Rare Greek coin could sell for $2.5 million at auction

Tue Dec 6, 2011 2:10pm EST
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(Reuters) - Greece's financial crisis could certainly use the help of a drachma -- provided it's the 2400-year-old coin that is poised to fetch $2.5 million when it is auctioned next month.

The Dekadrachm of Akragas, which was minted in Sicily and dates to 409-406 B.C., will be sold at auction on January 4 from a U.S. collection by the Classical Numismatic Group, an international firm that deals in ancient, medieval and British coins.

The price would make it one of the top-priced coins ever sold at auction, although collectors of extraordinarily rare coins have paid more than $5 million in the past.

Earlier this year a rare, gold Islamic coin, the Umayyad dinar which dates to 723 A.D. sold for $6 million at a London auction.

The Greek coin, one of only 12 examples known to exist and only the third to come to market in a generation, measures about 35.5 mm (1.4 inches) and weighs 43.4 grams (1.5 oz). It depicts four horses and a chariot on one side and an eagle on the other.

Six versions of the coin are in museum collections.

In its online catalogue CNG described the coin as "a masterpiece of late 5th century Greek art" and "one of the most beautiful of all Greek coins."

Bids will be accepted at a live sale in New York and online in real time for preregistered bidders via www.the-saleroom.com, CNG said.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud; editing by Patricia Reaney)