Finally a Pharos

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by DonnaML, Mar 2, 2022.

  1. DonnaML

    DonnaML Well-Known Member

    I was going to say Phinally, but decided it would be too cutesy.

    One or two of you may remember that I used to have an Antoninus Pius tetradrachm from Roman Alexandria that didn't depict the Pharos on the reverse, but at least showed Isis Pharia and her billowing sail:

    Ant. Pius - Alexandria - Isis Pharia standing rt. holding sail - jpg version.jpg
    Unfortunately, I eventually learned that it was a fake, because our member @jb_depew posted about his own virtually identical specimen, and @Mat pointed out that it's a common fake with several posts on the Forvm Fake Coins reports showing examples with the exact same cracks in them. The dealer accepted the evidence and refunded the purchase price upon return of the coin. Ever since, I've been on the lookout for a replacement, or, better yet, an example that depicts the Lighthouse of Alexandria itself as well as Isis. I had no luck for quite a while, because such types don't seem to come up that often. Recently, a Hadrian drachm showing both was offered for sale in the Facebook ancient and medieval coins sales group, and even though it's not in great condition -- VG? F? I don't really care -- it looked good to me and had a CNG auction provenance, so I snapped it up immediately. One can see the Pharos itself clearly, even if the figures at the top are mostly worn off, so I'm satisfied!

    Hadrian, AE Drachm, Year 17 (AD 132/133), Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from rear, ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙϹ ΤΡΑΙΑΝ - ΑΔΡΙΑΝΟϹ ϹƐΒ / Rev. Isis Pharia, holding billowing sail and sistrum above, sailing right towards the Pharos of Alexandria, which has doorway in front and is surmounted by a statue as well as two tritons blowing seashell trumpets; [L]I – Z (Year 17) across lower fields behind and in front of Isis. 33 mm., 22.64 g., 12 h. Emmett 1002.17, K&G 32.547, RPC III Online 5838 (see, Milne 1373 at p. 33. Purchased Feb. 2022; ex. Classical Numismatic Group, eAuction 384, Oct. 12, 2016, Lot 482.

    These are CNG's photos:

    Hadrian Isis Pharia drachm CNG 2016 image combined 3.jpg

    Hadrian Isis Pharia drachm reverse.jpg

    I guess they hadn't quite mastered perspective yet, making Isis Pharia look like she's about 500 feet tall!

    I don't think that's a window part of the way up the lighthouse -- just some kind of gouge or flan flaw. Similarly, it looks like there might be something in the doorway, but I don't think that's really anything either, judging from other specimens I've seen.

    Here's the new drachm in its tray, together with my three other Alexandrian drachmae -- one Trajan showing the emperor in a quadriga of elephants, another Hadrian depicting a sphinx, and an Antoninus Pius Zodiac drachm with a lion and Aries. (I've posted in detail about the three of them previously.)

    4 Drachmae Alexandria Obvs 1.jpg

    4 Drachmae Alexandria Revs 2.jpg

    Not one of them is in as good condition as most of the Alexandrian tetradrachms I have, but there's something about the size and solidity of these big bronzes that I enjoy nonetheless.

    Please post your own coins showing Isis Pharia and/or the Pharos, or any other Alexandrian drachmae you might have.
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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Nice find and addition. You're right about the wear those coins get.

    Faustina Jr. (147 - 175 A.D.)Egypt, Alexandria
    Billon Tetradrachm
    O: Draped bust right
    R:Isis Pharia standing right, holding sistrum and billowing sail; L I Z (Year 17) across field.
    Stuck 153-154 A.D.
    Dattari (Savio) 3250; K&G 38.86; Emmett 1949.17.

    Ex. Roma Numismatics E-Sale 16; Lot 306. Feb. 28, 2015
    Ex. Gorny & Mosch Giessener Münzhandlung Auction 247; Lot 4627. March 10, 2017

    Antoninus Pius (138 - 161 A.D.)
    AE diobol
    EGYPT, Alexandria
    O:Laureate bust r., drapery on l. shoulder.
    R: Agathodaemon erect, crowned with skhent; in field, L-IE. issued 151-2 (year 15)
    RPC Online 15718 (this coin), Dattari-Savio Pl. 162, 3066 (this coin).

    From the Dattari collection.

    From the Orfew collection, ex Naville 34 lot 281, 17.09.2017.

