SICILY. Leontini. Circa 476-466 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 26 mm, 17.13 g, 7 h). Charioteer driving quadriga walking to right, holding goad in his right hand and reins in his left; above, Nike flying right to crown the horses. Rev. Λ-E-ONTI-NO-N Head of a roaring lion to right; around, four grains of barley. Boehringer, Münzgeschichte 21 (same dies). Randazzo 86 (same obverse die). SNG ANS 206 (same dies). Rare. A beautiful example of spendid early Classical style, with wonderful old collection toning and a most illustrious pedigree. Some die wear on the obverse, otherwise, about extremely fine.
From an old Swiss collection, formed in the early 20th century (with collector's ticket), from the duplicates of the British Museum, Naville V, 18 June 1923, 917 and from the collection of Richard Payne Knight (1751-1824), trustee of the British Museum in 1814-1824.
Richard Payne Knight (1751-1824) was a British scholar, art collector, philanthropist, numismatist and trustee of the British Museum whose life spanned the second half of the 18th and the first quarter of the 19th century. Born in 1751, he inherited a fortune from his father and his uncle, but most notably from his grandfather Richard Knight (1659-1745), the ancestor of the Knight family and the founder of its legendary wealth. His financial independence permitted Richard Payne Knight to go on the 'Grand Tour' through Europe on at least three occasions in the 1760s-1780s, during which he discovered his love for Greek and Roman art and acquired, on the way, bronzes, marbles, gemstones and coins. Back in England, he became a member of the renowned 'Society of Dilettanti' and was widely regarded to be Britain's leading connoisseur of ancient art. Richard Payne Knight was especially fond of ancient phallic cults: he collected phallic objects and published, in 1786, his 'Account of the Remains of the Worship of Priapus', in which he claimed that the desire to worship genital imagery has persisted throughout time and that there were many Pagan ideas to be found in Christianity. It goes without saying that his theories caused an outcry among the hierarchy of the Anglican Church, who condemned him as a decadent infidel. However, the controversy did not hinder Richard Payne Knight's career, for in 1780-1806, he served as a Member of Parliament for Leominster and Ludlow before becoming, in 1814, trustee of the British Museum. In the same year, he bequeathed his entire collection of coins and medals to the British Museum in contemplation of his death. When his eyes closed upon this world on April 23, 1824, the collection of Richard Payne Knight was transferred to the British Museum, where it formed the basis of what has today become the largest and most illustrious collection of ancient coins in the world. Our coin, which was in all likelihood acquired by Richard Payne Knight on his 'Grand Tours' to Italy in the 1760s-1780s, was disposed in 1923, after ninety-nine years in the British Museum, as a duplicate in the famous 'Doubles du British Museum' sale by Naville & Cie. We are very proud to be able to offer it again another ninety-six years later, in the year 2019, and hope that the future owner will value it as much as Richard Payne Knight undoubtedly did two hundred years ago.