Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 110   |   24 September 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 58

Estimate: 2'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 1'600 CHF Price realized: 3'500 CHF
The Carthaginians in Italy, Sicily and North Africa. Half shekel, Carthago or uncertain mint in Sicily circa 213-210, AR 3.17 g. Male head (Melqart or Hannibal) l. Rev. Elephant walking r.; in exergue, Punic letter A (leph). SNG Copenhagen 383. Burnett, Enna Hoard 123. Robinson, Essays Mattingly 8b (Gades?).
Rare. A superb portrait struck on a very broad flan, lovely old
cabinet tone and extremely fine
Ex Hirsch sale 141, 1984, 478.
The Second Punic War was a period of high production and great experimentation for coinage. A great many new types were introduced, and Rome, for the first time, began to strike coins consistently and on a large scale. Such were the demands of this destructive contest for supremacy in the Western Mediterranean.
Our understanding of this coin type, produced as silver shekels, half-shekels, and quarter-shekels, has benefited greatly in recent years from the study of hoard evidence. Robinson speculated that they were struck at Gades since the Punic letter aleph beneath the elephant perhaps was the initial of Agadir, the Punic form of Gades. He recognized that the style and fabric of the coin favoured a later date than other silver coins in the Punic series. He thus assigned it to a few years either side of 209 B.C., when Scipio besieged and won Carthago Nova from the Barcids, who thereafter directed affairs from Gades.
It has now been established through hoard evidence – especially from the Enna Hoard of 1966 (IGCH 2232) – that these coins were struck in Sicily or Carthage, rather than in Spain. The date, though not known exactly, falls within a broad period of c. 220-205. Many authorities suggest the issue can be even more precisely dated to the Sicilian campaign of 213-210. It is tempting to view the distinctive portrait, with its wreathed diadem, as Hannibal or a member of his family in the guise of Melqart. It is equally tempting to see the elephant as a reminder of Hannibal's trek across the Alps in 218, but in both cases there is a conspicuous lack of proof, just as with other Carthaginian issues of the Punic Wars.

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