SELEUKID KINGS OF SYRIA. Tryphon, circa 142-138 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 29 mm, 13.67 g, 1 h), Ptolemaic standard. Ake-Ptolemais, RY 4 = 139/8. Diademed and draped bust of Tryphon to right. Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ - TPYΦΩNOΣ / AYTOKPATOPOΣ Eagle, wings closed, standing left on thunderbolt; in field to left, monogram of ΠA; to upper right, LΔ. Franke-Hirmer pl. 206, 753 V (this coin). SC 2046.2c. Seyrig, ANSNM 119, pl. II, 24. Very rare and with an excellent pedigree. A wonderful example of this important issue, beautifully struck and with a magnificent portrait. Minor cleaning scratches, otherwise, about extremely fine.
From the collection of Regierungsrat Dr. iur. Hans Krähenbühl, ex Leu 33, 3 May 1983, 423 and from the collection of M. Hirmer, ex Münzen & Medaillen AG XIX, 5-6 June 1959, 547.
Tryphon was a former strategos of Demetrios I and Alexander I Balas who appointed the two-year-old Antiochos VI to king in 144 BC and acted as his tutor and protector. It was during this guardianship that the Jews, under the lead of Simon Thassi, successfully seceded from the Seleukid state after Tryphon captured and killed Simon's brother Jonathan Apphus in 143 BC. Tryphon, on the other hand, assumed the kingship for himself when Antiochos VI died in 142/1 BC, but he was defeated and killed by Antiochos VII in 138 BC.
Tryphon's main base and mint was Antioch, but he struck coins in a few other cities, most notably in Byblos, Askalon and Ake-Ptolemais. The latter are certainly related to the usurper's quarrels with the Maccabees, who remained a constant thorn in the side of whoever claimed to be the rightful Seleukid king in this period. Tryphon's issues from Coele-Syria and Phoenicia are particularly noteworthy for recording his personal regnal years rather than the years of the Seleukid Era, a deliberate departure from previous Seleukid practice that placed his coinage even more in line with that of the Ptolemies, whose weight standard and reverse type had long been adapted by the Seleukids in these regions. It has been suggested that the dropping of Ake-Ptolemais' regular mint mark in Tryphon's RY 4, his last year of reign, and the appearance of the ΠA monogram on a number of coins such as ours, reflects his initial defeat against Antiochos VII and subsequent retreat to the South in late 138, as ΠA was one of the main signatures on the usurper's coinage from Antiochia (SC p. 345). According to this theory, the magistrate ΠA followed Tryphon on his flight to Ake-Ptolemais, where he signed the usurper's latest coins, before his master was eventually trapped and killed in Dora, some 50 km further to the south.