Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich

Auction 114 - Part I

Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich, Auction 114 - Part I

Greek, Roman and Byzantine Coins

Tu, 07.05.2019, from 11:00 AM CEST
The auction is closed.


Messana as Zankle under the Samians. Chalcidian drachm circa 500, AR 5.61 g. DANKLE Dolphin swimming l. within sickle-shaped open harbour; outer edge of wharf surrounded by dots. Rev. Mussel shell within nine squares, part incuse and part in relief. SNG Copenhagen 388. SNG ANS 301. Rosen 61. Gielow 63ff.
Rare and in exceptional condition for the issue, undoubtedly amongst the finest
specimens in private hands. Perfectly struck and centred on a full
flan and with a superb old cabinet tone. Good extremely fine

Ex Leu 25, 1980, 57 and Leu 65, 1996, 84 sales.The foundation of Zancle in c. 735 BC is variously attributed to colonists from the Greek Sicilian city of Naxos or to Chalcidian Greek pirates operating out of Cumae on the coast of Italy. The city was located on a sickle-shaped promontory on the Strait of Messena from which it derived its name. Zanklion was a native Sikel word for ”crescent” or ”sickle.” Already in the eighth and seventh centuries BC, Zancle was populous and prosperous enough to participate in the foundation of new colonies like Rhegium in southern Italy and Mylai and Himera in northern Sicily. In c. 487 BC, the Zanclians wished to extend their influence still further along the northern coast of Sicily by founding a new colony at Kale Akte. To assist in this endeavour they sent an invitation to the Ionian Greeks of western Asia Minor, hoping to increase the population of the new colony. Their invitation was accepted by a group of aristocrats from Samos. They had supported the failed Ionian Revolt (499–493 BC) against the Persian Empire and were now desperate to find a new place to live that was beyond the reach of the Great King. It seemed like the Zanclian plan for colonising Kale Akte would go off without a hitch…until the unthinkable happened. While on the way to Zancle, the Samians were met by Anaxilos, the tyrant of Rhegium, who suggested to them that it might be less work than founding a new city to simply take the city that the Zanclians already had. As it happened the Zanclians were in the countryside waging war against the Sikels leaving the city largely undefended. The Samian aristocrats, who were no strangers to plotting, took this advice and seized Zancle. When the Zanclians returned and saw what had happened to their city, they appealed to Hippocrates, the powerful tyrant of Gela. Hippocrates soon arrived at the head of an army, but, much to the horror of the Zanclians, he did not begin operations to rid the city of the Samians. Instead, he began negotiations for the division of Zanclian territory and property between Gela and the Samians! Once the negotiations were brought to a mutually agreeable conclusion, Hippocrates promptly enslaved the Zanclians who had called for his aid and returned home. The Samians only enjoyed their stolen city for eight years, after which they were themselves driven out by Anaxilos and Zancle became a dependency of Rhegium. The tyrant refounded the city as Messana and gave its name to the strait between Sicily and southern Italy. The city remained under Rhegine domination until 461 BC, when it was reclaimed by a group of Zanclian exiles and mercenaries. This exceptionally attractive drachm of Zancle was struck during the period of the Samian occupation, but features the traditional types of the city. The obverse depicts a dolphin leaping within a crescent-shaped enclosure representing the shape of the harbour and serving as a punning symbol of the city’s name. For clarity the name is also inscribed using an archaic spelling in which delta was used rather than the initial zeta of the Attic Greek form of the name.

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Price realized 34'000 CHF
Starting price 20'000 CHF
Estimate 25'000 CHF
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