Ancients: Sicily. Akragas. c. 410-406 BC. Tetradrachm, 17.44g (8h). Obv: Quadriga galloping to right, the female charioteer crowned by...
Precursor to Akragas DecadrachmSicily. Akragas. c. 410-406 BC. Tetradrachm, 17.44g (8h). Obv: Quadriga galloping to right, the female charioteer crowned by Nike flying left; in exergue, crab downwards. Rx: ΑΚΡ - ΑΓ - ΑΝΤΙ - ΝΩ - Ν (retrograde) Two eagles facing right, devouring hare on rocks. Kraay-Hirmer pl. 61, 178 (same dies). Seltman, NC 1948, p. 3, 6, pl. I, E-Ζ. SNG Lloyd 818 (same dies). Boston 232 (same dies). Brussels, de Hirsch 288 (same dies). A stunning example, with an obverse of great beauty and elegance. Minor striking weakness on head of upper eagle, otherwise Choice EF.
Ex Gemini VI, 10 January 2010, lot 14
Seltman, in his article 'The Engravers of the Akragantine Decadrachms' (NC 1948), places the issue of this superb tetradrachm in 411 BC, immediately prior to the issuance of the famous decadrachms of the same city, widely regarded as among the most beautiful coins ever produced. Interestingly, while he attributes the decadrachm dies to the engravers Myron (obverse) and Polykrates (reverse), who had also engraved a run of tetradrachm dies after c. 413 BC, Seltman assigns the dies for this tetradrachm issue to a 'lesser engraver' he rather derisively calls 'the Trier'. We believe Seltman's eye at least partially fails him here: While the two eagles on the reverse certainly lack the elegance found on the decadrachms, the obverse chariot, with its lively rearing horses, the foremost looking back at the charioteer, is clearly a precursor to the magnificent 'flying chariot' on the decadrachms, and is likely the work of the same hand. The arrangement of the horses' heads on this tetradrachm die exactly mirrors that of the decadrachm dies, and the way in which the fore-hooves of the horses seem to lift off the ground line, as though the horse team and chariot are taking flight, again shows a strong affinity to the decadrachm. Finally, the presence of an upside-down crab as a control mark on both denominations strongly points to the same engraver being responsible for all the dies in question
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