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Common Date Solidi are Bargain Priced with Gold Trading at $1,989 an Oz.


Al Kowsky

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Friday gold closed at $1,989.00 an oz. on the New York Comex, that was an increase of $69.80¬†ūüė≤. No doubt this price increase was triggered by the two California banks making bad investments with depositors money. I calculated the gold melt value of a Justinian solidus in my collection pictured below at $290.00.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†JustinianAVSolidus.jpg.4a1d50fe088a8178cf5d83d944ccf651.jpg

Then I noticed the the Justinian solidus pictured below that hammered at¬†CNG E-Auction 534, lot 739, for $425.00. That coin was in an¬†ANACS¬†slab & graded¬†AU55. That was surely a bargain win for someone¬†‚ėļÔłŹ.

https://auctions.cngcoins.com/lots/view/4-8Z5DIO/justinian-i-527-565-av-solidus-19mm-6h-constantinople-mint-2nd-officina-struck-542-565-in-anacs-encapsulation-6211754-graded-au-55 JustininaSolidusCNG534lot739.jpg.32788ad5f280a8193770529bc76f95e9.jpg

I've seen similar common dates in a raw state sell for less than that lately¬†ūüėČ. If you were contemplating adding a common date Byzantine solidus to your collection now might be a good time to do it.¬†

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It is a strange economy when the bullion value of Byzantine Gold starts to enter into one’s calculations of value, but here we are.  At a generous estimate of 4.5 grams of pure gold in a solidus, with gold at $2000/troy ounce, I calculate today’s melt value (Egad!  I can’t believe I am writing this) at just a bit below 300 US dollars, so you are spot on, @Al Kowsky.  Pun intended.  

Premiums on common modern gold bullion quarter ounce coins look to be about 20%.  This is a rather high percentage historically speaking, but a quick glance at online bullion dealers supports this number.  Considered as a bullion coin, a solidus today would command a price of about $360.  

In 2000, the price of gold was slightly less than $300/troy ounce.  Today’s gold price is a seven-fold increase over 23 years.  IF a similar increase transpires over the next 23 years, a common solidus would have a melt value of about $2100.  IF the 20% premium over melt still applied, a common solidus would command over $2500.   

I have a solidus in my collection that was sold by Stack’s in 1960 for $45.   

image.jpeg.5f9607f77664e95d3fa55d8cdb08feaf.jpeg

 

 

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I didn't realize that Byzantine solidi were so relatively inexpensive. 4th century Roman Imperial solidi in decent condition will generally cost anywhere from just above $1,000 to $2,000 and up. (My four Roman solidi, issued by Valentinian I, Valens, Arcadius, and Honorius, all purchased between April 2021 and October 2022, and all in what I would consider "very fine" or better condition, all cost between $1,000 and $2,000 -- three of them between $1,000 and $1,500. Two of the four have documented provenance back to the 1960s, one in France and the other in Germany.)

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Well, a solidus that hammers for $425 as above described by @Al Kowsky costs close to another $100 in auctioneer’s commission, so true price is more like $525.  Let us leave aside postage, currency conversion fees, insurance, possible opaque handling charges, and sales taxes or VAT, because unless you purchase in person, these charges are equally applicable to public auction or private commercial purchase.  So, our task is to determine whether we can find some Byzantine solidi retailing for about $525 or less.  Let us peruse the internet and sort results by price.  

At the commercial site which is something like M A coins, I find two very acceptable coins for under $600.  One is a light weight solidus of Maurice Tiberius, and the other is a histamenon nomisma of Constantine X.  There are a couple of coins cheaper than that, but I personally would pass on them for various reasons.

If we are willing to go to $700, there are several nice examples of various emperors; Constans II, Theodosius II, Focas, and Heraclius.  

At another commercial site which is something like Vpennies,  I find a clipped Justinian weighing only 4.08 grams, but otherwise IMO quite acceptable for just under $500.  There are quite a few emperors available for $700 or less, more than on the first site.  

All these coins, with the probable exception of Constantine X, struck their coins in gold essentially as pure as the technology of the time could make it, and that was close to 24K.  

I think it should be possible to find solidi of Justinian, Justin II, Maurice Tiberius, Focas, Heraclius with and without his sons, Constans II, and to my surprise Theodosius II, all under $700 which would be coins anyone would be proud to have in his or her collection.  

I noticed a major dealer selling a beautiful bronze follis of Maxentius for $700 yesterday.  

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9 minutes ago, Hrefn said:

Well, a solidus that hammers for $425 as above described by @Al Kowsky costs close to another $100 in auctioneer’s commission, so true price is more like $525.  Let us leave aside postage, currency conversion fees, insurance, possible opaque handling charges, and sales taxes or VAT, because unless you purchase in person, these charges are equally applicable to public auction or private commercial purchase.  So, our task is to determine whether we can find some Byzantine solidi retailing for about $525 or less.  Let us peruse the internet and sort results by price.  

At the commercial site which is something like M A coins, I find two very acceptable coins for under $600.  One is a light weight solidus of Maurice Tiberius, and the other is a histamenon nomisma of Constantine X.  There are a couple of coins cheaper than that, but I personally would pass on them for various reasons.

