The Most Important Greek Tetradrachm Sold For 1.7 Million Dollars!

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Sold from NUMISMATICA GENEVENSIS auction Lot 1.

Syracuse. Silver Tetradrachm signed by Kimon, circa 405-400 BC. APEƟOΣA Head of Arethusa facing, slightly inclined to the left, wearing two necklaces; her hair flows on soft wawes around her head; on the ampyx over her forhead, the signature KIMΩN; on right two dolphins swimming and a third emerging from the hair to the left / ΣYPAK OΣIΩN Quadriga galloping to the left; the charioteer, holding reins and kentron, looks back at his pursuers; above Nike presenting a wreath to the charioteer; ear of barley in exergue. 16,90g. Rizzo pl. XLVIII, 10 (this obverse die); Gulbenkian 292 (these dies); Fischer-Bossert pl. 5, 9 (these dies); Kraay-Hirmer 122 (this obverse die) and 123 (this reverse die); Kunstwerke der Antike (this coin); Schefold WM 492 (this coin); Tudeer 79 (these dies).⁠
Certainly the most beautiful greek coin in private hands. A masterpiece of sublime style. Extremely rare.⁠


From the collection of Robert Käppeli (purchased before 1960) and the auctions Leu 76 (27 October 1999), 57 and NAC 77 (26 May 2014), 17.⁠


The richness of this artist’s work cannot be overstated, for the style and composition of this coin is essentially perfect. The details of the Arethusa’s portrait are richly engraved, with their impact being intensified by the playful dolphins that dart through the floating strands of hair in the surrounding water.⁠


Katherine Erhart, in her dissertation on facing head Greek coins, offers praise: “…the master-engraver Kimon created a facing head of the fountain nymph, which is easily the most beautiful coin of all time, one applauded by ancient die-engravers and modern critics alike. … No other engraver before or since has so magnificently exploited the compositional potential of the small circular coin flan.” The combination of the obverse depicting ‘Arethusa the Saviour,’ a reverse dedicated to a victorious charioteer, and the innovative and remarkable quality of the dies, earmarks this as a commemorative issue.⁠

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