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    Description

    Pedigreed Ptolemy I Stater, Ex Adams, Naville

    PTOLEMAIC EGYPT. Ptolemy I Soter, as King (305-282 BC). AV stater (19mm, 7.10 gm, 12h). Euhesperides or Alexandria, ca. 305/4-300 BC. Diademed head  of Ptolemy I right, aegis around base of neck / ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, Zeus standing left, holding thunderbolt, in car of chariot drawn to left by four elephants, laurel branch in exergue. Svoronos 101. Zervos Type VI, Issue 122. Naville 239e (this coin, illustrated). BMC 1 = Bement 1822 (same dies). A simply superb specimen of this historic type, with a marvelous portrait of Ptolemy in high-relief and a superbly detailed reverse. NGC MS ★ 5/5 - 4/5.

    Ex Dr. Lawrence A. Adams Collection; LHS 95 (25 October 2005), lot 743; Lucien Naville Collection; A. Hess Luzern (24 November 1937), lot 58.

    Ptolemy I Soter, founder of the Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt, started out life as the son of the Macedonian nobleman Lagus; a later tale that he was an illegitimate son of Philip II (and thus Alexander's half-brother) was probably fabricated. He was a friend and intimate of Alexander III the Great from boyhood and accompanied him on his great career of conquests 333-323 BC. Upon Alexander's death in 323 BC, Ptolemy was granted the prized satrapy of Egypt, the richest of the formerly Persian provinces. Alone among the Diadochi ("successors"), he was content with his sphere of influence and did not risk all to succeed Alexander. However, he was not above using the great conqueror's image and reputation to secure his own position. He hijacked Alexander's funeral cortege as it was proceeding back to Macedon and had his embalmed corpse formally interred at Memphis in Egypt; later the body was relocated to a splendid mausoleum in Alexandria.

    Ptolemy's early coinage is modeled on that of Alexander and carries the conqueror's image and name. The image of the elephant, which Macedonian armies first encountered on the battlefield in northern India, was prominently employed. The first tetradrachms and rare gold staters struck by Ptolemy during his satrapy depict Alexander wearing an elaborate elephant-skin headdress. After Ptolemy declared his own kingship in 305 BC, Alexander's head on the obverse was replaced by his own unequivocal portrait, making him the first Hellenistic monarch to take this step (though both Philip II and Alexander had used portraits of themselves "disguised" as the deities Zeus and Heracles). This amazing gold stater, struck early in his reign, shows Ptolemy wearing about his neck the protective aegis of Athena. The reverse depicts Zeus in the car of a chariot pulled by a team of four Indian elephants, alluding to Alexander's victories and India and the growing importance of these animals as "living tanks" in Hellenistic warfare.

     




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    Auction Dates
    August, 2016
    11th Thursday
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