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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Hellenistic Monarchies| ▸ |Ptolemaic Egypt||View Options:  |  |  |   

Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt

After Alexander the Great's death, Egypt was administered by Ptolemy, one of his friends and generals. In 305 B.C. Ptolemy crowned himself king, establishing one of the most important and flourishing Hellenistic monarchies. The culture was a complex mixture of Egyptian and Greek traditions, best represented by the famous city of Alexandria. As all other Hellenistic kingdoms, Egypt suffered a slow decline in parallel with the mighty rising of Rome, and it's end witnessed the great story of Queen Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Marc Antony.


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy IV Philopator, 221 - 204 B.C.

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Ptolemy IV's surname, Philopator, means father lover, ironic since according to some authorities he poisoned his father. Ptolemy IV is a major protagonist of the apocryphal 3 Maccabees, which describes events following the Battle of Raphia, in both Jerusalem and Alexandria. He was a cruel and evil monarch.
SH93419. Bronze drachm, Lorber CPE B495; Svoronos 1125; Noeske 140 ff.; SNG Cop 199; Weiser 49; BMC Ptolemies p. 57, 106 ff.; Hosking -, Choice EF, beautiful depiction of Zeus, perfect centering, slight weakness in hair, light deposits, central depressions, beveled obverse edge, weight 68.235 g, maximum diameter 41.7 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, c. 219 - 204 B.C.; obverse horned head of Zeus Ammon right, wearing taenia; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings closed, filleted cornucopia left, ∆I between eagle's legs; from the Errett Bishop Collection, a superb and massive 68g Ptolemaic bronze!; $1100.00 (€968.00)
 


Judah, Macedonian or Ptolemaic Rule, Satrap Hezekiah, c. 333 - 301 B.C.

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Josephus identifies Hezekiah as the High Priest of the Jews who offered friendship to Ptolemy I after his conquest of Palestine. Josephus mentions Hezekiah was sixty years old at the time of Ptolemy. Mildenberg identifies the head right on the obverse of this type as Ptolemy I.
SL89836. Silver half ma'ah, Hendin 1066; Meshorer TJC 25; Meshore AJC I 12; Mildenberg Yehud p. 189 & pl. 22, 23; HGC 10 452 (R1 - R2), NGC NGC XF, strike 2/5, surface 3/5 (4283488-002), weight 0.189 g, maximum diameter 7.2 mm, die axis 90o, Jerusalem(?) mint, c. 375 - 333 B.C.; obverse male head (Ptolemy I?) right; reverse forepart of winged and horned lynx left; Aramaic inscription lower right: YHZQYH (Hezekiah); NGC certified with photo certificate of authenticity, not in a plastic holder; rare; $800.00 (€704.00)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy II Philadelphos, 285 - 246 B.C.

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Ptolemy II requested copies of Jewish texts for the Library at Alexandria. They were translated and transcribed by seventy Jewish scholars hired for the purpose, creating the Septuagint, the oldest Greek version of the Hebrew Bible. Many of the oldest Biblical verses in the Dead Sea Scrolls, particularly those in Aramaic, correspond more closely with the Septuagint than with the Hebrew text.
GP93830. Bronze diobol, Lorber CPE 242 (4 spec.), Svoronos 466 (1 spec.), Picard-Faucher 286, Malter 74 (=Svoronos 466a), SNG Cop -, Weiser -, Noeske -, Choice gVF, attractive toned brassy surfaces, nice style, well centered, central depressions, beveled obverse edge, weight 21.621 g, maximum diameter 29.7 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, c. 261 - 246 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, head left, wings closed, ME between eagle's legs, Θ below tail; from a New England collector, the first example of this type handled by FORVM, about a half-dozen known, only one sale of this type recorded on Coin Archives in the last two decades; extremely rare; $800.00 (€704.00)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy III Euergetes, 246 - 222 B.C.

