ASHMOLEAN MUSEUM ELECTROTYPE. SICILY. Katane. Circa 410 B.C. AR tetradrachm. 15.61 gm. 23 mm. Obverse die signed by Herakleidas. Laureate head of Apollo facing slightly left, his hair in loose curls fanning out around; HPAKΛEIΔAΣ (mostly off flan) to right / Charioteer driving fast quadriga left, crowned by Nike flying right above; KATANAIΩN and [fish] in exergue. Small A stamped on edge. Cf. SNG Copenhagen 180. Cf. SNG Ashmolean 1708. Cf. Basel 337 (same dies). Cf. Gulbenkian 190 (same dies). Good Very Fine; lovely style and tone; some weakness on reverse. A beautiful and professional replica of an exceptionally rare issue.
This Ashmolean Museum electrotype is a copy of the glorious silver tetradrachm of Catana struck by dies signed on the obverse by Heracleidas, one of the masters of Greek art working in the last decade of the fifth century B.C. in Sicily. An example, ex Peter Guber Collection (the Antikenmuseum Basel 337, and illustrated in R. R. Holloway, Art and Coinage in Magna Gracia, p. 112), was offered in The Manhattan Sale 2, January 4, 2011, as Lot 12, sold for $170,000. Other examples include Kraal-Hirmer pl. 15, 43 (same dies). Rizzo pl xiv, 10 (same dies). Gulbenkian 190 (same dies). SNG Lockett 730 (same dies).
This explosive period of innovation in Sicily in the late fifth century resulted in the creation of the facing head, greatly dramatizing the aesthetic effect of the coins. During the fifth century, Catana, on the east coast of Sicily under Mount Aetna, employed several signing artists and produced some of the most artistic issues in all of Greek coinage. Near the end of the century, it commissioned a facing head of its patron god Apollo for its tetradrachms. In this example, the engraver Heracleidas combined the traditional Apollo, god of oracles, music, and law, with Helios the sun god. Apollo is portrayed with an intense burning gaze with hair suggesting the sun’s rays. The racing quadriga on the reverse conveys excitement and chaotic movement, with thrashing horses’ legs, the backward glance of the third horse, and the posture of the charioteer.
This electrotype provides the opportunity to own an example of one of the most artistic issues in all of Greek coinage, at a modest price.
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