Outstanding Euainetos Decadrachm

As we look toward the August ANA World’s Fair of Money, we are thrilled to begin highlighting some numismatic treasures we will offer in our official auction. The coin selected for this preview has an exceptional lineage of brilliant numismatic curators. Originally held in the Lawrence R. Stack Collection of Ancient Greek Coins, this piece was subsequently purchased by none other than Q. David Bowers. Lawrence R. Stack and Q. David Bowers are both Founders of Stack’s Bowers Galleries and remain highly influential and respected titans of the numismatic world.

In addition to its exceptional pedigree, the coin itself is of particularly high artistic quality. Syracuse, on the island of Sicily situated off the coastal toe of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea, was the most important city in Magna Graecia. It was a major power in the ancient world, and rivaled Athens in size during the fifth century B.C. One of the most famous Siracusans was the preeminent mathematician and engineer, Archimedes. During the Magna Graecia period where Syracuse exercised the most power, a series of tyrants ruled with varying degrees of autocracy and cruelty. This period also saw brief times of democracy and oligarchy as well. One tyrant Dionysius I was regarded as a cruel yet effective leader, who ruled through his “personal guard” of mercenaries, essentially a private army loyal only to him. This strategy would later be used by the Roman Imperators, and would lead to the downfall of that Republic. Dionysius I achieved great success in his wars of conquest across Sicily and southern Italy, and opposed the encroachment of Carthage in Sicily. This particular coin was minted during the reign of this prominent Greek tyrant and commander.

The Decadrachms of Syracuse are widely considered to be among the finest pieces of numismatic art in antiquity if not all of numismatics. The Siracusan engravers Kimon and Euainetos led this period of high artistry, with this coin attributed to Euainetos, despite being unsigned by him. The obverse and reverse designs for Syracuse most commonly depict the water nymph Arethusa and a quadriga on the other side. The nymph Arethusa was a maiden who attracted the desire of a river deity. He pursued her through the woods until she beseeched Artemis the moon goddess for aid. Through divine intervention Arethusa was transformed into an underground stream and directed to emerge as a fountain on the island of Ortygia, the historical center of the city of Syracuse. The quadriga design honored the tyrants of Syracuse. These men were abundantly wealthy, and would frequently host chariot races and typically sponsored multiple teams within each race. These highly prestigious contests boosted the reputation and esteem of the autocrat of the city, as more often than not one of their teams was victorious.

This particular coin displays a quadriga pulled by galloping horses driven left by a female charioteer leaning forward with a kentron in right hand and the reins in left hand. Nike (Greek goddess of Victory) appears flying above the horses heading right and attempting to crown the charioteer. A heavy exergual line appears, separating the quadriga and various military implements, including an aegis, greaves, helmet and spear. The reverse design bears the head of the above-mentioned water nymph Arethusa, facing left wearing a wreath of barley, necklace and ornate earrings. The tremendous detail found in the curls of her hair is truly astonishing. The Greek ethnic for Syracuse appears only partially behind her head. Four dolphins appear around her head and a star of eight rays is found behind her head. This example is the third of five principle varieties of unsigned Decadrachms attributed to Euainetos. The strike is pleasing, the surfaces even and the toning is choice gray with iridescent hues amongst the arms on the obverse and the curls of hair on the reverse. This appealing coin is certainly worthy of the most sophisticated collection.

Look for this and other ancient numismatic rarities in our upcoming August ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction. Preview this impressive coin along with the rest of our auction this July at the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio office located in Irvine, California. For details please refer to the Events Calendar link at To schedule an appointment, please call 800.458.4646. Our Stack’s Bowers August ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction is still open for further consignments of ancient and world coins. We are also currently accepting consignments of Asian coins and currency for our August 2015 Hong Kong Showcase Auction. Time is running short, so if you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be sure to contact one of our consignment directors.

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