Ancient Greek Silver Decadrachm Coin by Euainetos of Syracuse, 400 BC

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One of the most famous, beautiful and universally admired coins ever made.

A silver decadrachm, signed by the most celebrated die engraver of all time, Euainetos of Syracuse. Minted by the city of Syracuse, circa 400 BC. From the collection of Roberto Allatini, (1856 - 1927).

The reverse with the head of the water nymph Arethusa, patron deity of Syracuse. She is shown submerged in her fresh water spring, the wild curls of her hair bound with a wreath of sea weeds, loose locks fall and coil around like tendrils of a plant, four playful dolphins frame the scene as they circle around her. The legend reading:

ΣYPΑΚΟΣΙΟΝ

"Of the Syracusans."

The signature of the brilliant artist Euainetos faintly visible below the lowest dolphin, reading:

EYAINE

"Euainetos."

The obverse with a four horse chariot, charging left. The charioteer strains at the reins and strikes with his goad, as he urges the horses ever faster, his long flowing drapery billowing behind. The goddess of Victory descends from the heavens to crown the charioteer with a wreath of laurel. Below, a collection of arms, including aspis (shield), greaves, cuirass, and crested Attic helmet, all joined by a horizontal spear. The legend reading:

ΑΘΛΑ

"Prizes."



The dekadrachms of Syracuse are consistently lauded as the most beautiful and impressive coins of all time.

The large medal-like size, intricacy of design, staggering depth of relief and sheer beauty have captivated all those who have handled these remarkable pieces of silver. Even in antiquity, they were regarded as masterpieces, having inspired countless copies and adaptations in a variety of mediums.

Of the two main engravers, Kimon and Euainetos, who compete with each other for the title of the greatest coin artist of all time, it is Euainetos who is most often considered the victor.

Lenormant wrote:

"The style of Kimon - superior as it is to the finest works that the Renaissance itself has produced in monetary art - appears smaller by comparison with the other. Kimon is a great artist: Euainetos is the greatest of all in the branch that he has cultivated. He is the Pheidias of coin-engraving."

This coin was struck from the earliest and most admired die signed by Euainetos. Arthur J. Evans wrote, "the fine coin with the delta in the field, gives a good impression of the masterpieces of this artist at his best."


Condition: Minor mark to cheek of Arethusa restored.

Weight: 43.40 g.

Diameter: 36.15 mm.


Provenance:

From the collection of Frederick J Woodbridge.

Ex. Sotheby's Zurich, 7th May 1975, lot 60.

From the collection of Roberto Allatini (1856 - 1927).

Ex. Ars Classica-Naville XIII, 27 June 1928, lot 341.
Details
Creator
Euainetos (Artist)
Date of Manufacture
400 BC
Period
15th Century and Earlier
Condition
Excellent
Dimensions
1.42 in. H x 1.42 in. W x 0.35 in. D
4 cm H x 4 cm W x 1 cm D
Dealer Location
London, United Kingdom
Number of Items
1
Reference Number
LU105223285782
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1stdibs seller since 2014
Located in London, GB
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