Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire “liberated” vast
stores of gold and silver that had been locked away for centuries in
the treasuries across Macedonia.
An example of his coinage, with a new higher denomination made
possible because of that sudden influx of precious metal, highlights
Aug. 13 world coin auction.
The circa 325 to 323 B.C. gold distater of Alexander III (the Great)
was issued in either Aegae or Amphipolis and was likely used by the
ruler of the Macedonian kingdom to pay his soldiers.
A distater was equivalent to about 20 day’s wages for a Macedonian
soldier in wartime, according to the firm. The coin weighs 17.22 grams
and measures 22 millimeters in diameter.
According to Heritage: “The distater was likely employed to pay off
many of Alexander’s veteran soldiers, who were rewarded for their
labors with the equivalent of a silver talent. With the new
denomination, a talent could be paid out as 120 gold distaters.”
The firm added, “Despite their size and enormous buying power, gold
distaters evidently circulated heavily, for most specimens found today
display considerable wear and numerous contact marks.”
An example like the piece in the auction, with few marks and
“virtually pristine surfaces,” then, is rare, according to Heritage.
Numismatic Guaranty Corp. grades it as Mint State (star), with 5/5 for
surface and strike. It has an estimate of $40,000 to $50,000.
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