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Sicily, Syracuse AR Tetradrachm. Time of the Gamoroi or the First Democracy, circa 510-491 BC. Charioteer, holding reins in both hands, driving slow quadriga to right; ΣVRA above / Head of Arethusa to left within incuse circle in centre of quadripartite incuse square. Boehringer Series I, 31.3 (V22/R15 – this coin); HGC 2, 1302; SNG ANS 5 (same obv. die); Hunterian 1 (same dies); Pozzi 547 (same dies); Rizzo pl. XXXIV, 1–2; de Sartiges 120 (same obv. die). 17.19g, 25mm, 3h.

Good Very Fine; excellent metal quality for the issue with attractive old cabinet tone. Very Rare.

From the collection of J.T.B., United States;
Ex Friend of a Scholar (J.P.) Collection, Classical Numismatic Group Inventory 405836, July 2015 ($37,500);
Ex Vinchon, 13 April 1985, lot 112;
Ex Giuseppe De Ciccio Collection, Sambon & Canessa, 19 December 1907, lot 285.

The first issue of coinage at Syracuse features an obverse nearly identical to that of the present piece, but with a plain quadripartite incuse square reverse. This design had been inspired by the first issue of Olynthos (see Roma V, 23 March 2013, 222), whose coinage had come to Sicily along with that of many other cities in Greece and Macedon as payment for the grain and other produce exported by Syracuse and the other major trading cities of Eastern Sicily. Indeed, it was the silver from these exports that provided Syracuse with the requisite bullion to strike their own coins.

The very first issue of Syracuse (Boehringer 1) featured the same quadriga and typically Thraco-Macedonian quadripartite incuse square types, but significantly also included the city's ethnic on the obverse. Later issues (such as the present specimen) then sported a small head of Arethusa within an incuse punch in the centre of the square on the reverse (Boehringer 2-31), in much the same manner as the second issue of coinage at Olynthos, which featured an eagle within the incuse – perhaps suggestive of parallel decisions by both cities to differentiate their coinage from the other's. As the Deinomenids came to power however, the coinage of Syracuse diverged much more decisively from that of Olynthos, by making the head of Arethusa the principal element of the reverse design.

Sicily, Syracuse AR Tetradrachm. (rxv60)

Price: £20,512.00

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  • (Rates for 24/04/2018)
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