Among the finest known tetradrachms with the name of the King of Paphos, Nikokles, hidden in the lion's mane
Lot 469
KINGS OF MACEDON. Alexander III ‘the Great’, 336-323 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 27 mm, 17.24 g, 6 h), struck under Nikokles. Paphos, circa 325-317. Head of Herakles to right, wearing lion skin headdress; in tiny letters, hidden within the lion's mane to left, ΝΙΚΟΚΛΕΟΥΣ. Rev. ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ - ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ Zeus seated left on low throne, holding long scepter in his left hand and, in his right, eagle standing right with closed wings; to left, monogram of ΠΑΦ. Price 3118. Very rare and among the finest known examples of for this historically important issue, with a boldly struck head of Herakles and an exceptionally well readable name of the Cypriote king. Harshly cleaned and with light doubling on the reverse, otherwise, good extremely fine.

From an American collection.

Nikokles succeeded his father, Timarchos, to the throne of Paphos in 325. His father had been one of the Cypriot kings who assisted Alexander in his siege of Tyre, for which he was allowed to keep his kingdom. After Alexander's death, Ptolemy I gained control of Cyprus, and Nikokles initially supported him in his fight against both Perdikkas and Antigonos I Monophthalmos. However, in 310 Ptolemy abolished all of the Cypriot kingdoms, and Nikokles secretly aligned himself with Antigonos as a result. When Ptolemy discovered the plot, he sent his friends, Argaios and Kallikrates, to Paphos, who surrounded the palace with troops borrowed from the general, Menelaos, and insisted that Nikokles commit suicide. The former king and his brothers hung themselves, after which his wife reportedly killed their unwed daughters, not wishing them to fall into the hands of the Macedonian soldiers. Then, she and her sisters-in-law set the palace alight, all perishing in the flames.

This beautifully preserved tetradrachm of Nikokles is highly interesting for the fact that hidden within the lion's mane, in tiny letters, can be found the name 'Nikokles', NIKOKΛEOYΣ. Because it appears on at least seven different dies of significantly varying style, it cannot be the name of the die engraver; thus, it must be the name of King Nikokles himself! One might question why Nikokles hid his name in the lion's mane while on other types his name appears openly (see, for example, the extremely rare Persic standard distaters, where the reverse boldly claims NIKOKΛEOYΣ ΠΑΦΙΟΝ, cf. A.-P. C. Weiss: The Persic Distaters of Nikokles Revisited, in: Studies BCD). Weiss suspects that these Alexandrine tetradrachms with the hidden name were struck during Ptolemy's war against the cities of Kition and Marion, where the Ptolemaic king received assistance from Nikokles, and that the Paphian king wished to minimize his involvement in the eyes of Cyprus' inhabitants. But then why not omit his name entirely, as was the case with almost all other Cypriote tetradrachms issued in Alexander's name?
Starting price:
750 CHF
Hammer price:
7000 CHF
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Closing time: 24-Feb-24, 15:54:00 CET
All winning bids are subject to a 20% buyer's fee.


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