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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Published by Hazzard

Triton XXII, Lot: 428. Estimate $5000.
Sold for $17000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

PTOLEMAIC KINGS of EGYPT. Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (Physcon). 145-116 BC. AR Tetradrachm (28mm, 12.87 g, 12h). Paphos mint. Dated RY 32 (139/8 BC). Radiate, diademed, and draped bust right / BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠTOΛEMAIOY, eagle standing left on winged thunderbolt, transverse scepter running below near wing; L ΛB (date) to left, ΠA to right. Olivier 2138 var. (D360/R– [unlisted rev. die]); R. A. Hazzard, Ptolemaic Coins: An Introduction for Collectors (Toronto, 1995), fig. 24 (this coin); otherwise unpublished. Good VF, toned, hairline flan crack, some roughness on obverse. Extremely rare, the second known of this issue, the other in Paris (BnF 369c).

From the collection of a Northern California Gentleman, purchased from Frank Kovacs, 1996.

One of the more infamous Ptolemaic rulers, Ptolemy VIII Euergetes, nicknamed Physcon (“Pot Belly”), cut a bloody swath to gain and retain the throne of Egypt. One of three children of Ptolemy V Epiphanes, Physcon ruled jointly with his siblings in various arrangements, sometimes harmonious but usually contentious, from 170 BC to 145 BC, when his brother Ptolemy VI was killed in battle. To gain absolute power, he tricked his sister Cleopatra II into a very Ptolemaic sibling marriage, then murdered her son and married her daughter, Cleopatra III, creating a rather awkward and tempestuous menage a trois that led to civil war and further familial bloodletting. Circa 139 BC, Physcon took the unusual step of placing his own portrait on silver tetradrachms issued at the mint of Paphos on Cyprus. The bloated radiate portrait recalls similar issues in gold of his namesake Ptolemy III Euergetes, who shared his portly physique. An entertaining dramatization of this deeply decadent reign is available via the 1980s BBC TV series The Ptolemies, watchable on YouTube.