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    Euainetos Signed Masterpiece

    SICILY. Syracuse. Time of Dionysius I (405-367 BC). AR decadrachm (35mm, 42.17 gm, 9h). NGC Choice AU 4/5 - 5/5, Fine Style. Reverse die signed by Euainetos, ca. 400 BC. Racing quadriga driven left by charioteer, reins in left hand, kentron in right; Nike flying right in field above to crown him, military arms, including aspis (shield), greaves, cuirass, and crested Attic helmet, all joined by horizontal spear, ΑΘΛΑ ("prizes") below all in exergue, dotted border / ΣΥ-ΡΑ-Κ-ΟΣ-ΙΩΝ, head of Arethusa left, hair wreathed in barley ears, wearing triple pendant earring and beaded necklace; four dolphins around, die-engraver's signature EY-AINE below bottom dolphin, dotted border. Gallatin (R IV / C VIII). SNG ANS 366. A marvelous and stunning example with areas of luster. Exceptionally desirable as both the engraver's signature and exergual mark are fully legible.

    From a Private Japanese Collection. Ex Stack's Bowers Galleries (& Ponterio), NYINC Sale 173 (8 January 2013), lot 53.

    Widely considered to be the most beautiful coins ever struck, the immense silver decadrachms of Syracuse from the later fifth century BC represent the full flowering of classical Greek sculptural art. Syracuse, the foremost Greek city in Sicily, had produced coins of exceptional beauty for nearly a century when, ca. 415 BC, engravers began signing their coin dies. Chief among these were the master engravers Kimon and Euainetos, whose large silver decadrachms seemed to capture the spirit of the artistic and intellectual revolution then sweeping the Greek world. The obverse of these pieces depicts a four-horse racing chariot, or quadriga, in full career to left while Nike, goddess of Victory, flies above to crown the driver with a laurel wreath. Below this scene is a set of Greek armor offered as a prize to the victorious charioteer. The reverse depicts a beautiful head of Arethusa, nymph of a sacred spring, with dolphins frolicking around her. The decadrachm of Euainetos became a widely-copied archetype for Greek coinage, and the master engraver's head of Arethusa remains a paradigm of cool, classical beauty today.




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    January, 2020
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