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An Unusual Medallion

CNG 109, Lot: 715. Estimate $2000.
Sold for $4750. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Constantine I. AD 307/310-337. AV Medallion (21mm, 4.21 g, 5h). Treveri (Trier) mint. Struck circa AD 326. D N CONSTANTI NVS MAX AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind / B in center of blank field with circular pearled border. RIC VII –; R. Münsterberg. “Einseitige Goldmünzen Constantins und seiner Söhne” NZ 56 (1923), p. 26 (referencing an example in Vienna); Alföldi –; Gnecchi –; Depeyrot –. Good VF, two holes, gold eyelet attached to edge, a few light marks. Extremely rare, the only other known example is in Vienna.

Ex ArtCoins Roma 24 (22 June 2016), lot 938; ArtCoins Roma 15 (27 April 2015), lot 792; Marc Poncin Collection (Classical Numismatic Group 72, 14 June 2006), lot 1778.

This medallion is one of a series of extremely rare medallic issues of Constantine I and his sons. The reverse consists of either only a pellet, a letter, or a mintmark. To date, the only letters recorded are B and V, and those with mintmarks were struck at Trier, Aquileia, Thessalonica, and Siscia. Ranging in weights from 3.10 grams to 4.06 grams, these medallions appear to have been struck over a significant period of time, especially as issues are known for Constans and Constantius II as Caesars and Augusti. All known examples have been pierced for suspension, with some, like our example, having the addition of a contemporary mount. That these medallions do not follow the general pattern normally associated for currency issues of this period suggests that they are specific non-monetary issues. The fact that they are also in some way adapted for wearing confirms that supposition and suggests that they may be some special presentation award, possibly for the legions or their federated allies. The obverse legend on this example, attributed by style to Trier, would place its issue in AD 326. This was an important year for the Constantinian dynasty. The imperial success of Constantine I, with his heir, Crispus, and the anticipation of his vicennalia, or twenty year anniversary of having been proclaimed Augustus, promised a long period of stability. These hopes, however, were tempered that same year with Constantine’s subsequent execution of Crispus and the empress Fausta. Now in dynastic crisis, a new arrangement needed to be implemented. These medallions may have been issued, in part, to secure the loyalty of the troops.