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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Hellenistic Monarchies ▸ Ptolemaic EgyptView Options:  |  |  |   

Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt

After Alexander the Great's death, Egypt was administered by Ptolemy, one of his friends and generals. In 305 B.C. Ptolemy crowned himself king, establishing one of the most important and flourishing Hellenistic monarchies. The culture was a complex mixture of Egyptian and Greek traditions, best represented by the famous city of Alexandria. As all other Hellenistic kingdoms, Egypt suffered a slow decline in parallel with the mighty rising of Rome, and it's end witnessed the great story of Queen Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Marc Antony.


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Ptolemy II Philadelphos, 285 - 246 B.C.

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Struck during the latter half of the reign of Ptolemy, when the epithet ΣΩTHPOΣ (savior) appeared on the coinage. While other coins show the mintmarks for Sidon, Tyre, Akko, Joppa and Gaza, this coin has AP in the place where the mintmark is often located. Perhaps this coin was struck in a mint at Aradus? It seems logical but we wonder why no one else suggests it. Perhaps there is some exculpatory evidence we have missed?
GP87130. Silver tetradrachm, Svoronos 391 (2 spec.), SNG Cop 526, Noeske 110, SNG Milan -, BMC Ptolemies -, Weiser -, Hosking -, Malter -, aVF, many bumps and marks, weight 14.133 g, maximum diameter 27.9 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain Phoenician (Arados?) mint, 261 - 256 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Ptolemy I right, wearing aegis; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY ΣΩTHPOΣ, eagle standing left on thunderbolt, head left, wings closed, AP over PAKT monogram over ΦI in left field; missing from most collections, only one auction sale recorded on Coin Archives in the last two decades; extremely rare; $800.00 (€680.00)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Ptolemy III Euergetes, 246 - 222 B.C.

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In 226 B.C., Rhodes suffered an earthquake which damaged and destroyed much of the city. The Colossus of Rhodes snapped at the knees and fell. Polybius records aid promised by Ptolemy III: "300 talents of silver, a million artabas of wheat, timber for the construction of ten quinqueremes and ten triremes, consisting of 40,000 cubits of squared pine planking, 1,000 talents of bronze coinage, 3,000 talents of tow, 3,000 pieces of sail-cloth, 3,000 talents for the repair of the Colossus, 100 architects with 350 workmen, and fourteen talents every year for their wages, and in addition 12,000 artabas of wheat for competitions and sacrifices, and 20,000 for the supplying of ten triremes. Most of this he gave at once, as well as a third of the money promised." This unpublished coin shares the style of an issue struck by mints across Phoenicia, with some of the coins dated year 23. Morkholm has identified the king as Ptolemy III, and the date as 225 - 224 B.C. Prior to this issue, Ptolemy III had last struck silver tetradrachms in 243 B.C. The unusual need for new silver coinage after 17 years was almost certainly to finance his generous gifts to Rhodes.
SH82654. Silver tetradrachm, Unpublished, cf. Svoronos 701 (control monogram), VF, bumps, marks, and scratches, obverse die wear, tight flan, reverse slightly off center, graffiti (E+?) in reverse right field, weight 14.115 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 0o, Tyre mint, 225 - 224 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Ptolemy I right, wearing aegis; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY ΣΩTHPOΣ, eagle standing left on thunderbolt, head left, wings closed, Tyre monogram over club left, monogram (control symbol) right; very rare; $750.00 (€637.50)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Ptolemy II Philadelphos, 285 - 246 B.C.

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We might expect the K on the reverse right to indicate regnal year 20. BMC Ptolemies notes, however, the title ΣΩTHPOΣ (savior) did not appear on the coinage until Ptolemy II's regnal year 25. On some very similar specimens, it is not just a K but instead a KE ligature (), which has been interpreted to mean year 25. Svoronos describes this type (Sv 723) with a KE ligature but the plate coin actually looks like a plain K. It seems likely that a KE ligature was intended but for some specimens it was not correctly engraved or not fully struck.
SH82655. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Milan 142 (same rev. die); cf. Svoronos 723 (ligate KE); BMC Ptolemies p. 29, 55 (same); SNG Cop 509 (same), Weiser -, Noeske -, aVF, test marks, obverse a little off center, bumps and scratches, graffito on reverse before eagles neck, weight 13.808 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 0o, Sidon (Saida, Lebanon) mint, 261 - 260 BC; obverse diademed bust of Ptolemy I right, wearing aegis; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY ΣΩTHPOΣ, eagle standing on thunderbolt left, ΣI over ∆I inner left, K inner right; ex Bertolami Fine Arts e-auction 57 (Mar 2018), lot 46; ex Pavlos Pavlou Collection; rare; $380.00 (€323.00)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Ptolemy IX with Cleopatra III - Cleopatra VII with Ptolemy XIV, c. 114 - 39 B.C.

