With a wider circulation than many other ancient coins, Alexander coins are very popular with collectors. Some coins do not qualify as rare, but some feature pristine designs and precious metals that make them extremely valuable. When purchasing an Alexander coin, it is important to pay close attention to design and material details to determine the date of issue and rarity. These coins hail mainly from Egypt, Asia, and Macedonia, and they make worthy additions to ancient coin collections.
Different Alexander Coin Designs
The design and inscription on each Alexander the Great coin are good indicators of the dates of their issue. Because the Ancient Greeks did not like the title 'king', the inscription 'Basilews Alexandrou' is a good indicator that the coin is not from mainland Greece. Each coin features Hercules and Zeus, and the way Zeus sits on the coin helps collectors determine the time of issue. Generally, the coins with Zeus positioning one leg behind the other are posthumous. However, it is always best to check a reference book before relying on this. Some coins also feature alternative designs, such as Athena and Nike, who usually appear on the gold stater coins.
Posthumous vs. Lifetime Coins
When purchasing Ancient Greek coins, those that come with a lifetime issue are worth more than posthumous issues. However, other factors also determine a coin's rarity. Condition is a dominating factor, with ancient coins in mint condition attracting the highest prices. Naturally, it is difficult to find an ancient coin in mint condition. Coins in extremely fine condition are more common but still mostly fall into the extremely rare coin category. These coins feature very few marks. Most coins come in good or fair condition with the picture still visible but slightly worn. New collectors may find that acquiring posthumous coins is easier and less expensive. Cross referencing condition with a coin collectors' book is a good way to avoid a costly mistake.
Different Ancient Coin Materials
The gold stater coins featuring Alexander the Great hold great prestige in the collecting community. Using gold from Macedonian mines, these coins weigh up to 8.2 grams. Although most silver coins feature pure silver, some foreign merchants attempted to coat copper with silver as a guise. During the ancient period, the litmus test for detecting this was to pierce the coin, which is why some coins feature holes. Most tetradrachms come in silver and are usually easier for new collectors to find due to their higher circulation.