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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

 
90050268
Sale: Nomos 5, Lot: 268. Estimate CHF12000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 24 October 2011. 
Sold For CHF16000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Irene. 797-802. Solidus (Gold, 4.46 g 6). .EIRInH bASILISSH Bust of Irene facing, wearing crown with pinnacles and pendilia and loros, holding a cross on globe in her right hand and a cross-tipped scepter in her left. Rev. .EIRInH bASILISSH Θ Bust of Irene facing, wearing crown with pinnacles and pendilia and loros, holding a cross on globe in her right hand and a cross-tipped scepter in her left. DOC 1a. SB 1599. Rare. A spectacular example of the greatest beauty and freshness. Tiny mark on the reverse, otherwise, virtually as struck.


This must be one of the finest coins of Irene known and can not be bettered. While her own sympathies were iconodule she clearly could not risk changing the coinage and returning to religious imagery; thus we have her portrait on both sides (after all she could not risk using the portraits of her predecessors since that would have immediately reminded the viewer of her deceased son)! Irene was in 802 deposed and exiled to Lesbos where she died a year later. It was during her reign that Charlemagne was crowned emperor in Rome since in the West the idea of a woman as sole empress was an anathema, and the throne was viewed as vacant.