Unexpected horse detail

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by AncientJoe, Feb 2, 2019.

  1. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    @Volodya 's C. Postumius thread showing the incredible detail engraved on a dog reminded me that I haven’t yet posted this new purchase. It technically occurred at the end of 2018 but it falls into my 2019 "CoinTalk year" as it was after I posted my top 10.

    A dealer friend that primarily handles US coins emailed me saying he had a collection of nice ancients come in and I had first pick at them if I wanted it. Usually this ends up being Athens tetradrachms but I had a bit of extra time so I went over.

    I’m certainly glad I did. Most of the coins were run of the mill but this one just absolutely jumped out. I recognized it as it was on the cover of a Lanz 1985 catalog and in NFA 1989, which is where the owner bought it from.

    I asked the price, cringed, and wrote a check.


    From a distance, it is an attractive coin – high grade, decently well centered. Then the detail keeps streaming out… the rider just blows me away, and I’ve never seen the quality of engraving in the horses, including ribs and veins in their underbelly(!), as well as the flowing clothing on Nike.

    Not to mention the quality of the engraving of Arethusa on the reverse with a gentle expression and striking eyes with long eyelashes, and a headdress that couldn't quite keep all of her hair in.

    The pedigree helped but I still double checked that they would take a return if it ended up being fake as it is almost too nice: I hadn’t seen anything like it before. To be safe, I had it inspected at NYINC by several dealers and numismatic experts and they all agree that it is genuine.

    Trying to rank coins is like picking a favorite child but this one is high up in my sorting. It is yet another case of there always being more coins coming around the corner, even from unexpected places.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Another absolute stunner, AJ! Wow!! The artistry is outstanding, the strike deep and true, and the surfaces are minty fresh with some lovely toning.

    Arethusa's details are incredible too-- have you ever seen a more realistic eye on an ancient coin?
  4. Pishpash

    Pishpash Well-Known Member

    I can't think of a word to describe this coin, stunning seems totally inadequate
  5. Collect89

    Collect89 Coin Collector

    This is my first visit to CT in a month & the first thing I see is this incredible coin.
    :singing::singing::singing::singing:Thanks Mr. Ancient Joe:singing::singing::singing::singing:.
    You kicked-off my day wonderfully.:)

    Here is my only Syracuse coin:
    syracuse_600 Seller Photo.jpg
    SICILY, Syracuse
    AR Tetradrachm
    485 - 478 B.C. 24 mm, 17.2 grams
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
  6. Limes

    Limes Well-Known Member

    When faced with such beautiful art, all one can do is just watch in totally silence... Amazing to be the owner if it, congratulations AncientJoe.
  7. ancientcoinguru

    ancientcoinguru Supporter! Supporter

    I agree with @Pishpash, words seem inadequate when describing this awesome coin, the quality of the engraving is amazing. It’s truly a work of art.
    AncientJoe and Pishpash like this.
  8. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus

    Wow, what a superb coin. The artistry is breathtaking.
    AncientJoe likes this.
  9. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    I don’t know what you paid, but you got a good deal.
  10. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    Beautiful capture @AncientJoe !

    Thank you for sharing!!!
    AncientJoe likes this.
  11. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    I agree this is a magnificent coin but I believe that it brings up a good point about why we do not see more posts about these coins. These are not rare coins. There are thousands of varieties of Syracusan silver in many sizes and styles. Every die was a new and unique work of art to some degree and some, certainly including this one, were great art. Why. then is the finest specimen we have to praise and put on the cover of our high end catalogs missing the dolphins on the right? The die cutter was an artist but so many of these coins were just not well struck. This one is far above average. While there are enough of them that the die corpus has been published (Boehringer) specialists in the series have to deal with many poorly struck coins. Collect89 shared a well made coin with style earlier than is currently appreciated by most of us. It seems that Archaic coins are not as appreciated as they once were. If you check old sale catalogs and records of the finest collections, you will find many of the even finer dekadrachms. On average, they seem to have been made better but still many are a bit short flan. Compared to the owls of Athens, the design of the Syracuse tetradrachms had more important things to be lost by poor strikes. In Athens, we worry about helmet crests butt Syracuse loses dolphins, horse heads and charioteers.

    If I were completely unhampered by budget concerns, I would specialize in the coinage of Syracuse and certainly be proud to have coins as wonderful as this one. As it is, I have a very few.

    An early period tetradrachm

    a later tetradrachm showing a severe die break but decent style

    a 0.3g hemilitron of good style (1/40 of the 20 litra 'tetradrachm')

    My smallest is this AR hexas or 1/6 litra = 1/120 'tetradrachm'. I really want to upgrade this miserable little coin but they are not easy to find. It weighs 0.05g but has lost some to the exfoliation so obvious in the photo.
  12. Ryro

    Ryro Trying to remove supporter status Supporter

    Looking at your coin literally made my heart race like a school boy during an unexpected encounter with a beauty.
    It is very humbling to post mine. Though she comes from a similar stock as yours, she was part of the machine that was ancient commerce, hence her wear. That and, like yours to you, she is one of my very favorites that I own:
    CollageMaker Plus_2018102817519335.png

    Deinomenid Tyranny
    485-466BC.AR Tetradrachm
    (24mm - 17.45 g). Struck
    circa 480-475BC.Charioteer
    driving walking quadriga right,
    holding kentron and reins;
    Nike flying above[/ATTACH]
  13. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    AncientJoe likes this.
  14. Volodya

    Volodya Junior Member

    I like that! One of the finest obverses I've ever seen. I'm probably in a tiny minority, but I really prefer the engraving on the best Syracuse tetradrachms to that on the ostentatious dekas.
    Carthago, dougsmit and AncientJoe like this.
  15. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    That's a wonderful coin.
    AncientJoe likes this.
  16. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Absolutely fantastic, the best I have seen.
    AncientJoe likes this.
  17. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Even eye lashes!
    AncientJoe and TIF like this.
  18. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    I have to admit first looking at the reverse because I’ve always liked this depiction of Arethusa wearing a sakkos. That really is a portrait you can stare at all day. Of course, when I looked at the obverse, I was blown away all over again. The horses are absolutely stunning, and that rider... just, wow!

    I’m quite pleased to note the eyelashes on my much much more worn example. :shame:

  19. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks! And I tend to agree - I will controversially say that I am just not aesthetically interested in almost all Kimon signed dekadrachms (Jongkees 1 is a nice reverse die but other than that, they just don't fit my personal aesthetic). I own an unsigned example and would consider it a downgrade to buy almost any signed coin. Euainetos is better with "sweeter" depictions but can still be hit or miss.

  20. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    This is very true, and it plagues dekadrachms as well. It is unfortunate that flans weren't prepared or struck with the design in mind. Clearly they cared enough to spend the money on an artist to engrave the dies: why not take an extra second or two per coin to line them up better, or encourage the artist to just engrave a bit smaller of a design.

    This tetradrachm is an example of why, in the thread from a few weeks ago, I have centering/strike lower than other facets. Some types simply never come well-centered and it's either a matter of skipping the type altogether or waiting an eternity to find a perfect coin which might not exist.

    I'm very happy never meeting the textbook definition of FDC and always willing to upgrade if the right coin happened to come around but perhaps I've proven my patience is finite.
  21. Fugio1

    Fugio1 Supporter! Supporter

    @AncientJoe, There is nothing esoteric about the beauty of this coin. Anyone would agree it is breathtaking, even those uninitiated in numismatics.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page