Lifetime Alexander the Great tetradrachm: Earliest coin to depict Macedonian shield?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Ryro, Oct 16, 2021.

  1. Ryro

    Ryro Trying to remove supporter status Supporter

    I've been on the hunt for a Price 57 Alexander the Great tet for some time now.
    (Man does the look on Bucephalus face steal the show on this amazing mosaic)

    It's the only tet or Drachm for that matter with a Macedonian shield represented as a control mark on it. But the one I bought had to be in decent condition... that is the shield had to be in decent condition.
    It's a rare coin that's hard to come by. All the harder due to the fact that it's not just of the ever popular and abundant Herakles wearing lion skin variety, it's a lifetime coin. Meaning some folks don't even care about that sweet round symbol of Macedonian masculinity. They just want a coin that can be dated to the lifetime of the great one.
    Usually they'll look something like this (the images of the three reverses below are borrowed from the ANS site, shout out to @Ed Snible for pointing this resource out to me!)
    Too much wear to even call it a shield.

    Of course, who wouldn't want a cherry version where all details of the basic shield design are visible:
    As we see the shield boss (center) is simply an Omphalos (naval).

    Here's the design on a few bronzes of mine:
    Alexander III 'the Great'
    336-323 BC Ae. Uncertain mint in Asia Minor.Obv: Macedonian shield w/ omphalos boss.Rev: K. Bow in bow-case, club and grain ear.Price -; Liampi M 11; AMNG I 207-8 (Kallatis).
    Diameter: 15mm
    Weight: 2.16gr
    Condition: Very Fine
    Provenance: From a Private UK Collection. Ex: Ares numismatics

    Alexander III 'the Great'
    (336-323 BC). Ae. Kaunos
    Obv: Macedonian shield with pellet in three circles on boss/ omphalos.
    Rev: Macedonian helmet; grain-ear to l., K to r.
    Price 2072.
    Condition: Near extremely fine. 3,26 g.14.56 mm.

    Seleucus I
    AR Hemiobol, Antioch on the Orotnes 300-281 BCE 0.49 gr 8MM
    OBV: Omphalos on Macedonian Shield.
    Rev: BA έE, elephant head right. Dotted border. Left field N
    Ref: SC 14

    But then something weird and much more rare exists. Still listed as a Price 57, this type appears to show something other than an Omphalos on the shield design:
    What is it? A lion, a gorgon, a Pac-Man???

    Which brings me to my latest heritage win. A lifetime Alexander tet with the strange design on the shield.
    I just won the coin and don't have it in hand to free from that hideous tomb. But did my best to give the illusion of a free coin in my second pic:
    2246527_1633695877.l.jpg Screenshot_20211015-141305_PicCollage-removebg-preview.png
    Alexander III the Great (336-323 BC). AR tetradrachm (28mm, 10h). ANACS XF 40. Lifetime issue of Amphipolis, ca. 336-323 BC. Head of Heracles right, wearing lion skin headdress, paws tied before neck / AΛEΞANΔPOY, Zeus seated left on backless throne, left leg drawn back, feet on ground line, eagle in right hand, scepter in left; Macedonian shield in left field. Price 57.


    I'd love to hear if anyone has ideas as to what is represented on the shield, if anyone has explored this subject before, see all your ATG tets (or your favorite Lion skin wearing Herakles, MSCs or anything that adds to the fun!
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  3. Spaniard

    Spaniard Supporter! Supporter

    @Ryro.....Wow!.....Great looking coin!...My call would be Lion helmet or Lion..
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  4. J.T. Parker

    J.T. Parker Well-Known Member

    Mine, as used for my avatar, was dated by Sear 325-323 B.C.E. so it may be debatable if it is 'Lifetime' or not. Never the less it's such a nice strike w/ likewise centering, perhaps it's worth a closer look.
    D4AADF90-E7FA-4431-94A4-EFD353853799_1_201_a.jpeg E791C8D2-BB45-41B2-BEE9-928DC203893D.jpeg
  5. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Well-Known Member

    @Ryro's coin is indeed an lifetime issue out of Amphipolis. It is a part of Troxell's Group D coinage. Actually D2. This group probably ended circa 323 BC. It is probably about as large an issue as the Group A coinage, neither group being more than a third of the size as the massive group E issue now considered posthumous.
    @J.T. Parker's coin is usually ascribed to being from the mint of Myriandros though there is some debate on this attribution. The attribution to this mint comes from E. T. Newell without much of a compelling reason as Price has noted. He shows little confidence that attribution is correct. Le Rider favors Alexandria ad Issum. The date given in Sear is the same given in Price 3223. This particular issue is curious as other denominations including a didrachm, drachm, hemi drachm, and obol are associated with the tetradrachm.
    I am particularly interested in the coinage of Alexander thus I have acquired a number of specimens
    Alexander III Ar Tetradrachm Amphipolis 332-326 BC Obv. Head of beardless Herakles in lionskin head dress. Rv Zeus Aetophoros seated left. In left field prow of galley. Price 4 Troxell Group A1 17.25 grams 25 mm Photo by W. Hansen alexandertd59.jpg This coin shares the same symbol, the prow of a galley with the last issues minted in the name of Philip II.
  6. J.T. Parker

