Hispania. Qart Hadasht or Carthago Nova.
Triple Shekel, c. 221 - 210/209 BC. (Silver, 22.05g., 31.1mm). Youthful laureate head of Melqart-Herakles (or Hannibal himself) to left, with his club over his right shoulder / African elephant walking to right. CNH 12. Robinson 6b. Villaronga-Benages 552.
Qart Hadasht, New City, was founded in 228 by the Carthaginian general Hasdrubal (c. 270-221 BC). From then on it served as the major Punic stronghold for the control of their conquests in Spain. Hasdrubal was assassinated in 221 and was succeeded by his brother-in-law, the infinitely better known Hannibal. By this time tensions between the Carthaginians and the Romans had increased, finally coming to the boiling point when Hannibal captured the Roman client city of Saguntum in 218. This provided the final spark that led to what became known as the Second Punic War. This coin was undoubtedly issued to finance the either the build-up to that conflict, or was struck to pay the troops who took part in it. The reverse shows one of the African elephants that served as Carthaginian ‘tanks’ and struck fear into their enemies. Regarding the portrait on the obverse of the coin, generations of scholars have sought to identify this head as that of Hannibal himself, it still remains unclear whether it is not simply the head of the god Melqart-Herakles. In any case, this is one of the most historically significant and important of all Punic coins.
Grading/Status: An impressive and extremely rare coin, of which only five examples are known, two of which being in museums. Good very fine.
Numismatica Genevensis SA V, 2 December 2008, 161.