Italy. Bruttium, Temesa.
Stater, c. 450 BC. (Silver, 8g., 19.1mm). Tripod with three ring handles, legs ending in lion’s paws, and with two double volutes below the bowl; to left and right, greave / ΤΕΜ Crested Corinthian helmet to right. Basel 234 (same dies). Garrucci pl. CXVI, 27. Jameson 464.
Temesa was an independent city, but one which was first subject to Sybaris and then to Kroton (and, perhaps, for a time to Lokroi – see IACP 72: it was founded by an Italic group that had become fully Hellenized by the late 6th century). The actual location of the city has never been found: a number of present-day ruins have been ascribed to it. Its earliest coinage was an incuse one struck in conjunction with Kroton, today very rare. The present piece represents the city’s mid 5th century double relief issue. The famous German forger, C.W. Becker (1772-1830) made a very good copy of this type in 1828 (Hill 14: the dies were made in late 1827) and as a result, a number of scholars have assumed that all existing examples of the type are forgeries (including, amazingly enough, HN III, p. 193). This is quite untrue! When examining the Basel piece, which shares the same dies as the present example (note the minor horizontal die break between the central and right leg of the tripod), one can easily see the usual three ring handles atop the tripod bowl: the Becker piece has a single handle at the center. This vital difference seems to have escaped the notice of HN III, which unjustly condemned the the piece of the same type illustrated by Garrucci (could that piece have earlier served as Becker’s model?), and it would be interesting to know when the first example of the type was published. In any event, since one did appear in F. Carelli’s manuscript catalogue of 1812, at least 15 years before Becker made his dies, the comments in HN III can safely be discarded (long after the completion of that manuscript, and the death of the author in 1833, it was published with additions by C. Cavedoni as: Francisci Carellii Numorum Italiae Veteris Tabulas CCII [Leipzig, 1850]; see pp. iii and 97, and pl. CLXXVI).
Grading/Status: Extremely rare and of remarkably fine quality. The finest example of this type known. Extremely fine.
Star Collection, LHS 102, 29 April 2008, 54.
Leu 86, 5 May 2003, 263.