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Alexander the Great drachm (posthumous)


thenickelguy
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Hey, I am really excited to buy my first better coin that recently appeared in "The Cabinet" Pictures and information used with permission, thanks CPK

The rest is from me and the internet condensed.

AlexanderTheGreatA.jpg.581bed0911fd6112e39ece22ef0076b8.jpg

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Alexander the Great drachm (posthumous)

Kings of Macedon

(In the name and types of Alexander III (the Great)


Alexander The Great
Posthumous Issue - Struck under Philip III

Kings of Macedon

AR Drachm 323-322 BC

Obverse: Head of Heracles right, wearing lionskin headdress.

Reverse: AΛEΞANΔΡOΥ, Zeus seated on stool-throne left, eagle on outstretched right hand, sceptre in left hand; torch beneath throne, NK in left field.
15mm 4.23 gr.

 

Now I've been reading a bit. If you didn't sleep all day in school, you certainly had to remember Alexander The Great being mentioned. 

This coin does not show Alexander The Great or Alexander III but I think, AΛEΞANΔΡOΥ on the reverse is telling me that the coin is one of a series of Kings of Macedon and that translates to ALEXANDROU.

I am somewhat guessing this, please tell me I am on the right track.

So, the obverse has the demi-god Heracles, son of Zeus, with a lionskin headdress. In Roman mythology, he would be Hercules. Of course, everyone knows a little bit about him. I'm going to learn a lot more.

After Heracles was caused to  become temporarily insane by Hera, he murdered his own wife Megara and their children. Hera was Zeus's wife but not the mother of Heracles. His mother was the mortal princess Alcmene.

For the murders, he was sentenced for twelve years, in punishment. As part of his sentence, Heracles had to perform labors, difficult feats which were quite impossible. He did have the help of Hermes and Athena.

The lionskin, is probably that of the invincible Nemean Lion.  The claws of the lion were so sharp and strong, they could cut trough any armor.

His first of a number of labors he had to complete was to kill this lion that terrorized the people of Nemea. After realizing that his arrows were useless, he cornered the lion in a cave and strangled it to death with his bare hands. He used the lion claws to skin the lion and wore it for protection.

Hercules-And-Nemean-Lion-Peter-Paul-Rubens.jpg.5b9dc445f0b438597fd7dbd95f5b5eba.jpg

In his next adventure with the killing the 9 headed Lernean Hydra, he is often seen wearing the lionskin.

1635226214_Antonio_del_Pollaiolo_-_Ercole_e_lIdra_e_Ercole_e_Anteo_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg.7ea027231ae2c7bccbc42054494910cd.jpg

 

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I believe you are right on the reverse inscription. "Of Alexander" or "Of King Alexander" is what it translates to in English.

One point of interest is that while the obverse portrait is ostensibly Heracles in the lion skin headdress, it's quite widely believed to actual depict Alexander himself as Heracles. 

Harlan J. Berk had this to say about it in his book, 100 Greatest Ancient Coins:

"Until the discovery of what is thought to be the tomb of Alexander's father, Philip II of Macedonia, we did not know with absolute certainty what Alexander looked like. As noted earlier, on Philip's tomb at Vergina were two small ivory portraits of Philip and Alexander. The beardless portrait on Alexander's tetradrachms is strikingly similar to the portrait of Alexander found in his father's tomb. Additionally, the sarcophagus of Abdalonymos, known also as the Alexander Sarcophagus, shows Alexander on horseback wearing a lion's skin, like the Hercules figure on Alexander's tetradrachm. Abdalonymos, the last king of Sidon, was a personal friend of Alexander the Great and dedicated his sarcophagus to Alexander and himself. Moreover, a tetradrachm struck by the Bactrian king Agathocles in 171 to 160 B.C. bears a portrait of a beardless young man wearing a lion's skin - similar to that on Alexander's own tetradrachm - and bears the legend "Alexander Son of King Philip." These facts make it clear that the tetradrachms of Alexander bear the actual portrait of the first man to conquer the known world."

Harlan J. Berk,100 Greatest Ancient Coins (2nd Edition), Whitman Publishing, 2019 (p. 63)

Berk was speaking here of the tetradrachm, but the design on the drachm is identical.

Edited by CPK
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2 hours ago, CPK said:

I believe you are right on the reverse inscription. "Of Alexander" or "Of King Alexander" is what it translates to in English.

One point of interest is that while the obverse portrait is ostensibly Heracles in the lion skin headdress, it's quite widely believed to actual depict Alexander himself as Heracles. 

