Siculo-Punic Coinage. Sicily, uncertain mint.
Tetradrachm, c. 300 BC. (Silver, 17.20g., 27.1mm). Head of Melqart-Herakles to right, wearing lion skin headdress / ‛MHMḤNT Horse’s head to left; behind, date palm. Basel 564 (same dies). Gulbenkian 375 (same dies). Jameson 960 (same dies). Jenkins, Punic Sicily, IV, 321 (1O4/R263, this coin listed).
The massively huge silver coinage of Alexander III made the head of Herakles in a lion’s skinn headdress one of the best known of all ancient obverse types. It is certainly possible that the superb Greek craftsman who made this obverse die based his work on them, though similar heads of Herakles had appeared earlier at nearby Kamarina. In any case, this is by far the finest style head to appear on the extensive Siculo-Punic coinage with Herakles. It is of the same quality, if not better, than those slightly earlier Herakles heads that appeared on Alexander’s tetradrachms from Memphis, widely recognized as being of the finest style of all of Alexander’s issues. Of course, the head of Herakles here is really the Hellenized version of Carthage’s patron deity, Melqart, so familiar from the coinage of Tyre, Carthage’s mother city.
Grading/Status: A wonderful, beautifully struck coin of the best possible style, toned and struck in high relief. Virtually as struck.
Acquired from Tradart in 2006.
Bank Leu 48, 10 May 1989, 83.
Collection of C. Gillet, Monnaies et Médailles 43, 12 November 1970, 35.