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Alexander III The Great, Macedonian Kingdom, 336 - 323 B.C.

Alexander the Great is arguably the most famous man of antiquity. Born a leader, his genius and charisma led the Macedonian Army across the world creating an empire that covered most of the then-known world, from Greece to India. He was regarded as a god and his fame grew even greater after his premature death at thirty-three. His reign marks the beginning of the Hellenistic Age, a time when almost every aspect of human civilization flourished. His coinage is highly complex, struck in cities all over the ancient map and spanning over two hundred years. The representative types are the silver tetradrachms and drachms depicting an idealized portrait of Alexander in the guise of the mythical hero Heracles, and his gold staters depicting Athena.Map of Alexander's Empire


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III and Alexander IV, c. 323 - 317 B.C., In the Name of Alexander

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Struck after Alexander's death, under either Perdikkas or Antipater, regents during the joint reign of Alexander's mentally disabled half-brother, Philip III, and Alexander's infant son, Alexander IV. Philip was the bastard son of Philip II and a dancer, Philinna of Larissa. Alexander the Great's mother, Olympias, allegedly poisoned her stepson Philip III as a child, leaving him mentally disabled, eliminating him as a rival to Alexander. Neither Philip III nor Alexander IV was capable of actual rule. Both were selected only to serve as pawns. The regents held power, while Philip III was actually imprisoned. In 317, Olympias had Philip murdered to ensure the succession of her grandson. But Alexander IV would never rule. In 311 B.C., he and his mother Roxana were executed by the regent Kassander.
SL84530. Silver tetradrachm, Price 113, Müller Alexander 224, Troxell issue H3, SNG Cop 682, SNG Munchen 275, SNG Alpha Bank 503, SNG Delepierre 986, NGC XF, strike 5/5, surface 2/5, scratches (4163183-004), weight 17.04 g, maximum diameter 25 mm, die axis 180o, Amphipolis mint, c. 322 - 320 A.D.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus enthroned left, throne without back, right leg forward (archaic lifetime style), eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, Macedonian helmet left; NGC certified (slabbed), from the Dr. Sam Mansourati Collection; $570.00 (€507.30)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III and Alexander IV, c. 320 - 317 B.C., In the Name of Alexander III the Great

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Struck under Polyperchon, regent of the Macedonian empire, 319 - 317 B.C. Polyperchon was a general under Philip II and Alexander the Great. Following the First War of the Diadochi, he was governor in Macedonia while Antipater tried to assert his regency over the whole empire. In 319 B.C., Antipater made Polyperchon his successor as regent, passing over his own son, Kassander. A civil war soon broke out between Kassander, supported by Antigonus and Ptolemy and Polyperchon, allied with Eumenes. In 317 B.C., Kassander drove Polyperchon out of Macedonia and took control of the mentally disabled King Philip III Arrhidaeus and his wife Eurydice. Polyperchon fled to Epirus, where he joined Alexander's mother Olympias, his widow Roxana, and his infant son King Alexander IV. Together Olympias and Polyperchon invaded Macedonia. An army commanded by Philip III immediately defected and Philip and his wife Eurydice were murdered. Soon after, however, the tide turned, Kassander was victorious, Olympias was executed, and the boy King Alexander IV, and his mother Roxana were captured (both would be killed in 310 B.C. to secure Kassander's rule). Polyperchon surrendered the regency to Antigonus, but the empire was already forever divided. Polyperchon is last mentioned as being alive in 304 B.C. but may have lived into the early 3rd century B.C.
SL84531. Silver tetradrachm, Price 124, Müller Alexander 560, Troxell issue J6, Demanhur 1564 ff., Meydancikkale 93 ff. SNG Munchen 285, SNG Alpha Bank 510, SNG Cop -, NGC AU, strike 5/5, surface 3/5 (4166072-003), weight 17.11 g, maximum diameter 25.5 mm, die axis 30o, Macedonia, Amphipolis mint, c. 318 - 317 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus enthroned left, throne without back, right leg forward (archaic lifetime style), eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, laurel branch left, Πo under throne; NGC certified (slabbed), from the Dr. Sam Mansourati Collection; $900.00 (€801.00)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos I Nikator, 312 - 281 B.C., In the Name of Alexander the Great

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Seleukos (Seleucus) founded the Seleukid Empire and the Seleukid dynasty which ruled Syria until Pompey made it a Roman province in 63 B.C. Seleukos was never one of Alexander the Great's principal generals but he commanded the royal bodyguard during the Indian campaign. In the division of the empire after Alexander's death Seleukos did not receive a satrapy. Instead, he served under the regent Perdikkas until the latter's murder in 321 or 320. Seleukos was then appointed satrap of Babylonia. Five years later Antigonus Monophthalmus (the One-eyed) forced him to flee, but he returned with support from Ptolemy. He later added Persia and Media to his territory and defeated both Antigonus and Lysimachus. He was succeeded by his son Antiochus I.
SL84532. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber I 94(6)b, Price 3359, Müller Alexander 1511, HGC 9 10g, NGC Choice F, Strike 5/5, Surface 3/5 (4164845-004), weight 16.87 g, maximum diameter 27.7 mm, die axis 255o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 311 - 300 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse AΛEΞAN∆POY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, Zeus seated left on throne, right leg drawn back, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, anchor and A (control symbols) left, M (control symbol) under throne; NGC certified (slabbed), from the Dr. Sam Mansourati Collection; $350.00 (€311.50)
 


