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First Issue of Alexander I

525578. SOLD $15750

KINGS of MACEDON. Alexander I. 498-454 BC. AR Oktadrachm (31mm, 29.35 g). Struck circa 492-480/79 BC. Horseman, wearing chlamys and petasos, and holding two spears, standing right behind horse advancing right / Quadripartite incuse square. Raymond pl. II, 4; AMNG III p. 49, 7 (Bisaltai); HPM pl. XII, 2 (Bisaltai); SNG ANS 1; SNG Lockett 1270 (same dies). Attractively toned, with golden iridescence . EF. An impressive piece struck on a broad flan.

This massive coin type has been previously ascribed to the Bisaltai, one of the Thraco-Macedonian tribes that struck coinage in the late 6th and early 5th centuries. The weight of the evidence now points to it being the earliest issue of the Macedonian king Alexander I, whose double-dealing between the Persian Empire and the Greek city states was an important factor in the Greco-Persian wars of 490-479 BC. Alexander claimed descent from the Argive Greeks and modeled his government on that of pre-democratic Athens. He eventually adopted the title Philhellene (”lover of the Greeks). Although nominally a Persian vassal, Alexander provided material aid and important intelligence to the Greeks at crucial times during the conflict. After the battle of Plataea in 479 BC, his army attacked and destroyed the retreating Persian forces at the Strymon River, effectively winning Macedon its independence. The weighty silver coins he struck depict a Macedonian horsemen wearing the trademark broad-brimmed sun hat, or petasos, and his muscular steed.