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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton VII, Lot: 370. Estimate $2000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 12 January 2004. 
Sold For $2500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

PERSIA. Alexandrine Empire. Circa 322-315 BC. AV Double Daric (16.66 gm). Babylon mint. Persian king or hero in kneeling/running stance right, holding transverse spear and bow; LY behind, M before / Patterned incuse punch. Nicolet-Pierre 1; MIG 15k; cf. BMC Arabia pg. 176, 2; Traité pl. CXV, 9; cf. SNG Copenhagen 259. VF, nicely centered. Rare. ($2000)

From the Bellaria Collection. Ex Monetarium List 48 (Autumn 1987), lot 37.

Upon finishing his expeditions to the outer limits of Asia Minor, Alexander the Great led his army westward late in 331 BC. The metropolis of Babylon was surrendered by its satrap, Mazaeus, whom Alexander rewarded with the local governorship. Alexander made Babylon his royal seat, and there established one of his most important mints, from which a large quantity of regular ‘Alexandrine’ or 'imperial' coinages were struck, including the impressive dekadrachms of circa 327/6 BC. In addition to the ‘imperial' coinages, Babylon also produced a substantial group of local coinages, some of which initially bore the name of Mazaeus, but which continued without the name of a satrap after his death in 328 B.C.

Both main types of this local Babylonian coinage are represented here. Gold was struck in the form of double-darics (lot 363) and darics modeled after the familiar darics of the pre-Alexandrine Persian world. The obverse was borrowed directly from the old Persian darics, though sometimes control marks appear in the fields. The reverse retained the general form of an oblong incuse, but were decorated with geometric patterns generally in the form of wavy stripes. Houghton and Lorber suggest the gold coinage ceased circa 300/298 BC under Seleukos I, and was replaced by a brief issue bearing the head of Alexander in an elephant’s scalp on the obverse and a standing Nike on the reverse. Silver is represented by ‘lion staters’ (lot 364) and at least three smaller denominations, all bearing a seated Baal on the obverse and a standing lion on the reverse. The staters initially were struck to the weight of the Attic tetradrachm, but eventually were reduced to the lighter Persic standard of the Babylonian shekel. Though initiated under Mazaeus, both the gold and the silver coinages were produced for decades, with the final silver coins probably being struck circa 288/7 BC under Seleukos I.