Koinon of Macedonia, c. 244 - 245 A.D., Portrait of Alexander the Great

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The two temples and legend on the reverse indicate "Two Neokorie," advertising the Koinon of Macedonia held the highly prized designation "double temple guardian" of the imperial cult. The first Nekoros was awarded by Nerva. The second Neokoros, indicated by B (the Greek number two) or rarely ∆IC (double in Greek) on coins, was first received under Elagabalus. The title was rescinded but then later restored by Severus Alexander, probably in 231 A.D.
RP79978. Bronze AE 28, AMNG III 833; Mionnet supp. 3, p. 229, 446; BMC Macedonia -; SNG Cop -; SNG Hunterian -; SNG Bar -; SNG Saroglos -; Lindgren -, gF, obverse rough, smoothing on reverse, weight 11.370 g, maximum diameter 28.2 mm, die axis 90o, Macedonia, Beroea(?) mint, c. 244 -245 A.D.; obverse AΛEΞAN∆POY, diademed head of Alexander the Great right; reverse two hexastyle temple fronts, KOINON / M-AKE∆-O in two lines above, B NEΩKOPΩN / EOC (Era of Actium year 275) below;
very rare; $220.00 (€195.80)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III Arrhidaeus and Alexander IV - Kassander, c. 323 - 310 B.C.

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Struck after Alexander's death during or after the joint reign of Alexander's mentally disabled half-brother, Philip III, and Alexander's infant son with Roxana, Alexander IV. The two were made joint kings by Alexander's generals who only intended to use them as pawns. Philip III was imprisoned upon his return to Macedonia, and in 317 B.C. he was executed under orders from Olympias. Olympias was Alexander the Great's mother and Alexander IV's grandmother, but not Philip III's mother. Alexander IV and his mother Roxana were executed by the boy's regent, Kassander, in 311 B.C.
GB76283. Bronze AE 20, Price 2800f, SNG Munchen 919, Müller Alexander -, SNG Alpha Bank -, SNG Cop -, VF, well centered, green patina, scratches, pitting, weight 5.631 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 90o, uncertain Western Anatolia mint, c. 323 - 310 B.C., possibly struck by Antigonus I; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in lion-skin headdress; reverse torch and club left, BAΣIΛEΩΣ downward in center, bow inside bow case right, A lower right, uncertain round countermark; $120.00 (€106.80)
 


Kaunos, Caria, c. 191 - 166 B.C.

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In 189 B.C. the Roman senate put Kaunos under Rhodes. In 167, Kaunos and other cities revolted against Rhodes. As a result, Rome removed Rhodes' authority. In 129, Rome established the Province of Asia, covering a large part of western Anatolia. Kaunos was assigned to Lycia. When Mithridates invaded in 88 B.C., the Kaunians joined him and killed all the Romans in the city. After the peace of 85 B.C. as part of their punishment, Kaunos was again put under Rhodian administration.
GI60426. Bronze AE 11, SNG Keckman 75; SNGvA 8100; SNG Cop 184; BMC Caria p. 75, 12, F, rough, both sides slightly off-center, weight 1.339 g, maximum diameter 10.8 mm, die axis 0o, Kaunos mint, 191 - 166 B.C.; obverse diademed head Alexander the Great right; reverse filleted double cornucopia, overflowing with bunches of grapes, K left, AY (ligate) right; rare; $5.99 (€5.33)


Koinon of Macedonia, Portrait of Alexander the Great, c. 222 - 244 A.D.

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The Macedonian Koinon (community) was the political organization governing the autonomous Roman province of Macedonia and responsible for issuing coinage. Member cities sent representatives to participate in the popular assembly. The Koinon held celebrations and games annually at Beroea (modern Verria) in honor of Alexander and the Roman emperor.
RP90940. Bronze AE 24, BMC Macedonia p. 25, 126 var. (B NE); Macdonald Hunter 13 var. (same); SNG Cop -; SNG Saroglos -, F, well centered, encrustations, centration dimples, weight 7.817 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 180o, Macedonia, Beroea(?) mint, time of Elagabalus - Gordian III; obverse AΛEΞAN∆POY, diademed head of Alexander the Great right; reverse KOINON MAKE∆ONΩN, Alexander standing facing, head right, wearing military attire, resting on spear in right hand, parazonium in left hand; rare; $70.00 (€62.30)
 


Koinon of Macedonia, Reign of Gordian III, 238 - 244 A.D., Portrait of Alexander the Great

