Powerful and Impressive Hellenistic Portrait
PTOLEMAIC KINGS of EGYPT. Ptolemy IV Philopator.
|Sale: Triton XIII, Lot: 239. Estimate $100000.
Closing Date: Monday, 4 January 2010.
Sold For $80000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.
225-205 BC. AV Oktadrachm (27.76 g, 12h). Alexandreia(?) mint. Commemorative issue struck under Ptolemy V, 204/3 BC. Diademed and draped bust right / ΠTOΛEMAIOY ΦIΛOΠATOPOΣ, eagle standing right on thunderbolt; B to right. Svoronos 1139 var. (monogram not B); EHC 321 var. (same); SNG Copenhagen -; BMC 33-4 var. (same); Noske -; Boston MFA -. EF, light marks. Powerful portrait in high relief, one of the most impressive Hellenistic coin types, unpublished with this control mark.
Ptolemy V was only a child when he succeeded his father to the throne of Egypt in 205 BC. The violence associated with the event was unusual compared to previous transfers of power, with Ptolemy's mother, Arsinoë, his natural guardian, murdered immediately after Ptolemy IV died, causing a delay in the succession. Many loyalists to the royal family were also put to death by the people of Alexandreia. Commemorative issues had been customarily struck since the time of Ptolemy II, who adorned numerous gold pieces with the busts of his parents. In fact, Ptolemy IV had struck a huge issue of oktadrachms at Alexandreia featuring the radiate bust of his deified father. In the case of Ptolemy V, the crisis of his elevation prompted a more robust response. Unlike previous reigns, dynastic issues during the time of Ptolemy V were struck in both gold and silver, and were issued not only at Alexandreia, but at a variety of Phoenician mints as well. In any event, the artwork of this particular issue is certainly among the finest of all the dynastic issues of the Ptolemaic series. The obverse is executed in a careful manner, capturing not only the corporeal visage of the deceased ruler, but displaying him with a divine countenance. On the reverse, the standard Ptolemaic eagle is engraved in a typically bold style, but here it is more visceral, infusing the creature with unusual power. Although the type is known with other control marks at Alexandreia, the stylistic differences and use of the B control mark suggest that this coin may be the product of a provincial mint.