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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Triton XXII, Lot: 552. Estimate $15000.
Sold for $20000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SELEUCIS and PIERIA, Antioch. Mark Antony & Cleopatra. Circa 36-34 BC. AR Tetradrachm (26mm, 14.90 g, 12h). BACIΛICCA K[ΛЄOΠATPA ΘЄA N]ЄωT[Є]PA, 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 (this coin illustrated); RPC I 4094; HGC 9, 1361. Good VF, toned, light porosity. Excellent portraits. Rare in this condition.

From the Michel Prieur Collection. Ex Moreira Collection (Part 2, Superior, 10 December 1988), lot 2245; Hess-Leu [7] (16 April 1957), lot 336.

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 traditionally given to the Antioch mint, such an attribution is by no means certain. The authors of RPC (pp. 601-2) doubted this theory and stated “...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.”