Featured My first Tarentum dolphin rider :)

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by TIF, Sep 29, 2019.

  1. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    CALABRIA, Tarentum
    circa 344-340 BCE per CNG's cataloger; 380-345 BCE per Cote/Ratto;
    AR nomos (didrachm); 21 mm, 7.72 gm, 9h
    Obv: Warrior, holding small shield in left hand, dismounting from horse galloping left; horizontal T below
    Rev: Phalanthos (Taras?), holding helmet in right hand, riding dolphin left; TAPAΣ to upper right, I and waves below
    Ref: Fischer-Bossert group 47, 657 (V252/R509); Vlasto 437 (same dies); HN Italy 876; Côte 152
    Ex Dr. Spencer Paterson Collection of Ancient Coins, Sept 2019

    Slabbed prior to its most recent sale to me and quickly de-slabbed upon arrival; NGC XF, 5/5, 4/5, Fine Style.
    Prior sales: CNG's Coin shop (date unknown); Roma Auction 6 lot 327 (Sept 2013)

    I love the whole Tarentum "dolphin rider" series but have never managed to make a decision until now. There are just so many types... which one should I buy? Early, middle, or later style? Which type of horse rider-- boy, man, warrior? Which flaws or problems can I live with? Flans are typically crowded. The dolphin's nose or tail is often off flan. Should I get one with a lean and lanky Phalanthos or a more brutish Phalanthos who holds a club-like distaff? One with a cool secondary device like Silenos or a hippocamp? One with waves or without waves? Arrrgh! Too many decisions!

    This one caught my attention because of its good centering, reasonably good metal and surfaces, and the dynamic rendering of both sides. Fortunately the bidding stayed reasonable :). Clearly I'll have to eventually acquire more of them... at the very least a couple of the earlier types, and I really want one with Phalanthos holding a hippocamp, or otherwise having a hippocamp somewhere on the reverse. Not sure why. I just like hippocamps :D.

    For a concise writeup of these coins, please revisit @Zumbly's marvelous 2017 Coin Imperator semifinals entry.

    I don't have Vlasto's book/catalog but wonder if it is available online as a .pdf since it is relatively old. I searched but didn't find it. If any of you have a link, please post it.

    I do have a reprint of the Côte collection catalog (Collection Claudius Côte, Monnaies de Tarente, Rodolfo Ratto, 1929, reprinted 1975) so in @Roman Collector fashion, here is that entry and example:


    This catalog contains 611 coins, most of which are the dolphin rider types. The catalog is in French so it's difficult for me to read but it appears that there aren't repeats. That's a lot of variations! No wonder it is difficult to choose one... or difficult to buy only one :D.


    How many varieties of this coin can we show? Post your dolphin riders! :)

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  3. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    Very nice! I love that you can clearly see the helmet on the reverse.
    Nathan B., spirityoda and TIF like this.
  4. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    A spectacular coin, TIF - artistry, centering, condition. It has it all.

    I have two of these, which happened to fit my budget. One of them has a paperwork trail from a 1950s fraternity. Here is a boy and a warrior.

    Tarentum Mar 30 2017 (0).jpg

    Calabria, Tarentum
    AR Nomos
    Hippodanos Magistrate
    (c. 280-272 B.C.)

    Naked youth on horseback right, crowning self; ΣΩ to left, ZAΛO & Ionic capital below / Phalanthos riding dolphin left, holding distaff & aphlaston; TAΡAΣ below;
    ANO to right. Vlasto 803–7.
    (6.41 grams / 20 mm)

    Taranteum -  didrachm TEKE paperwork July  2018 (4).jpg
    Taranteum -  didrachm TEKE paperwork July  2018 (2).JPG

    Calabria, Tarentum AR Nomos
    ΛYKΩN Magistrate
    (c. 280-272 B.C.)

