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The Justinian I Solidus


Al Kowsky
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Justinian solidi are the most popular Byzantine gold coins for obvious reasons, they are the most common of all Byzantine gold coins & the most affordable ☺️. They were struck in the tens of millions from at least six different mints, with the Constantinople mint having the largest output. The Justinian I solidi had an ideal weight of 4.54 gm, an average diameter of 19 mm, & a fineness about 98% pure gold. They were used as an international trade coin that circulated in Greece, Europe, Africa, Asia, & the Mideast. They were actively copied & counterfeited throughout the known world. Every month new examples appear at auction in the U.S. & Europe, so collectors looking to add one of these coins to their collection should have no problem finding one to fit their budget 😉. High grade examples can be very expensive along with examples from some of the provincial mints. Pictured below are some examples currently up for auction in the affordable range.

652802573_CNG526lot730.jpg.08160e202325800309b4d4eb927c988f.jpg

CNG 526, lot 730. Justinian I, AD 527-565. AV Solidus: 4.44 gm, 19.5 mm, 7 h. Estimate $300.00

                             1248460762_EmporiumHamburg100lot674.jpg.b0f181b15ff4feb45cbcde1eeaa582d0.jpg

Emporium Hamburg 100, lot 674. Justinian I, AD 527-565. AV Solidus: 4.39 gm. Starting price 360 Euro. The coin has an obverse mutilation & graffito on both sides.

1525183658_HJB221lot16.jpg.2d97ad390fc40c335747a0ffc0fd86dd.jpgHarlan J. Berk Bid or Buy Sale 221, lot 16. Justinian I, AD 527-565. AV Solidus: 4.45 gm. Weakly struck. Estimate $485.00. Ex Max Mehl Sale L, Fort Worth, October 1918, price realized $5.00 . (the good old days). 🤣

 

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Jean Elsen Auction 153, lot 774. Justinian I, AD 527-565. AV Solidus: 4.41 gm. Sear 140. Estimate 250 Euro.

330290729_RomaE-Sale102lot1374.jpg.3a2d895c379278b42923815145d72c8b.jpgRoma Numismatics Ltd. E-sale 102, lot 1374. Justinian I, AD 527-565. AV Solidus: 4.38 gm, 21 mm, 6 h. Sear 137. Estimate 400 GBP. Slight bend in flan.

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This is the only Justinian I solidus in my collection & it isn't for sale 😛. Numus Formums members are welcome to post examples of their Justinian I solidi ☺️.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The most expensive coin in my collection, I wanted a cheap ancient gold and was looking for a tremissis/semissis, but almost every retail shops (auctions are not my jam) had priced them as much as a worn solidus, so i made a decision to rise my budget to get a nice solidus, at least I'll have more meat in my coin for the price.

Justinianus.jpg.2ad0c1b6c2cdd04dbbbb6adfcee5d272.jpg

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On 10/30/2022 at 6:31 PM, Al Kowsky said:

1525183658_HJB221lot16.jpg.2d97ad390fc40c335747a0ffc0fd86dd.jpgHarlan J. Berk Bid or Buy Sale 221, lot 16. Justinian I, AD 527-565. AV Solidus: 4.45 gm. Weakly struck. Estimate $485.00. Ex Max Mehl Sale L, Fort Worth, October 1918, price realized $5.00 . (the good old days).

The price of USD 5 in 1918 suggests that it was valued for its gold content only. because a 10 dollar gold coin weighed about 8.3 gr. However, the current estimate of USD 485 is about twice the value of the gold content. Had the coin be valued only for its gold content, as in 1918 the estimate should have been about USD 260. Hence, the difference between USD 5 and USD 260 is the devaluation of the dollar since 1918. So the difference between the price of USD 5 in 1918 and the current estimate of USD 485 is due to two factors: 

1. The devaluation of the dollar

2. The appreciation of the numismatic/collecting value of the coin.

Edited by Tejas
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On the left, of Justinian I 527-565 AD. Gold solidus.  Probably of Constantinople.  This is the first style, with 3/4 facing bust.  Sear-137, Berk-42. 4.48 grams. The facing Angel holds a long cross in the right hand and a Globus cruciger in the left. There is a scratch on the Angel’s breast. Officina B.  This coin misspells Justinian’s name on the obverse, which is uncommon for an imperial issue. 

Purchased from Harlan Burke in 8/93.