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Ptolemy III Euergetes was the third ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. He promoted the translation of Jewish scriptures into Greek as the Septuagint. Due to a falling out at the Seleucid court, his eldest sister Berenice Phernophorus was murdered along with her infant son. In response, he invaded Syria, occupied Antioch, and even reached Babylon. This war, the Third Syrian War, is cryptically alluded to in Daniel XI 7-9. The Ptolemaic kingdom reached the height of its power during his reign.
GP93402. Bronze hemidrachm, Lorber CPE B936; Svoronos 965; SNG Cop 173; Weiser 72; BMC Ptolemies p. 55, 89; SNG Milan 166; SNG Blackburn 1165; Noeske 120; Hosking 31; Weber 8259, Choice EF, attractive style, well centered, mottled burgundy, red, brown and olive patina, ares of light corrosion, central depressions,, weight 30.905 g, maximum diameter 35.7 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 246 - 222 B.C.; obverse horned head of Zeus Ammon right, wearing taenia; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, head left, wings closed, filleted cornucopia left, chi-rho monogram between eagle's legs; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $700.00 (€616.00)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy II Philadelphos, 285 - 246 B.C.

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Huge 71.416 g, 46.8 mm bronze! The largest of all Ptolemaic bronze coin types.
GP92402. Bronze octobol, Lorber CPE B365; Svoronos 446; Weiser 19; BMC Ptolemies p. 37, 158; SNG Cop 142; Noeske 64; Hosking 13; Malter 67, gVF, well centered on a broad flan, partial red encrustation/patina, light double strike on reverse, central depressions, beveled obverse edge, weight 71.416 g, maximum diameter 46.8 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 285 - 246 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Zeus-Ammon right; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings open, head turned back right, E between legs; from a New England Collector; scarce; $630.00 (€554.40)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy III Euergetes, 246 - 222 B.C.

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Ptolemy III Euergetes promoted the translation of Jewish scriptures into Greek as the Septuagint. Due to a falling out at the Seleucid court, his eldest sister Berenice Phernophorus was murdered along with her infant son. In response, he invaded Syria, occupied Antioch, and even reached Babylon. This war, the Third Syrian War, is cryptically alluded to in Daniel XI 7-9. The Ptolemaic kingdom reached the height of its power during his reign.
GP93422. Bronze drachm, Lorber CPE B395, Svoronos 964; Weiser 71; SNG Cop 171; SNG Milan 155; Hosking 30; BMC Ptolemies p. 55, 87, Choice aEF, attractive very unusual multicolored patina, well centered and struck, central depressions, weight 70.142 g, maximum diameter 42.8 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 246 - 222 B.C.; obverse horned head of Zeus Ammon right, wearing taenia; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings closed, filleted cornucopia left, chi-rho monogram between eagle's legs; from the Errett Bishop Collection, ex Numismatic Art and Ancient Coins (Zurich); a massive 70 gram Ptolemaic bronze!; $550.00 (€484.00)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy X Alexander, 106 - 88 B.C.

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An older portrait quite similar to that Ptolemy I, ancestor of Ptolemy X Alexander on most family branches. There is quite a bit of variation in portraits during this period. The small pellets below the B and above the date may be intentional control marks.
GP91535. Bronze tetradrachm, Svoronos 1674, SNG Cop 363, Cohen DCA 68, BMC Ptolemies -, SNG Milan -, Weiser -, Noeske -, Hosking -, gVF, attractive old cabinet toning, tight flan, obverse die wear, weight 13.875 g, maximum diameter 25.0 mm, die axis 0o, Paphos mint, 101 - 100 B.C.; obverse diademed head right; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle with wings closed stands half left atop fulmen, LI∆ (year 14) left, ΠA right; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; $500.00 (€440.00)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy IV Philopator, 221 - 204 B.C.

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Ptolemy IV's surname, Philopator, means father lover, ironic since according to some authorities he poisoned his father. Ptolemy IV is a major protagonist of the apocryphal 3 Maccabees, which describes events following the Battle of Raphia, in both Jerusalem and Alexandria. He was a cruel and evil monarch.
GP93420. Bronze drachm, Lorber CPE B495; Svoronos 1125; Noeske 140; SNG Cop 199; Weiser 49; BMC Ptolemies p. 57, 106; Hosking -, Choice VF, attractive Zeus, well centered and struck, dark tone with areas of red and blue-green patina, bumps and marks, central depressions, beveled obverse edge, weight 67.115 g, maximum diameter 42.0 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, c. 219 - 204 B.C.; obverse horned head of Zeus Ammon right, wearing taenia; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings closed, filleted cornucopia left, ∆I between eagle's legs; from the Errett Bishop Collection, a massive 67g Ptolemaic bronze!; $450.00 (€396.00)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy IX Soter II (Lathyros), 2nd Reign, 88 - 80 B.C.