    Helmeted, nude warrior on horse right, spearing, crowned by Nike flying left, ΣI behind, ΛYKΩN under horse / Taras astride dolphin left, holding kantharos and trident, GU in right field.
    Vlasto 730; SNG ANS 1096.
    (6.18 grams / 19 mm)

    Provenance: Presented as gift to (Army) Chaplain Luther W. Evans for naming Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity magazine The Tidewater-Blue Ridge Teke in 1958 (see letter from Harry Donnelly and Sept. 1958 article in The Tidewater-Blue Ridge Teke, page 3)
  5. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    I remember when you posted this coin! What a fantastic pedigree story!
    Marsyas Mike likes this.
  6. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Wow! @TIF , that coin is absolutely STUNNING!
    TIF likes this.
  7. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Lovely coin and excellent write-up @TIF.
    TIF likes this.
  8. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Fantastic example! Phalanthos looks buff, and I love the hair detail. Soooo hard to get both the tip of the dolphin's snout as well as the tail on these. The obverse is wonderful as well, the horse and dismounting rider look positively kinetic.

    This pretty much sums up my predilection for the series.

    And this sums up how I approached the 'problem' :D...

    Tarentum - Nomos Small Dolphin new.jpg
    CALABRIA, Tarentum
    AR Didrachm. 7.50g, 20.2mm. CALABRIA, Tarentum, circa 325-281 BC. Fischer-Bossert 870c (this coin); Vlasto 607; SNG Copenhagen 849; SNG France 1800 (same obverse die). O: Nude rider on horse galloping to right, stabbing with spear held in his right hand and holding two other spears and shield with his left; below, ΣΑ. R: TAPAΣ, Phalanthos riding dolphin to left, holding kantharos in his right hand and trident in his left; below, little dolphin leaping left; K in left field.
    Ex Schweizerischer Bankverein 29 (28 January 1992), lot 12

    Tarentum - Nomos Vlasto 2073 new.jpg
    CALABRIA, Tarentum
    AR Didrachm. 7.97g, 21.4mm. CALABRIA, Tarentum, circa 400-390 BC. Fischer-Bossert Group 26, 361a (V164/R283) = Vlasto 339 (this coin, illustrated in both); HN Italy 850. O: Naked ephebos on horse galloping right; small Λ below. R: Phalanthos, holding torch, riding dolphin left; TAPAΣ below.
    Ex William N. Rudman Collection (Triton V, 15 January 2002), lot 1043; ex CNG Auction 53 (15 March 2000), lot 31; ex Michel Pandely Vlasto Collection, 339

    Tarentum - Nomos Die Clash.jpg
    CALABRIA, Tarentum
    AR Didrachm. 7.64g, 21.7mm. CALABRIA, Tarentum, circa 380-340 BC. Vlasto 445 (same obv die). O: Nude helmeted warrior on horseback to left, holding reins in right hand, and shield and spear in left; Δ below horse. R: Taras seated astride dolphin to left, holding trident over shoulder; K and waves below, TAPAΣ to right.
    As noted in Vlasto: "the obv. die must have struck the rev. die without blank and thus got damaged."

    Tarentum - Nomos 1st New 2017.jpg
    CALABRIA, Tarentum
    AR Didrachm. 7.74g, 22mm. CALABRIA, Tarentum, circa 280 BC. Vlasto 700; HN Italy 968. O: Helmeted naked warrior with shield jumping off horse galloping left; EY behind, NIKΩTTAΣ below. R: TAPAΣ, Phalanthus of Tarentum, holding trident and short spear, riding dolphin right; below, hippocamp right, ΣOP to left.
    Ex Giessener Münzhandlung 81 (1997), lot 67

    Tarentum - Nomos - Prow.jpg
    CALABRIA, Tarentum
    AR Didrachm. 7.75g, 22.3mm. CALABRIA, Tarentum, circa 332-281 BC. Fischer-Bossert Group 80, 1131 (V417/R873); Vlasto 587; HN Italy 934. O: Warrior, holding shield and two spears, preparing to cast a third, on horseback right; ΣA below. R: TAPAΣ, Phalanthos, holding distaff, riding dolphin left; pellet to left; below, prow left.
    Ex Estate of Thomas Bentley Cederlind; ex Numismatica Ars Classica 84 (20 May 2015), lot 1358
  9. Johndoe2000$