On the right, the new facing bust. Possibly from the Rome Mint, but I now suspect Constantinople is more likely. Sear-140.  Berk-55.  Purchased from Arnie Saslow in late 1989 in Long Beach, CA.  He attributed it to Rome.  Spectacular condition. image.jpeg.4ad26cf349006e37764f2b4742afe6f7.jpegimage.jpeg.457d570661a09ac1375901fec09073b1.jpeg

Next, two solidi from the Carthage mint.  The rev inscription ends in iota alpha which is an indiction year (year 11) from Carthage.  Specifically 547/8 AD.  Belisarius  took  Carthage for Justinian in 534 AD.  The early gold coinage from the newly recovered province was episodic, and struck in response to military requirements. image.jpeg.af2fce93f184a8a39861365df3ca904e.jpegimage.jpeg.20615f0fcb9cfc2ec4c9274dffe0916e.jpegimage.jpeg.9ca532af07c84ff2461ecb3078b9c062.jpegimage.jpeg.2f52c950a0906440fc2e9854ee67613d.jpeg SB 250, Studies in Early Byzantine Coinage p. 45.  Wildwinds has a near identical coin https://www.wildwinds.com/coins/byz/justinian_I/sb0250.txt

Lastly a tremissis of the Ostrogoths.  Athalaric 526-34AD in imitation of a coin of Justinian.  Italian mint, probably Rome, Ravenna, or Milan.  Grierson in MEC I says it is from Rome.  

MEC I 123.  A certain celator of Athalaric would leave off the second crossbar of the F in PFAVC on the OBV, so it looks like a gamma.  In adddition, the A and V are conjoint in “AVC”  (by which he meant AVG).  REV has a six pointed star and COMOB. 

Purchased from Allen Berman at the BSCS 7/2022 image.jpeg.18e5b6b57e085670cd4df1d654eb9609.jpegimage.jpeg.b552fe3ccb9a760c7ae74f77b6d9d0f8.jpeg

Edited by Hrefn
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12 hours ago, JayAg47 said:

The most expensive coin in my collection, I wanted a cheap ancient gold and was looking for a tremissis/semissis, but almost every retail shops (auctions are not my jam) had priced them as much as a worn solidus, so i made a decision to rise my budget to get a nice solidus, at least I'll have more meat in my coin for the price.

Justinianus.jpg.2ad0c1b6c2cdd04dbbbb6adfcee5d272.jpg

Jay, Nice addition ☺️. What is the weight of your coin 🤔?

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1 hour ago, Hrefn said:

On the left, of Justinian I 527-565 AD. Gold solidus.  Probably of Constantinople.  This is the first style, with 3/4 facing bust.  Sear-137, Berk-42. 4.48 grams. The facing Angel holds a long cross in the right hand and a Globus cruciger in the left. There is a scratch on the Angel’s breast. Officina B.  This coin misspells Justinian’s name on the obverse, which is uncommon for an imperial issue. 

Purchased from Harlan Burke in 8/93.

On the right, the new facing bust. Possibly from the Rome Mint, but I now suspect Constantinople is more likely. Sear-140.  Berk-55.  Purchased from Arnie Saslow in late 1989 in Long Beach, CA.  He attributed it to Rome.  Spectacular condition. image.jpeg.4ad26cf349006e37764f2b4742afe6f7.jpegimage.jpeg.457d570661a09ac1375901fec09073b1.jpeg

Next, two solidi from the Carthage mint.  The rev inscription ends in iota alpha which is an indiction year (year 11) from Carthage.  Specifically 547/8 AD.  Belisarius  took  Carthage for Justinian in 534 AD.  The early gold coinage from the newly recovered province was episodic, and struck in response to military requirements. image.jpeg.af2fce93f184a8a39861365df3ca904e.jpegimage.jpeg.20615f0fcb9cfc2ec4c9274dffe0916e.jpegimage.jpeg.9ca532af07c84ff2461ecb3078b9c062.jpegimage.jpeg.2f52c950a0906440fc2e9854ee67613d.jpeg SB 250, Studies in Early Byzantine Coinage p. 45.  Wildwinds has a near identical coin https://www.wildwinds.com/coins/byz/justinian_I/sb0250.txt

Lastly a tremissis of the Ostrogoths.  Athalaric 526-34AD in imitation of a coin of Justinian.  Italian mint, probably Rome, Ravenna, or Milan.  Grierson in MEC I says it is from Rome.  

MEC I 123.  A certain celator of Athalaric would leave off the second crossbar of the F in PFAVC on the OBV, so it looks like a gamma.  In adddition, the A and V are conjoint in “AVC”  (by which he meant AVG).  REV has a six pointed star and COMOB. 

Purchased from Allen Berman at the BSCS 7/2022 image.jpeg.18e5b6b57e085670cd4df1d654eb9609.jpegimage.jpeg.b552fe3ccb9a760c7ae74f77b6d9d0f8.jpeg

Lovely group of gold 🤩. I love the 2 solidi from Carthage & the Athalaric tremissis 😍!

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