Collection of Greek Coins May Realise Over £4M
Morton & Eden
26-27 September 2023
A fabulous collection of Greek coins formed over 20 years ago by a European connoisseur is to be sold at auction by Morton & Eden Ltd in London on 26-27 September 2023. The sale will take place in Sotheby’s St George Street Gallery just before the major annual UK coin fair Coinex, enabling many prospective buyers to be present. Estimated to realise over £4million, the 561 lots include numerous rarities preserved in outstandingly good condition.
Specialist Tom Eden said of the collection, “We are very excited about this collection which is probably the finest to appear on the market since the sale of the “Prospero” collection in New York in 2012, and both collectors and dealers are eagerly looking forward to the event”.
Two major highlights are coins from 5th century BC Sicily when the island was a Greek colony and part of what has come to be known as Magna Graecia.
From the city of Naxos is a beautiful silver tetradrachm struck around 460 BC (lot 112, estimate £400,000-600,000). It used to be owned by Jean-Jacques Barre, Chief Engraver of the Paris Mint from 1842 to 1855, himself a celebrated designer and engraver who perhaps drew inspiration from this very coin. The style is transitional from archaic to classical and the example to be sold is one of the finest known of the few surviving specimens.
The coin depicts the head of the wine god Dionysos on the obverse and his woodland companion, the drunken Silenos, on the reverse, both types which obviously celebrate a flourishing local viticulture. Coins of this type have long been greatly admired for the skill of the die engraver, named in modern times as the “Aetna Master” after a unique tetradrachm of Aetna in the Brussels Museum which was issued at the same period as the Naxos piece.
From Syracuse comes an exceptional silver dekadrachm struck around 405 BC, signed by the celebrated artist Kimon. Described in 1927 by Sir George Hill as “perhaps the most perfect specimen of its kind” this coin was loaned to the British Museum from 1927 to 1947 before being privately purchased by the British collector R.C. Lockett for £1,800, an enormous sum at the time. It was later owned by the French writer Roger Peyrefitte, whose collection was sold in Monaco in 1974, before becoming a highlight of the Nelson Bunker Hunt Collection sold by Sotheby’s in 1990. On the market once more, it carries an estimate today of £400,000-600,000.
Ranging in date from the 6th to the 1st century BC, the collection includes coins from all over the Ancient Greek world from Spain in the West, around the whole of the Mediterranean region and then to Egypt and Cyrene in North Africa. Not all the pieces are expensive, with estimates ranging from as little as £100 to well over £100,000.