    Johndoe2000$ Well-Known Member

    Excellent post, and very nice coin. Congrats on the pick up.
    TIF likes this.
  10. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    The entry reads "Same horse-rider galloping left, holding a round shield and lance; below, letter |-. -- Rx. ΤΑΡΑΣ. Taras on a dolphin l., holding a Corinthian helmet in the right hand and placing the left hand on the dolphin; below, letter | and waves. Var. of Ev. III, L 3. Extremely rare. Didrachm. Very fine."
    TIF likes this.
  11. Plumbata

    Plumbata Well-Known Member

    Very nice selection, I especially like the detail of Phalanthos holding up the helmet and the dismounting warrior is indeed rendered in a very "kinetic" or dynamic manner. Was this the "favorite of the year" coin you alluded to?
    TIF likes this.
  12. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    No, the "favorite of the year" is still waiting for me to do a worthy writeup :). This Tarentum is certainly going to be high on the year-end list though!
    Plumbata and Roman Collector like this.
  13. Johndoe2000$

    Johndoe2000$ Well-Known Member

    Lol, I always thought that the Dolphin Rider (Phalanthros/Taras) was holding the head (inside helmet) of a defeated foe, or something like that, and not just his helmet. I'm not an ancients collector, but I do admire the nicer ones, like the ones posted here.
    Marsyas Mike and TIF like this.
  14. Ryro

    Ryro Trying to remove supporter status Supporter

    WoWiE! Amazing pick up @TIF! For many of the reasons you've mentioned I've yet to pick one of these beauties up. But I'll be mighty pleased if I get one near as stunning as yours. Coingrats!
    TIF likes this.
  15. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    What a beautiful coin @TIF.....I don't own any Dolphin riders but can really appreciate the detail on your new purchase especially the reverse...Congrats!
    TIF likes this.
  16. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Good choice, TIF , all is on the flan, congrats.

    Heres mine, got to had one with an owl:

    P1150344 best.jpg
  17. PlanoSteve

    PlanoSteve Well-Known Member

    Not just a horse...a stallion! :singing:

    Ah, now you understand the basic predicament we all have (well, mostly me! :D)

    We can only hope TIF,...we can only hope...:happy::hilarious:

    Yup! ;)

    I saw a hippocamp in Africa one time...they were all by the fireside toasting these gigantic marshmallows & making smores. They didn't use tents though...:confused:;)
    Orfew and TIF like this.
  18. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Absolutely fantastic TIF, I am green with envy, having just returned from holiday in that area, it's definitely a coin high on my want list.
    TIF likes this.
  19. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    Nicely centered and toned coin in the OP. Nice ones posted by everyone else, too.

    Alas, I am lacking. I want one. Used to have one or two in my VCoins watchlist.

    I would be surprised if this type is not in the HJB "100 Greatest Ancient Coins" book? (I don't have that, either.)
    TIF likes this.
  20. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    I didn't remember either but have the book... yes, it's #45 on Berk's list. He calls the denomination a stater. Didrachm, nomos, stater... another good reason to just put the diameter and weight in every coin's attribution :).

    If I had traveled to any areas where ancient coins originated, I'd definitely want to buy some from those areas! I have not traveled much and have only been to Europe once. It was just a weekend trip to Italy. From that experience I learned that a) middle seat coach on a long flight is torture, and b) in small towns of Italy, nothing at all is open on the weekends, especially after hours. Bring your own food.
  21. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    I do at least have Taras/Tarentum covered with the little owl I'm presently using as an avatar. So there is that, anyway. It is probably my favorite coin in my present collection. But I do want a dolphin rider someday.
    Orfew and TIF like this.
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