Alexander the Great Dekadrachm








This Alexander the Great dekadrachm forgery is a curious piece. Its styling is more reminiscent of an Alexander III drachm than the imperial dekadrachms issued in Babylon c. 325-323 BC. It weighs 33.9 grams compared with the correct weight of more than 40 grams.

This piece, along with the Athenian Owl dekadrachm forgery illustrated on the first page of this site, was being sold for significant money by an ancient coin dealer as an "ancient metal forgery," but there's nothing ancient looking about the metal of these pieces, and it's illogical for a forger to have gone to the expense of using an ancient coin or coins to make them while getting the weight so wrong. Caveat emptor, as usual. Those selling fakes, even as fakes, sometimes fake themselves, as this page on U.S. Barber fakes also illustrates.

It's estimated that there are only about a dozen authentic specimens of imperial Alexander the Great deks known, including the coin below.















Here's a porous though authentic ex-CNG specimen. It weighs 41.8 grams. This design features on the obverse Herakles (Hercules to the Romans), the greatest hero of antiquity, and on the reverse Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. It's similar to the millions of smaller tetradrachms and drachms minted by Alexander to finance his military adventures.

This rare imperial dekadrachm was probably issued to commemorate the mass wedding of Alexander's soldiers to Persian women in an attempt to wed the two peoples together. The wedding took place at Susa in what is now southwest Iran in 324 BC, seven years after Alexander's final defeat of the Persian Empire at the Battle of Gaugamela. The pursed lips and fiery eyes of the Herakles portrait are reminiscent of the portrait of Alexander the Great himself on later coins of Lysimachos in what was probably a deliberate attempt to deify Alexander, one of the greatest conquerors of all time.


Coin sites:
Coin Collecting: Consumer Protection Guide
Glomming: Coin Connoisseurship
Bogos: Counterfeit Coins

© 2014 Reid Goldsborough

Note: Any of the items illustrated on these pages that are in my possession are stored off site.