Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The silver coins of Taras: part five

Calabria, Taras, stater, 460-420 BC, Evans 1

Obverse: Horseman
Reverse: Taras astride dolphin over waves
Arthur J. Evans, M.A. F.S.A.
The "Horsemen" of Tarentum, London, 1889
The most famous coins of Taras are the horsemen staters and nothing I could say about them could compete with Arthur J. Evans' The Horsemen of Tarentum, published as a book in 1889. Happily, you can download the entire work with its plates, for free, from Goggle Play Books. Although written over a hundred years ago, the information has changed less than you might imagine.

This episode is mainly a "picture book" of a few of the coins that I think expresses the series best. I will, however focus on specific types in following episodes. All of the coins here are coins from Classical Numismatics Group Inc. and will have only the date range but the links will take you to the full descriptions. Similar coins can be purchased at any time without having to spend a fortune as many of them are quite common and they are very popular among collectors and dealers

The first coin is very difficult to find, but I include it because it is the first illustrated in Evans work and no example of it existed in Vlasto's collection: one of the few varieties he could never find The photo below is the reverse of the same type in the Altes Museum, Berlin, and is the only additional example I could find on the web.

The reverse of Evans 1
Altes Museum, Berlin.
Adapted from a photo by Sailko
I particularly like "the profusion of waves" as David R. Sear puts it in his listing in Greek Coins and their Values, Seaby, Volume 1, 1978, 321. Back in 1965-6 you could find me, most lunchtimes in his department at Seaby's in Great Portland Street, London when I was 15-16 years old, as I worked not far away. David was a mentor to many kids at that time, and of course, ancient coins were a lot less expensive than they are today! I still have many great memories of David at that time and (of course) his really beautiful assistant Helen Webster!

The horsemen of Taras can be anything from young boy jockeys at the equestrian games in that city to the Dioscuri and to armed warriors and the types often reflected the state of their society at any given time. They also have a wide range of attendant symbols and magistrate's names.

For the rest of this post, just enjoy the coin images and I will be back tomorrow, in this series, with elephants.

ca. 302-280 BC
photo: Classical Numismatic Group Inc.

ca. 340-325 BC
photo: Classical Numismatic Group Inc.

ca. 280-272 BC
photo: Classical Numismatic Group Inc.

ca. 302-290 BC
photo: Classical Numismatic Group Inc.

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