Coin of the Tyrant Alexander of Pherai could rule at Nomos' auction next week

As we've noted, coin auctioneers Nomos are holding a spectacular sale of ancient coins next week, including some exceptionally fine rarities, notably a silver drachm from Naxos and a Lampsakos gold stater.

Actually, that's not quite accurate. Nomos are actually holding not one but two fantastic auctions. The latter, which we had not yet covered before now, is the more mysterious: it is the sale of a private collection of the coins of Thessaly by a collector who wishes only to be known as BCD.

One of the highlights is a silver stater from the reign of Alexander of Pherai. The obverse shows the Head of Ennodia facing, turned slightly to the right, wearing a pearl diadem, grape-cluster earring and pearl necklace. On the left appears a torch.

Silver Stater obverse
Silver Stater obverse, showing extraordinary relief


The reverse displays the text AL- EXAN-D-R-EIOS circling Alexander, who is riding horse at a gallop to the right, the reins in his left hand and a lance held level in his right, wearing a cavalry helmet and cuirass, with his sheathed sword on a baldric around his chest.

Extremely rare, this is one of the most beautiful and impressive coins produced in 4th century Greece. It is lightly toned and in extremely fine condition.

Alexander of Pherai was one of the sons of the tyrant Jason, who was murdered by conspirators in 370 and was succeeded by his brother Polydoros who was, in turn, murdered by his own brother Polyphron.

Alexander, his nephew, murdered him in 369, and embarked on a rule of oppression and tyranny. He was a severe threat to the Aleuadai of Larissa so they called on Macedonian aid, which succeeded in forcing Alexander to flee Pherai.

Silver Stater reverse
The tyrranical Alexander of Pherai

After the Macedonians also withdrew, Larissa called for Theban aid, which arrived in the person of Pelopidas. This forced Alexander into an alliance with Athens, but by 364 he was defeated and forced into peace.

After the death of Epaminondas in 362, Alexander turned on his erstwhile Athenian allies and attacked them, even raiding the Piraeus. He was finally killed by his wife Thebe's brothers, who she goaded to do so out of hatred for his cruelties.

'BCD' himself/herself is left almost speechless by the coin: "There isn't much one can say about this stunning coin, it speaks for itself. Probably the best by far that has ever been offered at auction". The coin is expected to sell for CHF50,000 (roughly $50,000).

The sale of the BCD collection will take place immediately after Nomos' first auction, on May 10.

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