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Crispus Altar and Globe


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Attractive Crispus BEATA TRANQVILLITAS

from the Trier Mint

CrispusOBV.jpg.21ef5fbc71f6492f3ea2432856980120.jpg

CrispusREV.jpg.5531b5236de507481fd3ba8b3ed2df57.jpg

 

Crispus Altar and Globe
A very attractive Fourth Century AD bronze struck for Crispus (317-326 AD) with sharp details, especially on Crispus' bust, and a nice brown patina.  The lettering on the altar is weak, but everything else is crisp and clear.
(Diameter:  19 mm.     Weight: 2.46 grams)
OB:   Laureate and cuirassed left, spear in right hand, shield in left - IVL CRISPVS NOB CAES
REV:  Altar inscribed VO / TIS / XX surmounted by globe, three stars above - BEATA TRANQVILLITAS
Struck at the Trier mint, this coin has the mint mark PTR dot and is attributed as RIC, Vol. VII, #347. 

I don't know how true this information is, I wasn't there . . .

He was the first-born son of Constantine I. His mother Minervina was either a concubine or a first wife to Constantine. Nothing else is known about Minervina. Constantine I married Fausta, he kept Crispus at his side. Surviving sources are unanimous in declaring him a loving, trusting and protective father to his first son.

Crispus was leader in victorious military operations against the Franks and the Alamanni in 318, 320 and 323. Thus he secured the continued Roman presence in the areas of Gaul and Germania. The soldiers adored him thanks to his strategic abilities and the victories to which he had led the Roman legions. Crispus spent the following years assisting Constantine in the war against by then hostile Licinius. In 324, Constantine appointed Crispus as the commander of his fleet which left the port of Piraeus to confront the rival fleet of Licinius.

The subsequent Battle of the Hellespont was fought in at the straits of Bosporus. The 200 ships under the command of Crispus managed to utterly beat the enemy forces which were at least double in number. Thus Crispus achieved his most important and difficult victory which further established his reputation as a brilliant soldier and general. Crispus was the most likely choice for an heir to the throne at the time. His siblings Constantine II, Constantius II and Constans were far too young and knew very little on the tasks of an emperor. However, this would never come to be. Fausta, stepmother of Crispus, was extremely jealous of him.

She was reportedly afraid that Constantine would put aside the sons she bore him. So, in order to get rid of Crispus, Fausta set him up. She reportedly told the young Caesar that she was in love with him and suggested an illegitimate love affair. Crispus denied the immoral wishes of Fausta and left the palace in a state of shock. Then Fausta said to Constantine that Crispus had no respect for his father, since the Caesar was in love with his father's own wife. She reported to Constantine that she dismissed him after his attempt to rape her.

Constantine believed her and, true to his strong personality and short temper, executed his beloved son. A few months later, Constantine reportedly found out the whole truth and then killed Fausta.

Fausta

Fausta_Crispus_Mother.jpg.b2c18ae1e90d69cbd5d3267bb1b28173.jpg

In 326, Crispus' life came to a sudden end on his father's orders. He was tried by a local court at Pola, Istria, condemned to death and executed. Soon afterwards, Constantine had his own wife, Fausta, killed. She was drowned in an over-heated bath.

 

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Posted (edited)

Very nice, @thenickelguy! I have always enjoyed that reverse type but have never acquired one due to other coins distracting me.

This is my favorite Crispus because was a Secret Saturnalia gift from 2018!

[IMG]
Crispus, AD 316-326.
Roman billon centenionalis, 3.07 g, 19.3 mm, 11 h.
Alexandria, AD 325-26.
Obv: FL IVL CRISPVS NOB CAES, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust, left.
Rev: PROVIDEN-TIAE CAESS, two-turreted gateway of military camp, star above; SMALA in exergue.
Refs: RIC vii, p. 709, 35; LRBC I 1403; Cohen 125; RCV 16813.

