Chaponnière & Firmenich SA   |   Auction 10   |   21 October 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 20

Estimate: -   |   Starting price: 50'000 CHF Price realized: 50'000 CHF
Berenice II, 244-221 BC. Gold octodrachm 244-221 BC, Alexandria. Obv. Veiled head right. Rev. ΒΕΡΕΝΙΚΗΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΙΣΣΗΣ. Cornucopia. Sear -; SNG Cop 169; Svor. 1113. AU. 27.81 g. Nice AU
Born between 267 and 276 BC, Berenice II of Egypt or Berenice II of Cyrene was the daughter of Magas, king of Cyrene, and of Apama II. She murdered her first husband Demetrios Kallos, half-brother of the king of Macedonia Antigonos Gonatas. In 246 BC, she married Ptolemy III Evergete I, with whom she reined between 246 BC and 222 BC. She was the first queen to mint coins in her effigy.
Ardent follower of Bubastis, protectress of parturient, she ordered the construction of a temple dedicated to this goddess, following the birth of her son, the future Ptolemy IV.
During the absence of her husband in Syria, Berenice II vowed to the goddess Aphrodite to sacrifice her wonderful hair. Her husband having returned safe and sound, she cuts a lock of her hair and makes an offering to the temple of the goddess Zephyrium. Shortly after her husband's death (around 221 BC), she was murdered on the orders of her sons Ptolemy IV and Magas.
This rare multiple in gold, struck in 241 BC in Alexandria, marks the history of numismatics, because it represents for the first time a queen on a coin. The obverse shows us her superb portrait. The reverse mentions her name ΒΕΡΕΝΙΚΗΣ and her title as queen ΒΑΣΙΛΙΣΣΗΣ, which are surrounded by a cornucopia filled with fruit.
This Octodrachm of Berenice II is also nicknamed "the first double eagle (20 Dollars) in history" by some American numismatists. In the Middle Ages, it was preserved in some treasures of churches, because of the supposed similarity of the portrait of the queen with that of the Virgin Mary. Several Renaissance painters also used it as a model.

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