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CNG Feature Auction 117

Lot nuber 617

Martinian. Usurper, AD 324. Æ Follis (21mm, 3.08 g, 6h). Nicomedia mint, 4th officina.

CNG Feature Auction 117
Lot: 617.
 Estimated: $ 2 500

Roman Imperial, Bronze

Sold For $ 3 750. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

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Martinian. Usurper, AD 324. Æ Follis (21mm, 3.08 g, 6h). Nicomedia mint, 4th officina. D N M MARTINIANO P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / IOVI CONS ERVATORI, Jupiter standing left, holding Victory on globe in right hand, eagle-tipped scepter in left; to left, eagle standing left, head right, holding wreath in its beak; to right, bound captive kneeling right; –|X/IIΓ//SMNΔ. RIC VII 46; Hunter 1 var. (officina). Dark green patina, some roughness, shallow scratches, and earthen deposits. Near VF. Rare.

Proof that history does repeat itself can be found in the sad tale of Martinian, a puppet ruler installed by the Eastern Roman Emperor Licinius in the midst of his second civil war against Constantine I “the Great.” Martinian was of obscure origins, but by the mid AD 320s he had risen to become the chief minister of Licinius, just as it became apparent that a final clash with Constantine was imminent. Though Licinius had a bigger army, Constantine was much the better general and inflicted a heavy defeat on his rival in Thrace on July 3, AD 324. Crossing to Chalcedon, Licinius declared Constantine deposed and raised Martinian to the office of Augustus, with instructions to prevent Constantine from crossing into Asia Minor. Constantine easily evaded Martinian’s blocking force, landed in Asia and cornered Licinius at Nicomedia. Having no choice, Licinius surrendered on terms brokered by his wife (and Constantine’s sister) Constantia. Martinian went into exile in Cappadocia, but was executed a few months later when Licinius was detected plotting a return to power. Seven years before, under virtually identical circumstances, Licinius had appointed Valerius Valens to a similar role, with almost identical results.

Like those of Valerius Valens, coins of Martinian are quite rare and limited to a single issue from the mint of Nicomedia. The reverse evokes “Jupiter the Protector,” Licinius’ patron deity, who notably failed to protect him and Martinian from the wrath of Constantine.

The final winners of all CNG Feature Auction 117 lots will be determined during the live online sale that will be held on 19-20 May 2021. This lot is in Session 2, which begins 19 May 2021 at 2 PM ET.

Winning bids are subject to a 20% buyer's fee for bids placed on this website and 22.50% for all others.

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