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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Two Tetradrachms of Cleopatra & Antony

Triton XXII, Lot: 551. Estimate $20000.
Sold for $18000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SELEUCIS and PIERIA, Antioch. Mark Antony & Cleopatra. Circa 36-34 BC. AR Tetradrachm (26mm, 15.03 g, 12h). BACIΛICCA K[ΛЄOΠA]TPA ΘЄA NЄωTЄPA, diademed bust of Cleopatra right, wearing earring, necklace, and embroidered dress / ANTωNIOC AVTOKPATωP TRITON TPIωN ANΔPωN, bare head of Antony right. Prieur 27; McAlee 174/1; RPC I 4094; HGC 9, 1361. Good VF, toned, a few light scratches under tone. Two pleasing portraits. Rare in this condition.

From the Collection of a Northern California Gentleman. Purchased from Frank Kovacs, May 1993.

The obverse legend is usually translated as “Queen Cleopatra, the younger goddess” or “...the newer goddess.” Ted Buttrey (“Thea Neotera,” MN VI [1954], pp. 95-109) read the legend rather differently: “Queen Cleopatra Thea, junior.” Essentially, this would make her Cleopatra Thea II and thus the namesake of the Seleucid queen Cleopatra Thea (ruled 125-121 BC), the daughter of Ptolemy VI and Cleopatra II. Buttrey argued that such tetradrachms of Antony and Cleopatra officially mark Cleopatra as reigning “...not as Egyptian conquerer but as a Seleucid queen.”

While the coinage is traditionally given to the Antioch mint, this attribution is by no means certain. The authors of RPC (pp. 601-2) thought diffrently: “...the portraits might suggest that one should look for a mint further south in Cleopatra’s ‘Phoenician’ kingdom; an alternative explanation might be that they were made on the move by Antony, after wintering in Antioch 37/36.”