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Ptolemy III Drachm (hockey puck) from CNG Feature Auction 121


Al Kowsky
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The massive Ptolemaic bronze drachms have always been popular with collectors. When you place one of these coins in the palm of your hand it's hard to imagine they were actually circulating coins instead of medals. The portrait of Zeus on the obverse & the eagle gripping a thunderbolt on the reverse are powerful symbols, & the quality of engraving on these coins remained at a very high standard for centuries. The only inscription on these coins is the name of the Ptolemaic king on the reverse. The fact that so many of these coins still exist today instead of going into the melting pot indicates their importance even in ancient times. Well worn examples are very affordable but well struck, high grade coins with good surfaces are very expensive. The coin pictured below recently sold at CNG 121, lot 586, with an estimate of $4,000, & graded EF. I thought the estimate was very high, but ended up selling for $3,062.50 including the buyers premium. 

1282690391_CNGF.A.121lot586_23062_50.jpg.a4fee4603edfd32d52fdd2382513df5c.jpg

PTOLEMAIC KINGS of EGYPT. Ptolemy III Euergetes, 246-222 BC. AE Drachm: 72.03 gm, 42.5 mm, 12 h. Alexandria Mint. Svoronos 964. Ex Sternberg XXIX, lot 143, October 30, 1995;  Ex Spink 11, lot 109, December 1975.

I scored the example pictured below a month ago from a Heritage auction, it's the same coin type from the same date range & certified by NGC. I was especially pleased with the price of $900 after comparing it to the CNG coin pictured above ☺️.

194502468_HA232232lot62150.jpg.34955bc755a6b56c413f918347fe41e8.jpg

Ptolemy III, 246-222 BC. AE Drachm: 67.32 gm, 40 mm, 12 h. NGC Ch VF*, Strike 5/5, Surface 4/5.

The finest example of this coin type I've seen in a long time is pictured below. It was auctioned by Heritage a year ago for $6,600.00 😮!

317214967_NGC3819099-001.jpg.65145fa2fb7753012f49d9da03d90402.jpg

Numis Forums members are welcome to post their Ptolemaic drachms ☺️.

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Beautiful coins. This one was used a bit more roughly.

Ptolemaic Kings of Egypt. Ptolemy IV Philopator, 222-205/204 BC. Æ Drachm (43mm, 69.64g, 12h). Alexandreia mint, Series 5E, after 219 BC. Obv: Horned head of Zeus-Ammon right, wearing taenia with basileion over forehead, dotted border. Rev: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΠΤΟΛΕΜΑΙΟΥ; Eagle standing left on thunderbolt, with wings closed; filleted cornucopia to left, ΣE between legs. Ref: CPE B508; Svoronos 992; SNG Copenhagen 205. Near Very Fine, dark green patina, light scratches. Ex CNG eAuction 269 (30 Nov 2011), Lot 179. 

image.jpeg.f4f0676387ab0c85a4380dc8e5f6a78a.jpeg

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I have posed my "hockey puck" next to a Ptolemaic tetradrachm of Ptolemy II to illustrate something else about these big, huge drachmas (mine weighs 73.5 grams). They are actually something unusual in anybody's system of coinage, an attempt to give bronze coinage an intrinsic metal value equal to its government stated value. Most bronze coinage is a subsidiary coinage whose metal value is usually worth quite a bit less that its government sanctioned value. It is usually a token coinage. In Roman Imperial times (or the US in its coinage history) the value of the copper of 16 assess or 100 cents did not equal the silver value of a silver denarius or in the US a silver dollar. The large, hockey puck drachmas of the Third Century BC Egypt actually had, at a silver to bronze ratio of 1:20, a bronze value of 1/4 of the Ptolemaic tetradrachm at about 14.1 grams of silver. Readers with access to a copy of Metcalf's Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman coinage, pp.216-223 can read about this aspect of coinage. If nothing else it will bring home to readers the difficulty of making small change out of bullion precious metals, such as the absolutely tiny silver coinage of the Greeks before they turned to lesser valued metal for their subsidiary coinage. Even in older US coinage it was pretty easy to drop and lose a silver three cent piece. The same with the old English silver penny. Of course it also illustrates the difficulty of trying  to make larger value coins out of lesser valued metals if one tries to make them actually the intrinsic value of what they represent. Not surprisingly this happened in Egypt as well. By the reign of Ptolemy VI the bronze drachma  was reduced to a token weight of ca, 23 grams and remained at that weight for some time before dropping further.thumbnail_IMG_2418ptolobv.jpg.7b90d3822e89addcd354a10fe9c3767f.jpg

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I guess there is hope for mine

Ptolemy III Ae drachm 246-227 BC Alexandria Obv Head of Zeus Ammon right wearing taenia Rv Eagle standing left on thunderbolt wings folded chi-rho monogram between legs Lorber B 395 68.76 grms 43 mm Photo by W. HansenSv964-1ptIII.jpeg.652350cc49c57ab45224caa446e429a4.jpegI bought this coin in 1993 and paid $300 CDN for it which was about $100 more than the going rate at the time.

