An Alexander III tetradrachm, Ake or Tyre, with a "thoughtful" test cut

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by robinjojo, Oct 19, 2021.

  1. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    It's been a while since my last thread. I do have some new coins coming in, mostly a procession of imitative owls, but also this Alexander III tetradrachm, posthumous, minted in either Tyre or Ake. I guess the jury is still out on that issue.

    This coin has some crudeness, with its exaggerated eye on the portrait, as well as some flan flaws. On the other hand the centering is decent on the obverse and very good on the reverse, with all of Alexander's name visible. Also, there is an odd spot above his name, to the right, which sort of looks like a hippocampus, but I am sure is just a flaw in the die.

    What I find interesting is the test cut, or scrape on the reverse, which starts at the edge, extends to the eagle, mostly skips over the eagle (fear of offending Zeus?), and continues up to Zeus's shoulder where there also seems to be a flan flaw. Considerable pressure must have been used, as the edge of the flan has a slight bend of dip to it, as can be seen at roughly between 1 and 2 o'clock on the obverse.

    The date, in Phoenician, is extremely small. I have trouble seeing it without magnification, but then I am at the age where 20 point fonts are best for me. People back then must have had very good vision, perhaps due to healthier diets? I do see the need to use such small script, due to the size of the flan.

    Kings of Macedon
    Alexander III
    AR tetradrachm
    RY 38 of Azemilkos (312/11 BC)
    Obverse: Head of young Herakles right in lion skin headdress.
    Reverse: ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ, Zeus enthroned left, holding eagle and scepter, Phoenician ‘Z (king’s name) above Phoenician date in left field.
    Price 3295 (Ake); Newell, Dated 44; DCA 737.
    16.8 grams

    D-Camera Alex III tet, Ake-Tyre, RY 38 Azemilkos 312-11 BC 16.8g Israel eBay 21 10-19-21.jpg

    Do other CT members have examples from this mint? Please post whatever you wish.

    Thank you.
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  3. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Alexander III, the Great; 336-323 B.C. AR tetradrachm (28mm; 16.90 gm; 7h). Ake mint. Obv: Hd. of Herakles r. wearing lion’s skin headdress. Rev: ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ. Zeus seated left on backless throne holding eagle in right hand & scepter in his left. To left, under right forearm, date: III III - = -I O above II; CY year 38? [309/8 BC). This coin is Price 3295a, as pictured (Volume 2, Plate XCIV), but the text in Volume 1 does not match the picture. The above date inscription for Ake is not to be found in Price's text. Price 3292 has the matching first line but lacks the "II" in a second line. Price 3293 matches the first line inscription on this coin, but has only "I" in the second line, rather than "II."
  4. kirispupis

    kirispupis Supporter! Supporter

    I have one.

    Kingdom of Macedon, Philip III Arrhidaios AR Tetradrachm. In the name and types of Alexander III. Struck under Menes. Tyre, dated RY 29 of Azemilkos = 321/0 BC. Head of Herakles to right, wearing lion skin headdress / Zeus Aëtophoros seated to left, holding sceptre; ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ to right, -|O (Phoenician 'K = 'Ozmilk [king of Tyre]) above ||| ||| =/||| (Phoenician date [29]) in left field. Price 3275 (Ake); Newell, Dated 32 (same); DCA 737; HGC 3.1, 941 (Alexander IV). 17.03g, 26mm, 6h.
    Ex Roma.
  5. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Nice coins posted!

    As an additional note to the coin that I posted, I was told that it came from north of Beit She an, Israel.
  6. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    Alexander III Ar Tetradrachm Tyre 332-328/7 BC. Obv Head of Beardless Herakles in lionskin headdress. Rv Zeus Aetophoros seated left, No footstool. Small o below throne. Price 3244 (Ake) HGC 910m 17.22 grms 24 mm Photo by W. Hansen alexandert57.jpg Once Alexander establish the mint at Tarsos, he commenced minting coins in his name and types at some of the mints along the Levantine coast. What is noteworthy is that even though the early issues from the mint of Tarsos do have a footstool, at least some of the early coins minted at Tyre Sidon, Myriandos (Alexandria ad Issum) as well as Salamis do not.
  7. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    That's a beautiful coin!

    So, the tetradrachms without the footstool or foot rest (can't imagine someone like Zeus needing one) are mostly found one lifetime issue coins?
  8. kirispupis

    kirispupis Supporter! Supporter

    I also didn't know about the foot stool. So, it seems like the following is the chronology.

    - Zeus is relaxing in his chair. Everything's going fine. He rests his feet on a foot stool and admires the nature.
    - Zeus has been sitting for a pretty long time now. He needs to get up and take a break, but he's posing for these coins... He fidgets and kicks the foot stool away.
    - Alexander III has died and Zeus has been sitting on that chair for some ten years now. Although he's immortal, nature still calls. He REALLY needs to go, so bad that he crosses his legs.
    robinjojo, Ryan McVay and Ryro like this.
  9. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    In response to @robinjojo. It depends on the mint. It would seem that the lack of a footstool emerged in the Levant. The variety appears to have spread to Amphipolis.The tetradrachms of Amphipolis do not have a footstool but do employ a strong exergual line which is absent in the Levant. This is kept up until after the death of Alexander. Some mints like Tarsos appear to have a footstool from the very beginning. Judging from the coins shown above Tyre initially does not, however at some point Zeus gets a footstool.
    robinjojo and john-charles like this.
  10. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you for the information on the presence or absence of the footstool on the reverse of Alexander III's lifetime and early posthumous coins.

