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    Fine Style Berenice II Silver Fifteen-Drachms

    PTOLEMAIC EGYPT. Berenice II (246-222 BC). AR pentekaidekadrachm (42mm, 52.92 gm, 12h). NGC Choice AU 5/5 - 3/5, Fine Style. Ptolemaic standard. Alexandria, under Ptolemy III Euergetes, 245 BC. Diademed, veiled, draped bust of Berenice II right, wearing delicate necklace; dotted border / BEPENIKHΣ-BAΣIΛIΣΣHΣ, cornu­copia containing grain ear, pyramidal cake and pomegranates, grape cluster hanging from the rim of horn at left, bound with royal fillet with ends floating sinuously; between two laureate pilei of the Dioscuri, dotted border. CPE 734. Svoronos 988. An impressive example of this massive denomination, struck from dies of fine style.

    From the Penn Collection. Ex Numismatik Lanz, Auction 80 (26 May 1997), lot 216 (cover lot)

    One of the most formidable Ptolemaic queens, Berenice II's family background was unusually convoluted and bloody, even by Macedonian standards. Born in 267 BC, she was the daughter of the Cyrenaican king Magas and his wife Apama. In 249 BC, upon the death of Magas, her mother married her off to Demetrius the Fair, son of Demetrius Poliorcetes, who was invited to become king of Cyrenaica. Demetrius, however, was more interested in Apama than her daughter and, catching him in her mother's bed, Berenice stabbed him to death. Despite this, her legendary beauty prompted Ptolemy III of Egypt to marry her, in 244/3 BC, and the duo became the foremost "power couple" in the world. Berenice appears to have ruled Egypt quite capably during her husband's long campaigns of conquest. During one such campaign, she cut off her hair and dedicated it to Aphrodite for her husband's safe return. The hair mysteriously disappeared and was "discovered" in the heavens forming the constellation Coma Berenices. The tale entered legend as "The Lock of Berenice." She had six children, one of whom, Ptolemy IV, succeeded to the throne in 221 BC. Berenice originally ruled jointly with him but was soon murdered, probably at the instigation of her son. Gold and silver coins were minted in her name on both the Ptolemaic and Macedonian standards.

    Estimate: $20,000 - $30,000.

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