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Choice Syracusan100 Litrae featuring Hercules and the Nemean Lion

Our series of previews of the Stack’s Bowers Galleries August ANA World’s
Fair of Money continues with another fantastic gold piece, though this time it
is from the ancient world. Today’s coin is a lovely 100 Litrae from Syracuse,
from an age during which great care and detail went into coinage of high art.
The obverse features the visage of Arethusa, a water nymph long associated with
the city of Syracuse. Arethusa was a maiden who became the desire of a river
deity who 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 which is the historical center of the city of Syracuse. Her head
appears facing left, her hair bound in a low bun, with a pellet before and behind
her. The ethnic appears just before face, beginning near her forehead and
running counterclockwise facing outward along the edge (though partially off
flan). The reverse design is certainly familiar to any student of Greek
mythology — the demi-god Heracles. Depicted kneeling facing right, Heracles is
grappling with the Nemean Lion, the first of his great tasks. He can be seen
strangling the lion, which is struggling to free itself from the vice-like
grip. Historians seem to agree that this design is an allegory for the
Syracusans’ struggle against the Carthaginian invaders. The Greeks are
represented by the heroic ideal of Heracles – a fellow Greek – where the
Carthaginians in some cases used the African lion as a sigil for their city.
This example is well struck (with just minor doubling) from well-crafted dies
of the finest style. The centering is great on both sides. This example was
previously auctioned as part of Sotheby’s sale of the Nelson Bunker Hunt
Collection Part IV, June 19-20, 1991, lot #115. It is certain to elevate the
prestige of the next collection it enters.


We are now accepting consignments of world and ancient coins for our
August 2016 ANA Auction as well as Chinese and other Asian coins and currency
for our August 2016 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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West Coast Office • (800) 458-4646

Midwest Office • (800) 817-2646

East Coast Office • (800) 566-2580

info@stacksbowers.com
 

Hong Kong, China Office • +852 2117 1191

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