Harlan J. Berk had this to say about it in his book, 100 Greatest Ancient Coins:

"Until the discovery of what is thought to be the tomb of Alexander's father, Philip II of Macedonia, we did not know with absolute certainty what Alexander looked like. As noted earlier, on Philip's tomb at Vergina were two small ivory portraits of Philip and Alexander. The beardless portrait on Alexander's tetradrachms is strikingly similar to the portrait of Alexander found in his father's tomb. Additionally, the sarcophagus of Abdalonymos, known also as the Alexander Sarcophagus, shows Alexander on horseback wearing a lion's skin, like the Hercules figure on Alexander's tetradrachm. Abdalonymos, the last king of Sidon, was a personal friend of Alexander the Great and dedicated his sarcophagus to Alexander and himself. Moreover, a tetradrachm struck by the Bactrian king Agathocles in 171 to 160 B.C. bears a portrait of a beardless young man wearing a lion's skin - similar to that on Alexander's own tetradrachm - and bears the legend "Alexander Son of King Philip." These facts make it clear that the tetradrachms of Alexander bear the actual portrait of the first man to conquer the known world."

Harlan J. Berk,100 Greatest Ancient Coins (2nd Edition), Whitman Publishing, 2019 (p. 63)

Berk was speaking here of the tetradrachm, but the design on the drachm is identical.

There's the problem, of course, that strikingly similar portraits of Herakles are found on coins that pre-date Alexander.

I'm of the opinion that the vast majority of lifetime tetradrachms are not of Alexander and are, at best, Herakles with some Alexander-like features or just Herakles. While some may point to variation in style as evidence that some mints tried to capture Alexander's features more than others, I think the variation in style works against this theory just as much.

And though I think you find slightly more people willing to accept posthumous tetradrachms adopted Alexander-like features, for me personally, that's less interesting and would require quite a comprehensive study to prove given that not all mints would have made this change immediately, at the same time, or even at all. Not to mention you'd expect some variation in style regardless and not all features may be adopted at each mint or by each engraver within a mint.

Couple that with variations in known depictions of Alexander and the question of whether some of those depictions may have been influenced by contemporary depictions of Herakles and you're left with quite an uphill battle to prove the theory. Looking at just the variation in Alexander portraits between the tetradrachms issued under Ptolemy and Lysimachos makes me wonder how it would ever be possible to say with any certainty that it is Alexander as Herakles on his own coins without some other form of evidence.

It would be interesting to see how machine learning might be applied to this problem. I don't think it could identify whether a portrait is Alexander or not per se, but it could help in clustering similar Herakles portraits together from his tetradrachms to make it easier to compare changes in features.

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@thenickelguy Your drachm of Alexander III appears to be a Price 2580 Which is from the mint of Sardies. In the left field you have the monogram NK and below the throne there is a small torch. I have one of these drachms as well

Miletus Ar Drachm in the name and types of Alexander III circa 323 BC Obv Beardless head of Herakles wearing lions skin headdress. Rv Zeus Aetophoros seated left Price 2090 4,28 grms 18 mm Photo by W. Hansenalexanderdr1.jpeg.dbfb9cd6fee1c9e41362a06632c6cf34.jpegOne of the more annoying aspects of Price 2090 is that it includes virtually every variety of reverse including the parallel legs as well as the crossed legged variety. The crossed leg variety got its inspiration from the mint of Sidon so it had to take some time to influence the die cutters at Miletus.  My coin shows the fore leg slightly reverted type.  I have come to the conclusion that this type is also posthumous as I have not been able to find any tetradrachms showing this type that I can safely ascribe to the lifetime issues of Alexander III

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Posted · Benefactor

Sweet addition, thenickelguy ... that's a great new Alex-III 

Oh, and you other coin-fellas also have some fantastic examples (very yummy, kapphnwn)

 

Pretty sure I only had this one example of Alex-II (lifetime) ... I always loved the patina on this baby

 

 

Alexander III the Great AE19

336 - 323 BC

Diameter: 19 mm

Weight: 5.99 grams

Obverse: Head of Alexander as Herakles in Nemean lion scalp headdress to right

Reverse: Alexander between club and bow with bow case and quiver, cluster of grapes and monogram above

Other: A handsome coin, nicely centered with a pretty patina

Ex-stevex6

 

Alexander Club & Bow.jpg

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Comgratulations on the new acquisition!

I recommend you to start reading about the various cities that minted posthumous Alexander drachms. Suffice to say it's a long story.

Also it's interesting to know how to establish if a drachm is lifetime or posthumous.

I have one posthumous drachm as I also wanted an example of the type.

image.png.8d550ed472aee7278428983978b9c57a.png

 

17 mm., 3,75 g.

