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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Eukratides “the Great”

CNG 112, Lot: 399. Estimate $2500.
Sold for $3500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

BAKTRIA, Greco-Baktrian Kingdom. Eukratides I Megas. Circa 170-145 BC. AR Tetradrachm (33mm, 16.96 g, 12h). Diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right, wearing crested helmet adorned with bull's horn and ear; all within bead-and-reel border / The Dioskouroi, holding palm fronds and spears, on horses rearing right; monogram in lower right field. Bopearachchi 6X; SNG ANS 472; HGC 12, 131. A hint of deposits, short hairline edge crack. Superb EF. Well centered and boldly struck on a broad flan.

By 240 BC, the regions encompassing modern Afghanistan, western Pakistan and northern India had broken from Seleukid rule to become independent under their own line of kings, which were showcased in a series of coin portraits of astonishing power and realism. Greatest of these was Eukratides I, who reigned circa 170-145 BC. His vast realm was larger than any other Greek-ruled kingdom of the time. Indeed he bestowed upon himself the title of Megas (”the Great”), as seen on his coinage. Eukratides struck silver coins in vast numbers and many survive today. This magnificent silver tetradrachm depicts Eucratides as a general wearing a broad-brimmed Baktrian helmet, greatly resembling a modern-day British explorer in a pith helmet. The portrait, rendered in sculptural high relief, is nearly photographic in its realism and exemplifies the virtuosity achieved by the artisans of this far-flung Greek enclave.