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A Fabulous Choice Mint State Himera Tetradrachm

By Chris Chatigny, Numismatist & Cataloger

Author: Chris Chatigny / Thursday, December 06, 2018 / Categories: World Coin of the Week

Today's preview of the Stack's Bowers Galleries January New York International Auction presents an absolutely stunning piece of Sicilian coinage. Himera is located on the northern coast of the island, near modern day Palermo. Himera grew in the shadow of the Carthaginian sphere of influence on the island. After Himera ousted the tyrant Terillus he would beseech that rival power for assistance. Carthage used this assistance as pretext, sending the general Hamilcar and 300,000 armed men, a larger force than would seem to be needed to take the city. The opposing Greek tyrants, Theron of Agrigentum and Gelon of Syracuse, were able to mount a vigorous defense, successfully routing the Carthaginians to the point that the Greek victory was compared to the contemporary battle of Salamis (ca. 480 B.C). This wound inflicted upon Carthage was not forgotten, and some seven decades later they returned and razed Himera to the ground. The period between these monumental battles was marked by general prosperity, which fostered a flourishing of numismatic artistry.

Just before the destruction of the city, this wonderful coin series came about. The lovely coin featured in our 2019 NYINC auction bears the signature of the artist, in emulation of his contemporaries, the exemplary Syracusan engravers. Hidden on Nike's sign are three letters: "MAI." The nymph Himera drives a quadriga pulled by vigorous horses galloping right. Nike is above, flying left while holding the aforementioned sign. Just below the exergual line, a Pistrix (sea serpent or Ketos) swims to the left. The reverse design also features the eponymous nymph again, though now she is standing facing left holding a patera (small dish) over an altar. A satyr at right is bathing in a lion-headed fountain. This example is exemplary in its technical crafting, with bold strike details and great surfaces featuring full frosty luster. This amazing example is certain to find its way to an elite cabinet.

While we are no longer taking consignments for our January 2019 New York International Auction, we are taking consignments of world and ancient coins and world paper money for the February 2019 Collector's Choice Online Auction and the August 2019 ANA World's Fair of Money Auction in Rosemont, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. We are also accepting consignments of Chinese and other Asian coins and currency for our March 2019 Hong Kong Showcase Auction. If you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) contact one of our consignment directors.