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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Early Germanic Imitation

CNG 112, Lot: 699. Estimate $1000.
Sold for $1400. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

UNCERTAIN GERMANIC TRIBES, Pseudo-Imperial issues. Circa late 4th century AD. AV Solidus (22mm, 4.32 g, 6h). Imitating Nicomedia mint, 5th officina issue of Valentinian I. D N VAELNTINI ANVS P P AVG (sic), pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right / RESTITVTOR RE PVBLICAE, emperor standing facing, head right, holding labarum decorated with quasi-Christogram and Victory on globe; (retrograde Z)MNЄ. Cf. RIC IX 2a.2; cf. Depeyrot 10/1 (both refs for official issue); Fagerlie –; cf. NAC 84, lot 2137 (uncertain eastern Europe). A few scrapes. EF.

At first glance, this solidus would appear to be an official Nicomedia mint issue of Valentinian I. The presence of certain stylistic anomalies, however, suggest that this is an imitative issue. Although well-executed, the obverse legend is blundered with the emperor’s name spelled VAELNTINI ANVS, and the S of the mintmark was engraved as a retrograde Z. The obverse portrait, with its elongated and stylized features, as well as the reverse figures, are stylistically similar to other known Germanic issues, especially those of the fifth century AD, when such imitative issues are more prevalent. Most striking is the depiction of the Christogram on the labarum. On official issues, care is taken to represent the symbol accurately. On this coin, however, the symbol appears star-like – a design with only passing similarity to the original by someone unfamiliar with the Christogram. While not conclusive, all this evidence, when taken together, strongly suggests that this solidus is a Germanic issue, and likely among the earliest.