Impressive and Attractive Tetradrachm of Akragas

Today’s preview coin from the Stack’s Bowers Galleries January New York
International Auction is an absolutely stunning piece of Sicilian coinage. Akragas
is located on the southern coast of Sicily, though it is now known as
Agrigento. One of the cities of Magna Graecia, Akragas flourished during the
Golden Age of Ancient Greece and nearly rivaled Syracuse in power and riches. Though
humble in origin (simple eagle and crab motifs), the coinage of Akragas would
evolve into some fantastic and artistic renderings that also rivaled those of Syracuse.

On the obverse, two magnificent Sea eagles stand side by side, facing
right lording over their spoils, a dead and upturned hare. The foremost eagle
stands with its wings tucked against its body, its head raised to the sky in
triumph. The farther eagle stands facing with its wings flapping, its head
lowered towards the prey. The motif alludes to Aeschylos’ Agamemnon, where an
omen shown to kings Menelaus and Agamemnon depicted them as two eagles
devouring a pregnant hare, which was a symbol for Troy. The reverse features a
large crab, and just below, the sea monster Scylla. Here she is depicted as a
beautiful young woman, though a long scaled tail with a fin and spines emerges
from her waist instead of legs. The foreparts of two hounds also emerge from
her waist. Scylla was one of the many trials facing Odysseus during his
journey; he was forced to navigate around two sea monsters in a narrow strait
(commonly said to be the Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily). Odysseus
chose Scylla over her counterpart, the whirlpool Charybdis, as he determined it
better to lose some men rather than his entire ship and crew.

The coin to be offered in our January sale is an extremely rare die
pairing of a very rare coin. Reportedly only about a dozen examples of this
type are known, nearly all of which seem to be struck from the same obverse and
reverse die pairing. While the example offered here shares the same obverse, it
uses a slightly different reverse. The most distinct difference can be seen in
deviations in the placement of the legend. Well centered with good metal
quality, the piece is lightly toned and quite attractive.

We are now accepting consignments of world and ancient coins as well as
world paper money for our January 2017 New York International Auction as well
as Chinese and other Asian coins and currency for our April 2017 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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