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Research Coins: Feature Auction

 
73001048
Sale: CNG 73, Lot: 1048. Estimate $1000. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 13 September 2006. 
Sold For $2300. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Constantine IV Pogonatus. 668-685. AR 1/8 Siliqua – 30 Nummi (0.40 g, 5h). Rome mint. Struck under Pope St. Agatho (678-681). Crowned bust facing with triangular locks of hair, wearing chlamys and holding globus cruciger in right hand / Cross on base with two steps; A suspended from left bar of cross (partially visible); R in right field. Unpublished. VF, toned. Unique.



Ex Classical Numismatic Group 67 (22 September 2004), lot 1872.

The letter R in the reverse field probably indicates Roma, and A the reigning pope. As the coin depicts a conventional likeness of Constantine IV on the obverse and a letter A on the reverse, the only possible candidates would appear to be Pope Agatho (27th June 678 -10th January 681) or Pope Adeodatus II (11th April 672 - 17th June 676).

This important new coin in this historically significant, newly discovered series (1985) would seem to represent yet another pope striking coins in his own name, thereby claiming temporal sovereignty. Pope Adeondatus did not enjoy amicable relations with the government or clergy at Constantinople and the reign has been described as ‘extremely obscure’ (Kelly p. 78). Pope Agatho, a Sicilian and ex monk who spoke both Greek and Latin, was an able administrator who broke from precedent, in view of the stringency of the church finances, in order to undertake the office of treasurer (acarius) of the Holy See until ill health obliged him to relinquish it. This particular pope, therefore, with his specific financial experience and knowledge, would certainly have appreciated the significance of coinage both as a political and fiscal medium. Although a short reign, it was important for a number of events, but particularly for the abandonment of Monothelitism by the Byzantine government and the resultant reopening of good relations between the Holy See and Constantinople.

The sheer number of new classes and varieties with the classes which have come to light so far in this series would seem to suggest a much larger coinage initially in circulation that the actual number of coins recorded to date might indicate.

For the main publication on this series, see O’Hara, SNR (1985). A full bibliography of subsequent material appears in both the introductory matter to the combined Leu – Numismatica Ars Classica sale in 1993, pp. 62-75, and pls. 572-609; and more recently, in the of ‘una collezione di monete bizantino – papali dell zecca di Roma (un introvamento che cambiato la storia papale)’ in the Italian magazine Monete Antiche, November/December 2003, pp. 17-37. In addition to the astonishing evidence for papal temporal sovereignty (a hundred years before any historian had previously considered, as indicated even by the titles of some works – e.g. L. Duchesne, The beginnings of the Temporal Sovereignty of the Popes 754-1073); a new series ‘Byzantine-Papal’ (as opposed to ‘Papal’ and ‘Papal Imperial’) was identified and named. Files of some of the O’Hara correspondence on this matter are on deposit at both the British Museum (at the request of the late Dr. John Kent) and in the care of Professor Michael Metcalf (now retired) at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.