The intentional removal of a ruler’s name from a coin die almost
always reflects a change in political circumstances.
A highlight in Spink’s June 21 auction of the Squires Collection of
Ancient Greek Coinage documents the turbulent history of Syracusan politics.
The “very rare” gold 60-litrae or decadrachm coin of Syracuse is
expected to realize between $4,000 and $5,000 in the auction in London
where the 67-lot collection from across ancient Greek history will be offered.
During the violent power struggles and turbulence in Sicily
following Maenon’s assassination of Agathokles, the people of Syracuse
appointed Hiketas their general and protector. For nine years he ruled
as tyrant, but in 278 B.C. at the River Terias, he suffered a severe
defeat at the hands of the Carthaginians.
Connect with Coin World:
Thoinon (also spelled Thoenon), one of his officers, expelled the
now weakened Hiketas, ushering in conflict with another would-be ruler
The tyrant Sosistratos, of Akragas, attacked Thoinon, and the city
teetered on civil war, according to Spink’s auction catalog.
Under seige from the Carthaginians, the two Greek competitors soon
agreed to a truce, and sought assistance from Pyrrhos in fighting the
Carthaginians. After landing his army in Sicily, Pyrrhos lifted the
siege. However, to prevent further strife in Syracuse, he had Thoinon
executed and forced Sosistratos to flee.
While awaiting the arrival of Pyrrhos, Thoinon and Sosistratos were
still in need of coinage and likely had no time to produce new coin
dies. Instead, they continued to use earlier dies, but only after
erasing the name of Hiketas (appearing as EΠI IKETA) from the
reverse dies' exergue.
The example in the Spink auction struck from an altered die weighs
4.22 grams, slightly less than a Jefferson 5-cent coin.
The coin shows a grainwreathed head of Kore-Persephone facing left,
wearing a pendant earring and pearl necklace. The reverse features
Nike in a biga (two-horse chariot) galloping right.
The example in the auction exhibits some evidence of reverse die
rust but is in Good Very Fine condition, according to the firm.
It previously sold at auction during Classical Numismatic Group’s
June 24, 1998, sale, when it realized $1,430 including the 10 percent
For more information about the Spink auction, visit the firm’s website.