    Giovanni Dattari assembled what was undoubtedly the best ever collection of Imperial-era Alexandrian coins in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; see Lucia Carbone, “Giovanni Dattari and His Fabled Collection of Alexandrian Coins,” ANS Journal (Issue 2, 2018), pp. 6-27.
    Edessa, Roman Collector, TIF and 20 others like this.
  4. jb_depew

    jb_depew Well-Known Member

    Nice upgrade! I'd take a hefty drachm over a potin tetradrachm any day. The fact that your coin has a nice depiction of the Pharos is a double bonus. I just got my refund from Savoca yesterday for the fake they sold me. They fought me on the authenticity of the coin even after I shared the photos of the identical cast examples, but finally relented. I've scratched them off the list of dealers I'll buy from in the future.
  5. DonnaML

    DonnaML Well-Known Member

    That's abominable behavior on the part of Savoca. It takes some chutzpah to refuse to accept that a coin is a fake, in the face of multiple identical copies with identical flan cracks! This is almost a Lanz-like level of shadiness and obstinacy. My dealer -- Lodge Antiquities -- accepted reality immediately, and refunded the purchase price more than two months ago. What is it with some of these dealers, whether it's Savoca or it's Lucernae as recounted in another ongoing thread? Don't they realize that they lose more by the hit to their reputations than they might gain by refusing to give a refund for a fake or highly questionable coin?
  6. Curtis

    Curtis Supporter! Supporter

    Congratulations! I feel like I saw this in the CNG auction but it doesn't seem to be up in the archive yet (or coinarchives or or sixbid archive), though I do see the EA 384 listing. That's a great example.

    I was able to get one of the Antoninus ones with the Pharos and Isis Pharia from Leu's sale of the "Rhakotis Collection, formed in the 1960s and 1970s" (I look forward to some day finding out who the collector was, it was an impressive collection!).

    Their description (and their photo below):
    EGYPT. Alexandria. Antoninus Pius, 138-161. Drachm (Bronze, 32 mm, 22.69 g, 1 h), RY 12 = 148/9. [ΑΥΤ Κ Τ] ΑΙΛ ΑΔΡ ΑΝΤ[ⲰΝΙΝΟC CЄΒ ЄΥC] Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Antoninus Pius to right. Rev. L / ΔⲰΔЄΚΑT/O Isis Pharia, holding billowing sail and sistrum, standing to right before the Pharos of Alexandria, which is surmounted by a statue and two Tritons. Dattari (Savio) 2677. Emmett 1592.12. K&G 35.434. RPC IV.4 online 13640

    [132 specimens in RPC (!), but not mine; Dattari alone had at least 9 specimens].​
    Antoninus Pius Drachm Alexandria Pharos Ex Leu Web Auction 16, Rhakotis Collection, 1960s-70s.jpg
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  7. Curtis

    Curtis Supporter! Supporter

    Oh wow, holy cow, just noticed how nice those drachms look Donna! Very well chosen group!
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  8. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    I believe the easiest to find coin that fits this category might be the Commodus tetradrachm below. While it is rated as common, the lighthouse makes it very popular so it can cost more than finer coins that are rated R5.
  9. DonnaML

    DonnaML Well-Known Member

    A very nice design, I think. Maybe it is rated as common, but I don't remember seeing one other than yours, at least not recently.
  10. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Super coin Donna! Architectural reverses are probably my favourite types.

    This one is ex CNG as well.

    RPC2677a.jpg Domitian
    Æ Hemidrachm, 12.15g
    Alexandria mint, 92-93 AD
    Obv: ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙϹ ΘƐΟ(Υ) ΥΙΟϹ ΔΟΜΙΤ ϹƐΒ ΓƐΡΜ; Head of Domitian, laureate, l.
    Rev: LΙΒ; Pharos
    RPC 2677 (0 spec.). Emmett 273f.12. Dattari-Savio 6784.
    Ex CNG eAuction 484, 27 January 2021, lot 559.
  11. spirityoda

    spirityoda Coin Junky

    I know nothing of ancient coins. I am liking your elephants coin...

    4 Drachmae Alexandria Revs 2.jpeg
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  12. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    I know nothing of Alexandrian coinage pre-294, but I see lighthouses, snakes, griffins or other creatures, I press like.
  13. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    Donna, Congrats on scoring the latest Hadrian drachm, all elements on the reverse are clearly defined :happy:. The 4 chunky drachma make an excellent display as a group. It is almost impossible to find a mint state drachm with all details visible. Very few of the large drachma I've seen show any doubling, which would indicate they were struck with one fierce hammer blow ;). Could striking weakness account for the well-worn appearance of most of these coins o_O?
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  14. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    That's a great replacement, Donna. Mine has but a ghost of an obverse, but at least the main design on the reverse is still there, though Isis seems to have forgotten to bring along her sistrum.

