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Auction 55  26 Jan 2022
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Lot 1
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Estimate: 40 000 GBP
Current bid: 32 500 GBP

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Calabria, Tarentum, gold stater, struck under Pyrrhus of Epirus, c. 280 BC, laur. head of Zeus l., monogram NK behind, rev. [TAPANT]INΩN, eagle seated r., on thunderbolt, with wings spread, two amphorae in r. field, each surmounted by star, in ex. NIKAP, wt. 8.59gms. (Vlasto 38-39; Gulbenkian 41 var.; SNG.ANS.1039 var.), certified and graded by NGC as Choice About Uncirculated ٭ (Star), Strike 4/5, Surface 4/5, Fine Style
*ex Charles Gillet Collection,
Müzen und Medaillen 64, 1984, lot 8.
Sotheby's, Two Hundred Highly Important Greek and Roman Coins, July 1995, lot 4.
The Sotheby catalogue stated 'The artistic standard of the gold issues of Tarentum surpasses even that of the outstanding silver 'horseman' series. A wide variety of types was adopted between 340 and 280 BC, in what was a completely new departure in Southern Italy, as no gold coinages had ever previously been issued there.
On this example, Zeus is the dominating theme. The king of the gods himself appears on the obverse, while his sacred bird, the eagle, seated upon his attribute par excellence, the thunderbolt, forms the reverse type. Other Tarentine gold issues were modelled on the staters of Philip of Macedon (Apollo/biga), but this design was a Tarentine original, executed with consummate artistry.
In the period of the issue and circulation of this coin, the Tarentines were involved in constant wars against their barbarian Italian neighbours. On a number of occasions, they summoned mercenary captains over from Old Greece to aid them in their wards and it is thought that these gold issues constituted the means of payment. Tarentum was a city of fabulous wealth and could afford to hire the best when she needed to. This coin was issued in c. 280 while Pyrrhus of Epirus was fighting on behalf of the Tarentines against Rome, a war which was eventually lost in 272 BC'.
(40000-50000 GBP)
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