SICILY, Syracuse. Dionysios I. 405-367 BC. Dekadrachm (Silver, 42.83 g 5), unsigned but by Euainetos, c. 400-390. Charioteer, wearing long chiton, holding goad in his right hand and the reins in his left, driving a racing quadriga to left; above, Nike flying right to crown the charioteer; in the exergue on two steps, a panoply of arms. Rev. ΣΥΡΑΚ[ΟΣΙΩΝ] Head of Arethusa to left, wearing wreath of reeds, triple-pendant earring and necklace; around her head, four dolphins; below her chin, pellet. BMFA 430, Gallatin R. XXII/J.IV and Rizzo pl. 53, 17 (all from the same dies). A superb example, very well struck from fresh dies; rare thus. A few very minor marks, otherwise, good extremely fine.
Ex Triton VIII, 11 January 2005, 85 and Tkalec, 19 February 2001, 42 (but uncleaned and with dark deposits on the surfaces).
It is always a shock to realize that the dekadrachms of Syracuse, some of the most beautiful coins ever struck, were actually produced to pay mercenaries! They were very influential and must have been known over much of the Greek world (the engravers surely sent lead strikes to colleagues, copies were made for decorative use in bronze and in terracotta, and some actual examples must have circulated outside of Sicily, though most of them would have been soon melted down). In any case this wonderful head of Arethusa influenced the heads of goddesses that appeared on coinage from Carthage in the West all the way to Asia Minor and beyond. The one main problem concerns the iron dies from which they were struck: they seem to have rusted rather quickly (and also cracked or became abraded). As a result many of the examples that exist today show the signs of these die faults. This piece has virtually perfect surfaces and shows no signs of die wear. As such it is really very rare.
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