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A Group of Exceptional Lifetime Drachms of Alexander III

407233. Sold For $975

KINGS of MACEDON. Alexander III ‘the Great’. 336-323 BC. AR Drachm (17mm, 4.25 g, 2h). Miletos mint. Struck under Philoxenos, circa 325-323 BC. Head of Herakles right, wearing lion skin / AΛEΞANΔPOY, Zeus Aëtophoros seated left; monogram in left field. Price 2090; ADM I Series I, 91 (same obv. die); SNG Alpha Bank 629–32; SNG Saroglos 771. FDC, gray-blue toning. Exceptional.

In 333 BC, Alexander wrested control of Tarsos from the Achaemenids and began to strike a new coinage of his own type, likely based upon the latest issues of that city under the Persians. This new “Alexander type” coinage was struck on the Attic standard, likely as an attempt to supplant the ubiquitous Athenian ‘owls’ as the preeminent coinage in the eastern Mediterranean. His coinage was so popular, and became so commonly accepted, that the successor kingdoms, as well as cities in the region of Alexander’s empire, continued to produce coinage in Alexander's name long after his death. Thus, issues attributed to the lifetime of Alexander are relatively rarer than those that are posthumous, having only been struck for 10 years before the Macedonian king’s death, while the later issues spanned nearly two centuries. Moreover, only a handful of mints were producing Alexanders during his lifetime, while the wars between his successors precipitated new issues from dozens of mints. Miletos is one of the few mints that issued Alexanders while the conquerer lived, beginning circa 325 BC, and is commonly known as one of the ‘drachm mints’ that produced huge quantities of that denomination into the early 3rd century. It is conventionally thought that these drachm mints were opened to pay the Greek soldiers who were sent home from Alexander’s army during his eastern campaign. Huge quantities of these coins are known today, but, as expected for a denomination that should circulate heavily, are often found in average grade. As such, high grade specimens often fetch a premium; Triton XVIII, lot 459, an FDC example of the same issue as the present coin, realized $1900.