    I did go back to my images and found an early one, for me, from May 2020, of a tetradrachm from Amphipolis. The image is pretty bad, but it clearly does show the absence of the footstool as well as the exergue line at the bottom.

    This coin has Pegasus on the reverse, to the left of seated Zeus and sans footstool.

    D-Camera Alexander IIII tetradrachm, possibly Lampsakos Mint, 5-2-20.jpg
  11. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    Again to @robinjojo Your coin is a Price 44 Troxell C 5 It is a lifetime issue. Troxell organized the lifetime issues into four groups A through D. Group E which she had thought to be lifetime issue has been disproven by Le Rider and now is considered to be posthumous. Of the four lifetime issues Group C is the smallest. Troxell estimates that the issue had something like 18 dies. This suggests that it was minted sometime after the conflict with Sparta had ended. If I was to hazard a guess the date would be somewhere in the 328-324 BC time period.
    Alexander III Ar Tetradrachm Amphipolis 332-326 BC Obv. Head of beardless Herakles in lionskin headdress. Rv. Zeus Aetophoros seated left. In left field cluster of grapes. Price 29 Troxell Issue B7 17.16 grms 24mm Photo by W. Hansen alexandert49.jpg
  12. kirispupis

    kirispupis Supporter! Supporter

    Looking at this a bit more seriously, here's a much later tet with a footstool.

    KINGS of MACEDON. Ptolemy Keraunos. 281-279 BC. AR Tetradrachm. In the name and types of Alexander III. Amphipolis mint. Head of Herakles right, wearing lion skin headdress / Zeus Aëtophoros seated left; monograms in left field and below throne. Price 537; Mathisen, Administrative –.
    Ex CNG

    Here are my two lifetime tets. Both have foot stools, but the second one is off the flan.
    Kingdom of Macedon, Alexander III 'the Great' AR Tetradrachm. Struck under Stamenes or Archon. Babylon, circa 324/3 BC. Head of Herakles to right, wearing lion's skin headdress / Zeus Aëtophoros seated to left, holding sceptre; AΛEΞANΔPOY to right, monogram over M below throne. Price 3599; Müller 670. 16.68g, 27mm, 2h.
    Ex Roma

    Tetradrachm (Silver, 24 mm, 16.80 g, 7 h), Susa, struck under Koinos, circa 324-323. Head of Herakles to right, wearing lion skin headdress. Rev. [BAΣIΛEΩΣ] - AΛEΞANΔP[OY] Zeus seated left on low throne, holding long scepter in his left hand and eagle standing right with closed wings in his right; to left and below throne, monogram. Price 3829.
    Ex Leu

    Here's one of my earliest posthumous tets. No foot stool.
    Kingdom of Macedon, Philip III Arrhidaios AR Tetradrachm. In the name and types of Alexander III. Amphipolis, circa 323-320 BC. Head of Herakles to right, wearing lion skin headdress / Zeus Aëtophoros seated to left, holding eagle and sceptre; Phrygian cap before, BAΣIΛEΩΣ to left, ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ to right. Price 112; Troxell, Studies, Issue H2, 61; Müller 854. 17.06g, 26mm, 3h.
    Ex Gorny & Mosch Giessener Münzhandlung
    Ex Roma

    In comparison, here is a Mazaios, which seems to have influenced the early Alexanders. No foot stool.
    Tarsos. Mazaios, Satrap. Circa 361-334 BC. AR Stater.
    Baaltars seated left, holding sceptre surmounted by an eagle in right hand,
    left arm at side; grain ear, bunch of grapes to left, monogram under throne
    / Lion attacking bull above double row of turreted walls.
    Catalog: SNG Levante 113; SNG France 360
    Weight: 10.11 g
    Ex Fenzl
  13. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you, Terence, for the information and your wonderful coins.

    I've never spent much time studying the extensive issues, both lifetime and posthumous, of Alexander III, as well as the derivative coinage of his successors and all of the later issues, including the imitative coins of Celtic origin and others. This is a vast ocean when compared to the lake that is Athenian tetradrachm coinage, at least up to the new style tetradrachms of the 2nd-1st centuries BC, where things get complicated.

    Nice coins! It seems, as time progressed, that there is some variation on the inclusion of the footstool on the reverse. It is really something that I had not noticed until this thread.
  14. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    As an after thought, my coin, shown immediately after the OP coin, seems to have been cut by the same hand on the obverse. Note the large eye and the tiny lips on Heracles.
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  15. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Yes, I see the similarities, possibly a die match. Your coin seems to be better struck on the obverse, so the mouth is better defined compared to my coin. The eye treatment is certainly distinctive for this issue.

    Also, I've spent time examining that depressed area on the reverse of my coin. As I mentioned earlier, the flan is bent at the point on the edge where this depression begins, creating a raised point on the obverse and a very small metal stress crack as well. I am wondering if this defect was present during the striking, rather than introduced as a test cut afterwards. Another possibility is that some object was between the reverse die and the flan at the time of striking, creating the depression and providing enough pressure to bend the metal at the edge at the same time. My experience with test cuts is that they generally are very angular and come to a single point at the bottom of the cut. Also, test cuts obliterate all raised areas in the path of the cut, unlike this coin.

    Just a couple of possibilities....
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2021
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