Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 110   |   24 September 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 85

Estimate: 20'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 16'000 CHF Price realized: 46'000 CHF
Ptolemy II Philadelphos, 285 – 246 BC. In the name of Arsinoe II. Decadrachm, Alexandria circa 253/2-246, AR 35.69 g. Veiled and diademed head of deified Arsinoe II r.; behind head, HH. Rev. ΑΡΣΙΝΟΗΣ – ΦΙΛΑΔΕΛΦΟΥ Double cornucopiae filled with fruit and bound with fillets. Svoronos 942 (Ptolemy III). Troxell group III.
Very rare and in unusually fine condition for the issue. Struck on unusually
good metal and with a lovely old cabinet tone. Extremely fine
Ex Naville I, 1921, Pozzi, 3231; NFA 20, 1988, 821 and LHS 102, 2008, 319 sales.
Upon her death in July of 270 BC, Arsinoe II, the sister-wife of King Ptolemy II, was deified and a cult was established in her honour as Thea Philadelphus ('brother-loving goddess'). It was a new cult, distinct from the Theoi Adelphoi ('sibling gods') cult, which by 272/1 had been established for Arsinoe and her husband. The first honorary coinage for Arsinoe II and her new cult appears to have been silver decadrachms, which were issued soon after her death. Starting in about 261/0, the same types were employed for gold coins that must have been as impressive then as they are today. The largest of these was an octodrachm or mnaieion (one-mina piece) that appears to have been worth 100 silver drachms, and was struck under successive Ptolemaic kings for about 150 years or more. Arsinoe's portrait is carefully composed to show her royal pedigree and her divinity. Her status as a queen is attested by the jewelled diadem at her forehead, and her divinity by the lotus sceptre at her shoulder and the ram's horn at her ear. While the obverse is devoted solely to the queen, the reverse is dedicated to her sibling relationship with Ptolemy II. The inscription APΣINOHΣ ΦIΛAΔEΛΦOY ("[coin] of Arsinoe, brother-lover") is paired with a double cornucopiae, which presumably represents brother and sister. As a symbol of bounty and fertility, the double-cornucopia laden with grain and fruit and bound by a fillet is thought to have been a personal badge of Arsinoe II.

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