If we are willing to go to $700, there are several nice examples of various emperors; Constans II, Theodosius II, Focas, and Heraclius.  

At another commercial site which is something like Vpennies,  I find a clipped Justinian weighing only 4.08 grams, but otherwise IMO quite acceptable for just under $500.  There are quite a few emperors available for $700 or less, more than on the first site.  

All these coins, with the probable exception of Constantine X, struck their coins in gold essentially as pure as the technology of the time could make it, and that was close to 24K.  

I think it should be possible to find solidi of Justinian, Justin II, Maurice Tiberius, Focas, Heraclius with and without his sons, Constans II, and to my surprise Theodosius II, all under $700 which would be coins anyone would be proud to have in his or her collection.  

I noticed a major dealer selling a beautiful bronze follis of Maxentius for $700 yesterday.  

I'm surprised at such prices for Theodosius II, whose solidi in my experience cost more in the range of the earlier emperors in his family. See https://www.vcoins.com/en/Search.aspx?search=true&searchQuery="theodosius+II"+"solidus"&searchQueryExclude=&searchCategory=0&searchCategoryLevel=2&searchCategoryAncient=True&searchCategoryUs=True&searchCategoryWorld=True&searchCategoryMints=True&searchBetween=0&searchBetweenAnd=0&searchDate=&searchUseThesaurus=True&searchDisplayCurrency=&searchDisplay=1&searchIdStore=0&searchQueryAnyWords=&searchExactPhrase=&searchTitleAndDescription=True&searchDateType=0&searchMaxRecords=100&SearchOnSale=False&Unassigned=False : most, as with my solidi mentioned above from the 4th century, are for sale at prices between $1,000 and $2,000, with one very poor example for $750, and, at the other end of the scale, one from Shanna Schmidt (who else?) for $5,500.

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ZENO.RU - Latest imitations

I have always been intrigued by these local imitations of Sulayhid coins used in the Red Sea trade. Comments and one apparent purity test mentioned on a Zeno example seem to indicate that these coins are roughly 50% fine. If true, they should have a gram of gold and be worth about $70 USD melt. For the past 15 years these have been selling for between $75 and 100 USD. Heritage is currently selling slabbed examples in this price range.

So, if you'd like a slabbed, historic gold coin for just over melt value...

Arabia, Sulayhid. Ali b. Muhammad, 439-473 H (AD 1047-1081). Debased AV Dinar (22mm, 2.20g). Local imitation, immobilized issue of 451 H, Zabid(?) mint. Ref: Album 1075.3; cf. ICV-1103 (for prototype). Very Fine. Note from a 2018 Stephen Album lot: "Probably struck locally in Yemen, perhaps by the Hamdanids of San'a".

image.jpeg.65a71ff98df7dc02bff983bf9cbd34c1.jpeg

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In the recent N+N auction there was a solidus of Tiberius III on which I bid, only to lose by an enormous margin.  In the same auction there was a nice solidus of Justinian with an opening bid of 300 gbp which I placed a low bid on, mostly to see what price it would eventually command.  I was quite surprised to get it at the opening bid.  After all fees, currency conversion, bank fee, insurance and postage, my cost is almost $550.  Not the bargain @Pellinore acquired, but still a good price for a solidus.  I think true bargains are more likely to be found at coin shows.  Allen Berman predicted face-to-face coin show commerce would benefit from the increase of auction commissions and other fees.  Here are dealer pics as it has not arrived yet.

image.png.99cd0b833d488abab0481a1f89cbf008.png

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54 minutes ago, Hrefn said:

Allen Berman predicted face-to-face coin show commerce would benefit from the increase of auction commissions and other fees

Maybe for generic coins. I haven’t found much of anything in the area I collect at shows. The few times I have, the dealer bought it at auction and charged a 5-10x markup

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On 3/23/2023 at 7:33 PM, Hrefn said:

It is a strange economy when the bullion value of Byzantine Gold starts to enter into one’s calculations of value, but here we are.  At a generous estimate of 4.5 grams of pure gold in a solidus, with gold at $2000/troy ounce, I calculate today’s melt value (Egad!  I can’t believe I am writing this) at just a bit below 300 US dollars, so you are spot on, @Al Kowsky.  Pun intended.  

Premiums on common modern gold bullion quarter ounce coins look to be about 20%.  This is a rather high percentage historically speaking, but a quick glance at online bullion dealers supports this number.  Considered as a bullion coin, a solidus today would command a price of about $360.  

In 2000, the price of gold was slightly less than $300/troy ounce.  Today’s gold price is a seven-fold increase over 23 years.  IF a similar increase transpires over the next 23 years, a common solidus would have a melt value of about $2100.  IF the 20% premium over melt still applied, a common solidus would command over $2500.   

I have a solidus in my collection that was sold by Stack’s in 1960 for $45.   

image.jpeg.5f9607f77664e95d3fa55d8cdb08feaf.jpeg

 

 

I remember those prices! This is my first solidus, Justin II. It cost me $32, ca. 1968....

 

 

au20.jpg

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