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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Third Known Seleukos Daric

CNG 91, Lot: 351. Estimate $10000.
Sold for $6000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SELEUKID KINGS of SYRIA. Seleukos I Nikator. 312-281 BC. AV Daric (14mm, 8.08 g, 1h). Uncertain mint in Babylonia. Struck circa 300-298 BC. Head of the deified Alexander right, wearing elephant skin / Nike standing left, holding wreath in extended right hand and cradling stylis in left arm; in left field horned horse head right [above monogram]. Cf. SC 101; HGC 9, 8; O. Bopearachchi, “Two unreported coins from the second Mir Zakah deposit” in ONS Newsletter 165 (Autumn 2000), p. 15 (this coin). Good VF, struck from worn obverse die, flan flaw on obverse (but see below). Extremely rare, the third known daric of Seleukos I.

Ex 1992 Mir Zakah Hoard.

Bopearachchi incorrectly describes the coin as having an obverse of Herakles wearing lion skin, and notes the weight as being equivalent to an Attic stater. At the same time, he thinks that the coin was overstruck on an Achaemenid daric, with the incuse of the original coin causing the “flan flaw” on the obverse. Accepting this as correct, the coin would not be equivalent to the Attic stater, which was around 8.5-8.6 grams at the time, but to the standard of the daric, which was around 8.2-8.3 grams. Even after the conquest of Alexander III, the Achaemenid daric was the primary local gold coin in the east (see G. Le Rider, Alexander the Great: Coinage, Finances, and Policy [Philadelphia, 2007], pp. 242–6), and coinage for local use was struck on this standard at Babylon, a practice that was continued under Seleukos I (Babylon II mint in SC). The authors of SC attribute this particular series of darics to a mint in Babylonia (possibly even a workshop in the old Babylon mint), while Bopearachchi prefers a mint further to the east, perhaps in Baktria.