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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: CNG 73, Lot: 1038. Estimate $500. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 13 September 2006. 
Sold For $1100. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Justinian I. 527-565. Æ 40 Nummi – Follis (5.25 g, 6h). Military (“Salona”) mint. Struck circa 562-565. Helmeted facing bust, holding globus cruciger and shield; cross to right / Large M; cross above. DOC I 358; MIBE 248; SB 329. VF, green patina, light earthen encrustation, light cleaning marks. Rare.

The correct attribution of this unsigned series of bronzes remains uncertain, but numerous examples have been found in the environs of Salona in Illyria, an important Byzantine fort and staging area for military activity in Italy. Both Belisarius and Narses used it as a headquarters in their campaigns against the Ostrogothic king Baduila (Totila, 541-552), who conducted a brilliant guerrilla campaign against superior Imperial forces until his death at Busta Gallorum in 552. There is some debate about the date of coinage at this mint. Grierson supports a date in the 540s-550s, at the height of the Italian war, while Hahn in MIBE dates it later, to 562-565, based on similar styles of bust found on dated Ravenna mint issues from late in Justinian's reign. In any case, the reduced size, simplified design, and scarcity of these bronzes speaks of a short-lived issue of limited circulation.