Decadrachm from Syracuse

Decadrachm from Syracuse

Gold starter from Taras

Period: Classical Greece

Country: Greece

Denomination: Decadrachm

Mint: Syracuse (Sicily)

Weight: 42,36 g

Quality: VF/almost EF (gutes ss/fast vz)

Auction house: Gorny & Mosch

Date: 6 March 2017

Starting price: 40.000 euros

Historical context

If we asked 100 Greek coin collectors to name their 10 favorite coins from Ancient Greece I would be surprised if any of them does not mention a decadrachm from Syracuse. Under no doubt, this is one of the most beautiful coins ever minted. It portraits the nymph Arethusa, which is linked to the city of Syracuse by the Greek mythology and has always been considered as the Greek ideal of beauty. The other side of the coin includes several icons of victory: Nike, a quadriga driven by a charioteer and display of military harness set in the exergue. This representation makes many historians think that the coin was used as a medallion issued to commemorate a military victory. They also consider that these decadrachms started to be minted at around 400 BC and their production continued until 360 BC. Another very interesting aspect is that their engravers Euainetos and Kimon were so proud of them that they even signed several dies (more about it).


The decadrachms from Syracuse are highly demanded by collectors from all over the world. In high quality, they can well cost around $150.000 (e.g. this was hammered for 130.000 CHF). However, the coin that is now on auction is not in such a good quality. In the hammer price range of $30.000 to $36.000 we can find several coins of similar quality as the one now on auction (e.g. this, this and this), while in the price range of $38.000 to $50.000 we can find others of higher quality (e.g. this and this). Additionally, even if the coin on auction is really beautiful and has high relief, it does not include the sign of Kimon, which is always an added value that has a positive impact on the price.

Description from the seller

SYRAKUS. Dionysios I., 406 – 367 v.Chr. Dekadrachme (42,36g). Circa 405 – 400 v. Chr., unsigniertes Werk des Kimon. Vs.: Wagenlenker ein Viergespann n. l. lenkend, darüber Nike n. r. fliegend und ihn bekränzend, i. A. Tropaion aus Panzer, Beinschienen, Schild und phrygischem Helm, alles horizontal auf eine Lanze gesteckt, darunter [AΘΛA] (= Preise). Rs.: ΣΥΡA-KOΣIΩ (sic!); Kopf der Arethusa, von vier Delphinen umspielt, n. l., über der Stirn Sphendone, das lockige Haar am Hinterkopf durch ein mit Perlen geschmücktes Netz zusammengehalten. SNG ANS 360 (stgl.); Gulbenkian 309 (stgl.); HGC 1298; Jongkees 12.
Hohes Relief, Vs. aus nicht mehr ganz frischem Stempel, gutes ss/fast vz
Aus nordkalifornischer Sammlung; ex Sammlung Robert Schonwalter (Triton V, New York, 15. Januar 2002, 1227).
Bei aller Detailversessenheit und atemberaubender künstlerischer Qualität hat der Meister an diesem Reversstempel den letzten Buchstaben des Ethnikons vergessen.



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