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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Ex Biaggi Collection

CNG 103, Lot: 881. Estimate $20000.
Sold for $22000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Constantine II. As Caesar, AD 316-337. AV Aureus (21mm, 5.35 g, 12h). Nicomedia mint, 4th officina. Struck AD 319. D N FL CL CONSTANTINVS NOB C, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / SOLI IN VICTO, Sol, radiate and in Eastern attire, standing left, raising right hand and holding globe in left; SMNΔ. Cf. RIC VII 22 (Crispus; for rev. [same die]); Calicó –; cf. Depeyrot 30/1 (Crispus) corr. (example is listed as officina Γ); Biaggi 2096 (this coin). EF, toned, a few field marks. Apparently unique issue for Constantine II as Caesar.

Ex Triton XIX (5 January 2016), lot 625; Leo Biaggi de Blasys Collection, 2096.

The higher-than-average weight for this coin, a weight that harkens back to the reign of Diocletian, suggests that this coin was part of a festaureus issue – coinage struck for a special celebration. Likewise, the reverse, showing Sol Invictus, is also unusual. While Sol Invictus was a particularly common type on Roman coinage, especially during the third quarter of the third century, his use as a type began to fall out of favor following Constantine’s victory over Maxentius in AD 312 at the Milvian Bridge. Also, the depiction of Sol in Oriental attire is relatively rare in Roman coin iconography, and may be indicative of the purpose for this issue. Sol’s appearance in form on a very rare issue of aurei of Galerius as Caesar from Alexandria certainly refers to that emperor’s war against the Sasanians in AD 298, while later issues of Maximinus at Antioch and Alexandria have been associated with his persecution of the Christians. As there was peace between the Romans and Persians at the time of the present issue, its striking at Nicomedia, a mint held by Licinius, may allude to the resurgence of persecutions against Christians in his eastern territories in the years following his uneasy rapprochment with Constantine at Campus Ardiensis in AD 317.