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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Hellenistic Monarchies ▸ Alexander the GreatView Options:  |  |  |   

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 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


Kingdom of Thrace, Lysimachos, 305 - 281 B.C., Portrait of Alexander the Great

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Lampsacus was known as center for worship of Priapus, who was said to have been born there.

Thompson notes that Lampsacus was Lysimachos' largest mint in Asia Minor, with approximately 150 known obverse dies. Output from Lampsacus declined when Amphipolis began its extensive coinage c. 288 B.C.
SH72207. Silver tetradrachm, Thompson 49, SNG BnF 2548 - 2549, SNG Delepierre 843, SNG Cop 1097 (Pergamum), Müller 399 (Sigeum), gVF, toned, some marks and porosity, weight 16.495 g, maximum diameter 13.4 mm, die axis 45o, Lampsakos (Lapseki, Turkey) mint, 297 - 281 B.C.; obverse diademed head of deified Alexander the Great wearing the horn of Ammon; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΛYΣIMAXOY, Athena enthroned left, Nike crowning name in extended right hand, left arm rests on grounded round shield decorated with Gorgoneion, transverse spear against right side, ∆/Ξ monogram inner left field, crescent horns left in exergue; ex Roma Numismatics auction 11, lot 34; $990.00 (€861.30)
 


Odessos, Thrace, c. 240 - 180 B.C., Civic Issue in the Types and Name of Alexander the Great

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Herakles is most often depicted on coinage wearing the scalp of the Nemean lion over his head. The first of Herakles' twelve labors, set by King Eurystheus (his cousin), was to slay the Nemean lion and bring back its skin. Herakles discovered arrows and his club were useless against it because its golden fur was impervious to mortal weapons. Its claws were sharper than swords and could cut through any armor. Herakles stunned the beast with his club and, using his immense strength, strangled it to death. During the fight the lion bit off one of his fingers. After slaying the lion, he tried to skin it with a knife from his belt, but failed. Wise Athena, noticing the hero's plight, told him to use one of the lion's own claws to skin the pelt.
SH71037. Silver tetradrachm, Price 1174 , Topalov Odesos 59, Prokesch-Osten (1) 266, AMNG I.2 2140, Müller Alexander -, Choice gVF, superb style, toned, obverse double struck, weight 16.650 g, maximum diameter 31.7 mm, die axis 0o, Odessos (Varna, Bulgaria) mint, magistrate Eupro..., c. 240 - 180 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus enthroned left, eagle in extended right, long scepter vertical behind in left, right leg drawn back, monogram under throne, EYΠPO in exergue; $700.00 (€609.00)
 


Kios, Bithynia, c. 280 - 250 B.C., Restoration of Lysimachos

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According to myth, Kios (Bursa, Turkey) was founded on the Propontis (Sea of Marmara) by Herakles when he accompanied the Argonauts. According to Greek historians, it was founded in 626 - 625 B.C. by colonists from Miletos. The city joined the Aetolian League and was destroyed by Philip V of Macedon. Prusias I of Bithynia rebuilt the site, naming it for himself. An important chain in the ancient Silk Road, it became a wealthy town. Under Rome the name Kios was revived.
SH90219. Silver tetradrachm, Müller Alexander 418 (Erythrai), Meydancikkale 2668 var (monogram in ex not reversed), SNG Cop 1123 var (same), SNG Berry 451 var (same), Thompson -, VF, lightly toned, scattered marks, weight 16.966 g, maximum diameter 31.7 mm, die axis 0o, Kios mint, c. 280 - 250 B.C.; obverse diademed head of the deified Alexander right, with horn of Ammon; reverse Athena Nikephoros seated left, Nike in right crowning king's name with wreath, left arm resting on shield behind, transverse spear against far side, club outer left, monogram inner left, bow in case and reversed AΓ monogram in exergue; ex CNG, auction 324 lot 85; rare variety; $630.00 (€548.10)
 


Mesembria, Thrace, c. 275 - 225 B.C., Civic Issue in the Types and Name of Alexander the Great

