KINGS of MACEDON. Alexander III ‘the Great’. 336-323 BC. Drachm (Silver, 4.24 g 9), Sardes, 319-315. Head of Herakles to right, wearing lion skin headdress. Rev. ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ Zeus seated on backless throne, his left leg and torso facing front, his head, right arm and right to left; holding eagle in his right hand and long scepter in his left; to left and below throne, monogram. Price 2682. Attractively toned and with a astonishingly lifelike portrayal of Zeus of exceptional quality. Good extremely fine.
From the Mieza collection, ex Nomos Fixed Price List 2009, 40 and Hess-Divo 310, 22 October 2008, 81.
The reverse on this coin is extraordinary and was struck from dies made by a very skillful engraver. Alexander’s silver coins normally show us Zeus seated to left, sometimes turned slightly toward the viewer to avoid a completely profile torso. His legs are normally shown together, or with one bent behind the other. However, on this coin the engraver has managed to successfully use foreshortening to show the god with his upper body turned to his right and legs spread, his left facing the viewer and the right to his right. This is actually quite an astonishing tour de force of engraving with virtually no parallels in all the rest of the coinage of Alexander. There is a reverse on a tetradrachm from Abydos whose engraver unsuccessfully tried to turn Zeus’ legs to his left (Price 1498), as well as some equally unsuccessful drachms by the same engraver (Price 1501 ff.; he seems to have worked at Lampsakos as well, Price 1356); otherwise no other engraver attempted to produce such a figure. To the cataloguer’s knowledge, this engraver only worked at Sardes and apparently only on drachms; a tetradrachm with a reverse like this would be truly spectacular!
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