Alexander III, AR Drachm, 323-319 BC. Philip III Arrhidaios Struck under Menander or Kleitos. Magnesia ad Maeandrum mint. Head of Herakles right, wearing lionskin headdress. / AΛEXANΔΡOY to right of Zeus seated left, right leg drawn back, holding eagle and sceptre. bee left in left field, spear-head in outer right field. Price 1937-1938; Mueller 322-323; SNG Cop. 952.

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..kool coin nickeldude! :)..i've been neglecting my Greek coins of late and i'm gonna remedy that 🙂

drachms of Alexander, silvers 16 & 17mm, 4.03 &3.78gms, bronze 17mm, 6.43gms(oops..haha! i got the bronze upside down on the reverse 😛 old age and bad glasses^^)

IMG_1164.JPG

IMG_1165.JPG

Edited by ominus1
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Posted · Supporter
1 hour ago, Kaleun96 said:

There's the problem, of course, that strikingly similar portraits of Herakles are found on coins that pre-date Alexander.

I'm of the opinion that the vast majority of lifetime tetradrachms are not of Alexander and are, at best, Herakles with some Alexander-like features or just Herakles. While some may point to variation in style as evidence that some mints tried to capture Alexander's features more than others, I think the variation in style works against this theory just as much.

And though I think you find slightly more people willing to accept posthumous tetradrachms adopted Alexander-like features, for me personally, that's less interesting and would require quite a comprehensive study to prove given that not all mints would have made this change immediately, at the same time, or even at all. Not to mention you'd expect some variation in style regardless and not all features may be adopted at each mint or by each engraver within a mint.

Couple that with variations in known depictions of Alexander and the question of whether some of those depictions may have been influenced by contemporary depictions of Herakles and you're left with quite an uphill battle to prove the theory. Looking at just the variation in Alexander portraits between the tetradrachms issued under Ptolemy and Lysimachos makes me wonder how it would ever be possible to say with any certainty that it is Alexander as Herakles on his own coins without some other form of evidence.

It would be interesting to see how machine learning might be applied to this problem. I don't think it could identify whether a portrait is Alexander or not per se, but it could help in clustering similar Herakles portraits together from his tetradrachms to make it easier to compare changes in features.

Yes, I realize that not everyone agrees with Berk. Still, I think he does make a good (and interesting) argument.

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Posted · Supporter

Nice new coin!

Here are a few of mine.

Zeus bounces the Macedonian shield like a basketball!

2357128_1636989373.l-removebg-preview.png.a9aabebdcfa6a87e0afb8ed7afb199aa.pngIMG_0449.PNG.d416bec0c9eccddaec4938579c2ee983.PNG

My first ATG Drachm was a fourée from my dad:

IMG_0448(1).PNG.168f5846c7733b242b3b5e5d6e93bae0.PNG

Mechakles! 

2117444_1629210855.l-removebg-preview.png.b1ba3ed1d4810a99651a336075aacedc.png

The bronze type can be very attractive as well:

IMG_2536.PNG.84a4146076e05a2a285c94fcc1321b5e.PNG

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35 minutes ago, Ryro said:

Nice new coin!

Here are a few of mine.

Zeus bounces the Macedonian shield like a basketball!

2357128_1636989373.l-removebg-preview.png.a9aabebdcfa6a87e0afb8ed7afb199aa.pngIMG_0449.PNG.d416bec0c9eccddaec4938579c2ee983.PNG

My first ATG Drachm was a fourée from my dad:

IMG_0448(1).PNG.168f5846c7733b242b3b5e5d6e93bae0.PNG

Mechakles! 

2117444_1629210855.l-removebg-preview.png.b1ba3ed1d4810a99651a336075aacedc.png

The bronze type can be very attractive as well:

IMG_2536.PNG.84a4146076e05a2a285c94fcc1321b5e.PNG

..that bronze is a masterpiece! 🙂

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Posted · Supporter
29 minutes ago, ominus1 said:

..that bronze is a masterpiece! 🙂

Thanks buddy😁

I couldn't believe how lucky I was to come across it. Then a bit ago, I thought I was gonna buy an obverse die match that was MUCH more worn than mine... someone paid out the nose for it. And though I don't have the die match, I'm incredibly spoiled to have this guy. 

To slow the roll about these coins depicting Alexander as his ancestor Herakles. Yes, I do believe some types MAY be doing this. But the vast majority are simply Herakles representations on the obverse. 

Here's one of his grandpappy with a Herakles obverse. Are some saying, that must be a Amyntas III as Herakles, I doubt it:

IMG_0271(1).PNG.139cc35e7b720901c0f3af6bb8727a96.PNG

And here's another bronze from just before our after Philip II, his papa, was assassinated:

IMG_5816.jpg.348cad3cc4bbf24ebde6ae8a3d8584ff.jpg

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