News-Antique.com - Oct 27,2011 - Formed over several decades by a collector with a passion for the arts and a discerning taste for outstanding examples of the most beautiful and famous ancient Greek coins, the Prospero Collection offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a group of coins of such magnitude, so meticulously sourced and so lovingly preserved. These amazing, precious, pieces transport you into archaic times when the Greek city states were spreading throughout the known world, to the height of classical art in the 5th century BC, the defeat of the Persians, the Carthaginian wars and the sweeping conquests of Alexander. The great Greek gods bustle with each other to be represented on the gold and silver pieces: the great goddess Athena, Apollo, Hermes, Posidon, the smiling Dionyses, and the regal Zeus. The coins lead you through a wonderland of myth; depicting the Minator, the heroes of the Golden Fleece, magical beasts like the Griffin, Sphinx and Chimera, the gorgons and monsters of the sea. Some coins depict the source of their city's wealth: the bulls of Sybaris, wheat from Metapontum both in south Italy, the valuable now extinct. Sylium plant the from Cyrene in Libya and the tuna fish emblem of Cysicus on the black sea where a natural mix of silver and gold was turned into coins bearing a different story each year for over a hundred years.
Artistically the coins rate amongst the finest examples of ancient art. Some are signed by artists who worked throughout the Greek world. Many of the coins are unique or amongst a few examples known and many have a providence of historic collections dating from the early 19th century. It is quite amazing to think that these miniature works of art were produced 1300 or more years ago, have survived world and civil wars, crossed borders and been admired by collectors of all ages, speaking many different languages.
Not since the Nelson Bunker Hunt collection of ancient Greek and Roman coins was sold in five parts by Sotheby’s in the 1990s has the numismatic community seen the sale of such an important collection of ancient coinage. In the introduction to the Sotheby’s catalogue for the sale of the 3rd part of the Nelson Bunker Hunt Collection Elvira Eliza Clain-Stefanelli wrote:
‘Coins “speak” to the present about the deeds of heroes, the movement of trade, the artistic tastes and the everyday life of human society throughout the ages.’
These coins speak to us, of mythical animals, of gods and goddesses, of the value the Greeks put on beauty and fine artistry; and they most definitely speak for themselves as they capture the imagination with breathtaking ease.
Lot 163 in the auction is one of a number of items in the collection that formed part of the legendary Bunker Hunt collection. This silver dekadrachm from Syracuse, Sicily, created by The Demareteion [dem-ah-re-tay-on] Master, a modern name given by numismatists to the artist they believe crafted the dies for the Demareteion itself and for the