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Research Coins: Feature Auction


First Gold of Alexander Type

CNG 111, Lot: 107. Estimate $2000.
Sold for $7000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

KINGS of MACEDON. Alexander III ‘the Great’. 336-323 BC. AV Stater (16mm, 8.56 g, 5h). Tarsos mint. Struck under Balakros or Menes, circa 332/1-327 BC. Helmeted head of Athena right, griffin on helmet / Nike standing left, holding wreath in extended right hand and cradling stylis in left arm; kerykeion below right wing. Price 3458 (Sidon, same obv. die as illustration); Newell, Dated 2, obv. die H (Sidon). Near EF, lustrous, small nick and scuff on reverse. From the earliest series of staters of Alexander. Very rare.

This issue was originally given to Sidon by Newell, along with seven other issues of staters (and two distaters) that lacked the mint signature and/or date that is found on nearly all other issues at Sidon. Newell later doubted the attribution, and suggested they may belong to an early mint at Damaskos (cf. G.F. Hill, “Alexander the Great and the Persian lion-gryphon,” JHS 43 [1923], p. 159). While Price retained Newell’s original attribution, he, too, remained skeptical (Price, p. 436). Le Rider, in his recent review of the coinage of Alexander the Great (Alexander the Great: Coinage, Finances, and Policy [Philadelphia, 2007]), recounted the various arguments, but also assimilated more recent research, and convincingly argues that these eight issues of gold actually were the first issues of Alexander type staters at the mint of Tarsos (Le Rider, op. cit., pp. 134–9).

The reattribution to Tarsos has a significant effect on the importance of these staters. It is generally thought that Alexander began issuing his new coinage, staters of Athena/Nike type and tetradrachms of Herakles/Zeus type, shortly after his capture of Tarsos in 333 BC. Recognizing the importance of this mint for Alexander, supported by the state of the evidence at the time, Newell originally attributed a large series of staters to the early period of Alexanders at Tarsos (E.T. Newell, “Tarsos under Alexander,” AJN 52 [1918]). Later research, however, moved nearly all of these issues to a mint in Macedon (cf. Price p. 371, and Troxell, Studies, pp. 99–110). This void of gold coinage is therefore filled with the reattribution of the eight issues from Sidon, resulting in these being not only the first issue of Alexander staters from Tarsos, but the first issues of Alexander's new stater coinage anywhere.