World Coins

Miniature Greek masterpieces with animals highlight auction

A circa 474 to 450 B.C. silver litra of Syracuse features an octopus. The rarely seen coin is part of a collection of small denomination Greek silver coins showing animals. Numismatica Ars Classica offers the collection May 20.

Images courtesy of Numismatica Ars Classica.

Artistry in coinage doesn’t have to dominate the visual landscape to be impressive, at least according to an auction catalog for Numismatica Ars Classica’s May 20 auction.

The firm offers the J. Falm Collection: Miniature Masterpieces of Greek Coinage depicting Animals, in the May 20 sale. Dozens of the more than 150 coins in the collection are about the same size as or smaller than a Roosevelt dime. All of the coins were selected with the “greatest attention and impeccable taste,” according to the auction catalog, with a special eye toward the smaller (and often more affordable) denominations. 

The collection “takes you on a journey across the whole of the Greek world and allows you to truly appreciate how the same subject was portrayed differently from one region to the other as well as the sheer variety of animals represented on Greek coinage,” according to the catalog.

One highlight is the circa 474 to 450 B.C. silver litra of Syracuse. The tiny coin (weighing 0.86 gram) features an octopus on the reverse. A pearl-diademed head of Arethusa is found on the obverse.

The coin is toned and the auction firm records its condition as Good Extremely Fine. 

The coin is estimated to sell for 2,000 Swiss francs (about $2,094 in U.S. funds).

For more details about the sale, visit the auction firm’s website.

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