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Research Coins: Electronic Auction

245, Lot: 305. Estimate $150.
Sold for $430. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Mark Antony and Cleopatra. Autumn 34 BC. AR Denarius (17mm, 3.29 g, 1h). Alexandria mint. Bare head of Mark Antony right; behind, three-pointed Armenian tiara right / Diademed and draped bust of Cleopatra right; to lower right, prow of galley right. Crawford 543/1; CRI 345; Sydenham 1210; RSC 1. Fair, porous.

The consensus of opinion on the date and mint of this coin was relatively uniform until the publication by R. Newman, "A Dialogue of Power in the Coinage of Antony and Octavian" in AJN 2, pp. 37-64. Sear (CRI) follows Newman in calling it an issue from Alexandria struck for Antony's Armenian triumph of the autumn of 34 BC, when the "celebrated and enigmatic" (per Sear) "Donations of Alexandria" took place. Newman states the minting of this coin "must have taken place in 34, the year of Antony's Alexandrian triumph, since it would otherwise be without context." Grueber and Sydenham, on the contrary, had previously assigned the coinage to Ephesus in the winter of 33/2 BC as an issue by Antony to reward Cleopatra and pay for her immense contribution to the war effort. In 33 BC Antony was in Ephesus with his army when Cleopatra arrived with the Egyptian fleet. The Roman army and Egyptian fleet wintered at Ephesus in 33/2 BC, preparing for the coming conflict with Octavian. The legends on this coin could be translated as "[coin] of Antony, with Armenia being Conquered, for Cleopatra, Queen of Kings and of her Sons, being Kings." The Armenian crown behind Antony represents his victorious Roman army, the prow beneath Cleopatra (which appears on no other Roman coin of hers) stands for the mighty Egyptian fleet; combined they symbolize the full array of forces marshalled against Octavian.