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Mesembria, Nesebar Bulgaria today, was a Doric settlement on a Black Sea island just off mainland Thrace. Today it is a seaside resort and a man-made isthmus connects it to the coast. The city struck Alexandrine tetradrachms possibly as early as 275 B.C. It is likely Mesembria issued the very last Alexandrine tetradrachms, possibly even under Roman rule, as late as 65 B.C.
SH71566. Silver tetradrachm, Karayotov p. 83 and pl. VI, 24 (O7/R11); Price 992; Müller Alexander 436, EF, superb style, nick on reverse right side edge, weight 16.858 g, maximum diameter 31.1 mm, die axis 0o, Mesambria (Nesebar, Bulgaria) mint, c. 275 - 225 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion-scalp headdress; reverse AΛEΞAN∆POY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, Zeus seated left, right leg drawn back, eagle in extended right, long scepter vertical behind in left, Corinthian helmet right over ΠA monogram in inner left field under arm; $630.00 (€548.10)
 


Pontic Kingdom, Mithradates VI, c. 120 - 63 B.C., In the Name of Alexander the Great

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Mithradates VI Megas (the Great) was king of Pontus in northern Anatolia from about 119 to 63 B.C. He was of both Greek and Persian origin, claiming descent from both Alexander the Great and King Darius I of Persia. Mithradates is remembered as one of Rome's most formidable and successful enemies, who engaged three of the most prominent generals of the late Roman Republic in the so-called Mithridatic Wars: Sulla, Lucullus, and Pompey the Great. On this coin, minted in the name of Alexander but with his own portrait replacing that of Herakles (Alexander), Mithradates VI presents himself as Alexander's successor, the "defender" of Greece, and the "great liberator" of the Greek world. His propaganda translated the Romans into "barbarians," as the Persian Empire was during Alexander's campaign. How many Greeks genuinely bought into this claim will never be known but it served its purpose. At least partially because of it, Mithradates VI was able to fight the First War with Rome on Greek soil, and maintain the allegiance of Greece. His campaign for the allegiance of the Greeks was aided in no small part by his enemy Sulla, who allowed his troops to sack Delphi and plunder many of the city's most famous treasures to help finance his military expenses. Mithridates likely issued this type during the second Mithridatic War to pay Scythian and Thracian mercenaries. After Mithradates VI was at last defeated by Pompey and in danger of capture by Rome, he attempted suicide. The poison failed because he had taken daily doses to build immunity. He then made his bodyguard and friend, Bituitus, kill him with a sword.


SH74513. Silver tetradrachm, CCCHBulg I p. 83, 24 (same dies), Price 1192, SNG Cop 725, SNG Oxford 2681, Müller Alexander -, VF, excellent portrait, dark toning, porous areas, marks, edge bump, weight 14.463 g, maximum diameter 27.7 mm, die axis 0o, Odessos (Varna, Bulgaria) mint, Second Mithradatic War, 83 - 81 B.C.; obverse Mithradates VI bust right as Herakles in Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus seated left on backless throne, eagle in right, long scepter vertical in left, ΛAK left, O∆H in exergue; $450.00 (€391.50)
 


Kingdom of Thrace, Lysimachos, 305 - 281 B.C.

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Heraclea Pontica, on the coast of Bithynia in Asia Minor, at the mouth of the river Lycus, was founded by Megara c. 560 - 558 B.C. It was named after Herakles who was said to have entered the underworld through a cave on the adjoining Archerusian promontory (Cape Baba). The colonists soon subjugated the native Mariandynians but agreed to terms that none would be sold into slavery outside their homeland. Prospering from the rich, fertile adjacent lands and the sea-fisheries of its natural harbor, Heraclea soon extended its control along the coast as far east as Cytorus (Gideros, near Cide), eventually establishing colonies of its own (Cytorus, Callatis and Chersonesus). The prosperity of the city was destroyed in the Mithridatic Wars.Heraclea-Pontica
GS74866. Silver tetradrachm, Thompson 178, Müller 365, SNG Cop -, aVF, rough, bumps and scratches, some corrosion, flan defect on obverse top near edge, weight 15.601 g, maximum diameter 28.5 mm, die axis 0o, Herakleia Pontika (Karadeniz Ereğli, Turkey) mint, c. 288 - 281 BC; obverse diademed head of the deified Alexander right, with horn of Ammon; reverse Athena Nikephoros seated left, Nike in her right hand crowning king's name with wreath, left arm resting on grounded round shield behind, transverse spear against far side, HP monogram on throne, club left in exergue; $450.00 (€391.50)
 


