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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton IX, Lot: 1033. Estimate $10000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 9 January 2006. 
Sold For $15000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SELEUKID KINGS of SYRIA. Alexander I Balas, with Cleopatra Thea. 152-145 BC. AR Tetradrachm (16.81 g, 12h). Ake-Ptolemais mint. Marriage commemorative, struck 150 BC. Jugate bust of Cleopatra Thea (as Tyche), veiled, diademed, wearing kalathos, cornucopiae over her shoulder, and head of Alexander, diademed, right / BASILEWS ALEXANDROU QEOPATOROS EUERGETOU, Zeus Nikephoros seated left, Nike stands facing, holding a thunderbolt. Houghton, "The Double Portrait Coins of Alexander I Balas and Cleopatra Thea," SNR 67 (1988), 16-20 var. (A3/P-; unlisted rev. die); SNG Spaer 1483; Houghton 407 (same obv. die); SNG Copenhagen 267 (same obv. die); Jameson 1715; Boston MFA Supp. 280. EF, lightly toned, minor roughness. Very rare. ($10,000)

Alexander I Balas was promoted as a rival to the Seleukid king Demetrios I by a Attalos II of Pergamon, who had been alienated by Demetrios' hostility. Soon, Alexander gained the support of the Romans and the Ptolemaic kingdom, and successfully invaded Syria. After Demetrios was killed in battle, Alexander requested a marriage alliance with Ptolemy VI, which was granted. In 150 BC, a royal wedding was held with both kings in attendance, in which Alexander received the hand of Ptolemy's eldest daughter, Cleopatra Thea. This great event was widely promoted, and commemorated on this rare issue of Seleukid tetradrachms and bronze with the royal couple on the obverse, as well as on a Ptolemaic issue of gold staters with Cleopatra's portrait. The harmony between the empires was short-lived. After the Seleukid empire suffered massive defeats in the east to the Parthians and Elymaians, Demetrios II, son of Demetrios I, invaded Coele-Syria. As the Seleukids rallied to Demetrios, Ptolemy, recognizing Alexander's weakness, gave his support to the new king. After finally meeting Demetrios in battle, Alexander was defeated and fled to Arabia, where he was murdered.