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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Two Dynastic Pedigree Issues

Triton XXII, Lot: 469. Estimate $5000.
Sold for $7500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

BAKTRIA, Greco-Baktrian Kingdom. Eukratides I Megas. Circa 170-145 BC. AR Tetradrachm (32.25mm, 16.94 g, 12h). Dynastic pedigree issue. BAΣIΛEYΣ MEΓAΣ around, EYKPATIΔHΣ in exergue, bust of Eukratides right, wearing helmet adorned with bull's horn and ear; all within bead-and-reel border / HΛIOKΛEOYΣ above, KAI ΛAOΔIKHΣ in exergue, conjoined draped busts of Heliokles and Laodike, wearing tainia, right; monogram to left; all within bead-and-reel border. Bopearachchi 13A; Bopearachchi & Rahman –; SNG ANS –; MIG Type 182b; HGC 12, 133. EF, light deposits in devices. High relief portraits. An exceptional example. Rare.

From the Menlo Park Collection, purchased from Freeman & Sear, 2003.

On this remarkable "pedigree" tetradrachm, Eukratides pairs a portrait of himself with dual portraits named as Heliokles and Laodike. Heliokles is shown bareheaded, while Laodike appears to wear a royal diadem. The usual interpretation is that these are the parents of Eukratides, although recently it has been suggested Heliokles is one of his sons and Laodike his royal bride. The issue is a puzzling one, and it is not even known for certain which side is the obverse and which the reverse. The bare head of Heliokles indicates he is not a king or co-ruler, while Laodike is clearly royal. Was he a mere satrap or general, and she the daughter of a previous Baktrian king, perhaps Euthydemos or Demetrios I? Or was she a princess of the Seleukid ruling dynasty (the name Laodike being quite common among the women of this house)? Pending the discovery of some parchment of inscription that clarifies his lineage, we cannot but guess.