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Rare Seleukos I Greek Silver Alexander Tetradrachm

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Ancient World: Greek: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1119679

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Rare Seleukos I Greek Silver Alexander Tetradrachm

This rare ancient Greek coin is a silver tetradrachm that was minted by Seleukos I, circa 305-290 B.C., weighs approximately 15.8 gms, and is in Extremely Fine/Good Very Fine condition. Seleukos I was a general under Alexander the Great, and established his capital in Babylon circa 305 B.C. Seleukos was subsequently able to recover the Asian possessions of Alexander by winning military victories over some of the other former generals of Alexander the Great. The obverse of the rare coin offered here has the head of Herakles facing right, seen wearing a lion's skin head dress; and the reverse has a seated Zeus facing left, holding an eagle. The name of Seleukos is seen behind the seated Zeus, and before, is the forepart of a horse and an anchor symbol which are both mint marks of Seluekos I. This coin was minted in Ecbatana, which was the summer residence of the Persian kings, and is modern day Hamadan in western Iran. This coin was classified in "Coins of the Seleucid Empire from the Collection of Arthur Houghton", by Arthur Houghton, American Numismatic Society, New York, 1983, as being from the Ecbatana mint and minted within the same series as nos. 1128 & 1129, Pl. 67. The coin type seen here is a continuation of the "Herakles-Zeus" type coinage of Alexander the Great which had been inaugurated during his lifetime, and Seleukos I simply substituted his name from that of Alexander, and added his mint mark symbols. One added difference is that the head of Herakles seen on the obverse, may be a deified portrait of Alexander who died in Babylon circa 323 B.C., as the eye clearly is designed in an upturned manner, and this is a Greek Hellenistic convention of portraiture that is intended to show a deified god. In addition, the obverse shows a slight fleshy lump above the nose and lower forehead which Alexander was thought to have developed in the latter stages of his life. The choice of Seleukos continuing the Alexander "Herakles-Zeus" type of coinage, also tied Seleukos I closer to Alexander, and helped to legitimize his rule in Asia. This coin is a rare type, as classified in the "Celebrated Collection of Coins formed by the late Richard C. Lockett, Greek, Part IV, Glendining & Co., London, 1961, no. 2548, Pl. XV. This coin is very different than the bulk of the Alexander "Herakles-Zeus" type coinage, because rather than portraying Herakles on the obverse, this coin type portrays not only Herakles, but also Alexander the Great as a god. There are very few obverse dies that show Herakles with the upturned eye as well, and this was a development in ancient Greek Hellenistic coinage that is seen only after the death of Alexander in 323 B.C. Ex: Spink & Son, London, circa 1960's. Ex: Private CA. collection. I certify that this piece is authentic as to date, culture, and condition:

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