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Coin Detail
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ID:     77000296
Type:     Greek
Issuer:     Alexander I Balas
Date Ruled:     152-145 BC
Metal:     Silver
Denomination:     Tetradrachm
Weight:     14.94 g
Die Axis:     1 h
Obverse Description:     Laureate head of Zeus right
Reverse Description:     BASILEWS ALEXANDROU, winged thunderbolt; two monograms to left, CXP (date) and monogram to right; all within wreath of grain ears
Mint:     Seleukeia Pieria
Primary Reference:     Houghton, Tetradrachm, dies A1/- var.
Reference2:     Hougton 409 var.
Reference3:     SNG Fitzwilliam 5686 var.
Reference4:     Gulbenkian 1044 var.; Pozzi 2980 var. (all from the same obverse die, but with a different monogram to right)
Photograph Credit:     Classical Numismatic Group
Grade:     Near EF, a hint of roughness, small nick on edge, minor die break on obverse
Notes:     Sale: Triton XI, Lot: 296 Extremely rare, one of approximately 12 known, none with this monogram. This tetradrachm struck by Alexander Balas is among the most intriguing of the Seleukid series. Unlike the usual royal tetradrachm issues that dominate the series, this coin employs types that are directly related to the city in which it was struck. Seleukeia was well noted for its cult of Zeus Casios, and there are also reports that a thunderbolt cult existed there (Appian, Syr. 58). Moreover, the idealized, Pheidian-influenced portrait of Zeus and the winged thunderbolt had been types struck on municipal bronze issues of Seleukeia from the establishment of the city under Seleukos I.This novel issue is likely a reflection of the prominence of the city under Alexander. At the beginning of his reign, immediately following his overthrow of Demetrios I, Seleukeia was the first city in northern Syria under his total control. In contrast, Antioch refused to accept him, and struck a series of posthumous coins in the name of Antiochos IV. Without having control of the Antioch mint, Alexander was forced to begin striking coinage at Seleukeia, which had been only a peripheral mint in earlier reigns. Although there is no known event in SE 166 that would give rise to such a special coin issue, the purely civic nature of the types strongly suggests that the city retained a level of high prominence during the later years of his reign.Fewer than ten examples have appeared at auction in the past 20 years.