Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 110   |   24 September 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 3





Estimate: 25'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 20'000 CHF Price realized: 38'000 CHF
Bruttium, Rhegium. Tetradrachm circa 415-400, AR 17.34 g. Lion's mask facing. Rev. PHΓINON Laureate head of Apollo r.; behind, two olive leaves. Herzfelder 85. Dewing 535. Historia Numorum Italy 2496.
Very rare. Struck in high relief and with a superb old cabinet tone. A portrait of Apollo
of excellent style struck on a very broad flan, about extremely fine
Ex SKA 5, 1986, 79; Waddell 58, 1993, 15; Waddell 62, 1994, 33; Leu 83, 2002, 44 and Spink 3014, 2003, 3 (illustrated on the front cover of the catalogue) sales.
For more than a century the facing lion’s scalp was a familiar sight to Greek merchants in Italy and Sicily as the badge of large-denomination silver coins of Rhegium. Initially Rhegium’s trade coins were in the form of staters struck to the Euboic-Chalcidian standard, and later they became tetradrachms of the Euboic-Attic standard (such as the present coin). In both cases the choice of denomination and weight were dictated by what was commercially useful in Sicily.
The portrait of a youthful, effeminate Apollo on the reverse would have been equally as familiar as the lion’s scalp; indeed, they would have been considered inseparable since they had been paired for about two generations by the time this coin was struck. Its elegant appeal had supplanted the earlier reverse type of the seated figure of Iocastes, the traditional founder of the city.
The major exception to the lion’s scalp being the principal design on Rhegium’s trade coins occurs on tetradrachms struck circa 480-462 B.C., when the tyrant Anaxilas initiated a complete overhaul of the coinage, which involved a change in design. He chose the types of a mule cart and a bounding hare, which did not long persist at Rhegium, but which became the standard design at the Sicilian city of Zancle, directly across the straits, which Anaxilas occupied and renamed Messana.

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