Italy. Sicily, Selinos.
Tetradrachm, c. 460 - 450 BC. (Silver, 17.49g., 28.3mm). ΣΕΛΙΝΟ-ΝΤΙ-ΟΣ (retrograde) Quadriga walking to left, driven by Artemis standing left and holding the reins in both hands, to her left, Apollo standing left, shooting an arrow from his bow / ΣΕΛΙ-Ν-Ο-Σ The river-god Selinos, nude but for a flat, horned cap, walking slowly to left, holding a phiale in his right hand and a laurel branch with his left; to left, under his phiale, a pedimental altar adorned with a wreath and with a cock standing left at its base; to right, on a tall pedestal, statue of a bull standing left; above right, selinon leaf. Rizzo pls. XXXI, 9 and XXXII, 2 (this coin). Schwabacher, Die Tetradrachmenprägung von Selinunt (Munich, 1925), 3 b (this coin). SNG Lloyd 1221 (same dies).
Selinos (IACP 44) was founded c. 651/0 as the most westerly Greek settlement in Sicily and was designed to be a bulwark against the Elymians and Carthaginians. It rapidly became one of the richest cities in Sicily (which had quite a few very rich cities!), and is famous for its remarkable number of temples, including ‘Temple G’, one of the largest known from ancient times. The city was captured and destroyed by the Carthaginians in 409; it existed as a village until being destroyed again during the First Punic War. It was then abandoned save for minor occupation during the middle ages. The city’s coinage consists of large series of selinon-leaf didrachms and fractions from the later 6th and early 5th centuries, and the later river-god tetradrachms and didrachms that began c. 460/450 and lasting until shortly before the destruction of the city. This coin has a particularly long collecting history, having once been in the Royal Collection in Naples. It formed part of a fairly large group of pieces that were deaccessioned during the 1930s (though the accurate records seem to have been lost). It has since belonged to some of the great collectors of the 20th century.
Grading/Status: Very rare and of lovely early classical style, a marvelous coin with a splendid pedigree. Extremely fine.
Star collection, Numismatica Ars Classica 48, 21 October 2008, 39.
Exceptional Private Collection, Leu 76, 27 October 1999, 49.
Collection of C. Gillet, ‘Kunstfreund’, Bank Leu & Münzen und Medaillen, 28 May 1974, 101.
Royal Collection in Naples, acquired in the 19th century or earlier.