Rare Follis of the Usurper Valens
|Sale: Triton XI, Lot: 995. Estimate $25000.
Closing Date: Monday, 7 January 2008.
Sold For $28000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.
Usurper, AD 316-317. Æ Follis (3.32 g, 7h). Alexandria mint, 2nd officina. IMP C AVR VAL VALENS P F AVG, laureate head right / IOVI CONSER-VATORI AVGG, Jupiter standing left, holding Victory on globe in right hand, scepter in left; to left, eagle standing right, holding wreath in its beak; K-(wreath)/X/B//ALE. RIC VII 19 var. (officina); Cohen 2 var. (same); Sternberg VII (24 November 1977), lot 1026 (same obv. die). EF, dark brown, almost black, surfaces, slight die shift on reverse. Extremely rare, approximately 10 known of all varieties.
Shortly before or after his defeat by Constantine at the Battle of Cibalae (8 October, AD 316), Licinius I symbolically deposed his rival emperor, and elevated his general, Valerius Valens, to replace Constantine as the Roman emperor in the east. The arrangement was short-lived, as Constantine was soon in a dominant position from which he was able to force Licinius to recognize him as the senior emperor, and also depose Valens. Whether it was part of the agreement is unknown, but Licinius not only deposed Valens, but also had him executed. Nevertheless, during the short interlude in which Valens was emperor, coinage was struck for him by the Licinian-controlled mints of Cyzicus and Alexandria.
By the middle of the 20th century, a handful of Valens’ issues could be found in a number of the major collections. R.A.G. Carson’s examination of the Geneva Forgeries (NC 1958, pp. 47-58), however, led to the conclusion that most of these coins were modern, and only two, the Paris and Berlin coins, remained as authentic. A few more authentic coins have appeared on the market in recent years. A review of these, combined with the previous two coins, reveals that both officinas at Alexandria, and likely all eight at Cyzicus, produced issues for Valens:
Officina I: Numismatica Ars Classica 39 (16 May 2007), lot 190 = Triton III (30 November 1999), lot 1193
Officina II: Numismatica Ars Classica 29 (11 May 2005), lot 632
Officina III: Sternberg 23 (29 October 2000), lot 799 = Numismatic Fine Arts XXV (29 November 1990), lot 487
Officina IV: Berlin Museum (Carson, op. cit., p. 57, pl. VI, b)
Officina A: Classical Numismatic Group 75 (23 May 2007), lot 1135; Triton X (9 January 2007), lot 778; Numismatica Ars Classica 42 (20November 2007), lot 199; Bibliothèque Nationale (RIC VII 119 = Carson, op. cit., p. 56, pl. VI, a)
Officina B: Sternberg VII (24 November 1977), lot 1026