Kabyle, Thrace, c. 219 - 215 B.C., Civic Issue in the Types and Name of Alexander the Great

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The obverse dies for this type were also used with reverse dies naming the Gaulish King Kavaros. Die wear shows the Alexanderine types followed Kavaros' coinage, indicating this type was likely struck during the revolt of the Thracians, which brought about the chieftain's death and the end of Gaulish rule. Kavaros ruled until at least 219 B.C., when he participated in a treaty between Byzantium and Bithynia. The style compares closely with contemporary issues of Dionysopolis, Mesembria, and Odessus.
SH69935. Silver tetradrachm, Price 882a, Draganov Cabyle 845 ff., Müller Alexander 399, VF, weight 16.205 g, maximum diameter 26.9 mm, die axis 0o, Cabyle mint, time of the Thracian Revolt, c. 219 - 215 B; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus enthroned left, eagle in extended right, long scepter vertical behind in left, right leg drawn back, Demeter standing facing torch in each hand; $370.00 (€321.90)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Ptolemy I, as Satrap in Egypt, 323 - 305 B.C.

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Ptolemy Lagides was a Macedonian general who, after Alexander's death, became the Satrap of Egypt under the nominal kings Philip III Arrhidaeus and the infant Alexander IV. By custom, kings in Macedonia asserted their right to the throne by burying their predecessor. Probably because he wanted to preempt Perdiccas, the imperial regent, from staking his claim in this way, Ptolemy took stole the body of Alexander. Ptolemy then openly joined the coalition against Perdiccas. Thus began the long series of wars between the Diadochi, Alexander's successors. In 305, Ptolemy took the titles king and pharaoh, founding the Ptolemaic Kingdom and Ptolemaic Dynasty.
GP72061. Bronze hemiobol, Svoronos 172 (as king); BMC Ptolemies p. 8, 62 (295 - 284, Cyprus); SNG Cop 36; SNG Milan 5; Malter 21; Weiser -; Noeske -, VF, crowded flan, red and brown patina, weight 4.503 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 315o, Alexandria mint, 310 - 305 B.C.; obverse diademed and horned head of deified Alexander the Great right; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY (no title, upward on left), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, head left, wings open, apluster above helmet on left; ex Harlan Berk; scarce; $330.00 (€287.10)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Seleukos, Satrap in Babylon, 311 - 306 B.C., In the Name of Alexander the Great

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Struck in the name of Alexander, this coin also bears the personal badge of Seleukos, an anchor. Seleukos was first appointed satrap in Babylonia in 320 B.C. but was put to flight by Antigonus in 315. He returned in 311 only to be forced to evacuate later that year by a counterattack by Antigonus' son, Demetrius. Not long after, however, Seleukos again recovered the city.
SH60135. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber I 293, Price 3449 (Marthus), Müller Alexander 1512, aVF/F, weight 16.601 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 225o, uncertain mint, c. 311 - 305 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus seated left on throne, right leg drawn back, eagle in extended right, long scepter vertical behind in left, anchor flukes up flanked by ∆ - I in left field, monogram under throne; $290.00 (€252.30)
 


Mesembria, Thrace, c. 125 - 65 B.C., Civic Issue in the Types and Name of Alexander the Great

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Mesembria, Nesebar Bulgaria today, was a Doric settlement on a Black Sea island just off mainland Thrace. Today it is a seaside resort and a man-made isthmus connects it to the coast. The city struck Alexandrine tetradrachms possibly as early as 275 B.C. It is likely Mesembria issued the very last Alexandrine tetradrachms, possibly even under Roman rule, as late as 65 B.C.
GS74508. Silver tetradrachm, Price 1128; Müller Alexander 487, gVF, double struck, obverse die damage, edge crack, weight 33.92 g, maximum diameter 16.348 mm, die axis 0o, Mesambria (Nesebar, Bulgaria) mint, c. 125 - 65 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion-scalp headdress; reverse Zeus seated left, right leg drawn back, eagle in extended right, long scepter vertical behind in left, ∆IO horizontal under arm in inner left field, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward on left, BAΣIΛEΩΣ downward on right, MEΣAM below; ex Pecunem Gitbud & Naumann auction 27 (4 Jan 2015), lot 110; $250.00 (€217.50)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Wednesday, September 02, 2015.
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Alexander the Great Greek Coins