A Brief History of Alexander the Great Coins

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A Brief History of Alexander the Great Coins
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A Brief History of Alexander the Great Coins

Alexander the Great is one of the most famous men of the ancient world and his reign is the starting point for the Hellenistic Age. He led his Macedonian Army across the known world, building an empire and creating coinage wherever his army conquered. Alexander coins are highly complex, prized by collectors, and span centuries.

 

Collecting Ancient Greek Coins

You can find tetradrachms and drachms coins in silver, both from him lifetime and from later that used his name, depicting a much idealised portrait of Alexander in the guise of Heracles, the mythical hero. You can also find gold staters depicting Athena. The drachm is about 18 millimetres wide with a weight of about 4.2 grams in both hammered and sculpted silver. The tetradrachm varies in size according to minting location, ranging from approximately 25 to 40 millimetres wide with a silver weight of about 17.2 grams. When purchasing Alexander the Great coins for your coin collection, look for accurate size, weight, detail of the portraits, and condition. A coin in excellent condition is of a higher value than one with surface marks or obscured details.

 

Coins Issued During Alexander's Lifetime

During his lifetime, approximately 26 mints produced ancient Greek coinage authorised by Alexander. Due to his early death at age 33, excellent coinage from this era is difficult to find and so collectors highly prize them. When selecting coin issues from Alexander's lifetime, look for quality of craftsmanship, rarity of coins produced in the location, and quality and quantity of silver in the coin. Most lifetime Alexander coins have Hercules on the front representing Alexander and the ancient god Zeus, the father of Hercules, on the front. Zeus is sitting on his throne holding a sceptre and eagle. While most lifetime coins have Zeus with his legs side-by-side and in-the-name-of issues have one leg behind the other, there are exceptions. Coin styles can take a good deal of deciphering to define the city or city-state where minting occurred; however, experts can place most coins into a specific date range and particular city or region.

 

Coins Issued After Alexander's Death

After the death of Alexander the Great, Greek rulers and cities throughout his former empire produced coins in his name. These cities came under the rule of his soldiers, friends, and family. Overall, approximately 91 different mints produced Alexander coinage over 250 years. The last know mintage was at Mesembria around 65 BCE. When you purchase in-the-name-of coins, look for the city or city-state of origin, the date of the coin, composition of silver or, in rare instances, gold. Clear details of the portrait and clean images are valuable. Clean edges indicate quality of workmanship and less usage. Coins marked with the place of issue and those with a craftsman's mark are of higher value.

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