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    Exceptionally Rare Alexander Fine Style 'Star' Gold Distater with Flying Nike

    MACEDONIAN KINGDOM. Alexander III the Great (336-323 BC). AV distater (23mm, 17.20 gm, 7h). NGC Choice AU ★ 5/5 - 4/5, Fine Style. Lifetime or early posthumous issue of Amphipolis, under Antipater, Polyperchon, or Cassander, ca. 323-316 BC. Head of Athena right, wearing triple crested Corinthian helmet decorated with coiled serpent, three corkscrew curls of hair across neck, helmet with short-turned plume ends / ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ, Nike flying left, wreath in outstretched right hand, stylis cradled on left arm; trident head downward in left field. cf. Price 171 (Nike standing). cf. Müller 104. Troxell, Studies, group C, 543. See Harlan J. Berk, "A new distater of Alexander" (The Celator, vol. 7., no. 5; May, 1993) where this reverse type was published. Deeply-struck from dies with lifelike style on matte surfaces.

    Ex Barry Feirstein Collection Part I (Numismatica Ars Classica, Auction 39 (16 May 2007), lot 25); Harlan J Berk, private sale.

    At the beginning of his reign in 336 BC, the Macedonian Kingdom was reportedly in debt to the tune of 500 silver talents (a talent being 6,000 silver drachms and a "king's ransom" in earliest Greek times). To give an idea of the vast loot his conquests amassed, at Susa alone Alexander seized 50,000 talents of silver and 40,000 of gold. This huge intake of bullion resulted in hitherto unseen denominations such as the gold distater, tariffed at two staters and ten silver tetradrachms, about 20 day's wages for a Macedonian soldier during wartime. The distater was likely employed to pay off many of Alexander's veteran soldiers, who were rewarded for their labors with the equivalent of a silver talent. With the new denomination, a talent could be paid out as 120 gold distaters. Despite their size and enormous buying power, gold distaters evidently circulated heavily, for most specimens found today display considerable wear and numerous contact marks. This beautiful example, graded Choice AU ★  by NGC, is free from such marks and is thus in the top 5% of surviving specimens. 

    Aside from all of the glowing remarks one is able to make about the condition and preservation of this amazing specimen, what sets this coin apart among other distaters is the execution of the fine style reverse. In Troxell's study, the mere 17 known coins comprising group C may have been struck just after Alexander's death by one of the diadochs and was clearly for a special purpose. The usual composition of the reverse shows Nike standing on a ground line, with her left leg only slightly bent and sometimes turned, allowing her chiton to fall in straight lines. On this very dynamic die, however, we see Nike in motion, alighting from the sky with her feet pointed downward and chiton flowing across her legs and slightly behind as she glides to present the laurel crown she holds in her right hand. There are three varieties of the reverse dies in group C, one of which shows a ground line above which Nike is flying, and three obverse dies. This example, with the trident reverse, has the least number of examples known, as well as this obverse die only being represented on this singular example in sales archives. A remarkable opportunity to acquire one of the rarest coins of the entire Macedonian Kingdom.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2018
    17th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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