Alexander the Great, 356 to 323 BC, was a fearless leader and king who defeated the Persians and fought for the spread of Greek culture and language throughout much of Asia Minor. Despite the King's ruthless endeavours in creating a single language and currency, he paved the way for many modern civilisations to develop. He fostered the expansion of the arts, philosophy, literature, religion, and education throughout the ancient world. Alexander the Great coins feature extensively on eBay, and command great attention by collectors the world over.
Two coins minted to Alexander the Great dominated Greek currency during and following his reign. These were the Drachm, and the Tetradrachm. They were both solid silver, with the Drachm measuring approximately 18 mm wide and weighing 4.2 grams. The Tetradrachm measures between 25 and 40 mm wide and weighs 17.4 grams. The value of these coins, then and now, comes from the metal they consist of rather than from who issued them. Many other Alexander the Great coins achieved legal tender between 250 and 65 BC. Although typically made of bronze and gold, they are less noteworthy today.
Each coin features prominent Greek figures, whose identities remain an issue of contention. According to one argument, the obverse side of the Drachm has the head of Herakles (Hercules), with the reverse side showing his father, the god Zeus seated on his throne with eagle and scepter. Others believe the obverse side of the coin features Alexander himself. Lifetime editions (coins minted during Alexander's lifetime) of this coin feature Zeus with legs side-by-side; while the posthumous editions have him with one leg behind the other.
Both the Drachm and Tetradrachm are highly prized collector's items, but dealers primarily seek after the Tetradrachm for its potentially higher selling point, which typically peaks in the thousands. The actual monetary value of a given coin, however, varies according to its minted rarity, beauty, and quality. Buyers should also note that lifetime editions tend to sell for considerably greater sums than posthumous editions.
Along with other ancient coins, the value of Alexander the Great coinage may not lie primarily in their monetary value at any given time, but in personal worth. For owners, these coins can become windows to lost civilisations, evocative historical documents, political propaganda, or inspiring artistic treasures that transcend their once crass commercial use.
Significance of the Character
The coins of Alexander the Great elicit the attention of collectors and dealers, not merely for the coins themselves, but to the extent that these coins commemorate one who altered the course of human history. As controversial a figure as Alexander remains, that much is unquestionable.