Seleucid Kingdom. Seleucus I Nicator. 312-281 BC. Susa, After 301 BC

Seleucid Kingdom. Seleucus I Nicator. 312-281 BC. Susa, After 301 BC

14,000.00

AR Tetradrachm, 16.94g (26mm, 6h). Head of Seleucus I right, wearing helmet covered with panther skin and adorned with bull's ears and horns, panther skin tied around neck / ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ - ΣΕΛΕΥΚΟΥ Nike standing right, crowning trophy; M in lower left field and AX between Nike and trophy.

Pedigree: Ex Gemini V, 6 January 2009, lot 145; Ex Jacob Stein Collection, displayed by him at Cincinnati Art Museum, 1994-2008; acquired from Harlan J. Berk, October 1988

References: SC 173.14. ESM 420. ESMS Tr. 95 (A59/P4)

Grade: Lovely strike with iridescent red toning on obverse. There is a planchet defect (hole) in the center where the cheek guard meets the helmet so it is not as noticeable. Slightly o/c. Insignificant planchet crack at 9h on reverse, otherwise a good strike. Attractive in hand. aEF (gk1272)

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Controversy surrounds how ‘great’ Alexander really was, but what is certain is that his empire was vast spreading all the way to the Hindu Kush.  When Alexander died in 323 BC his empire was fiercely fought over by his generals and close advisors. The Seleucid empire was the largest of all the successor states that formed after his death. Just after Alexander’s death, Seleucus was not given a portion of the empire, instead he was relegated to oversee the Companion Cavalry under Perdiccas, the regent of Macedon.  Not satisfied with his outlook, Seleucus began the battle for his own piece of the empire. First in 321, he was one of the people who took part in the assassination of Perdiccas. With the regent gone there was a meeting to repartition the empire and Seleucus was assigned as satrap of Babylonia. This brought him into contact with Antigonus Monophthalmus (Antigonus “the one-eyed”) who some five years later started to question his stewardship.  Seleucus fled to Ptolemy, the who made him commander of his fleet in Egypt. After the defeat of Demetrius, the son of Antigonus in 312 BC in Gaza, Seleucus received permission from Ptolemy to overtake the city of Babylon. This important date marks the beginning of the great Seleucid empire.

This coinage celebrates the conquest of the orient by Seleucus. It was minted in Susa, one of the first mints to strike coins under Seleucus. The obverse shows either Seleucus or Alexander in helmet with elephant tusks. Elephants were symbolic to the Seleucids due to the pact made with the Mauryan king Chandragupta. The ruler gave Seleucus a gift of 500 war elephants in exchange for cession of some his land that was taken as conquest.  The reverse shows Nike crowning a trophy. These coins are among the first to show the king of the empire under his own might and not that of Alexander.