macedonian coins

An Unpublished and Possibly Unique Macedonian Coin

This silver tetradrachm was struck in Salamis circa 300-295 BC during the reign of Demetrios I Poliorketes of Macedon. The obverse shows Nike blowing a trumpet and holding a stylis, alighting to left on a left-facing galley prow. The reverse shows the inscription ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΔΗΜΗΤΡΙΟΥ and Poseidon, nude except for a wreath of reeds and a chlamys wrapped around his left arm. He is striding left while hurling a trident from his upraised right hand; monogram of AYN to left, Σ to right. Unpublished in the Standard References, including Newell, possibly unique. This coin is extremely fine, well struck and centered; engraved in very fine style and very well preserved for the type.

Extremely Rare Coin Issued By One Of Alexander The Great’s Best Friends

Worth $164,683; one of only 4 known examples.

This gold stater was struck in Alexandria under Ptolemy I Soter while he was still satrap of Egypt, sometime between 313 and 311 BC.  On the obverse, the coin shows the diademed head of Alexander III (The Great) wearing an elephant’s scalp headdress, an aegis and the horn of Ammon over his ear. The reverse shows the  prow of galley adorned with one large and one small protective eye.

Ptolemy I Soter (c. 367-283 BC) was a Macedonian general under Alexander the Great, who became ruler of Egypt (323–283 BC) and founder of the Ptolemaic Kingdom and dynasty. In 305/4 BC he demanded the title of pharaoh. Before Alexander’s death in 323 BC, Ptolemy was one of Alexander’s most trusted generals, and was among the seven somatophylakes (bodyguards) attached to his person. He was a few years older than Alexander, and had been his intimate friend since childhood.

This is one of the greatest rarities of Ptolemaic coinage, and it celebrates the Ptolemy I’s use of Alexander’s figure as a badge of legitimacy. As is well known, Ptolemy arranged to capture Alexander’s body in 322 BC, when it was in Syria on the way to Macedonia. It was soon placed in a great tomb in Alexandria where it remained until at least the 3rd century AD (though there are reports of it having been seen in the 9th and 10th centuries). This coin bears the typically Ptolemaic portrait of Alexander (with the elephant’s skin headdress) and a prow, which probably commemorates some initial Ptolemaic victories in Cyprus. The portrait itself is remarkably evocative with the visage of a human who was also considered divine.

A Strange Celtic Coin Illustrating Zeus Without A Chin

This is a 2nd century BC silver tetradrachm from the central Carpathian region in Eastern Europe, imitating the coins of Philip II of Macedon. This particular type is called a Kinnlos (chinless) type. The obverse shows a peculiar Celticized head of Zeus without a chin while the reverse shows a Celticized horseman.

The issues of Philip II of Macedon were one of the primary coinages circulating in the Thraco-Macedonian region from the late 4th century BC. It was such an integral coinage to the area that official Macedonian issues of Philip II type continued for decades after his death in 336 BC. Naturally, this coinage was imitated by various tribes in the Danube region, probably to facilitate trade with cities where the type was a recognized medium of exchange, down to the first century BC. The earliest types were reasonably faithful copies of the obverse and reverse types, but over time the various tribes “morphed” them, often into abstract designs that only vaguely resembled the originals, such as this oddly amusing chinless Zeus coin.

Extremely Rare Centaur Coin, C. 500-450 BC

Valued at $180,000, this electrum stater was minted by the Orrescii, an ancient Thraco-Macedonian tribe. It shows a centaur carrying off a struggling nymph. The reverse side is a simple quadripartite incuse square. This stater is of the greatest numismatic importance and rarity and is apparently unique and unrecorded. It appears to be lacking a direct comparison in the published numismatic literature. The closest parallel is an electrum stater in the British Museum collection, of similar type, but of a wholly different style and execution.

The Orrescii lived around the ancient city of Lete (map) in Mygdonia, Macedon. They may have been identical to the Satrae and closely connected with the Bessi, or priests of the oracular temple of the Thracian Bacchus. The Orrescii and other Pangaean tribes were miners who worked the mines around the Pangaean range.

Their coins reflected their religious beliefs, the subjects being satyrs and centaurs carrying off struggling nymphs, iconography associated with the worship of Bacchus. The image of a centaur on the Orrescii coins however is more rare than that of the satyr. These coins illustrate the wild rituals which were held in the mountains of Thrace and Phrygia in honor of Bacchus, whose mysterious oracular temple stood on the top of Mount Pangaeum.