SICILY. Messana (as Zankle). Circa 500-493 BC. Drachm (Silver, 23 mm, 5.95 g). DANKLE Dolphin to left within the sickle-shaped harbor of the city. Rev. Nine-part design of raised and sunk squares and triangles; in the center, cockle shell. BMFA 285. Gielow Group 4, 39 (same dies). HGC 2, 766. Jameson 639 (this coin). Rizzo pl. XXV, 4-5. SNG ANS 298-302. An exceptional example struck on great metal with magnificent old collection toning. The reverse struck slightly off center, otherwise, nearly extremely fine.
From the collection of Regierungsrat Dr. iur. Hans Krähenbühl, privately acquired from Münzen & Medaillen AG on 22 October 1968 (with a photocopy of the original invoice enclosed), ex Münzen & Medaillen AG X, 22-23 June 1951, 201 and from the collections of Sir A.J. Evans (1851-1941) and R. Jameson (1861-1942).
When the Greek city of Zankle (lit. 'sickle') was founded in the 8th century BC on the spot of an older Sicel settlement, its name was taken from the shape of its harbor, which is protected from the open sea by a peninsula in the shape of a sickle. The city lacked agricultural hinterland, but it nonetheless prospered due to its strategic location on the important strait between Sicily and Italy. In circa 488 BC, however, Zankle was captured by Anaxilas, the tyrant of its rival Rhegion on the other side of the strait, who settled Messenian colonists from the Peloponnese within its walls and renamed it Messana.