Title: Caria. Rhodes. Didrachm (Circa 330-305 BC).Date/Period: 330 BCOrigin: Asia MinorDimension: 19 mm. dia.Material: SilverAdditional Information: Caria. Rhodes. Didrachm (Circa 330-305 BC). 19 mm. 6.9 gm. Obv: Head of Helios facing slightly right. Rev: POÎ”ION. Rose with bud to right. Controls: grape bunch on tendril to left, E to right; all within incuse square. SNG Keckman 445; HGC 6, 1434.
The Classical period saw Greek coinage reach a high level of technical and aesthetic quality. Larger cities now produced a range of fine silver and gold coins, most bearing a portrait of their patron god or goddess or a legendary hero on one side, and a symbol of the city on the other. Some coins employed a visual pun: some coins from Rhodes featured a rose, since the Greek word for rose is rhodon. The use of inscriptions on coins also began, usually the name of the issuing city. The wealthy cities of Sicily produced some especially fine coins. The large silver decadrachm (10-drachm) coin from Syracuse is regarded by many collectors as the finest coin produced in the ancient world, perhaps ever. Syracusan issues were rather standard in their imprints, one side bearing the head of the nymph Arethusa and the other usually a victorious quadriga. The tyrants of Syracuse were fabulously rich, and part of their public relations policy was to fund quadrigas for the Olympic chariot race, a very expensive undertaking. As they were often able to finance more than one quadriga at a time, they were frequent victors in this highly prestigious event. Syracuse was one of the epicenters of numismatic art during the classical period. Led by the engravers Kimon and Euainetos, Syracuse produced some of the finest coin designs of antiquity. Amongst the first centers to produce coins during the Greek colonization of mainland Southern Italy (Magna Graecia) were Paestum, Crotone, Sybaris, Caulonia, Metapontum, and Taranto. These ancient cities started producing coins from 550 to 510 BC.