Edited by Roman Collector
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Nice Crispuses (Crispii?) in this thread.  Here are two altar types I have, one from Trier (RIC 374) and another from London:

40198232_CrispusAltarSep.2017(0).thumb.jpg.1f8243bc4dcda44ad779bec04c97e772.jpg

Crispus  Æ 20  (322-323 A.D.)  Trier Mint IVL CRISPVS NOB CAES Laureate, cuirassed bust left, spear over shoulder & shield / BEATA TRANQVILLITAS altar inscribed VO/TIS/XX, globe and three stars above, •PTR•  in exergue. (2.15 grams / 20 mm) RIC VII, 374 Trier eBay Sept. 2017

1505921689_Crispus-LondonTRANAQBEATAlotApr2022(0).thumb.jpg.6b47c2f3c015eaa908a619db8f67fbd0.jpg

Crispus      Follis (Æ 18)  (322-323 A.D.) London Mint CRISPV-S NOBIL [C], laureate, cuirassed bust left, holding spear pointed forwards and shield / BEAT TRA-NQVILLITAS, globe set on altar inscribed VO | TIS |XX,  three stars above, F-B across fields, PLON  in ex. (2.83 grams / 18 mm) RIC VII Londinium 250. eBay Apr. 2022

 

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Good write-up.

My Crispus coins from the "Duplicate" thread

image.png.b2f914e93bb0bbee0857b8f88b9a3a4f.png

 

An Alemannia Devicta from Sirmium

image.png.c945db2ac1245feb5353c8b1d43ca116.png

 

My only Beata Tranquilitas is also from Trier, but with Constantine II's portrait

image.png.123e729b01f22fbdf2139caa50ca0a7e.png

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Here is a Crispus of a type only from Thessalonica.
image.jpeg.8272b5d467d4cd089e680f43d098fa55.jpeg

18 mm. 3.35 grams.
VICTORIA CAESS NN
RIC VII Thessalonica 62, page 506 "319"

I got it last year to fill out the emperor-set for this type:

image.jpeg.3954f0b3052efea528fd94a56883b20c.jpeg

Constantine. 17 mm.
VICTORIA AVGG NN  (For Constantine and Licinius [below])
RIC VII Thessalonica 59

 

image.jpeg.9da1129d2cf19939ea3fe42da77f4feb.jpeg

Constantine II. 19 mm. 2.51 grams.
RIC VII Thessalonica 65
 

image.jpeg.02fc9bda735b5be7cfaf01f11863be53.jpeg

Licinius. 19 mm. 2.83 grams.
VICTORIA AVGG NN
RIC VII Thessalonica 6

It also exists for Licinius II, but I don't have one to show.

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Posted · Supporter

I only have this type for Constantius II, Crispus' brother. Both my coins are from London. The second example is rather lackluster. I'm keeping it nonetheless because of the helmeted bust:

689210909_RomConstantinusIIJuniorAE3BeataTranquilitasLondon(neu).thumb.png.daef8ecea94357919300074bce952b7e.png

Constantine II Iunior, Roman Empire, AE3, 322–323 AD, Londinium mint. Obv: CONSTANTINVS IVN N C, bust of Constantine II, radiate, cuirassed, l. Rev: BEAT TRANQLITAS, globe on altar inscribed VOT/IS/XX; above, three stars; in fields, F-B; in exergue, PLON. 19mm, 3.22g. Ref: RIC VII Londinium 257.

 

131644800_RomConstantinusIIJuniorAE3BeataTranquilitasLondonhelmeted.thumb.png.59deeedc2c03e3adf09e24a96612f6fc.png

Constantine II Iunior, Roman Empire, AE3, 323–324 AD, London mint. Obv: CONSTANTINVS IVN NC; helmeted and cuirassed bust of Constantinus Iunior l. Rev: BEAT TRANQUILITAS; globe on altar with inscription VOTIS XX; mintmark PLON. 19mm, 2.83g. Ref: RIC VII London 287.

