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Research Coins: Feature Auction

 
650839
Sale: Triton VII, Lot: 839. Estimate $5000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 12 January 2004. 
Sold For $7250. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

MARK ANTONY and CLEOPATRA. 34 BC. AR Denarius (3.98 gm). Alexandria mint. ANTONI ARMENIA DEVICTA, bare head of Antony right; Armenian tiara behind / CLEOPATRA (sic) REGINAE REGVM FILIORVM REGVM, diademed and draped bust of Cleopatra right; prow before. Crawford 543/1; CRI 345; Sydenham 1210 var. (CLEOPATRAE); BMCRR East 179 var. (same); CNR II 2; RSC 1c. Lightly toned, good VF, a little softly struck at edge. An exceptional example of a coin which is notoriously difficult to obtain well struck and well preserved. ($5000)

The consensus of opinion on the date and mint of this coin was relatively uniform until 1990, with the publication by R. Newman, "A Dialogue of Power in the Coinage of Antony and Octavian" in AJN 2, pp. 37-64. Sear (CRI) follows Newman in calling it an issue from Alexandria struck for Antony's Armenian triumph of the autumn of 34 BC, when the "celebrated and enigmatic" (per Sear)"Donations of Alexandria" took place. Newman states the minting of this coin "must have taken place in 34, the year of Antony's Alexandrian triumph, since it would otherwise be without context." He dismisses the very good arguments of Grueber and Sydenham for another logical context. They believe that this issue was struck at Ephesus in the winter of 33/2 BC by Antony to reward Cleopatra and pay for her immense contribution to the war effort. In 33 BC Antony was in Ephesus with his army when Cleopatra arrived with the Egyptian fleet. The Roman army and Egyptian fleet wintered at Ephesus in 33/2 BC, preparing for the coming conflict with Octavian. The legends on this coin could be translated as "[coin] of Antony, with Armenia being Conquered / For Cleopatra, Queen of Kings and of her Sons, being Kings." The Armenian crown behind Antony represents his victorious Roman army, the prow beneath Cleopatra (which appears on no other Roman coin of hers) stands for the mighty Egyptian fleet; combined they symbolize the full array of forces marshalled against Octavian.