A unique gold coin is set to be auctioned on 2nd October as part of a sale of ancient coins. Struck by the Greco-Bactrian ruler Sophytes in the remnants of Alexander the Great’s empire in the fourth century BC, the coin is thought to represent the very first gold issue of the Hellenistic period and is expected to realise £200,000.
The Hellenistic period refers to the zenith of Greek cultural influence and power in Europe and Asia, following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B until the conquest of Greece by Rome in 146 BC. Numerous smaller kingdoms were created following Alexander’s demise by his generals – the gold coin in question is from Bactria, now in modern Afghanistan, which was seized by Sophytes. Sophytes was then challenged by another successor state – prompting him to mint coins such as this example.
In particular, the likelihood of a high auction price for this coin in particular emphasises the significance of ‘first ever’ issues. Coins that are the first of their type to be issued display a longer-term numismatic premium and for that reason are often highly sought after later years.