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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 2, Lot: 227. Estimate CHF15000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 17 May 2010. 
Sold For CHF22100. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Justinian II. First reign, 685-695. Solidus (Gold, 4.43 g 6), Constantinople, 692-695. IhS CRISTDS REX REGNANTIuM Draped bust of Christ facing, with long hair and full beard, raising right hand in benediction and holding book of Gospels in his left; behind head, cross. Rev. D IuSTINIANuS SERu ChRISTI Δ / CONOP Justinian II, crowned, bearded and wearing loros, standing facing, holding cross potent on base and two steps in his right hand and akakia in his left. DOC 7d. MIB 8a. SB 1248. A wonderful piece, beautifully struck, very sharp and with a superb portrait of Christ. Reverse slightly off center, otherwise, virtually as struck.

This coin bears the first numismatic portrait of Christ, and it remains one of the finest ever made. It shows Christ Pantocrator and was copied from a representation found in the Imperial Palace that was itself based on the head of the Zeus of Phidias from Olympia. The decision to place Christ on the coinage was a momentous one: until this point the Moslem Arab conquerors of the Byzantine East and Africa had been content to use Byzantine solidi as their sole gold coinage. The appearance of a bust of Christ, however, was unacceptable to them and led to the introduction of a new, national coinage, first with a ‘standing Caliph’, based on the figure of Justinian II, in 693/4 and then the non-figural epigraphic dinars that began in 696/7 (A.H. 77).