Estimate: 200 000 CHF
Price realized: 220 000 CHF
Sicily. Leontinoi. Circa 466-460 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 27 mm, 17.20 g, 8 h), with dies by the "Demareteion Master". Quadriga, driven by a male charioteer wearing a long chiton, moving slowly to the right; above, Nike flying left to crown the charioteer; in exergue, lion running to right. Rev. ΛΕΟΝΤΙΝΟΝ Laureate head of Apollo to right, his long hair braided and tied up at the back of his head; to left and right, and above Apollo's head, laurel leaf; below neck, lion running to right. Basel 348 (same dies). Boehringer, Münzgeschichte 28. Gulbenkian 211 (same dies). Kraay & Hirmer 19 (same dies). Rizzo pl. XXII, 14 (same dies). SNG ANS 217 (same dies). Very rare. Sharp, well-struck and nicely toned. Extremely fine.
Ex Numismatica Genevensis V, 2 December 2008, 28, and from the collection of N. B. Hunt, I, Sotheby's New York, 19 June 1990, 65 and ex Leu 30, 28 April 1982, 33.
Leontinoi had been captured by Hippocrates of Gela during the 490s; after his death its rule was taken over by his cavalry commander, Gelon. Gelon's brother Hieron succeeded him, making Leontinoi even more important by moving the populations of Naxos and Katane there in 476. This coin was almost certainly struck as part of the commemoration of Hieron's other foundation of Aitna. In many ways it is quite an astounding coin, a real masterpiece of that short time at the end of the Archaic and the beginning of the Classical period of art. The head of Apollo follows the so-called 'severe style' of Classical art, but is still with some Archaic features (like the eye). A very close parallel for the head of Apollo on this coin is the near contemporary Charioteer of Delphi, dedicated by Hieron's brother Polyzalos of Gela.