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Cox Curium 118 shares the same fabric and style so similar that the dies were likely engraved by the same hand. Only one specimen was found in the excavations at Curium. Cox attributes the type to Paphos, dates it 114 - 80 B.C., and notes, "unpublished (?)". Matt Kreuzer, author of "The Coinage System of Cleopatra VII and Augustus in Cyprus," attributes the type to Cleopatra VII with one of her two successive brother-husbands, Ptolemy XIII or XIV, less likely her son Ptolemy XV.
GP87091. Bronze diobol, Cox Curium 118, Svoronos -, RPC I -, Malter -, SNG Cop -, BMC Ptolemies -, Paphos II -, Noeske -, Weiser -, Tziambazis -, Bank of Cyprus -, VF, beveled obv. "knife edge" flan, straight edge where sprues were removed, uneven strike with weak rev. and unstruck legend, weight 13.447 g, maximum diameter 30.6 mm, die axis 0o, Paphos mint, c. 114 - 39 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Zeus right, of distinctive Cypriot style, small horn of Ammon at temple, star before forehead; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), two eagles standing left on thunderbolt, heads left, wings closed, transverse scepter before; only the second specimen of the type known to Forum; extremely rare; $350.00 (€297.50)
 


Hellenistic Greek, Bronze Relief Ring Fragment, Eastern Mediterranean, 3rd - 1st Century B.C.

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This bronze ring fragment is very similar to the referenced ring fragment in the British Museum (click here to see it online).
AS84167. cf. BM Collection 1917.0501.1267 (very similar ring fragment), bezel complete, 22.1 x 16.1, obverse high relief portrait of a woman facing left, draped and wearing her hair in a bun at the back (perhaps a Ptolemaic queen, either Berenike II or Arsinoe II); $320.00 (€272.00)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Ptolemy III Euergetes, 246 - 222 B.C.

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Ptolemy III Euergetes was the third ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. He promoted the translation of Jewish scriptures into Greek as the Septuagint. Due to a falling out at the Seleucid court, his eldest sister Berenice Phernophorus was murdered along with her infant son. In response, he invaded Syria, occupied Antioch, and even reached Babylon. This war, the Third Syrian War, is cryptically alluded to in Daniel XI 7-9.
GP85912. Bronze trihemiobol, Svoronos 1005; SNG Cop 644; Weiser 107; BMC Ptolemies p. 52, 57; SNG Milan 199; Weber 854; McClean 9789; Noeske -; Hosking -, VF, dark patina, well centered, some red earthen deposits, porosity/light corrosion, central dimples, weight 17.135 g, maximum diameter 28.5 mm, die axis 0o, Salamis mint, c. 204 - 202 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Zeus-Ammon right; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), cult statue of Aphrodite standing facing on base, wearing polos, chiton and peplos, right arm across breast, left arm downward away from side; $200.00 (€170.00)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Ptolemy II Philadelphos, 285 - 246 B.C.

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Most finds of this type are from Bulgaria, suggesting a mint in Thrace. This type is found both with and without central depressions, indicating it was struck both before and after the coinage reform of 265 B.C., after which central depressions (dimples) became a feature of Ptolemaic coinage. This example is pre-reform.
GP86417. Bronze AE 17, Svoronos 351, SNG Cop 100, SNG Milan -, Weiser -, Noeske -; BMC Ptolemies -; Malter -, aVF, obv. die break from nose to edge, rev. well centered on a tight flan, bumps, marks, corrosion, lacking central depressions, weight 5.472 g, maximum diameter 17.4 mm, die axis 270o, uncertain (Thracian?) mint, pre-reform, 265 B.C.; obverse veiled and diademed bust of Arsinoe II right; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on fulmen (thunderbolt), head left, wings open, ∆I over (AX monogram) left; see CNG e-auction 92 (23 Jun 2004), lot 64, for another specimen with the same obverse die break; rare; $200.00 (€170.00)
 


