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A coin a little out of my area - Constantine I billon


ambr0zie
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Hello ladies and gentlemen,

Just won an interesting Late Roman coin. I would say LRB, but it's not exactly the case.

image.png.d9a2936a3159dc933b19ef0cb6219913.png

 

Constantine I the Great AD 306-337. Treveri

BI argenteus, AD 310-313. IMP CONSTANTI-NVS AVG, cuirassed bust of Constantine left, wearing helmet with high crest, spear in right hand over shoulder, mappa in left / VICTORIAE LAETAE PRINC PERP, two Victories standing facing each other, holding shield inscribed VOT PR on altar; PTR in exergue. RIC VI -- (cf. RIC VII 208a). Note from Beast Coins research site: RIC VII describes this coin as an AE folles (or AE3), however, this series coincides with other series from other mints, where Constantine introduced a billon argenteus denomination. Both the AE3 module and AR argenteus will be listed under the same RIC number, even though this issue begins this reverse type and was actually minted in AD 310-313 and should have appeared in RIC VI with the other billon argentei issues of Licinius I and Maximinus II.

 

Obviously I was attracted to the idea of having a Late Roman coin that is not bronze. And I can't say I dislike the portrait either. Although the condition is not great, in my opinion the coin is very interesting.

On research I found some interesting info, for example for this much better Heritage specimen

https://www.biddr.com/auctions/heritage/browse?a=654&l=675958

where I took the description from. Note that the obverse legend break is different, but I found legends similar to mine on other specimens. As checked RIC VII 208a, the coin listed is indeed a follis, so the description and theory that this coin was omitted from previous RIC volume is correct.

 

Would you support this theory? and of course, please post silver or billon Late Roman coins.

Edited by ambr0zie
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This is an interesting type - apparently an attempt by Constantine to introduce a higher silver content denomination c.310 AD (as part of a larger coinage reform). The measured silver content of these is 20%. There were three different reverse types, one each for Constantine, Maximinus II and Licinius, together with a different bust type for each emperor.

Here's my set:

Constantine - unlisted (misdated to later, as RIC VII 208A)

Maximinus II - RIC VI Trier 826

Liciniuus - RIC VI Trier 825

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image.png.e8b3506cb481ed22a6aa1fd3b1e053de.png

 

 

Where this gets a bit confusing is that later, c.318 AD, Constantine again reformed his coinage, re-upping the "bronze" silver content (which had slid) back to 5%, and changing the reverse types and busts. Either Constantine was fond of the designs, and/or made a deliberate attempt to associate high value with these new 5% silver types, but either way he chose to reuse same reverse types (VLPP, emperor on eagle) and busts as on the earlier failed 20% silver coinage, so we have same types listed in RIC VII (318 AD 5% silver) as in RIC VI (310 AD 20% silver). However, RIC VI accidentally omitted to include the 20% silver VLPP type (your coin) for Constantine.

The 310 AD 20% silver "billion" types had only been issued from Trier, but when Constantine reintroduced the reverse designs in 318 AD, they were now stuck from many mints. Of course by this time Maximinus II was dead, so we only see Constantine's VLPP, and Licinius' emperor-on-eagle.

RIC VII Trier 209

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RIC VII Trier 211

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Note that in 310 AD Trier had only been using a single officina, so the "P" of the PTR mintmark means Pecunia, rather than being an officina. By 318 AD Trier had expanded to two officinas, so then we see mintmarks of PTR and STR with the P & S being the officina.

 

Edited by Heliodromus
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@Heliodromus- thank you for the examples. To be honest I like the Licinius examples more, but I still think mine is a good addition. Almost missed it as I rarely browse the Late Roman section in auctions - only reason being that usually my budget is already spent, these coins being towards the end of the auctions....

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Posted · Benefactor
Posted (edited)

Ummm, how 'bout this neat lil' Carinus? ... does he qualify for this interesting LRB billon-thread? (maybe he's a bit out of the LRB-crosshairs? ... meh, it's a cool enough billon-coin, so here it is!)

 

Carinus Potin/Billon Tetradrachm (below)

Date: Year 2 (283-284 AD)
Diameter: 18.9 mm
Weight: 7.3 grams
Obverse: Laureate bust of Carinus
Reverse: Eagle between standards

Ex-stevex6

 

Carinus a.jpg

Carinus b.jpg

Edited by Steve
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29 minutes ago, ambr0zie said:

Almost missed it as I rarely browse the Late Roman section in auctions - only reason being that usually my budget is already spent, these coins being towards the end of the auctions....

Haha - that's true. An advantage to being an LRB collector I suppose!

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Constantine I Billon argenteus Trier 310-313 AD Obv Bust right helmeted draped and cuirassed holding spear over shoulder Rv.  Altar flanked by two victories who are holding round inscribed shield. RIC 208a 3.44 grms 18 mm Photo by W. Hansenconmag310.jpg.3ec64f1ea8712e1c6d3bec83a4cac002.jpg

These coins present something of a quandary. When Patrick Bruun penned RIC VII the prevailing theory was that these coins were folles, thus he placed them  at the end of the SOLI INVICTO series which he had dated to 318 AD However subsequent research  appears to favor an earlier date sometime around 310 AD This is based on the assumption that this series represents the last gasp of the argenteus coinage. Current metallurgical research places the silver content of these coins at about 20%. However even this standard could not be maintained. Subsequent issues lost virtuall all their silver having residual sliver contents much closer to the contemporary folles coinage. 

@Heliodromus is correct my date of 328 AD was incorrect and I have changed it. Thank you

Edited by kapphnwn
Factual error
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1 hour ago, kapphnwn said:

These coins present something of a quandary. When Patrick Bruun penned RIC VII the prevailing theory was that these coins were folles, thus he placed them  at the end of the SOLI INVICTO series which he had dated to 328 AD However subsequent research  appears to favor an earlier date sometime around 310 AD This is based on the assumption that this series represents the last gasp of the argenteus coinage. Current metallurgical research places the silver content of these coins at about 20%. However even this standard could not be maintained. Subsequent issues lost virtuall all their silver having residual sliver contents much closer to the contemporary folles coinage. 

I think you meant 318 AD, not 328 AD, but in any case the earlier date of 310-313 AD is certain given that the issue includes Maximinus II who died in 313 AD.

I wouldn't refer to the 318 AD types as "subsequent issues", since they were a different denomination. In 310 AD we had these 20% silver "pseudo-argentei" in use alongside 5% silver bronze nummi. By 318 AD the pseudo-argentei appear to have been long discontinued, and the nummus debased to 1 or 2% silver, then replaced with a new nummus (for want of a better term) of 5% silver including reuse of these same reverse type designs (see my post above), only for that silver content to be gradually debased also ...

Edited by Heliodromus
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