September 29th 2021.

Upcoming club meetings:

Monday 4th October

·        Gibraltar By Alastair Mackay.

Monday 1st November.

Monday 6th December.

·         Winter Bourse and Member's Evening

Meetings are held at the Abbey Baptist Church, Abbey Square, commencing at 7.00 p.m.


Potential new members

Please note that we have invited a number of potential new members to the October meeting. If you see someone you don’t recognize, please ask them to talk to either myself or Peter. These are people who contacted the club whilst we were having Zoom meetings.


September Meeting

John opened the meeting with twenty people in attendance, including four dealer tables. He congratulated members and also the speaker Dr. Volker Heuchert for turning up. It seems we have ‘come out the other side’ of the pandemic in very good health and we can now look forward to getting on with the new ‘normal’. The only downside was that in all the time since our last physical meeting we have not had a single volunteer to relieve the current Committee members.

In other news, the church has told us that, for a limited time, the six car parking spaces at the front of the Church will be available for use. We estimate that we actually need about fifteen spaces so the committee will be thinking about the best way to allocate the spaces to members.

John then introduced the Speaker for the evening, Volker Heuchert, Curator of Greek and Roman Provincial Coins at the Heberden Coin Room at the Ashmolean to give us a talk on Hellenistic Ruler Portraits.


The talk went a fair way to describing the transition between obverse portrayals of gods and symbols to the portrayal of a deified man, and then to an actual living person. The context of the talk was the conquests of Alexander the Great and the orientalising of coin design to coin ruler portraits and involve a major change in (Hellenistic) coin iconography.


The Greek inheritance of Philip II and Alexander (his son) was respect for traditional gods: particularly key civic (“patron”) deities like Athena on coins of Athens, and national deities like Zeus on Macedonian royal coinage

Exposure to Persian culture introduced Alexander to coinage with images of their great kings on gold Darics and silver Sigloi. They were depictions of how the kings wanted to be seen - great Persian warrior kings – conveying ideas about kingship but not personalised to a particular ruler.


The influence on Hellenistic ruler portraiture was probably limited, with no obvious direct continuity. Rather Hellenistic ruler portraiture developed out of the Macedonian tradition: Philip & Alexander and the posthumous Alexander portraits.

Persia, Daric up

Gold Daric


That said, there are Images of Alexander the Great on coins in his lifetime, for example: Hierapolis Bambyce (North Syria), dated to c. 333 – 325 BC, with a lion walking left and Alexander on a horse, his name in Aramaic.


Following Alexander’s death in 323BC, his empire was divided and sub-divided with two joint rulers (in name only): Alexander's half-brother Philip III Arrhidaeus and Alexander’s unborn son with Roxane, Alexander IV. But the real power rested with the Regent Perdikkas (Asia), and Antipater (Greece and Macedonia). Below them a number of satraps were created (e.g., Ptolemy in Egypt). But the strength of his memory and the instability of his successors led to the use of deified portrait in place of the traditional Heracles on their coinage.


Posthumous Alexander portrait and Athena for Greeks & Macedonian mercenaries

Lysimachus, Introduced c. 297/6 in response to Ptolemy’s Alexander coinage


The taboo was abandoned by Ptolemy! in what was probably the first coin portrait of living Hellenistic ruler. Minted in Alexandria, c. 298 BC.


Obverse: Portrait of Ptolemy I wearing diadem and aegis’

Reverse: Deified Alexander in elephant quadriga’


The coin combines realistic and ideal elements. It is partly modelled on posthumous Alexander but also distinctly different. It still hints at the divine symbols as expressions of extraordinay power of Hellenistic monarchs but, overall, potrays an experienced, powerful, heroic king.


Egypt, Ptolemy I, AV, Own Portrait & Alexanderquadriga (Baldwins, Markov, M&M, 04012012)up


The secular designs for rulers became popular through Asia Minor and in due course found its way to the Roman series following the breakdown of the Roman Republic 150 years later. In summary, the new designs were realistic, not idealized, middle aged (and experienced) not youthful, showing dynastic continuity not charismatic individuality of the current ruler, divine attributes not human, and heroic military leader rather than civic achievements. This is the tradition monarchs still follow.


Our thanks go to Dr. Heuchert for a very informative talk.


Future Events

·         Spink, Southampton Row, London – September 30th (British Tokens, Tickets and Passes)

·         Birmingham Coin Fair - National Motorcycle museum –  October 6th.


Past Events

10 years ago - Tony Travis talked on the Siege Coins of Charles I

20 years ago – Short talks by club members

50 years ago – “Numismatics and the Wine Trade” – Peter Clayton