Renowned Tyrant Collection’s Rare Egyptian Coins At ANA Convention

Multi-million-dollar Tyrants of the Nile exhibit features 350 superb quality coins dating back more than 2,300 years displayed together for the first time.

by Donn Pearlman | Published on June 13, 2024

Historic rare coins of Egypt from the unparalleled Tyrant Collection will be publicly displayed together for the first time at the American Numismatic Association Chicago World’s Fair of Money®, August 6-10, 2024. The exhibit entitled Tyrants of the Nile includes coins of the ancient world’s most famous queen, the legendary Cleopatra VII.

Tyrants of the Nile will be the latest multi-million-dollar exhibition in a multi-year series of different educational displays revealing portions of the extensive and unprecedented Tyrant Collection. Owned by Southern California collector Dan O’Dowd, it is described as the world’s most valuable rare coin collection in private hands.

“There will be about 350 coins in this extraordinary, museum-quality exhibit dating from the first coinage of Egypt around 350 BC to a 1980 gold coin commemorating the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty,” said Ira Goldberg President of Goldberg Coins and Collectibles, Inc. in Los Angeles, California. Goldberg is one of the numismatic professionals providing guidance in assembling the wide-ranging Tyrant Collection of superb quality, historic U.S., world, and ancient coins. 

“The earliest ancient Egyptian coin in the exhibit was issued by the only Egyptian Pharaoh who issued a coin, Nectanebo II, circa 361-350 BC. The Tyrant Collection contains one of the finest known examples of this extremely rare coin,” stated Goldberg.

“Although distinctive coinage came relatively late for the Egyptian civilization, the full range of Egyptian gold and silver coinage really begins with the earliest coins of the Persians. This includes gold Darics and silver Sigloi first issued in the 7th and 6th centuries BC, and all of which circulated widely in ancient Egyptian lands,” explained Goldberg. “We selected just a portion of Mr. O’Dowd’s collection in order to showcase the Tyrants of the Nile exhibit.”

Among the other highlights of the $5 million exhibit will be:

  • Ptolemaic Kings of Egypt. Ptolemy IV Philopator, 221-204 BC, gold Octodrachm, Sidon mint, struck circa 202-200 BC. Only two specimens are known and among the most spectacular gold Greek coins in existence. “It’s a magnificent portrait work of very skilled master engraver perfectly struck in high relief, a real masterpiece of Hellenistic art. Virtually as struck and almost FDC (Fleur du Coin, mint state),” said Goldberg.
  • Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy I, as satrap (provisional governor), gold Stater. Alexandria, circa 312-11 BC. Extremely Rare, one of only six known, and one of only three in private hands.
  • Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Cleopatra VII archaic silver Tetradrachm, year 64 Era of Askalon (41-40 BC). Unique, unpublished and of considerable historical and numismatic interest. “A marvelous example of Cleopatra's excessively rare ‘Greek’ silver coinage and only three other Tetradrachms issued by Cleopatra at Askalon are known to exist,” Goldberg explained.

“Cleopatra VII is known today simply as Cleopatra. She was famous for her beauty and complicated relationships with Julius Ceasar and Marc Antony. There are many legendary stories about her as well as frequent depictions in film and television, but what did she look like in real life? We get an intriguing glimpse of her portraits on these coins,” said Goldberg. 

There are four coins in the exhibit depicting antiquity’s most famous queen. In addition to the Tetradrachm of Askalon, there are a silver Dioblol and Obol from the Alexandrea mint; and one of the finest known of the rare Tetradrachms with magnificent portraits depicting Cleopatra on one side of the coin and Marc Antony on the other side.

  • Vespasian with Titus as Caesar, gold Aureus, AD 69-79. Minted in Alexandria, Egypt after the fall of Jerusalem, AD 70 and extremely rare.
  • Justinian I. 527-565, gold Solidus struck at the Alexandria mint circa 527-538. Extremely rare and unpublished in the standard references, it possibly is only the sixth known. “This type has only recently come to light and is of great importance. Previously only copper coins of Justinian were known from Alexandria, which feature the mintmark in Greek rather than Latin,” said Goldberg.
  • Incredibly rare gold Dinar of Shajar al-Durr, "Queen of the Muslims, Islamic Kingdoms, Mamluks struck in AH 648 (1250) at the al-Qahira (Cairo) mint. “We have only been able to trace two other examples of a Shajar al-Durr Dinar, one permanently impounded in the British Museum collection,” said Goldberg.

Another interesting numismatic treasure in the exhibit is a superb proof example of a 500 Piastres gold coin issued in 1938 (AH 1357) to commemorate the royal wedding of famous King Farouk, the last king of Egypt and well-known in numismatics. Farouk’s legendary and long-ago dispersed coin collection included one of the five known 1913 Liberty Head nickels and the only 1933 Double Eagle that can be privately owned because the U.S. government granted the king an export license for it.

Visitors to the August 2024 ANA Chicago World’s Fair of Money exhibit (booth #134) can receive a free, illustrated educational booklet about this display. Detailed catalogs with information and illustrations about each coin in the Tyrants of the Nile exhibit including fascinating details about coins of Cleopatra VII will be available for $10 each.

The ANA Chicago World’s Fair of Money will be held in Hall A of the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Road, in Rosemont, Illinois. 

Public hours are Tuesday, August 6, from 1 to 5:30 pm; Wednesday through Friday, August 7 to 9, from 10 am to 5:30 pm; and Saturday, August 10, from 10 am to 3:30 pm.

Public admission Tuesday through Friday is $10 daily or $25 for a weekly pass. Children 12 and under are admitted free daily and admission is free for everyone on Saturday.

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Author: Donn Pearlman

Donn Pearlman image A former award-winning Chicago broadcaster and journalist, Donn Pearlman is a public relations executive and recipient of the 2015 ANA Farran Zerbe Award and the 2018 Professional Numismatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award.

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