Sold for £126,000
Naxos, tetradrachm, c. 460 BC, by the Aetna Master
Bearded head of Dionysos right wearing ivy wreath, hair tied in krobylos at back of neck, rev., Ν-ΑΧΙ-ΟΝ, Silenos, nude, bearded and ithyphallic, squatting on the ground, his head turned towards kantharos held in his right hand and supporting himself with his left, 17.44g, die axis 4.00 (Cahn 54; Rizzo pl. XXVIII, 12; BMC 7; SNG ANS 515; SNG Lloyd 1150; Kraay-Hirmer 6, all from the same dies), slight tooling in obverse field, very fine and very rare
Provenance: European collection formed in the 1920s; Morton & Eden 68, 10 June 2014, lot 7.
Naxos was the earliest Greek settlement in Sicily, evidently founded around 735 BC, just one year before Syracuse. Its population was forcibly moved to Leontini by the tyrant Hieron of Syracuse and on the fall of the Syracusan tyranny the inhabitants were repatriated in 461 BC. It is believed that this special issue, only known from one pair of dies, was struck in celebration of this event. The issue is regarded as a masterpiece of Greek numismatic art of the late archaic/early classical period and has been compared stylistically to the famous unique tetradrachm of Aetna in Brussels so that it is generally attributed to the Aetna Master.