    J.T. Parker Well-Known Member

    Hello Terrence,
    Just a note of thanks for your additional info on my Alexandrian Tet. The only info I could find on the Myriandros mint in Syria was that it only minted coins for several years. Given the number of years this type was coined, it's fascinating, to me anyway, that so much information is extant. Personally, I find the tet. w/ blue background above especially 'handsome'
    Ryro likes this.
  7. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Nice pickup, @Ryro.
    A very interesting control mark in form of a shield. Mine is an amphora.
  8. Ryro

    Ryro Trying to remove supporter status Supporter

    Wonderful coins @J.T. Parker , @Terence Cheesman and @happy_collector :singing:
    And thank you so much for your insight Mr Cheesman :) Being a big fan of Alexander I always read what you have to say on the subject.
    My first ATG tet was minted as far away from Alexander as we are from from Theodore Roosevelt! However, I still love the style and the stare:
    Alexander III the Great (336-
    323 BC). AR tetradrachm
    (15.98 gm). About VF,
    countermark, graffito.Late
    posthumous issue of Perga,
    dated CY 27 (195/4 BC).
    Heracles wearing lion-skin,
    AΛEΞANΔPOY, Zeus seated left
    on backless throne, right leg
    drawn back, feet on ground line,
    eagle in right hand, scepter in
    left; KI in left field, Seleucid
    anchor countermark in rectangle
  9. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Beautiful new acquisition my friend! An ATG tetradrachm has been on my list ever since I started collecting. I’ve been so picky that I still haven’t pulled the trigger on one. :oops:

    Congrats amigo!

    My only ATG lifetime issue is this fascinating little bronze from AMCC.

    KINGS OF MACEDON: Alexander III 'the Great' (336-323 BCE), lifetime issue.
    AE15 “half unit.” Macedonian mint.
    Dia.: 15 mm
    Wt.: 4.13 g
    Obv: Diademed head right.
    Rev: AΛEΞANΔPOY, Horse prancing right; below, torch.
    Ref.: Price 338.
    Ex AMCC 2, lot 23 (Nov. 9, 2019)
  10. Shea19

    Shea19 Supporter! Supporter

    Congrats on a great pickup @Ryro ! Seems like a perfect fit for your collection.

    I don’t have any lifetime issues of Alexander, but I can share this posthumous tet:


    Antigonos I Monophthalmos, As Strategos of Asia, AR Tetradrachm (24.5mm, 17.10 g). In the name and types of Alexander III of Macedon. Susa mint, circa 316-311 BC. Head of Herakles right, wearing lion skin /Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ Zeus Aëtophoros seated l.; in l.field, wreath; below throne, PO above strut, ΠP monogram below. Price 3855
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  11. Ignoramus Maximus

    Ignoramus Maximus Nomen non est omen.

    Congrats, Ryro. Cool coin!:)

    The more I look at that shield the less sense it makes to me. A lion? A happy, smiling baby griffin? But I can't even do a Rorschach test properly...

    I like your variety with the eagle sitting on Zeus' facing hand instead of on top of a flat hand. Isn't that a characteristic of the earlier issues and a throwback to the Baaltars on the Mazaios staters from Tarsos?

    My coin holds no mystery; it's Babylon and has a torch as mintmark. It's dated between 325 and 323, so I'm optimistically hoping it is a lifetime issue. Also, it's worn. But hey, it's Babylon. And that's where I wanted my Alexander to come from. So I'm happy with it.
    Babylon, Alexander III.jpg
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  12. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Well-Known Member

    The coin presented by @happy_collector is an Amphipolis Mint Troxell B 2 Price 13. The dating is similar to mine. The Troxell A and B issue of coins were minted in response to the efforts by the Spartans to re establish their hegemony over the Peloponnese. The tetradrachm presented by @Ignoramus Maximus is a Group 2 issue from the mint of Babylon. Despite the downdating by Taylor (AJN 30 2018) of the Group I coinage from this mint to 327 BC the Group 2 do not appear to have been affected as he concluded that the Group 2 coinage could have been struck between 325 BC to 324 BC.
    As a further note to @J.T. Parker's coin I have noted that another issue of tetradrachms from Alexandria ad Issum with the same monograms as his do have the Basileos inscription on the reverse. (Price 3219) His does not and while the Basileos inscription is posthumous I am wondering why this mint would suddenly decide to produce so many sub units to the tetradrachm. The only answer that makes any sense to me at this time is that this coinage had something to do with the de mobilization of Alexanders army after they returned from India. One see a similar phenomenon at Babylon especially with the Group 2 issue. So I do believe that Mr. Parker's coin is a lifetime issue. However when messing with the coinage of the Macedonian Kings I am always reminded of playing this game.

    . 220px-Jenga_distorted.jpg I was never very good at it Fat fingers. Okay another coin Ar Tetradrachm of Alexander III Babylon Mint Group 2 Price 325-324 BC Obv Head of Beardless Herakles right wearing a lionskin head dress. Rv Zeus Aetrophoros seated left Price 3629 17.14 grms 26 mm Photo by W. Hansen alexandert13.jpg You can never have too many coins of Alexander.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2021
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  13. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Many thanks for your additional information, Terence.
  14. J.T. Parker

    J.T. Parker Well-Known Member

    Hello Terrence,
    Thank you for your offering a seriously thought out opinion on my Alexandrian Tet.
    I have always thought there was more to the story than offered via my Davis Sear COA.
    On occasion new information is being brought to light by scholars that has bearing on
    these wonderfully historic time travelers.
    Please keep up the work,
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