Sicily, Gela, (c.425-420 B.C.), silver tetradrachm (17.15 g), obv. Nike driving slow quadriga left, holding reins, large wreath above, in exergue GELWION, rev. forepart of man-headed bull to right, heron standing right before. (S.799, Jenkins, Gela 457 [Obv. 85, rev. 173], SNG ANS 84 (same dies), Jameson 585 [same dies]. Very fine, with reverse die break, rare.
Ex CNG Mail Bid Sale 64 (lot 47). Situated on the southern coast of Sicily, Gela was founded in 688 BC by Cretans and Rhodians. It rose to become the most influential state on the island. In 485 its ruler Gelon seized Syracuse and transferred his capital there, taking with him many of the leading citizens. His brother Hieron, later tyrant of Syracuse, was left in charge of Gela. Tetradrachm issues at Gela probably began circa 480 BC, shortly thereafter becoming the principal denomination of the Geloan coinage, and remaining so down to the time of the destruction of the city by Carthaginian invaders in 405 BC. The ultimate design of the tetradrachms displayed a racing chariot, borrowed from the Syracusan coinage, and the forepart of a man-headed bull. The rather brutal half-length figure of the man-headed bull swimming right is based on the 'father of all rivers', Achelous, and is clearly identified by the ethnic Gelas as the personification of the river Gelas rushing to its mouth, where the city Gela stood. It was defined by Virgil (Aen. 3, 702) as 'immanisque Gela fluvii cognomina dicta.'