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    Choirion's Masterpiece, Ex Prospero

    SICILY. Catana. Ca. 410 BC. AR tetradrachm (26mm, 16.52 gm, 10h).  Dies signed by the engraver Choirion. Laureate head of Apollo facing, hair parted in the middle and falling in waves across brow and forming ringlets at sides of head and base of neck; bow in left field, cithara (lyre) to right, ΑΠΟΛΛΩΝ below neck truncation, [ΧΟΙΡΙΩΝ] in upper left field / Racing quadriga driven right by charioteer, holding reins and kentron, about to turn around a Ionic column in the background, Nike flying above to left to crown  charioteer; ΚΑΤΑΝΑΙΩΝ and crayfish in exergue. HGC 2, 575 (this coin illustrated). Rizzo pl. XIV, 13 (same dies). Gulbenkian 193 (same dies). SNG ANS 1258 (same dies). Boehringer Ognina pl. 31, 98 (same dies). Extremely rare, one of the earliest and finest Sicilian facing-head issues, one of fewer than 10 examples in private hands. Areas of minor porosity and horn silver around reverse edge, otherwise well struck on a broad, round flan. NGC Choice VF 5/5 - 2/5, edge marks. 

    From The California Collection. Ex Prospero Collection (New York Sale XXVII, 4 January 2012), lot 135 (realized $85,000); M&M 75 (1989), lot 144.

    The Greek cities of Sicily are justly famed for their coinage, none more beautiful than the rare facing-head issues signed by the master engravers of the late fifth century BC. Among the earliest, rarest and most evocative of these is this magnificent creation by the otherwise unknown Choirion, likely struck about 410 BC. Remarkably, the head of Apollo is shown with full frontality, gazing directly at the viewer, rather than looking slightly off to the right or left as seen in most other facing representations. Although Apollo is a male deity, he is of somewhat ambiguous sexuality and this conception emphasizes an almost fully feminine beauty, his features delicate, his hair parted down the middle and falling in waves and ringlets to either side. Interestingly, the artist explicitly names the god with the letters ΑΠΟΛΛΩΝ below the neck truncation. Behind Apollo are his attributes, a bow to left and lyre to right, partially hidden by his cascading hair and the carefully-engraved leaves of his laurel wreath. The reverse is also beautifully rendered, showing a charioteer guiding his racing chariot around a column post, while Nike flies above to crown him. 

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    Auction Dates
    January, 2015
    4th-5th Sunday-Monday
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