Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich
Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich, Auction 116

A highly important collection of Greek coins

Tu, 01.10.2019, from 02:30 PM CEST
The auction is closed.


Calabria, Tarentum
Stater circa 325-320, AV 8.56 g. TAPA Veiled and diademed head of Hera r., wearing earring and necklace; below chin, dolphin swimming downwards. Behind neck, E. Rev. TAPANTINΩN Young Taras standing r., raising hands in supplication to Poseidon seated l., leaning forward and holding trident; in field r., star / |-. Below stool, diphros and K. Vlasto 1 (these dies). E.S.G. Robinson, Ancient Greek Coins in the possession of William Harrison Woodward (privately printed, Oxford, 1928), 4 (this coin illustrated). A.J. Evans, The Artistic Engravers of Terina and the Signature of Evaenetos on its later Didrachm Dies, NC 1912, p. 45. de Luynes 241 (these dies). Gulbenkian 29. AMB 89 (these dies). Kraay-Himer pl. X, 315 (this reverse die). SNG France 1777 (these dies). Jenkins Essays Thompson, pl. 10, 13 and 19 (these dies). Fischer-Bossert G5c (this coin). Historia Numorum Italy 901 (these dies).
Extremely rare and possibly the finest specimen in private hands. On the obverse, a wonderful
portrait struck in high relief in the finest style of the period and, on the reverse, one of the
most fascinating and masterly engraved compositions of the entire Western Greek series.
Perfectly struck and centred on a full flan, two minor nicks on obverse and
a minor mark on reverse edge at two o’clock, otherwise extremely fine

Ex Spink 39, 1984, Reverend Arnold Mallinson, 36 and New York XXVII, 2012, Prospero, 23 sales. From the Sir Arthur J. Evans and William Harrison Woodward collections.
Of all the coins of Tarentum, this gold stater perhaps elicits the greatest praise for the skill and ingenuity of the engraver. The composition is masterful, and one can only imagine how this would have looked on the grand scale of a statuary group. Beyond the composition, we may revel in the quality of the engraving, which breathes life into a scene that otherwise might appear stiff and formal. The artist treats us to nothing less than an impassioned plea of young Taras to a towering, but caring figure of Poseidon, who considers the proposal. A coin type of such a highly personal nature demands a tie to history. Various opinions have been offered, which help to narrow the possibilities down to the period 342 to 330 B.C. The two events in this era that could have prompted this coinage are interventions in Southern Italy on behalf of the Tarentines by Archidamus of Sparta in 342 and Alexander the Molossian, whose more enduring (but no less disastrous) campaign began in 334. Robinson prefers the former, interpreting the scene as an allusion to the plea of Taras to its mother city Sparta. Other scholars prefer the latter, associating the coinage with Alexander, especially since the thunderbolt symbol is prominent. Robinson argues that the thunderbolt need not be taken as a certain allusion to Alexander, as it is a common symbol, and that the type is more appropriate to the relationship between colony and mother city. Though the obverse generally is not the focal point of this coinage, it is worth noting that the beautiful female head – usually described as Persephone – may actually be Hera. In particular, her stephane is decorated with palmettes in a manner identical to that worn by Hera on the staters of Elis. Also of interest is the fact that the inscription TAPA before her face has generally been missed by researchers: Robinson only hinted at what appeared to be portions of the inscription on the Gulbenkian example, though we are fortunate that Rutter, in his recent Historia Numorum Italy, includes it in his description of the type.

Question about this lot?


Price realized 300'000 CHF
Starting price 120'000 CHF
Estimate 150'000 CHF
The auction is closed.
Feedback / Support