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Sale 72

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Lot 4042

Macedonian Kingdom. Alexander I, 498-454 BC. Silver Oktadrachm (28.6g) struck ca. 492-479 BC. Horseman, wearing petasos and chlamys, carrying two spears, leading horse right. Reverse: Quadripartite incuse square. SNG ANS 1 = Rosen 17; SNG Lockett 1266. Soft gray toning. Excellent metal for issue, and unusually well struck. Extremely rare. Superb Extremely Fine.

The tribal coinages of Macedonia and Thrace share many common characteristics. This coin clearly points to the existence of some kind of tribal alliance which is hardly surprising in the light of their brief period of issue, probably no more than about three and half decades from the late sixth to the early fifth century BC. The obligation to pay tribute in silver to the Persian Empire led to the production of very large denominations, examples of which are more often found within Achaemenid territory than in their area of manufacture. This silver oktadrachm was long attributed to the Bisaltai, a powerful Thraco-Macedonian tribe that occupied land west of the Strymon River, which included the argentiferous mountains separating the Valley of Strymon from Mygdonia. Recent evidence, though, now sugests that this was the earliest issue of Alexander I of Macedon, struck while he was allied with the tribes against the Persians. Out of diplomatic necessity, Alexander would logically strike coins that his allies would find acceptable and familiar. After the defeat of the Persians at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC, thus ending their invasion of Greece, and their retreat into Asia Minor, Alexander I acquired all of the Bisaltai territory as far the Strymon, including the silver-rich mines. At some point afterwards, he bgean adding his name to the reverse of similar type of oktadrachms.

Although issued anonymously, this handsome oktadrachm was probably struck under Alexander I of Macedon (ca. 498-454 BC). An otherwise identical oktadrachm actually bears the name of Alexander around the incuse square on the reverse (Kraay, Archaic and Classical Greek Coins, 495). The obverse depicts a huntsman walking beside his horse, a type that appears also on the coinage of the Bisalti tribe.
Estimated Value $15,000 - 20,000.
The Hunter Collection; Ex Superior Stamp & Coin NYINC Auction, December 8-9, 1995, lot 807.

Realized $27,600

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