Estimate: 30 000 CHFMinimum bid: 24 000 CHF
SICILY. Syracuse. Dionysios I, 405-367 BC. 100 Litrai or Double Dekadrachm (Gold, 14 mm, 5.81 g, 4 h), in the style of Kimon, circa 405-400 or somewhat later. ΣYP[AKOΣIΩN] Female head (of Arethusa?) to left, her hair bound up in a sphendone ornamented with two stars, wearing triple-pendant earring and pearl necklace; behind her neck, star. Rev. Youthful Herakles, nude, kneeling right on rocky ground line, wrestling the Nemean lion. Bérend 41.1 (this coin). Gillet 128 (same dies). SNG ANS 338 (same obverse die). An exceptional example, boldly struck in high relief and undoubtedly among the finest known. A beautiful coin of the finest classical style. The usual small die break on the reverse, otherwise, good extremely fine.
Ex Nomos FPL Winter-Spring 2013, 5, Numismatica Genevensis 6, 30 November 2010, 29, Hess-Divo 311, 22 October 2008, 331 (illustrated on the front cover) and Leu 48, 10 May 1989, 68.
The magnificent Syracusan 100 litrai or double dekadrachms are among the finest Greek gold coins ever produced. They are associated with the city's wonderful dekadrachms by Kimon and Euainetos, whose signature also appears on the earliest dies of the gold series. Bérend connects the issue with the Greek struggle for independence against the advancing Carthaginians in 406/5-404 BC, but hoard evidence suggests that it was in fact struck over a longer period of time, perhaps by minting the treasures provided to Dionysios' father-in-law Hermokrates by the Persian Satrap Pharnabazos in 409 (Diod. XIII, 63.1) and/or the 300 talents in ransom levied from the Carthaginian general Himilko after his failed siege of Syracuse in 397/6 BC. The magnificent rendering of Herakles' first and most famous Labor, the slaying of the Nemean lion, on the reverse is clearly a reference to the wars Syracuse was waging against its archenemy Carthage: Herakles, the great Doric hero and ancestor of the Doric city of Syracuse, defends the independence of the western Greeks by defeating the lion, the symbol of Africa.