to a bygone era, for it revisits the squatting figure of Silenus originally conceived by the Aetna Master at least forty years prior. The arresting energy of that predecessor work is here abandoned, for Procles was a man of his age who had fully embraced the current mores of Greek art. In comparison with the Aetna Master's brooding, inebriated Silenus, the version of Prokles is decidedly modern and refined. The result is an image that derives its potency from its remarkably soft contours, which give the impression of a less intimidating, more indulgent god of the vine.

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