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Posted · Benefactor

Hi, the nickelguy => hey, congrats on adding that cool new Crispus globe coin (it's a total winner)

Oh, and as always, those are great Crispus thread-additions by the new regulars of this sweet coin-forum ... great coins, gang!

 

Ummm, I only had one Crispus coin, but I always liked it ...  

 

Crispus AE3 (below)

Date: 320 AD

Siscia mint

Diameter: 19.4 mm

Weight: 3.2 grams

Obverse: IVL CRISPVS NOB C - Laureate and cuirassed bust of Crispus, holding spear and shield

Reverse: VIRTVS EXERCIT - Two captives at base of Vexillum inscribed VOT X; S / F / HL at sides. ASIS* in exergue

References: RIC 123 (r2)

Ex-stevex6
 

crispus a.jpg

crispus b.jpg

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Posted · Supporter
Posted (edited)

Cool coin! I've always loved the sorted story of Crispus, the only one of Constantines's kids that wasn't a creep:

Screenshot_20200920-095204_PicCollage-removebg-preview.png.da05102cad6db97e81d1b67528674dd2.pngScreenshot_20200920-200223_PicCollage-removebg-preview.png.aa59fa2805682c1042cf00405e56e8d6.png

My globe on altar is Connie himself:

Screenshot_20220121-130411_PicCollage-removebg-preview.png.0ffc69b0aa53b865ee8a447cdf123669.png

And the naughty step mom:

2845063_1652362115.l-removebg-preview.png.4e571ebd1a2e309f297d59522d1ce761.png

 

Ps, @Severus Alexanderdoes it have to do with the symbol on the shield?

Edited by Ryro
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I've always liked the Constantine era campgates. Here's my favorite one of Crispus:

Obv: CRISPVS NOB CAES; Laureate bust right

Rev: VIRTVS AVGG; Closed-door campgate, P - R across fields; RQ in exergue

Ref: RIC VIII Rome 180

Crispus Closed Door Campgate.jpg

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Posted · Supporter
2 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

Sure does! 👍

Is that a Ry-ro? Similar to the Chi Rho, the ever allusive Ry-ro is a symbol that distinguishes the religions of sex, drugs & rock n roll nearly 2 milenia before the invent of the electric guitar, electric vibrator and ecstasy!

Sex, drugs and rock'nroll in the Roman Empire - Spain's News   

 

Ps, I owe you a beer @Steve for the laugh that avatar gave me!!!

 

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Crispus, anepigraphic:

image.jpeg.696e22351fb8f59e302c474fbb69d02b.jpeg

18 mm. 1.99 grams.
Anepigraphic. Bust left.
CRISPVS/CAESAR/SMANT
Є  
RIC VII Antioch 53

Antioch is by far the most common mint for coins of the anepigraphic series. Crispus, Fausta, and Helena are the three rarest in the series. 

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9 minutes ago, Valentinian said:

Crispus, anepigraphic:

image.jpeg.696e22351fb8f59e302c474fbb69d02b.jpeg

18 mm. 1.99 grams.
Anepigraphic. Bust left.
CRISPVS/CAESAR/SMANT
Є  
RIC VII Antioch 53

Antioch is by far the most common mint for coins of the anepigraphic series. Crispus, Fausta, and Helena are the three rarest in the series. 

.dang Warren...that one lQQks like an advertisement for a drive in 😄

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22 hours ago, thenickelguy said:

Attractive Crispus BEATA TRANQVILLITAS

from the Trier Mint

CrispusOBV.jpg.21ef5fbc71f6492f3ea2432856980120.jpg

CrispusREV.jpg.5531b5236de507481fd3ba8b3ed2df57.jpg

 

Crispus Altar and Globe
A very attractive Fourth Century AD bronze struck for Crispus (317-326 AD) with sharp details, especially on Crispus' bust, and a nice brown patina.  The lettering on the altar is weak, but everything else is crisp and clear.
(Diameter:  19 mm.     Weight: 2.46 grams)
OB:   Laureate and cuirassed left, spear in right hand, shield in left - IVL CRISPVS NOB CAES
REV:  Altar inscribed VO / TIS / XX surmounted by globe, three stars above - BEATA TRANQVILLITAS
Struck at the Trier mint, this coin has the mint mark PTR dot and is attributed as RIC, Vol. VII, #347. 

