Numismatica Ars Classica > Auction 133Auction date: 21 November 2022
Lot number: 150

Price realized: 22,000 CHF   (Approx. 23,124 USD / 22,319 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:


Greek Coins. Cleopatra VII, 51 – 30.
80 drachmae, Alexandria circa 50-40, Æ 12.87 g. Diademed and draped bust r. Rev. ΒΑΣΙΛΙΣΣΗΣ – ΚΛΕOΠΑΤΡΑΣ Eagle standing l. on thunderbolt; cornucopia in l. field, M in r. field. Svoronos 1871. SNG Copenhagen 419.
Very rare and in exceptional condition for the issue, among the finest specimens known.
A very attractive portrait and a lovely brown tone gently smoothed,
otherwise good very fine / about extremely fine

Ex Gemini-Heritage sale VIII, 2011, 133.
The combination of the full royal portrait of Cleopatra VII on the obverse and the large Greek letter Π in the reverse right field of this bronze coin together point to its production after 47 BC. In this year, with the assistance of the Roman forces of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra was at last able to defeat her rivals for power: her brother Ptolemy XIII and her sister Berenice III. As sole queen of Egypt and the wider, if attenuated, Ptolemaic empire, Cleopatra VII was free to advertise herself as the powerful royal woman that she was. Unfortunately, Roman assistance came at a financial cost, and therefore Cleopatra found it necessary to revise the face values of the fiduciary bronze coinage of her kingdom. Two new coins equivalent to the previous bronze diobol and obol were struck with their face values clearly indicated by a Greek letter numeral. The letter Π indicated a value of 80 and the letter M indicted 40 drachms of reckoning used in Ptolemaic accounting.
The portrait on the present coin is very well preserved and seems to live up to the description of Cleopatra given by the historian Cassius Dio. He reported that she was "brilliant to look upon and to listen to, with the power to subjugate everyone." It was probably in circulation in Alexandria when Cleopatra made the bold move to become the lover and ally of the triumvir Mark Antony in 41 BC. While this had the effect of restoring much of the old Ptolemaic empire in the southern Levant and beyond, it also sowed the seeds of doom for Antony, Cleopatra and the Ptolemaic state. Romans were uncomfortable with the important role that Cleopatra had in their affairs in the Near East and in 34 BC they became increasingly outraged after Antony reportedly divided the East among Cleopatra and the children that she had borne to him. This coin may have been still circulating when Antony made these Donations of Alexandria, and even when he and Cleopatra were forced to march west to face the armies of Octavian. However, it probably stopped changing hands soon after Octavian's victory at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. Upon this critical defeat, whatever power Cleopatra actually may have had to "subjugate everyone" slipped away and she committed suicide to avoid adorning Octavian's triumph in Rome


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Estimate: 15000 CHF