Ancient Greece Demetrios I to III, Half Shekel and Shekel 161BC to 88BC
The inscription 'Demetrius Basilius' appears in Greek on coins of Demetrios I, II and III. They ruled over the Seleucid Empire (stretching from modern-day Anatolia to central Afghanistan), which was founded after the death of Alexander the Great.
The kings that followed in Alexander's wake had quite a legendary reputation to live up to. They all wanted to be great, but none of them could be The Great.
These beautiful, impressive silver coins were minted between 161 BC and 88 BC. The coins from Demetrios I Soter are worth about the same as those of the later Demetrios II Nicator. Coins for Demetrios III Eucaerus are more rare.
The nickname 'Soter' means 'Saviour', while 'Nicator' means 'Victor' - a strange name seeing as he was defeated in battle, then thrown into captivity. He was later released, and had a second, failed reign. The third of the kings, Demetrios III, gained the nickname 'Eucaerus', or 'The well-timed one', which is possibly a misinterpretation of Akairos, 'The untimely one'.
Sometimes numismatists (coin collectors) transliterate Greek inscriptions into Latin characters. The process is subject to many variations, but for this coin the common transliterations are BASILEOS DEMETREOU and BASILEWS DHMHTRIOU. They both mean 'Demetrios Basilius.' Further, the spelling 'Demetrios' is used in some places, and the spelling 'Demetrius' in other places. The amazing ancient coin website Wildwinds.com uses the Demetrios spelling, so we have chosen to follow the same convention.
There are several different reverses, with a sampling shown in our secondary picture: a cornucopia, a standing figure, Zeus seated, an eagle, and more. Some varieties are more rare than others.
- Coins of Demetrios I commonly have either a cornucopia (a horn-of-plenty) or a man (Apollo Delphios) seated towards the left on an oval object (an 'omphalos').
- Coins of Demetrios II commonly have either an eagle or Zeus on his throne with something in his hand (Victory or a scepter) but can also feature the Apollo-on-omphalos design.
- Coins of Demetrios III commonly have a statue of Atargatis standing facing, often with a wreath around the entire design, which is usually struck mostly off-flan.
This page offers very generalized values for all varieties. Coins like this always stand on their individual merit. If you have a nice-looking example, take it to a knowledgeable collector or professional coin dealer for an in-person appraisal.
Catalog values for half shekels and shekels are similar. Very approximate values for these coins run like this:
DEMETRIOS I and II
average circulated: $120
well preserved: $300
almost uncirculated: $600
DEMETRIOS III coins are very scarce, multiply these values by 3.
If you believe you have a genuine piece, use the 'Contact Us' link on the left-hand side to establish contact with CoinQuest, and we will be happy to help you with determining whether or not the coin is worth taking to a coin shop for an in-hand appraisal.
, Genre: Ancient
Requested by: Stuart Plaskett, Tue, 07-May-2013 09:02:50 GMT
Answered by: Paul, Fri, 20-Sep-2013 00:38:40 GMT
Reviewed by CoinQuest. Appraisal ok., Thu, 20-Aug-2015 03:06:19 GMT
Requester description: Silver coin 'Demetrius Basilius' 3rd/4th century BCE Shekel
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