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Research Coins: Electronic Auction

352, Lot: 65. Estimate $200.
Sold for $750. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

KINGS of MACEDON. Alexander III ‘the Great’. 336-323 BC. AR Tetradrachm (27mm, 17.03 g, 9h). Tarsos mint. Struck under Balakros or Menes, circa 333-327 BC. Head of Herakles right, wearing lion skin / Zeus Aëtophoros seated left; A below throne. Price 2993; Newell, Tarsos 3 (obv. die XI). VF, lightly toned, minor pitting. Almost fully centered on a large flan.

The earliest coinage of Alexander struck at Tarsos is of particular historical importance. First, it is the first issue of his new coinage, known today as 'Alexandrine' coinage. Also, this was the first mint to strike Macedonian coinage in the former Achaemenid realm. Passing virtually unopposed through the Cilician Gates, Alexander entered Tarsos, the capital of the satrapy of Cilicia, in the summer of 333 BC, and, from August-October of that year, the city served as both a strategic and financial base of his eastward military operations.

Tarsos had been a primary mint under the Achaemenids, striking a diverse variety of coinage under its satrap. The latest issues had an obverse type with Baal enthroned left that probably served as a model for the depiction of Zeus enthroned on the reverse of Alexandrine silver coins. The very close stylistic similarity between the Baal on the satrapal issues and the Zeus on the earliest Alexander issues indicates that there was no break in production and that the Alexander-type coinage at Tarsos was struck immediately upon the transfer of the city into Macedonian hands. The earliest Alexandrine issues are those with the A or B below the throne, which Newell termed “officinae.”