Kaunos, Caria, c. 197 - 191 B.C. (or Later 2nd Century)

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On the Rosetta Stone, "The Memphis Decree" announces Ptolemy V's rule and ascension to godhood, and describes him as "like Horus." In "A Statue of a Hellenistic King," Journal of Hellenistic Studies, 33 (1913), C. Edgar attributes a statue very similar to the reverse figure to Ptolemy V: "[The statue] stands with right foot drawn back, the toes alone resting on the ground...His head is held erect and his gaze is turned slightly to his right. His shoulders are drawn up a little...[the upper part] unnaturally short in proportion to the lower part of the trunk...[The missing right] forearm was clear of the body. The [missing] left hand was raised and probably rested on a spear." We believe this type is from the among the last issues of Kaunos under Ptolemaic rule, struck after the 13 year old Ptolemy V came of age in 197/6 B.C., perhaps to commemorate his accession, and before he sold the city to the Rhodians for 200 talents of silver in 191 B.C.
GB87087. Bronze AE 16, SNGvA 8103; Lindgren III 425; Imhoof-Blumer KM I, p. 138, 1; BMC Caria -; SNG Cop -; SNG Keckman -; SNG München -, VF, green patina, well centered on a tight flan, a little porous/rough, tiny edge crack, weight 2.166 g, maximum diameter 15.6 mm, die axis 0o, Kaunos mint, c. 197 - 191 B.C. (or later 2nd century); obverse diademed and horned head of Alexander the Great right; reverse youth (Ptolemy V as Horus?) advancing right, nude, long lotus-tipped scepter transverse in left hand, right arm and index finger extended, snake before him coiled around scepter, K-AY (Kaunos) divided high across field, ΣΩ-TAΣ (magistrate) divided across center; very rare; $180.00 (€153.00)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Ptolemy I Soter, 305 - 282 B.C.

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In 305 B.C., Demetrius Poliorcetes besieged Salamis and defeated Ptolemy's navy off the coast. Demetrius offered lenient terms and Ptolemy's brother, Menelaus, surrendered the city. After this victory, Demetrius declared himself a King. Ptolemy also declared himself a King. This coin has the usual Ptolemaic hemiobol types, with the title BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) visible. It is overstruck over a bronze of Demetrios Poliorketes with helmeted head of Demetrios Poliorketes right obverse (under the reverse of our coin) and prow reverse (under our obverse). Ptolemy struck this coin at Salamis after he re-took Cyprus in 294 B.C. Both Ptolemy I and Demetrios died in 283 B.C. Demetrios died in captivity, imprisoned by Seleukos.
GP87139. Bronze hemiobol, SNG Cop 43 (X, also overstruck, perhaps with same undertype); Svoronos 163; BMC Ptolemies 8, 69; under-type: Newell 20; SRCV II 6775, VF, nice green patina, strong undertype effects, weight 4.094 g, maximum diameter 17.3 mm, die axis 0o, Cyprus, Salamis mint, c. 294 B.C.; obverse deified head of Alexander the Great right with horn of Ammon, hair long; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left, head left, wings open, X or (AX monogram) over helmet in left field; extremely rare; $180.00 (€153.00)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Magas in Kyrene, c. 277 - 249 B.C.

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Magas was the stepson of Ptolemy I, the son of Berenice I, and half-brother to Ptolemy II. In 276 B.C., he crowned himself King in Kyrene, married the daughter of Antiochos I and invaded Egypt with his Seleukid allies. The Seleukid army was defeated by Ptolemy II and Magas faced an internal revolt of Libyan nomads. Still, Kyrene remained independent as long as he lived.
GB65215. Bronze obol, Svoronos 324; Noeske 112; SNG Cop 431; SNG Milan 443; Malter 54; BMC Ptolemies p. 76, 14; Weiser -, VF, weight 7.158 g, maximum diameter 22.7 mm, die axis 0o, Kyrene (near Shahhat, Libya) mint, c. 277 - 261 B.C.; obverse diademed bust of Ptolemy right; reverse ΠTOΛEM BAΣIΛ MAΓ, horizontal winged thunderbolt, monogram above; rare; $140.00 (€119.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Thursday, September 20, 2018.
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Ptolemaic Egypt