The Most Beautiful: Coins from the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Selected by Frédérique Duyrat

20 staters, Eucratides I, Bactria, c. 170-145 B.C., gold, 169.20 g, 58 mm, BnF, MMA, E 3605.
Coins seldom have an individual name. But, when this one was acquired, the head of the Coin cabinet called it a “numismatic monster.” This coin is an unicum, the heaviest gold coin of Antiquity. It was found near Bukhara (Uzbekistan) by peasants who killed each other for its possession. The last man standing went to London to sell it, carrying it hidden in a pouch under his armpit. He was rebuked for trying to sell a counterfeit until Emperor Napoleon III bought if for the French Coin cabinet in 1867.
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The Coin cabinet in the Bibliothèque nationale de France retains the former collection of the kings of France, enlarged after the Revolution to reach the current number of 450,000 coins and tokens (of which 55% are online), 150,000 medals and 42,000 objects: engraved gems, Greek vases, bronze sculptures, ancient and modern.

Frédérique Duyrat, Julien Olivier, Dominique Hollard, Vincent Drost, Jean-Yves Kind and Jérôme Jambu have selected their favourite coins for their beauty or because of their historical importance.

You can find the sketch by Degas that depicts the Greek coin we show in this selection in the online database Gallica of the BnF website.

There is also available the Naxos coin shown in the same sketch.

You can read more here about the sketches of Greek coins made by Degas.

For further information go to the website of the Coin Cabinet.