Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 106 Part I   |   9 - 10 May 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 197

Estimate: 50'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 40'000 CHF Price realized: 110'000 CHF
Syracuse. Tetradrachm signed by Euth and Eumenes circa 405, AR 17.18 g. Fast quadriga driven r. by winged young god, holding reins with both hands; above, Nike flying l. to crown him. In exergue, ΕΥΘ, dolphin, Scylla to r., holding trident in l. hand over l. shoulder and pursuing a fish with her outstretched r. Rev. ΣVΡΑΚΟ Head of Persephone or Demeter (or Arethusa with the features of Persephone or Demeter) l., wearing double hook earring and necklace with lion pendant; hair wreathed in barley ears, poppy heads, oak leaves and acorns; beneath neck truncation, EVM. Around, four dolphins swimming clockwise. Rizzo pl. XLIII, 11 (this reverse die). SNG ANS 273 (these dies). Kraay-Himer pl. 33, 103 (this reverse die) and pl. 37, 107 (this obverse die). AMB 460 (these dies). Tudeer 46. Coins, Artists and Tyrants 46q (this coin).
Very rare and among the finest specimens known of this beautiful and innovative
issue, work of two skilled master engravers. Perfectly struck and centred in
high relief on sound metal, lightly iridescent tone and good extremely fine

Ex NFA sale XII, 1983, 22.

Horses had been shown in high action on Sicilian coins since early in the 5th Century B.C., notably at Gela and Leontini, but the first time it occurred at Syracuse was in about 430 B.C., when an isolated group of coins were produced from four obverse dies (Boeh. V295-298). Even if they were not artistically inspired, these unsigned dies were a ground-breaking effort. Tetradrachms with horses in nearly identical postures were also struck at Katane, and it is not certain which mint was the innovator, and which the copyist. About fifteen years passed before another effort was made at Syracuse to show horses in action; from that point onward, however, Syracusan artists abandoned the tradition of showing horses moving at a modest pace and in orderly profile.
The occasion for this change seems to have been the conflict with Athens that raged on land and offshore from 415 to 413 B.C. The creativity of Syracusan die engravers was suddenly unleashed, ushering in the mint’s most celebrated period, c. 415 to c. 385 B.C. Often accompanying these explosive designs were signatures of the artists who had engraved the dies. This particular coin, struck about a decade into this period of great creativity, bears the abbreviated signatures of ‘Euth’ (Euthydamos?) on its obverse and Eumenes on its reverse. The chariot scene has changed from earlier versions in several ways. With a few exceptions Nike had traditionally crowned the horses, but in this period the charioteer tends to receive Nike’s wreath. Also, the chariot is not shown in allowing the artist to foreshorten certain elements (notably the wheels) and to show the contours of the horses, driver and chariot, especially when – as here – they are shown struggling into a turn. The charioteer on this die – the only one signed by ‘Euth’ – is winged, which has invited various identifications, including Agon or Eros. The composition clearly inspired the last obverse die used to strike tetradrachms at Selinus on the eve of its destruction by Carthage in 409 B.C. It is always possible, of course, that ‘Euth’ himself cut the die for Selinus, which, like Syracuse, had opposed the intervention of Athens. There also is a maritime element to the obverse die: in the exergue there is a powerful rendition of Scylla capturing a fish, which might allude to the Syracusan defeat of the Athenian fleet in 412 in the Straits of Messina, the realm of Scylla. Another clue, perhaps, was suggested by Jenkins, who describes this Nike as holding in her left hand an aphalston or a palm branch, either of which could allude to a naval victory – perhaps, again, the victory of Syracuse over the Athenian fleet. The reverse of Eumenos also departs from earlier versions. Not only is the style markedly different, but the goddess is no longer the Artemis-Arethusa of old; instead she is wreathed in barley ears and poppy heads, and thus is probably Persephone or Demeter.

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