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Alexander III's Left-Facing Herakles Tetradrachms


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I've just finished another mammoth article for my website, this time focussing on the rare Alexander-type left-facing Herakles tetradrachms. I was very lucky to pick up one of these recently from a Roma auction, I honestly would never have thought I'd be able to get one of these in the next few years. That spurred me to dig into these rare types and learn a bit more about why they were minted, where they were minted, and when. In total, I discovered 63 other examples of this type - still rare but not as rare as one might think.

Not a whole lot is really known about them but my article goes into about every detail that I can find. It's quite lengthy, too lengthy to post here, so if you're interested please check it out on my site: https://artemis-collection.com/alexander-left-facing-herakles-tetradrachms/

A desktop/laptop/tablet is recommended since the tables will be difficult to read on mobile.


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1 hour ago, kapphnwn said:

Very interesting and very well thought out. I agree with your reservations on the placement of mints. I have to deal with that as well and the problem is extremely  vexing. Great work I love it. 

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it! On the one hand it's nice that not everything is known about Alexander's coinage and there's still room to discover something new or re-interpret a previous finding but as you know things quickly spiral once you start having to rely on the attribution of other types being correct. Then once you start looking into those types, you realise they're on similarly shaky ground and have to go through the process again of trying to substantiate that attribution to support another attribution.

Or even when someone else has updated that attribution (relative to Price), you have to remember who it was and in which article they published it - as well as whether they're likely correct. I find it quite tough to recall all the post-Price findings from Troxell, Le Rider, Houghton, Lorber, Taylor etc - and they only have written on a fraction of the types that likely needed some modification to the attribution or dating.

A shame Price isn't around to publish a 2nd edition of his work. Though it would probably be better to use ANS's PELLA database as a "living" version of his work and have some system (e.g. editors) for approving modifications.

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However it must be pointed out that while much of Price's chronology has been discredited, we must thank him for it was not for his courage in taking on this mammoth project, none of the subsequent work would not have been undertaken.  In fact his work accelerated the interest in the coinage of Alexander. This is true of virtually all of the seminal works on ancient numismatics. I remember the intense debate surrounding the New Style Athenian coinage after Margaret Thompson's book came out.  As books are in effect "frozen" they have to stand on their merits. However, by encouraging debate they are priceless. 

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A fellow collector alerted me to this very interesting example in their collection: https://www.numisbids.com/n.php?p=lot&sid=2766&lot=60

It appears to be an example from Arados, which would make it the only example with a left-facing Herakles I've seen that is not attributable to either Pella or Cyrene. The clues that suggest it is likely from Arados are several-fold: the AP monogram below the throne, the style of the Herakles portrait, and the style of the Zeus reverse with the crown. Zeus with the crown portrayed in this fashion can be found at a few mints in Asia Minor and the Levant at around this time (e.g. Tarsos) but in combination with the other similarities it points towards Arados as being the most likely origin.

Additionally, it seems to be closest to the earliest types of this mint, namely Price 3303-3305 (Duyrat Group I to Group III Series 2). If this is the case, then it would also make this left-facing example likely to be the earliest minted as the types from Pella and Cyrene are much more likely to be posthumous. The dating of Price 3303-3305 is still finnicky but I think a date between 330-326 BC is most likely.



Will add it as an addendum to my article at some point so all the information is in one place.

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