Numismatica Ars Classica > Auction 132Auction date: 30 May 2022
Lot number: 391

Price realized: 22,000 CHF   (Approx. 22,993 USD / 21,467 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:

Ptolemy III Euergetes, 246 – 221
In the name of Berenice. Pentakaidecadrachm, Alexandria (?) circa 245, AR 51.00 g. Draped and veiled bust of Berenice r. Rev. BAΣIΛIΣΣHΣ – BEPENIKHΣ Cornucopia filled with fruit and bound with fillets between laureate caps of the dioscuri. Svoronos 988 and pl. XXXV, 2. Vagi, Ptolemaic, pp. 5-10. Hazard 1052 (12 drachms). CPE 734.
Very rare. Struck on a very large flan, minor areas of porosity and oxidation,
otherwise good very fine / about extremely fine

The large and complex series of coins issued by Ptolemy III (246-222 B.C.) for a certain Berenice has been intensively studied in recent years. The most distinctive issue is a large silver coin traditionally described as an Attic-weight dodekadrachm (12 drachms), and more recently as a Ptolemaic-weight pentekaidekadrachm (15 drachms). There is no question that weights of these coins favour their classification as pentekaidekadrachms, as they are perfect for 15 Ptolemaic drachms, yet they are roughly equal to 12.5 Attic drachms – a significant overage in weight that is hard to explain. Yet, concerns linger as to why the Ptolemaic weight standard would have been employed at this time in Alexandria (the presumed mint of this issue) since that standard had not been in use there since the reign of Ptolemy I (305-282 B.C.). The answer may lie in the innovative nature of the Berenice series, which appears to include coins struck both to the Ptolemaic and the Attic weight standards. Another question raised in recent years is which Berenice is honoured: Berenice II, the wife of Ptolemy III, or Berenice Syra, the king's sister? The traditional view is that the king's wife is honoured, but Hazard has suggested it may be his sister. He sees the coins as products of the Third Syrian War (Laodicean War), which began not long after the death of the Seleucid King Antiochus II in 246 under mysterious circumstances. His death caused a dynastic crisis, for Antiochus II had two wives, the Seleucid Laodice and the Ptolemaic Berenice Syra, both of whom had borne him children who were considered legitimate heirs to the Seleucid throne. However, when Berenice Syra and her son were murdered in 246, Ptolemaic claims to the Seleucid throne were eliminated and Ptolemy III responded by invading Seleucid territories. His campaign was successful, but ground to a halt when domestic crises forced him to return to Egypt. In 241, Ptolemy III made peace with Seleucus II, who in the meantime had become the new Seleucid king. As laudable as Hazard's suggestion may be, the case for Berenice II, a queen in her own right, is perhaps stronger. She had married Ptolemy III in about 246, the eventful year of Berenice Syra's death, and throughout the Third Syrian War she ruled Egypt in his absence. Perhaps more important, Berenice's portrait bears no symbols to suggest she was deceased. On the earlier coinage for the deceased Arsinoe II, the bust is adorned with the divine attributes of a ram's horn and a lotus sceptre. Neither is present on the Berenice coinage, and though Berenice II was alive throughout her husband's reign, Berenice Syra was deceased.

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Estimate: 20000 CHF