I don't know how true this information is, I wasn't there . . .

He was the first-born son of Constantine I. His mother Minervina was either a concubine or a first wife to Constantine. Nothing else is known about Minervina. Constantine I married Fausta, he kept Crispus at his side. Surviving sources are unanimous in declaring him a loving, trusting and protective father to his first son.

Crispus was leader in victorious military operations against the Franks and the Alamanni in 318, 320 and 323. Thus he secured the continued Roman presence in the areas of Gaul and Germania. The soldiers adored him thanks to his strategic abilities and the victories to which he had led the Roman legions. Crispus spent the following years assisting Constantine in the war against by then hostile Licinius. In 324, Constantine appointed Crispus as the commander of his fleet which left the port of Piraeus to confront the rival fleet of Licinius.

The subsequent Battle of the Hellespont was fought in at the straits of Bosporus. The 200 ships under the command of Crispus managed to utterly beat the enemy forces which were at least double in number. Thus Crispus achieved his most important and difficult victory which further established his reputation as a brilliant soldier and general. Crispus was the most likely choice for an heir to the throne at the time. His siblings Constantine II, Constantius II and Constans were far too young and knew very little on the tasks of an emperor. However, this would never come to be. Fausta, stepmother of Crispus, was extremely jealous of him.

She was reportedly afraid that Constantine would put aside the sons she bore him. So, in order to get rid of Crispus, Fausta set him up. She reportedly told the young Caesar that she was in love with him and suggested an illegitimate love affair. Crispus denied the immoral wishes of Fausta and left the palace in a state of shock. Then Fausta said to Constantine that Crispus had no respect for his father, since the Caesar was in love with his father's own wife. She reported to Constantine that she dismissed him after his attempt to rape her.

Constantine believed her and, true to his strong personality and short temper, executed his beloved son. A few months later, Constantine reportedly found out the whole truth and then killed Fausta.

Fausta

Fausta_Crispus_Mother.jpg.b2c18ae1e90d69cbd5d3267bb1b28173.jpg

In 326, Crispus' life came to a sudden end on his father's orders. He was tried by a local court at Pola, Istria, condemned to death and executed. Soon afterwards, Constantine had his own wife, Fausta, killed. She was drowned in an over-heated bath.

 

Dysfunctional families in antiquity. At least humanity is consistent.

 

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Ryro said:

Is that a Ry-ro? Similar to the Chi Rho, the ever allusive Ry-ro is a symbol that distinguishes the religions of sex, drugs & rock n roll nearly 2 milenia before the invent of the electric guitar, electric vibrator and ecstasy!

😆 Sadly I lack the excessively rare* Ry-Rho variety! 😔 I just have the extremely rare Chi-Rho variety instead, showing the symbol on the shield just as Eusebius reports from the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. (Eusebius isn't actually clear whether it's a chi-rho or some other symbol, so this coin helps us interpret that famous bit of text!)  Interestingly, Lactantius (the famous early Christian writer and advisor to Constantine) was Crispus's tutor in Trier.  The coin was issued in 322-23... that's 5 years before the famous Constantine SPES PVBLIC issue (with the labarum and serpent), and so one of the very earliest Christian symbols on a coin.  See @Valentinian's excellent page here for details.

This coin may in fact be the most historically significant one in my collection, judging by 1) the importance of the relevant events, 2) how much the coin helps us interpret them, and 3) how rare it is (there are only a handful known - the best one being @Valentinian's that you can see on his page I linked. Wow, what a coin!!)

