Many people believe this is the most beautiful coin in the world. That might be a stretch, but the Syracuse Dekadrachm would certainly qualify as one of the more beautiful silver coins ever. The technical description runs like this:
SICILY, Syracuse. Dionysios I. Silver Dekadrachm (35 mm, 42 grams). Struck 405-390 BC. With charioteer, holding kentron in extended right hand and reins in left, driving fast quadriga, Nike flying above. Below exergual line a shield, greaves, cuirass, and crested helmet, connected by a horizontal spear. Head of Arethousa left, wearing wreath of grain ears, triple-pendant earring, and pearl necklace; four dolphins swimming around.
Genuine coins are very valuable. The one in our picture comes from Roma Numismatics in London, and CoinQuest thanks Roma for use of their photo of this amazing coin.
worn: $3000 US dollars approximate catalog value
average circulated: $4000
well preserved: $6000
Now, as one of the most beautiful coins ever, the Syracuse dekadrachm has been copied many times over, and a curious thing has happened: collectors spend money, sometimes big money, to buy the fakes. Most fakes are worth zero. Not this one. There is a good comparison of a genuine and a fake coin at Counterfeit Coin. Very roughly:
Appealing coins made before 1900: $1000
Known fakes made before 1900: $500
Modern fakes made in silver: $100
Modern fakes made in base metal: $10
To help evaluate these coins, check the composite image to the right. The coin marked (A) is the genuine specimen from Roma. Catalog values appear above. But coins marked (B), (C), and (D) are replicas, as follows.
Coin (B) is a super-attractive copy in bronze. It comes from Stack's Bowers who describe it as a German 'Bronze Imitation of Syracuse Decadrachm by Euainetos.' It sold for $1650 US dollars during a 2007 auction.
Coin (C) is a good 19th century electrotype taken from a coin in the British Museum. It was sold by Spink for $600 US dollars during a 2008 auction.
Finally, the mass-produced modern base-metal replicas labelled (D) sell for about $6 each. You can see them at Antiuanova.