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Research Coins: Printed Auction


The Rare and Popular Gold Stater of the Pharaoh Nektanebo II

Triton XXII, Lot: 396. Estimate $75000.
Sold for $100000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Pharaonic Kingdom. Nektanebo II. 361-343 BC. AV Stater (17mm, 8.23 g, 12h). Horse prancing right / Hieroglyphic representation of “good gold”: pectoral necklace (nebew = “gold”) crossing horizontally over a windpipe and heart (nefer = “good”). FF-BD 2g (D1/R2 – this coin); SNG Berry 1459 (same obv. die); SNG Copenhagen 1 (same dies); ACGC 1064 (same dies); Adams III 2075 (same obv. die); Hunt I 106 (same obv. die); Zhuyuetang 121 (same dies). Near EF, lightly toned, a little off center on obverse.

From the Collection of a Northern California Gentleman. Ex Josey Collection (Sotheby’s New York, 8 December 1992), lot 67.

One of the great (and very popular) rarities for ancient gold coinage collectors is the gold stater (or daric?) issued by the Egyptian Pharaoh Nektanebo II. The authors of the die study cited above could account for only 42 examples struck from 3 obverse and 3 reverse dies with 5 die combinations. They also listed 5 examples from the Mit Rahineh hoard (IGCH 1658) that they could not examine for their die study. The attribution to Nektanebo II is based primarily on circumstantial historical evidence and not the coins themselves, which do not bear any specific ethnic or monogram.

Nekht-har-hebi, or Nektanebo II as he was known to the Greeks, was the nephew of the Pharaoh Tachos (Djedhor). Placed in command of the Egyptian army in Syria during the Satrapal Revolt, he turned his troops against his own king, and uncle, and took Egypt by force. In 351-350 BC, he repelled a Persian invasion but was driven from his throne in 344-343 by a second assault. He then fled Egypt and found refuge in Ethiopia and retained control of Upper Egypt for another few years.

Nektanebo most likely would have issued his gold staters to pay the mercenaries in his army. What makes the coinage of Nektanebo stand out is the adoption of a purely Egyptian design. This is the only known ancient coinage to employ a hieroglyph – a purely Egyptian coin.