World Coins

Ancient silver coins of Greece highlight Gorny & Mosch auction

Silver coins from ancient Greece are always popular with collectors, and three lots in Gorny & Mosch’s Auction No. 219 of “high quality ancient coins” in Munich inmid-March reflect varied results.

A circa 420 B.C. tetradrachm from Akragas in Very Fine to Extremely Fine condition, realized €18,000 (about $24,975 U.S.), better than the €15,000 ($20,812 U.S.) estimate.

All results named are hammer prices and do not include the buyer’s fees or the value-added tax.

The coin shows a quadriga (or four-horse chariot) with its driver being crowned by a floating Nike (goddess of Victory) on the obverse, while two eagles gorge on a rabbit on the reverse.

This later style coinage, which replaced an earlier reverse design showing eagles and a crab, is among the “most impressive masterpieces of the classical Sicilian coinage,” according to the auction house.

After the city of Akragas was destroyed during a siege in 406 B.C., the coinage was recalled and exchanged, explaining why the late coin types of the city are rare today.

Akragas, perched on the Tyrrhenian Sea on the southern Sicilian coast, was one of the richest and most famous of the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia. Today it is known as Agrigento.

The city-state of Syracuse, in the seas off the coast off the Italian Peninsula, was another center of power issuing renowned coins.

A decadrachm made in the workshop of the die engraver Euainetos around 400 B.C. realized €14,400 (about $19,980 U.S.), less than the €18,000 pre-sale estimate.

Issued under Dionysius, the VF to EF coin shows a quadriga galloping left, Nike crowning the charioteer, on the obverse, with a reverse depicting the head of Arethusa surrounded by four dolphins. Arethusa, the water nymph, was an appropriate symbol for the island.

The coin is slightly toned, and has traces of corrosion and scratches, which could have kept it from realizing its full estimate.

Another imperfect coin from a Sicilian island, however, brought strong results.

The circa 460 B.C. silver tetradrachm of Naxos (an island in the Aegean), exhibited a VF to EF reverse but its obverse exhibited traces of corrosion and was graded VF.

According to the auction house, “In the previous years, it had been rather difficult to sell such imperfect coins regardless of their good provenance.”

This coin came from the John Ward Collection that was auctioned off in 1973.

It realized €47,000 (about $65,212 U.S.) compared to the “modest estimate,” the auction house said, of €8,000 (about $11,100 U.S.)

The silver Greek coins were among thousands of offerings over three days.

Auction No. 219 was sold March 10, with auction No. 220 on March 11 featuring ancient coins and lots. The final auction, No. 221, sold on March 12 and focused on coins of medieval and modern times. A full list of prices realized can be viewed at the firm’s website,

Gorny & Mosch are now soliciting consignments for its October auctions, with lots accepted through July 25.

For more information about the firm or to consign, telephone it at (011) 49 89 2422 6430 or visit its website. 

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