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For the Alexander commemorative series issued by the Koinon of Macedonia, AMNG is by far the best reference listing over 500 different varieties on 100 pages, an absolutely bewildering study. With few plate images and listing many minor variations, it is a challenge to use for anyone who does not speak German. Varbanov only lists coins of the Koinon with portraits of the emperor on the obverse.
RP90945. Bronze AE 28, BMC Macedonia p. 24, 113; AMNG III 622; Macdonald Hunter 5; SNG Cop 1369; SNG Hunterian 742 var. (B NE); Lindgren II 1382 var. (...B N), gF, green patina, well centered, earthen deposits, weight 12.345 g, maximum diameter 27.6 mm, die axis 225o, Macedonia, Beroea(?) mint, 238 - 244 A.D.; obverse AΛEΞAN∆POY, diademed head of Alexander the Great right; reverse KOINON MAKE∆ONΩN B NEΩ, Athena Nikephoros seated left, Nike in right hand presenting wreath, spear in left hand, shield behind; $70.00 (€62.30)
 


Koinon of Macedonia, Reign of Severus Alexander, c. 231 - 235 A.D., Alexander and Bucephalus

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Plutarch tells the story of how, in 344 B.C. Philonicus the Thessalian, a horse dealer, offered a massive wild stallion to Alexander's father, King Philip II. Since no one could tame the animal, Philip was not interested. Alexander, however, seeing that the horse was afraid of his own shadow, promised to pay for the horse himself should he fail to tame it. He was given a chance and surprised all by subduing it. Alexander spoke soothingly to the horse and turned it towards the sun so that it could no longer see its shadow. Eventually, Bucephalus allowed Alexander to ride him. Embarrassed, Philip commented, "O my son, look thee out a kingdom equal to and worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee." Alexander named the horse Bucephalus because the horse's head seemed "as broad as a bull's." Bucephalus died of battle wounds in 326 B.C., in Alexander's last battle. Alexander founded the city of Bucephala (thought to be the modern town of Jhelum, Pakistan) in memory of his wonderful horse.
SH90947. Bronze AE 26, AMNG III 423; BMC Macedonia p. 23, 104; Lindgren 1379; SNG Hunterian 735 var. (no star); cf. SNG Cop 1372 (2 neokorie); SNG Bar -, gVF, reverse pitted, weight 13.804 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 225o, Macedonia, Beroea(?) mint, c. 231 - 235 A.D.; obverse AΛEΞAN∆POY, head of Alexander the Great right, as Herakles, clad in Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse KOINON MAKE∆ONΩN NEΩ, Alexander riding his horse Bucephalus right, wearing military garb, cloak flying behind, couched spear in right hand, reins in left, star below; $135.00 (€120.15)
 


Koinon of Macedonia, Reign of Gordian III, c. 238 - 244 A.D., Portrait of Alexander the Great

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The Macedonian Koinon (community) was the political organization governing the autonomous Roman province of Macedonia and was responsible for issuing coinage. The individual cities, as members of the Koinon, sent representatives to participate in popular assembly several times each year.

The high point of the year was celebrations and matches in honor of Alexander the Great and the Roman emperor held in Beroea (modern Verria) located about 75 km. west of Thessaloniki. This was the provincial center of the emperor cult, with the appropriate temple and privileges, first granted to the Koinon by Nerva. The title Neokoros, or "temple guardians" was highly prized and thus advertised on coins. Under Elagabalus, the Koinon received a second neokorie, indicated by B (the Greek number two) or rarely DIC (double in Greek). The title was rescinded but later restored by Severus Alexander, probably in 231 A.D.
RP76989. Bronze AE 28, AMNG III 617, SNG Cop 1369 var. (B NEΩ), SNG Saroglos 984 (same), Macdonald Hunter 8, Lindgren I 1381 var. (B N), BMC Macedonia -, aVF, well centered, glossy dark green patina, weight 12.400 g, maximum diameter 27.9 mm, die axis 225o, Macedonia, Beroea(?) mint, reign of Gordian III, 238 - 244 A.D.; obverse AΛEΞAN∆POY, diademed head of Alexander the Great right; reverse KOINON MAKE∆ONΩN B NE, Athena seated left, Nike holding wreath in right hand, spear in left hand, shield behind; scarce; $140.00 (€124.60)
 










REFERENCES

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Head, B. British Museum Catalogue of Greek Coins, Macedonia, etc. (London, 1879).
Hersh, C. "Additions and Corrections to Martin J. Price's 'The Coinage in the name of Alexander the Great and Philip Arrhidaeus'" in Studies Price.
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Le Rider, G. Alexander the Great: Coinage, Finances, and Policy. (Philadelphia, 2007).
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Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Vol. 2: Macedonia and Thrace. (West Milford, NJ, 1982).
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Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain V, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Part 3: Macedonia. (London, 1976).
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Wartenberg, U. & J. Kagan, "Some Comments on a New Hoard from the Balkan Sea" in Travaux Le Rider.

Catalog current as of Saturday, April 29, 2017.
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Alexander the Great