Mesembria, Nesebar Bulgaria today, was a Doric settlement on a Black Sea island just off mainland Thrace. Thrace was invaded by the Galatians in 279 B.C. Only the wealthy coastal cities, including Mesembria, withstood their attacks. Following that chaos, rule of Thrace was divided between many tribes. Philip V, 221 – 179 B.C., tried to regain control of the area for the Macedonian Kingdom, but his success was limited and short lived. Mesembria was taken by Mithradates VI in the First Mithradatic War and surrendered to Rome in 71 B.C. The city struck Alexandrine tetradrachms as early as 275 B.C., more than 50 years after Alexander’s death, and probably issued the very last Alexandrine tetradrachms struck anywhere, possibly under Roman rule as late as 65 B.C.
The early Macedonian kingdom did not have sufficient access to mines to be able to mass-produce influential coinage. However, when Philip II rose to power in 359 BCE, he recognized the importance of mining and prioritized the acquisition of metals in his early conquests.
After defeating Amphipolis and Crenides, Philip was able to secure a consistent annual supply of nearly 30 metric tonnes of precious metal, striking them into new, iconic coinage. This production volume made Philip’s coins immensely popular throughout the world.
His son, Alexander the Great, continued Philip’s coinage and improved upon it, refocusing the silver mintage on a tetradrachm based on the Athenian weight standard that could be used easily throughout Greece. For more than two hundred years, Alexander the Great Tetradrachms would be minted at a prolific rate, sourced from his father’s mines in Thrace and Macedonia as well as the new bullion Alexander received when he conquered the Persians.
A single coin represented approximately four day’s pay for a common laborer, so Alexander also minted bronze coinage for small transactions in local markets. However, Alexander the Great Tetradrachms were the most famous of his denominations, becoming one of the staple coins of the Greek world through their use in substantial purchases, international trade, and for mercenary payments.
Bust of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion skin, scalp over head, forepaws tied at neck
Zeus Aëtophoros seated left on throne, right leg drawn back, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, Corinthian helmet under ΠΡΟ left, IPA under throne
A perfect choice for Numismatists, Historians, Military Veterans, Collectors.