This is not a coin of Nektanebo II

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by TIF, Jan 12, 2019.

  1. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    SYRIA, uncertain
    3rd century CE
    AE11, 4.4 gm
    Obv: Ram leaping left, head reverted
    Rev: Scales; countermark with helmeted bust right
    Ref: Butcher 11 (uncertain northern Syrian mint); formerly attributed to Nektanebo II of Egypt (Weiser 1 Nektanebo II)

    Why am I dredging up this old coin now? Because today I was browsing a mail bid sale and I saw one of these and it was being touted as a coin of Egyptian pharaoh Nektanebo II. The listing says it and a gold stater are the only coins issued by an Egyptian pharaoh. The comparisons given were 20+ year old sales from when the Nektanebo fantasy was popular-- the comps were in the multi thousand dollar range!

    I was fooled by this coin five years ago and am still angry about it. Of course I should have done my own research rather than trusting the dealer but I was very new to ancient coins. I still make mistakes and sometimes make foolish purchases but at least now I know to always do my own research of a coin and its comparisons.

    The exact details of origin of these small ram/scales coins may be uncertain but from what I can tell now no one really believes they are from Egypt, much less from a pharaoh. Pretending otherwise certainly makes the coin more attractive though :rolleyes:.

    From a CNG listing:
    From a Forum Ancient Coins listing:
    Looking through ACsearch hits for "Nektanebo II" in reverse chronological order, the vast majority of recent sales are attributed as "Syria Uncertain" or "Uncertain Levantine". Only a few dealers are clinging to the Nektanebo story. The hammer prices now tend towards two digits, not four.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
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  3. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Thank you @TIF. I had heard about this type somewhere and was intrigued to get one of the coins actually issued by a pre-Ptolemaic pharaoh, knowing the "good gold" stater was beyond my reach. Thanks for the heads up! Somehow the Egyptians managed to get along with primarily an in-kind economy for thousands of years...
  4. Ryro

    Ryro Trying to remove supporter status Supporter

    So funny you'd be posting this! And thanks for steadying my resolve not to get one:happy:
    I had noticed this type listed in the FRC auction coming up and remembered reading that this was the only coin produced by a non Ptolemaic pharaoh. Then, while researching, I found a TON of folks stating your point. So I'd lost most of my interest, though was still tempted.
    Were there any coins minted in Egypt pre Ptolemy?
    +VGO.DVCKS, Roman Collector and TIF like this.
  5. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE

    Egypt Pharaoh Nektanebo II 361-343 BCE Ram Scales Weiser 1 - Butcher 11 uncertain no Syria.jpg
    Alleged - Egypt Pharaoh Nektanebo II 361-343 BCE Ram Scales Weiser 1 - Butcher 11 uncertain no Syria

    So, since the Pharoahs did not have coins...


    They were used as charms, talimans, amulets, honor to the Pharoah, etc. as a necklace or other ornamental piece.

    Egypt Scarab RAMESSES II cartouche 19th Dyn 1292-1189 BCE winged uraeus cobra 4.1g 19mm Gustave Mustaki coll acquired fr Egypt in 1948

    Egypt 21st Dynasty Scarab 16x11mm Pharoah Neterkheperre 986-967 BCE ex DeVries collection George Fraser pg 41 #329 Plate XII

    Egypt 15th Dyn Hyksos 1650-1550 BCE Scarab Sobek kneel R 16x12mm ex DeVries Collctn Flinders Petrie 942-943 Plate XIV

    Egypt Amenhotep III Scarab 1390-1352 BCE cartouch Neb Maat Ra 43.37g 45mm ex Gustave Mustake.JPG
    Egypt Amenhotep III Scarab 1390-1352 BCE cartouch Neb Maat Ra 43.37g 45mm ex Gustave Mustake

    Egypt Scarab Pamai Pamay 830 - 773 BC 8th Pharaoh of the 22nd Dynasty 960 - 766 BC High Priest of Ma'at.

    Egypt SCARAB Thuthmosis III ca 1504-1450 BCE ex CNG ex Hendin.JPG
    Egypt SCARAB Thuthmosis III ca 1504-1450 BCE ex CNG ex Hendin

    Egypt SCARAB Seti I ca 1291-1278 BCE 19th Dynasty ex Zuzim.JPG
    Egypt SCARAB Seti I ca 1291-1278 BCE 19th Dynasty ex Zuzim
  6. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    I'll post this in its own thread at some point but here's the real Egyptian version with the reverse reading "good gold" or "fine gold" in hieroglyphics. It's one of my purchases from the Triton auction this week and a coin I've been trying to cross off my wantlist for many years:

  7. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist

    Once again, Joe pulls out the big guns. Well done!