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Ptolemy IX Soter II Lathyros was the elder son of Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra III. After his father died in 116 B.C., he ruled jointly with his mother Cleopatra III. His first reign ended in 110 B.C. when his mother replaced him with her favorite son, Alexander, who ruled as Ptolemy X. In 109 B.C., Ptolemy IX Soter successfully recovered the throne. In 107 B.C., however, his mother claimed that he had tried to kill her and Ptolemy X Alexander was again made king. Ptolemy IX ruled Cyprus. Ptolemy X Alexander had their mother, Cleopatra III, murdered in 101 B.C. Ptolemy IX Soter II Lathyros became king of Egypt again in 88 B.C., after Ptolemy X Alexander was killed in battle, until his death in 81 B.C.
GP88180. Silver tetradrachm, Svoronos 1687 & pl. 57, 31 (6 spec.); SNG Cop 375; BMC Ptolemies p. 114, 79 & pl. xxviii, 8; Cohen DCA 64; Noeske -; Hosking -, SNG Milan -, gVF, toned, flow lines, full legend, high points of hair not fully struck, weight 13.793 g, maximum diameter 25.8 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 88 B.C.; obverse diademed bust of Ptolemy I right wearing aegis; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, head left, wings closed, LKΘ (year 29) left, ΠA right; from a New England collector; very rare; $400.00 (€352.00)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy II Philadelphos, 285 - 246 B.C.

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We might expect the K on the reverse right to indicate regnal year 20. BMC Ptolemies notes, however, the title ΣΩTHPOΣ (savior) did not appear on the coinage until Ptolemy II's regnal year 25. On some very similar specimens, it is not just a K but instead a KE ligature (), which has been interpreted to mean year 25. Svoronos describes this type (Sv 723) with a KE ligature but the plate coin actually looks like a plain K. It seems likely that a KE ligature was intended but for some specimens it was not correctly engraved or not fully struck.
SH82655. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Milan 142 (same rev. die); cf. Svoronos 723 (ligate KE); BMC Ptolemies p. 29, 55 (same); SNG Cop 509 (same), Weiser -, Noeske -, aVF, test marks, obverse a little off center, bumps and scratches, graffito on reverse before eagles neck, weight 13.808 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 0o, Sidon (Saida, Lebanon) mint, 261 - 260 BC; obverse diademed bust of Ptolemy I right, wearing aegis; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY ΣΩTHPOΣ (Ptolemy Savior), eagle standing on thunderbolt left, ΣI over ∆I inner left, K inner right; ex Bertolami Fine Arts e-auction 57 (Mar 2018), lot 46; ex Pavlos Pavlou Collection; rare; $300.00 (€264.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES|

Brett, A. "Dated coins of Ptolemy V, 204 - 180 B.C." in ANSMN 2 (1947), pp. 1 - 11.
Brooks, E. "The overstruck coinage of Ptolemy I" in ANSMN 6 (1954), pp. 69 - 84.
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Faucher, T., A. Meadows & C. Lorber. Egyptian Hoards I, The Ptolemies. (Le Claire, France, 2017).
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Jenkins, G. "An early Ptolemaic hard from Phacous" in ANSMN 9 (1960), pp. 17 - 37.
Kreuzer, M. The Coinage System of Cleopatra VII, Marc Antony and Augustus in Cyprus. (Springfield, MA, 2004).
Lorber, C. Coins of the Ptolemaic Empire. (New York, 2018).
Macdonald, G. Catalog of Greek Coins in the Hunterian Collection, University of Glasgow, Vol. III. (Glasgow, 1905). Malter, J. The Coinage of Ancient Egypt, Auction II, February 23 and 24, 1978. (Encino, CA, 1978).
Michaelidou, L, ed. Museum of the History of Cypriot Coinage, Coin Catalogue. (Nicosia, 1996).
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Mørkholm, O. "The last Ptolemaic silver coinage in Cyprus" in Chiron 13 (1983), pp. 69-79.
Nicolaou, I. Paphos II. The Coins from the House of Dionysos. Department of Antiquities Cyprus. (Nicosia, 1990).
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Catalog current as of Wednesday, October 23, 2019.
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Ptolemaic Egypt