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Ptolemy King of Egypt by Joseph Kleinman

As numismatists, the related subject that can never be avoided is that of history. Like it or not history is interconnected with the study of currency and medals. This is especially true of ancient numismatics. Some of us got into the hobby as a consequence of our love of history coupled with a desire to own objects from those distant times. Many of us decided to collect ancient coins because of their tremendous eye appeal and then went on to study the historical events associated with our treasures.

As we look at the head of King Ptolemy I of Egypt let us consider the man and his accomplishments. Ptolemy was a boyhood friend of Alexander the Great and became one of his most trusted generals. He distinguished himself in Alexander's conquest of the Persian Empire and later became Satrap of Egypt in 323 BC. In 305 he took the title of King and later associated his son with him in his reign. The kingdom he established was stable and prosperous.

To King Ptolemy goes the credit for establishing and beginning the construction of the Great Library at Alexandria which was completed by his son Ptolemy II. This was no ordinary library as we moderns understand the meaning of the word. Although it may have contained as many as half a million volumes, it was also a museum and zoo as well as what we today would call a research laboratory. Some of the greatest minds of the ancient world worked there. People such as Euclid, Heron and Claudius Ptolemy the geographer and astronomer as well as Archimedes. And what of the work being done? All manner of science and mathematics, machines using gear trains were built, steam engines and jet engines were experimented with. Work in biology and medicine was advanced. Additionally, ancient texts were faithfully copied and translated. Most importantly, and what effects us to this day, Jewish scribes were employed in translating the Hebrew scriptures into the Greek language. Had that not been done, the missionary journeys of Saint Paul could not have taken place.

So here we have the beginning of many stories going in many different directions all starting with a small object that any of us can own.

This coin is a silver tetradrachm of Ptolemy I issued by his son:

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