Carthage in Sicily Italy and North Africa. 350-320 BC

Carthage in Sicily Italy and North Africa. 350-320 BC


AV Stater, 9.34g (18mm, 6h). Head of Tanit-Persephone l., wearing wreath of reeds / Horse prancing r.; behind, palm tree with cluster of dates

Pedigree: Ex Sotheby’s 1979, Patrick A. Doheny, lot 29. Sotheby’s 21-22 June 1990, Ex Hunt Collection, A, part, 2, lot 311

References: Jenkins-Lewis group III, 68

Grade: Lovely rendition of Tanit on a nice large flan. FDC (gk1277) 

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Carthage, located in northern Africa, was founded in c. 814 BC by the Phoenicians. It was originally dependant on the city of Tyre until about c. 650 BC when it gained its independence. At that point it started to seize control over other Phoenician settlements located in the Mediterranean. With its superior location near the sea it became a trading post for the area. From 600-265 BC Carthage was in periodic wars with nearby Sicily. Stylistically the coins of Carthage bear resemblance to their Sicilian counterparts. There were likely Sicilian die cutters that went to work in Carthage as similarities are stark. The goddess Arethusa and the Carthaginian version of Tanit-Persephone are beautifully sculpted. The quadriga which is a standard reverse (or obverse type on some issues) for the Sicilians is transformed into a single horse for the coinage of Carthage.

This coin was part of the illustrious Hunt Collection. The Hunt brothers were infamous for attempting to corner the silver bullion market in 1980. This led to a near collapse of the market on March 27, 1980, also known as “Silver Thursday”. Silver bullion, which had been selling at $6.08/Troy ounce on January 1, 1979  rocketed up to a stunning $49.45 by January 18, 1980 (a 713% increase). The situation became so dire that the famous jewelry store Tiffany’s placed a full page ad in the New York Times on March 26 condemning the actions of the brothers in trying to artificially inflate the silver market to the disadvantage of many others. The market came to a screaming halt on March 27th. The brothers lost billions of dollars and had to reimburse a Peruvian mineral company that had lost money due to their actions. The Hunts eventually sold their beautiful collection of coins through a 5 auction series in Sotheby’s in the early 1990’s. The Hunt brothers purchased this coin initially in 1979  in another Sotheby’s auction of which it was in the collection of a Mr. Patrick A. Doheny.