Didrachm circa 413-406, AR 8.66 g. [AKPAΓANTINON] Eagle standing left, with wings spread, attacking a coiled serpent held in its talons; behind, ΣTPA[TΩN]. Rev. Crab; above, a vine-leaf and below, a fish to l. Rizzo, pl. III, 2 (these dies). K. Schefold, Meisterwerke Griechische Kunst, 467 (this coin). Cahn, Kunstwerke der Antike, F53 (this coin). Jameson 512 (these dies) and 2416 (these dies). Kraay-Hirmer pl. 65, 182 (these dies). Gillet 357. AMB 262 (these dies). Gulbenkian 165 (these dies). SNG ANS 1001 (these dies). Westermark 602.3 (this coin).
Extremely rare, only ten specimens known, of which only four are in private hands.
An issue of exquisite style, the work of a very talented master engraver.
Wonderful old cabinet tone and extremely fine
Ex Hess/Leu 3, 1956, 65; Sotheby’s 4 December 1990, Hunt, 22 and New York XXVII, 2012, Prospero, 121 sales. From the Käppeli collection.
While Agrigentum had managed to remain neutral during the Sicilian Expedition of the Athenian fleet in 415-413 BC, in the aftermath of its failure a serious new threat began to emerge in the form of the Carthaginians. In 409 BC, a great Punic force attacked the neighboring city of Selinous. Always ready to dispose of rivals, Agrigentum provided no military aid, but instead allowed Selinous to be destroyed and accepted its refugees, thereby adding to its population. Three years later, in 406 BC, the Carthaginians advanced to Agrigentum and besieged the city for eight long months before it finally fell. The city was given over to plunder and all the inhabitants who had not escaped to Gela and Leontinoi were slaughtered in the streets. At last, after spending the winter in the conquered city, the Carthaginan general, Himilco, ordered the destruction of Agrigentum. Nevertheless, under the terms of the Peace of Himilco that concluded the Punic advance in Sicily in 405 BC, Agrigentine refugees were permitted to return and rebuild their city as tributary subjects of Carthage. This didrachm may have been struck in order to finance the defense of Agrigentum by strengthening fortifications and hiring mercenaries. Indeed, we know from Diodorus Siculus that Agrigentum had employed a band of Spartan mercenaries at the time of the siege. Likewise, the additional but ultimately pointless military support provided by Dionysios I of Syracuse is not likely to have come cheaply. It is worth noting that when the present coin was produced, Agrigentum had not struck didrachms for almost fifty years, yet the types still adhered to the traditional model in which an eagle appears on the obverse and a crab on the reverse. However, whereas the old didrachms depict a static bird with folded wings, the late fifth-century issue features a dramatic scene in which an eagle spreads its wings as it attacks a coiled serpent. The crab on the present coin also features a more detailed carapace than the earlier type and is accompanied by a remarkably lifelike representation of a grouper fish.
|Price realized||180'000 CHF|
|Starting price||64'000 CHF|