    Hadrian - Drachm ex Grover Isis Pharos 1977b.jpg HADRIAN
    AE Drachm. 19.63g, 32mm. EGYPT, Alexandria, RY 18 (AD 133/4). Emmett 1002.18; Dattari 1768 var.; RPC 5896. O: Bare head left. R: Isis Pharia holding billowing sail with both hands, sailing right toward the Lighthouse of Pharos, which is surmounted by two Tritons, each blowing a buccinum (sea shell trumpet), lantern surmounted by statue; L IH above center.
    Ex Robert L. Grover Collection of Roman-Egyptian Coinage, previously held by the Art Institute of Chicago (1980.947)
  15. Marsman

    Marsman Well-Known Member

    Congrats Donna.
    For me the Pharos coin is the holy grail amongst the drachms.
    I found one last year that I’m very happy with.
    It’s an Antoninus Pius drachm with a colorful patina.


    ANTONINUS PIUS, Drachm of Alexandria in Egypt, A.D. 148/9. His laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right.bust right. Rv. ΔΩΔΕΚΑΤΟΥ (= regnal year 12). Isis Pharia sailing right holding billowing sail, in front of the Pharos lighthouse of Alexandria at right which is surmounted by a statue and two Tritons.
    Æ30mm., 21.29gm. Dattari 2677. Emmett 1592. Giessen 1604. Kampmann & Ganschow 35, 434. Köln, Alexandria 1601. Milne 2003.

    The Pharos lighthouse was built in the third century B.C. to protect ships from foundering as they entered the harbor of Alexandria. Listed among the Seven Wonders of the World, the massive building was designed by architect Sostratos of Knidos under the sponsorship of the Hellenistic king, Ptolemy II. It survived as a monument to the ingenuity of the ancient world until severe earthquakes toppled the structure in the 14th century A.D. The foundation of the lighthouse now lies beneath an Ottoman fort, built with some of the original blocks used to construct the Pharos.
  16. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Here are some drachms...Hadrian (2) and Marcus Aurelius Caesar





    aurelius (1).jpg
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2022
  17. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Nice addition Donna. I collect these as well, loving the ancient lighthouse. The reverse type of yours I would consider the most common due to AP and Hadrian having large issues of them, as well as other rulers. I would rate the lighthouse with a ramp type second most often I see, then the tet from Commodus, with maybe the large lighthouse only reverse the scarcist i see in the marketplace. I haven't gotten advanced enough yet to collect all reverse types by different rulers, but know yours comes from a variety of rulers, including empresses.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2022
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  18. tenbobbit

    tenbobbit Well-Known Member

    No house of light unfortunately, just a bit of casual Windsurfing.

    Byblos, Phoenicia

  19. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    I waited for a number of years before finally finding my Pharos last year. Alexandrian coinage is notoriously difficult to find with smooth surfaces and while this isn't 100% perfect, it's as close as I could reasonably hope to locate:


    Æ-drachm, year 18 (= 133/134), Alexandria (Aegyptus); 26.48 g. Draped bust r. with laurel wreath // Isis Pharia stands r. with a billowing sail, in front of it Pharos. Dattari 1767; Goats 1124; Kampmann / Ganschow 32,589; RPC 5895. Ex. MM 13, June 17-19, 1954, lot 946
  20. DonnaML

    DonnaML Well-Known Member

    Wow. Probably the best example of one of these I've seen!
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  21. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    @DonnaML.....That's a lovely looking coin!..I like how the green patina in the fields brings out the details nicely...Sweet little four coin set there...As you've said these type coins are nice to hold..
    I only have one big Drachm which I've posted before but I'll post it one last time.
    Antoninus Pius, 138 - 161 AD, AE Drachm, Egypt, Alexandria Mint, 34mm, 29.55 grams
    Obverse: Laureate head of Antoninus right.
    Reverse: L DEKATOV, Zeus holding patera and scetpre reclining left on open wings of eagle.
    Emmett1699 // Dattari2933 // Koln1560 // Milne1905
    ap drachm.jpg
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