Calabria, Tarentum. c. 281-228 BC

Calabria, Tarentum. c. 281-228 BC

4,750.00

AR Nomos, 7.30g (21mm, 4h). Head of nymph left, wearing headband and triple pendant earring / Nude youth on horseback right, crowning horse that raises left foreleg; dolphin behind, lion to right below horse, TA below hoof.

Pedigree: Ex Comte René Philipon Collection (1870-1936)

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References:  Vlasto 1020; SNG ANS 1292; HN Italy 1098

Grade:  Lovely cabinet toning. EF  (gk1154)

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The coinage of Tarentum has continually fascinated and delighted coin enthusiasts. The ancient tradition tells the story of how Taras, the founder of the first settlement, was miraculously saved from a shipwreck by a dolphin sent by Poseidon, the father of Taras. The dolphin lifted Taras out of the water and delivered him safely to the shore. It was on this spot that the city of Tarentum was founded.

Most coins of Tarentum show a Taras on the back of the dolphin which illuminates the tale of Tarentum. This coin is special in that it shows imagery that is less seen on these types. The Campano-Tarentine series dates to around the middle of the 3rd century BC, and are usually said to have been struck somewhere in Campania or Lucania. The reverse displays not the usual type of Taras astride a dolphin, and the obverse horseman type is relegated to the reverse, while instead a nymph resembling those on the coinage of Neapolis takes its place. Furthermore, the coins are struck on the standard not of Tarentum, being 0.8 grams lighter on average, but of those cities on the west coast of Magna Graecia, hence the credence given to this theory. However, the question of where these coins were struck and which region they were intended for, was addressed by J.G. Milne (An Exchange-Currency of Magna Graecia), who convincingly argues that it was more likely they were produced in Tarentum for circulation in or trade with the Greek cities of Bruttium, and that they should therefore be properly referred to as Bruttio-Tarentine coinage.