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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Among the Finest of the Type

Triton XXII, Lot: 285. Estimate $75000.
Sold for $50000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SELEUKID EMPIRE. Seleukos I Nikator. 312-281 BC. AR Tetradrachm (27mm, 17.15 g, 12h). Susa mint. Struck circa 305/4-295 BC. Head of hero (Alexander or Seleukos?) right, wearing helmet covered with panther skin and adorned with the ear and horns of a bull / BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΣEΛEYKOY, Nike standing right, holding in both hands a wreath that she places on trophy to right; AP to lower left, ΠA monogram in lower middle field. SC 173.15; ESMS Tr.106 var. (A63/P– [unlisted rev. die]); Marest-Caffey Group 1.11, 178–80 var. (A25/P– [unlisted rev. die]); ESM –; HGC 9, 20. Superb EF. Of the finest style, perfectly centered, and excellent metal. Very rare issue, only three published, eight in CoinArchives.

The Trophy coinage of Susa began circa 300 BC, in the aftermath of the pivotal Battle of Ipsos, ending the Fourth Diadoch War, which saw the final defeat of Seleukos' most formidable enemy, Antigonos I Monophthalmos, whose power in Asia Minor posed the greatest threat to the nascent Seleukid empire. Traditionally, this coinage was thought to have begun slightly earlier, marking the successful end of Seleukos' Indian campaign in 305 BC, but a recent analysis of the iconography recognized that the details of the trophy indicated that a Macedonian enemy was defeated; the star on the shield was an Argead device, which clearly identifies the vanquished opponent as the Antigonid enemy that fell at Ipsos (see P. Iossif, "Les monnaies de Suse frappées par Séleucos Ier: Une nouvelle approche" in QT XXXIII [2004], pp. 249–71). The portrait on the obverse has long been the subject of debate, with numismatists identifying him as Dionysos, Alexander, or Seleukos. The arguments for each identification have merit, and indeed they are probably all correct; the image is an assimilation of all three into a singular portrait, as Iossif argues. In contrast to the reverse, which relates to the western victory of Seleukos, the obverse portrait relates to Seleukos' eastern victory and ties his mythology to that of both Dionysos, the first conqueror of India, and Alexander, the second conqueror of India. Thus, this issue celebrates the totality of Seleukos' victories in the east and west, solidifying his new empire, and also further establishes his dynastic heritage by tying his exploits to that of the great conqueror, Alexander, in an effort to legitimize Seleukos' right to rule over these vast lands.