* (Note: this is the only context in which "excessively rare" is an acceptable numismatic term.  It means the same as "non-existent.")

Edited by Severus Alexander
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Posted (edited)

@thenickelguy,

I think your Trier coin is RIC VII nr 372.

Like this one: Same discription as your coin ( .STR. ) . ( STR. ) = RIC VII nr 347

IMG_0126a_800_348.jpg.fcd1d6476339004243a8b4deb7f35ff0.jpg

Here 2 different campgate coins from CRISPUS

IMG_0122a_800_395.jpg.cc929f1ca548e605087e2982d31528ce.jpg

C-RISPUSNOBCAES

VIRTU-SAVGG   closed doors    3 turrets    6 layers

mm : P/R// RT     bust : G8L    RIC VII 180 missing for mm T

other gate shape

IMG_0124a_800_408.jpg.305f5de3d30541ce2de0ef221f875172.jpg

CR-ISPUSNOBCAES

VIRTU-SAVGG    OPEN DOORS    3 TURRETS   6 LAYERS

mm : P/R//RS    bust : G8L    RIC VII 171

 

 

 

 

Edited by mc9
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10 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

I just have the extremely rare Chi-Rho variety instead, showing the symbol on the shield just as Eusebius reports from the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. (Eusebius isn't actually clear whether it's a chi-rho or some other symbol, so this coin helps us interpret that famous bit of text!)

Well, I'm not sure that it does!

The clearest description of what was supposedly drawn on the/some shields comes from Lactantius , who as you say was tutor to Crispus, and therefore in a much better position to know than Eusebius (who only met Constantine on a couple of occasions long after the event, and suffers from revisionism).

Lactantius's description, from De Mortibus Persecutorum, translates approximately as "the letter X on it's side, with the top bent over". Some english translations completely butcher this and turn it into a description of a Chi-Rho since that's what they believe Lactantius must have been talking about! If we take Lactantius' description at face value, then it sounds much more like an open Tau-Rho, which we also see on some coins, such as on this Aeterna Pietas type from Lyons.

 

image.jpeg.c44b54d7beeacfb3612da88d462cfed5.jpeg

There's also a very interesting steelyard weight depicting Constantine that has this same symbol on the shield:

image.thumb.png.efdb38834d6fc26c9843bb960a54f0a5.png

Here's how these were used - as a movable weight on a steelyard scale, similar to how the scales at the doctor's office works:

image.thumb.png.20187e53d7f279b9542c364cc6fcd6c1.png

What's interesting about this steelyard weight is that it seems to be quite historically accurate in that the shield also features the horned design of the germanic Cornuti army unit who appear to have been present at the battle of Milvian Bridge as attested by a soldier with the same horned shield design appearing on the arch of Constantine in Rome.

 

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I have only one Crispus:

Crispus Caesar (son of Constantine I), Billon reduced Centenionalis, Arelate [Arles] Mint (3rd Officina) 321 AD. Obv. Laureate bust right, CRISPUS NOB CAES / Rev. VOT • V in three lines within laurel wreath, CAESARVM NOSTRORVM. In exergue: T [Crescent] A. RIC VII Arles 235 (p. 260), Sear RCV IV 16747, Cohen 30. 20 mm., 2.73 g.

 image.thumb.jpeg.246f4b55855d7af11cea818dff025f29.jpeg

 

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14 hours ago, Heliodromus said:
On 6/8/2022 at 9:00 PM, Severus Alexander said:

I just have the extremely rare Chi-Rho variety instead, showing the symbol on the shield just as Eusebius reports from the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. (Eusebius isn't actually clear whether it's a chi-rho or some other symbol, so this coin helps us interpret that famous bit of text!)

Well, I'm not sure that it does!

Excellent stuff, @Heliodromus, thank you!!  The moveable weight is fascinating... do you know what range of dates it has been assigned to, based on find location etc.?

