Italy. Sicily, Naxos.
Drachm, c. 450 BC. (Silver, 4.12g., 19mm). Bearded head of Dionysos to right, wearing ivy wreath and with his hair tied in a bun at the back; border of dots, cut through by the beard / Ν-Α-ΧΙ-ΟΝ Nude and bearded Silenos squatting, facing front but turning his head and upper body to the left towards the two-handled, stemless drinking cup he holds in his right hand; he rests his left hand on the ground and his left knee is turned forward with his foot going through the border of dots; his animal tail is curled out on the ground behind him. Basel 385. Cahn 56.40 (this coin). Jameson 676 (same dies). Rizzo pl. XXVIII, 14.
That these coins were greatly appreciated at the time they were struck is shown by the fact that this obverse die was used until it actually fell apart. Minor breaks began to appear at a very early stage, shortly after it was put into use (as on this piece) but they became ever larger and disfiguring as time went on. Nevertheless, the mint continued using the die, probably because of popular favor. It is quite understandable that it is still appreciated for its artistry and beauty today.
Grading/Status: Very rare, especially in this superb condition. Perfectly struck on a broad flan. A true masterpiece of mid 5th century style. Good extremely fine.
Privately purchased from Tradart in 2006.
Leu 45, 26 May 1988, 49.
Collection of C. Gillet, 485, ‘Kunstfreund’, Bank Leu & Münzen und Medaillen, 28 May 1974, 96.
Ars Classica XVII, 3 October 1934, 175.
Collection of T. Virzi.