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Gemini Auctions sells Arethusa decadrachm coin of Syracuse for $141,600

An Augustus gold quinarius and a Syracuse decadrachm coin showing Arethusa sold at Gemini

As we expected, Gemini's auction of rare ancient coins over the weekend (ending January 8) presented some spectacular successes.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the auction was a 3.91g gold quinarius from the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus.

Augustus gold quinarius
One of just four: the Augustus gold quinarius

Showing the Emperor on the obverse, head laureate facing right with the words AVGVSTVS - DIVI F beneath him, the impressive coin is one of just four examples known. The reverse shows Victory seated triumphant upon the globe holding a wreath and with the text TR POT - XXVIIII.

The mint state coin was expected to achieve $30,000, but in fact the mint state coin tripled this with a value of $129,800 (including 18% Buyer's Premium).

Syracuse quadriga decadrachm coin
The obverse of the Syracuse decadrachm coin shows a quadriga

However, the top lot was indeed the one we focussed in on ahead of the sale: the Arethusa decadrachm coin from Syracuse, previously held bya Chicago collector who owned it for 40 years.

The obverse shows a quadriga galloping left, driven by a charioteer holding reins and directing the horses with a goad. Above him, Nike is flying right to crown the charioteer. In the foreground are a cuirass, two greaves, and a Phrygian helmet.

The reverse shows the head of the nymph Arethusa facing left, wearing a reed wreath, triple ear pendant, and necklace. Beneath her chin is a pellet and around her are four dolphins.

Syracuse Arethusa decadrachm coin
Arethusa looking lovely amongst the dolphins

Listed at $50,000 before the auction, the decadrachm came close to tripling that expectation, achieving $141,600.

Extremely fine and rare ancient coins can be fascinating. We currently have a Carian Islands, Rhodes Silver Tetradrachm, showing the facing head of Helios in stock which is available right now.

Recent and related articles

· Eliasberg 1793 S-4 Chain Cent exchanged for World Record price $1.38m at | 9 January 2012

· Pantikapaion gold stater sets $3.8m World Record price at Prospero Greek coins auction | 7 January 2012

· Ides of March coin should make collectors mark the date for Sotheby's auction | 25 December 2011

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Images: Gemini Auctions

Last updated: 10 January 2012