I dragged out the Lactantius passage for those who know how to read Latin (@Roman Collector, talking to you - any thoughts?) :

[4] Imminebat dies quo Maxentius imperium ceperat, qui est a.d. sextum Kalendas Novembres, et quinquennalia terminabantur. [5] Commonitus est in quiete Constantinus, ut caeleste signum dei notaret in scutis atque ita proelium committeret. Facit ut iussus est et transversa X littera, summo capite circumflexo, Christum in scutis notat.

Since my experience with Latin was one course decades ago and I promptly forgot it all, the best I can do is plop it into Google translate:

[4] The day was threatening when Maxentius had taken the command, which is a.d. On November 6, and five years were terminated. [5] Constantine was warned in quiet, that he might mark the heavenly sign of God on his shields, and thus engage in battle. He does as he was ordered and crosses the letter X, with a head circumflexed at the top, and marks Christ on the shields.

I don't know if Google is just canning some known translation, but I don't think that's how it works... and this translation sounds more like a chi-rho than yours does.  Not that I'm saying their translation is better!  But the issue does seem clearly... foggy?

In any case, what I should have meant (did I? maybe not!) by "this coin helps us interpret that famous bit of text" is: it's a relevant piece of evidence.  It certainly doesn't solve it!  But given the early time of production and the the presence of Crispus & Lactantius in Trier it at least provides an important data point in favour of the chi-rho rather than a tau-rho or some other symbol.  And certainly helps support the notion that the whole idea wasn't just made up later too, which is important.

Just to post a related coin, here's a weird one I've rarely shown and will take the excuse:

image.thumb.jpeg.567f14dedb4be3247ab3b2bff5f252b8.jpeg

It's a Constans as Augustus VICTORIAE DD AVGGQ NN, struck in the late 340s, which has been unofficially overstruck with a very Christian looking (latin) cross.  The cross was not widely used as a Christian symbol until after the chi-rho.  So I find this coin to be quite intriguing!  It was found in Norfolk in 1990, and came to me via @Valentinian, ex Ex Dan Clark, ex Byzantium (Fitling Grange, Fitling, Yorkshire).  I'd be grateful for any reflections on it.

Looking at the photo with fresh eyes I suppose it could actually be a tau-rho, though I don't think so... I will have to grab it from the bank and have another look.

Edited by Severus Alexander
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8 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

transversa X littera, summo capite circumflexo

It'd certainly be useful to hear how a Latin expert would translate this as opposed to Google, but obviously it basically says something like "transverse letter X, with the top circumflexed". So it comes down to what is the most accurate translation of transversa (without being biased to want to make the description be that of a Chi Rho - does transversa really mean "with a vertical line through it" ?).

Of course there's no doubt the Chi-Rho was already in use by this date, so that's not the issue - just a matter of historical accuracy in terms of what Lactantius had described to him and may be reflected on that steelyard weight shield.

From a purely realistic point of view, it seems more likely that something like what we see on the steelyard weight is what was actually done, regardless of whether the symbol was a Ch-Rho, Tau-Rho or similar. The army units would each have had their own shield designs (see Notitia Dignitatum) and any inscribed/painted symbol wold have been something added to that. It's hard to imagine Constantine's army, camped outside of Rome, trundling off to home depot for spray paint to completely repaint their shields before battle. 🙂

The weight is believed to date to 5th-7thC.

The Cornuti link between the weight and the arch of Constantantine is discussed in the paper "Cornuti: A Teutonic Contingent in the Service of Constantine the Great and Its Decisive Role in the Battle at the Milvian Bridge. With a Discussion of Bronze Statuettes of Constantine the Great" available on JSTOR (free account required).

https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291132?seq=1

Finally we should note that the coin being discussed is of Crispus, not Constantine, and this shield design is just one of very many (including Medusa, etc) that we see on these coins. I wouldn't care to read more into it than the mint knowing/assuming that Crispus would be OK with having a Chi-Rho in the mix.

Edited by Heliodromus
typo
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