Ptolemaic Egypt Gold Octodrachm

Stack’s Bowers Galleries is excited about our upcoming ancient and world coin auction held in conjunction with the ANA World’s Fair of Money this August in Chicago. We have a tremendous line-up of world and ancient coins to be featured in future blogs. Today’s feature is a spectacular piece from Ancient Egypt. In the wake of Alexander the Great’s death his generals warred over the right to rule his empire. Though no individual would claim total dominion over the Hellenistic empire, successor states would arise and last for centuries, one of which was the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. One of the early influential personalities in this ruling family was Arsinoe II, daughter of the founder of the Hellenistic state of Egypt, Ptolemy I. She would go on to marry Lysimachus, who inherited the Thracian kingdom. She would lose favor in Greece and Macedon after multiple intrigues to oust Lysimachus’s children and secure her own line. She then fled to Egypt to seek refuge with her brother, Ptolemy II. It didn’t take her long to orchestrate the exile of her brother’s wife, and promptly married her brother, effectively a co-ruler. She was quite an effective ruler despite sharing the leadership with her brother. She was heavily involved in the affairs of state and also appears on the coinage they produced together. Even after her death, the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt still used her image for some of the large denomination gold they issued, as is found on the highlight piece we have today.

Arsinoe II’s image graces the obverse; her deified portrait is portrayed veiled with an ornate diadem. The end of a lotus-tipped scepter is faintly visible above her head and there is a control-mark “K” behind her head. The entire design is encircled by a beaded border, though a good portion of it is off the flan. The reverse design features a double cornucopiae, each with a grape bunch hanging from the side, all bound with fillet. Her regnal name appears at either side; translated to English it means “Arsinoe Sibling-lover,” a title she shared with her husband who was also her brother. These large sized gold issues from Ptolemaic Egypt are always attention-grabbing pieces, and this example is no exception. With its high-relief portrait and nice toning, this piece is sure to grab considerable attention once it reaches the auction podium.

Look for this and other ancient numismatic rarities in our upcoming August ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction. Preview this coin along with the rest of our auction this July at the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio office located in Irvine, California. For details please refer to the Events Calendar link at To schedule an appointment, please call 800.458.4646. Though our Stack’s Bowers August ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction is no longer open for further consignments, we are now accepting consignments of world and ancient coins for our November Baltimore Auction as well as Asian coins and currency for our December 2015 Hong Kong Showcase Auction. Time is running short, so if you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be sure to contact one of our consignment directors.

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