    And TIF - i still like your coin, amd think the history behind its misattribution makes it interesting.
  8. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    'Bout time you got one of those, AJ! :p :D

    Fabulous coin-- the best reverse I've seen on that type!!
    +VGO.DVCKS, ycon and AncientJoe like this.
  9. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random guy on the internet

    That metal looks sooooo fragile
  10. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    Those are just flan splits from the planchet being too cold when struck. It's 8.23 grams of gold and rather thick.
  11. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    There's one other genuine pharaonic coin, issued by Nectanebo's uncle Djedher, a unique gold issue imitative of athens that's in the british museum:,0808.1&page=1

    Do you have reliable/reputable sources for scarabs? I've just seen the odd one for sale by CNG. I'd like to know if there are/which dealers specialize in them. Preliminary googling has led nowhere.

    once again, awe is the only response. I sometimes like to play a game of "if I could have one coin from ancientjoe's collection which would it be" and this one might just be the new winner.
  12. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    That's a very popular game :D.
  13. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    I don't have a native pharaonic issue but I have an issue depicting a pharaoh...

    Thanks to @Okidoki for telling me about this eBay coin! I'd been trying for one for some time.

    The variegated patina makes imaging difficult. I should reshoot it with more oblique lighting so bring out the devices a bit better. The pharaoh's headdress with uraeus is much more clear than these images suggest.

    EGYPT, Alexandria. Hadrian
    Arsinoites nome

    RY 11 (126/7 CE)
    Æ obol; 20 mm, 5.12 gm
    Obv: AVTKAITPAIΔPIACEB; laureate bust right
    Rev: head of Egyptian pharaoh right; APCI to left, NOI to right, L IA to right
    Ref: Emmett 1221.11
  14. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    That is a wonderful coin but I am having trouble understanding how that head is determined to be a pharaoh as opposed to some other Egyptian and why that nome would issue a portrait of a 400+ year old ruler on their coins. Many of the other nome coins of Hadrian are attributed to 'female head' or some such less than specific tag. Emmett calls this 'Egyptian king'. Was that headdress reserved for the ancient kings or was it used by, for example, priests of Hadrian's day? It is a coin to research. ANY nome coin in reasonable condition is very collectible. Any Alexandrian coin with an Egyptian rather than Greek design is at least a little special. This is a very nice coin! ood lck with the photo project.
    TIF, Andres2 and Roman Collector like this.
  15. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    My understanding (well... assumption :)) is the headdress connotes pharaonic power. The particular style of headdress seen on this coin's reverse is a nemes, perhaps most famously* seen on the death mask of Tutankhamum. I guess you could argue that the headdress on the coin is not a nemes since it doesn't seem to have the long front folds.

    image from Wikipedia

    *or perhaps even more famously seen on Yul Brenner :D

    Here's a nemes sported by Thutmose IV:

    image from

    Other styles of headdresses worn by Egyptian pharaohs:

    Screen Shot 2019-01-13 at 9.59.18 AM.png

    That I do not (yet) know but I will look for the answer.


    Interestingly, the portrait on this coin's reverse bears a strong resemblance to Hadrian. Was he being portrayed as pharaoh?
  16. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    There were still carving the names of the roman emperors within cartouches as late as the third century, so technically they were upholding the rule of the pharaohs as late as the time of Diocletian, when this tradition was stopped. For example, Trajan appears on the temple of Esna (Khnum) in hieroglyphs. The final cartouche depicting an emperor is this cartouche of Diocletian.



    P.S. The store of Zurqieh on vcoins sells scarabs and antiquities in addition to coins.
  17. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE

    I do. However, am between flights. Will try to PM you later after I look them up for you. I also focus on whose provenence they were from. That is my first priority, then the trusted seller.
    +VGO.DVCKS and TIF like this.
  18. EWC3

    EWC3 (mood: stubborn)

    Yes - I agree. I seem to recall the economist Keynes went further - saying they 'got along perfectly well without coins'

    That I find more troubling....................

    Rob T
    TIF and ancient coin hunter like this.
  19. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    My understanding of Pharaonic times and coins is now we understand they used Athenian coins extensively. At first, they were treated as bullion, (chopped up, etc). However, near the end they indeed strike local versions of Athenian tets and now see some attributed as such. Don't ask me the diagnostic details. However, if someone now wants a "Pharoah coin" they can buy attributed, Egyptian minted, Athenian tets.

    Btw @TIF, yeah I see that dealer pimping these with the really old attribution as well. He also listed the Cyprus pieces, (very disputably Cleo VII), simply as Cleo VII without comment how most disagree, as well as sells fakes from Bulgaria, (disclosed but still). All of this has made me disinterested in his auctions anymore really.
    +VGO.DVCKS and TIF like this.
  20. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Interestingly the Egyptians always had plenty of gold (from the mines in the eastern desert and Nubia), which they controlled sporadically but didn't strike gold coins. There may have been some use for bullion bars of gold, silver, and copper (as in gifts to the temples) as there is some hieroglyphic evidence for this, but the fact is they had a non-monetary economy.
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  21. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    We have to be careful here. We have to remember the Egyptian civilization is MUCH older than the Greek one which invented coins. Therefore, over 90% of the Pharaonic kingdom existed before the invention of coinage. So it is unreasonable to look down on them for not using coinage in this period when it hadn't been invented. After coins were invented, my understanding is Egyptians were aware of them, but mostly treated them as bullion until maybe a few decades before the Persian took over the kingdom. It was at this time they transitioned to using coins more as a defined unit of value rather than just bullion, and started striking imitations of what the whole eastern med knew as "money", being Athenian tets.
    +VGO.DVCKS and TIF like this.
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