World Coins

Small Greek silver coin shows evidence of artistic treatment

The ancient coinage of Sicily in ancient Greece is renowned for its artistry, with many large denomination coins created through the labors of famed engravers still honored today.

But that record of engraving skill doesn’t often extend to smaller denominations.

Nomos Ag’s auction No. 10, scheduled for May 18 in Zurich, offers an uncommon example of the engraver’s art in miniature.

The coin is 12 millimeters in diameter (half the diameter of a Washington quarter dollar) and weighs 0.84 gram. 

The circa 415 or 413 to 404 B.C. silver litra coin from Katane is a compelling piece. Despite its size the coin features a rich image of Silenos facing left on the obverse, and a winged thunderbolt between two shields on the reverse. 

“The superlative quality of the die engraving for this coin has im­pelled some catalogers to attribute it to a known engraver like Euainetos,” according to the catalog. “It is yet another example of how the minters of the Sicilian cities lavished great care on even the smallest silver pieces. This coin proves that it was surely a matter of prestige and pride for local citizens to have even minor denominations made with outstanding art­istry.”

The coin is “nicely toned” with “some original luster,” and though it has some “minor striking weakness,” it otherwise is Extremely Fine, according to Nomos Ag. 

The coin has an estimate of 1,500 Swiss francs (about $1,574 in U.S. funds).

To learn more about the sale, visit the firm’s website.

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