Constantine gold solidi sells for £63,000


10 November 2023
On 6 November, Nomos in Switzerland sold both the Urone Greek Collection and Redlich Denarii Collection of ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine coins.

From the reign of Constantine I (272–337), a highlight of the auction was a multiple of 1½ gold solidi that was minted in Nicomedia in late 324 (lot 1488).

This extremely rare coin was one of only two known specimens. On the obverse, the laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Constantine facing to the right was depicted, with ‘D N CONSTANTINVS MAX AVG’. The reverse showed an image of a standing Constantine with his head to left and the inscription ‘VIRTVS AVG ET – CAESS NN/SMN’. Constantine is resting his right hand on a trophy, with two captives seated beneath, and holding a vexillum in his left.

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Constantine, who made Christianity the official religion of the empire and founded the new imperial capital at Constantinople, initially just held the western empire but eventually restored sole rule in the empire.

This extremely rare gold coin is believed to have been struck as part of a reward for Constantine’s army for their victory over Licinius, who had ruled the eastern empire. Constantine and Licinius had initially agreed to divide the Roman Empire between them, but in the early 320s, their relationship deteriorated.

War broke out in 324 after Constantine entered Licinius’ eastern territory. Constantine then followed with a full-scale invasion, defeating Licinius first at Adrianople and then at Chrysopolis on 18 September 324. The trophy on the coin is believed to represent the arms of Licinius’ troops, while the two seated captives may represent Licinius and his son, Licinius II, who were both captured in the aftermath of the Battle of Chrysopolis and subsequently executed. With both the eastern Augustus and his Caesar out of the way, Constantine became sole leader of the Roman world.

From an estimate of CHF65,000, this Good extremely fine coin achieved CHF70,000 (approximately £63,032).