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Wow, that's a beauty, Al ... congrats on adding that great OP-coin! 

Oh, and I agree that they feel amazing "in-hand" 

Ummm, I had a handful of fairly cool Ptolemy examples ... but none of them were particularly high-grade (but still cool and great in-hand)

 

 

Ptolemy I Elephant man.JPG

Ptolemy V.JPG

ptolemy zeus.jpg

ptolemy.jpg

zeusa.jpg

zeusb.jpg

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46 minutes ago, kevikens said:

I have posed my "hockey puck" next to a Ptolemaic tetradrachm of Ptolemy II to illustrate something else about these big, huge drachmas (mine weighs 73.5 grams). They are actually something unusual in anybody's system of coinage, an attempt to give bronze coinage an intrinsic metal value equal to its government stated value. Most bronze coinage is a subsidiary coinage whose metal value is usually worth quite a bit less that its government sanctioned value. It is usually a token coinage. In Roman Imperial times (or the US in its coinage history) the value of the copper of 16 assess or 100 cents did not equal the silver value of a silver denarius or in the US a silver dollar. The large, hockey puck drachmas of the Third Century BC Egypt actually had, at a silver to bronze ratio of 1:20, a bronze value of 1/4 of the Ptolemaic tetradrachm at about 14.1 grams of silver. Readers with access to a copy of Metcalf's Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman coinage, pp.216-223 can read about this aspect of coinage. If nothing else it will bring home to readers the difficulty of making small change out of bullion precious metals, such as the absolutely tiny silver coinage of the Greeks before they turned to lesser valued metal for their subsidiary coinage. Even in older US coinage it was pretty easy to drop and lose a silver three cent piece. The same with the old English silver penny. Of course it also illustrates the difficulty of trying  to make larger value coins out of lesser valued metals if one tries to make them actually the intrinsic value of what they represent. Not surprisingly this happened in Egypt as well. By the reign of Ptolemy VI the bronze drachma  was reduced to a token weight of ca, 23 grams and remained at that weight for some time before dropping further.thumbnail_IMG_2418ptolobv.jpg.7b90d3822e89addcd354a10fe9c3767f.jpg

Thanks for the interesting info ☺️.

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Like everything these have also gone up in price.

g301.jpg.8143fa03b84ee85bb5157f7cedf7983c.jpg

Ptolemy III Euergetes
246 to 222 BC
Mint: Alexandria Phase 2, Series 1
AE Oktobol
Obvs: Diademed head of Zeus-Ammon right.
Revs: ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, Eagle standing left on thunderbolt. No control marks.
45mm, 93.26g
Ref: Svoronos 412; SNG Copenhagen 141

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30 minutes ago, kapphnwn said:

I guess there is hope for mine

Ptolemy III Ae drachm 246-227 BC Alexandria Obv Head of Zeus Ammon right wearing taenia Rv Eagle standing left on thunderbolt wings folded chi-rho monogram between legs Lorber B 395 68.76 grms 43 mm Photo by W. HansenSv964-1ptIII.jpeg.652350cc49c57ab45224caa446e429a4.jpegI bought this coin in 1993 and paid $300 CDN for it which was about $100 more than the going rate at the time.

Your example is a beauty, great strike & wonderful patina ☺️! As you can see they have skyrocketed in price 😉. I wasn't smart enough to stash a choice example years ago when they were dirt cheap ☹️.

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37 minutes ago, Steve said:

Wow, that's a beauty, Al ... congrats on adding that great OP-coin! 

Oh, and I agree that they feel amazing "in-hand" 

Ummm, I had a handful of fairly cool Ptolemy examples ... but none of them were particularly high-grade (but still cool and great in-hand)

 

 

Ptolemy I Elephant man.JPG

Ptolemy V.JPG

ptolemy zeus.jpg

ptolemy.jpg

zeusa.jpg

zeusb.jpg

Steve, thanks for the kind words ☺️. You have an excellent type collection of Ptolemaic bronze coins with most of them sporting very attractive patinas 😉.

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15 minutes ago, Celator said:

Like everything these have also gone up in price.

g301.jpg.8143fa03b84ee85bb5157f7cedf7983c.jpg

Ptolemy III Euergetes
246 to 222 BC
Mint: Alexandria Phase 2, Series 1
AE Oktobol
Obvs: Diademed head of Zeus-Ammon right.
Revs: ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, Eagle standing left on thunderbolt. No control marks.
45mm, 93.26g
Ref: Svoronos 412; SNG Copenhagen 141

That's a wonderful example with a handsome patina, & the incrustation adds to the color complexity ☺️! Wow, at 93.26 gm you almost need a forklift to carry that coin around 🤣.

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