Sicily. Katane. Circa 405-403/2 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 27 mm, 17.01 g, 2 h), signed by the engraver Herakleidas on the obverse. Laureate head of Apollo facing, turned slightly to the left, with his hair falling in curls and locks around his head and neck; in small letters to right, ΗΡΑΚΛΕΙΔΑΣ. Rev. ΚΑΤΑΝΑΙΩΝ Quadriga galloping to left, the reins of one horse trailing on the ground, driven by a charioteer gripping the reins with both hands; at the center, above the horses, Nike flying right, seemingly preparing to alight on the backs of the horses, holding a crown for the charioteer in her right hand and a kerykeion in her left; in the exergue, below the inscription, fish swimming to left. Basel 338 (same dies). Gulbenkian 192 (same dies). Rizzo pl. XIV, 11 and pl. XVI, 3 (same dies). SNG Lloyd 902 (same dies). Very rare. Toned, well-struck of splendid Classical style. Some areas of flatness on the reverse, otherwise, extremely fine. From a European Collection and from the Hunter Collection, Goldberg 72, 5 February 2013, 4012, ex Giessener Münzhandlung 50, 24 September 1990, 144 and Lanz 24, 25 April 1983, 83. This is a splendid example of a coin that bears one of the finest facing heads ever to appear in Greek coinage. Apollo was the patron of many Greek cities and his facing head was on the coins of, among other places, Amphipolis, Klazomenai, Rhodes and those of the Carian Satraps issued in Halikarnassos. They all are similar, but all show the different concepts their engravers had of what the god looked like. Some are serene, some proud, some even dangerous looking, but this die of Herakleidas shows us a young man of almost supernatural beauty. His face is truly not that of an ordinary mortal – his radiant perfection is perhaps best paralleled by the portraits of young Florentine aristocrats in Renaissance paintings. This is simply a tour de force of engraving; once again it shows the great pride the Greek cities of Sicily had in their coins and their rivalry to attract the very finest engravers to adorn them. The rarity of this coin has a number of explanations. In 403, only a year or two after it was struck, Katane was captured by Dionysios I of Syracuse who thoroughly pillaged the city and sold all its inhabitants as slaves – few local coins would have escaped being seized, brought back to Syracuse and melted down. Another factor was the technical problems the ancient minters had with facing head dies: some broke completely soon after they came into use due to the high relief, while others suffered from a myriad of tiny faults that increased over the die’s period of use. This coin was struck early in the die’s career.
|Price realized||75'000 CHF|
|Starting price||60'000 CHF|