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Constantine II as Consul for the second time in 321


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When I was peaking in my interest in the late Roman coinage and especially Constantinian age, the BEATA TRANQVILLITAS (with its different spellings) was very appealing to me, basically because between 321 and 323 the Western mints coined this type massively and in between the regular day-to-day normal issues, sometimes very peculiar bust types were employed, especially for Constantine's heirs, and even more rarely, strange and intriguing obverse legends. This coinage is probably the most varied in bust types after the coinage of Probus. The type corresponds to the earlier standard base metal denomination of 318-19, was the common petty denomination in the West while Constantine prepared the expansion of his domain eastwards and it stops just before the civil war of 324.

It is clearly marked as celebratory, in honor of Constantine's vota suscepta for his vicennalia, just after the celebration of his quindecennalia (there was a compact corpus of issues marking this occasion, especially at Rome) but going by the extreme variation of bust types for mainly Crispus and Constantine II, it seems that it was also supposed to be a dynastic type. While an emphasis on Crispus is to be expected at this time in the West -- he was distinctly the senior of Constantine's heirs and held actual responsibilities in the West, where he was raised as Caesar in 317, and where he actually conducted military expeditions as early as 318 -- the coinage was likely made under Constantine's orders, as Constantine II, who was about 5 years old when the type began, is also given a wide variety of bust types, on par with his older step-brother.

Very early in the series, Constantine II gets a strangely elliptic obverse legend, both at Trier and at Lyon, the two main continental mints producing the BEATA type:

- CONSTANTINVS IVN N COS II at Trier, with laureate bust left, wearing trabea, holding eagle-tipped sceptre in right hand (K3); AE18mm 2.30g, not in RMBT, not in RIC, but cf. footnote 312 on RIC VII p. 191: "Some of the obv. busts recorded for Constantine II have not been found: CONSTANTINVS IVN N C • COS II, bust K3 l. (CG) and the same bust with CONSTANTINVS IVN N COS II (Maur., loc. cit., rev. V. 43 and CG)." Similar but of lesser official quality in NotInRic here.



- CONSTANTINVS · IVN · COS · II · at Lyon, with laureate, draped bust left, wearing trabea, holding Victory on globe in right hand; AE19x18 3.20g RIC VII Lyon 141, Bastien 96



So, what's missing here, why is this legend irregular?

Constantine II is missing his main title - Caesar. He's presented as just nobilissimus consul iterum at Trier and consul iterum at Lyon.

This might mean that the issue is one of particularly celebratory scope, short-lived to mark the beginning of the child's consulship (which he shared with his older step-brother) in 321. The Licinii were also consuls that year, but none of them is known to be represented on this type, unless one accepts the very singular, and likely unofficial 'Lyon' specimen here:

- LICINIVS - IVN N C CO[S] II(?), laureate bust right, wearing trabea; AE19mm 2.60g not in RMBT not in RIC not in NotInRic



But this last one is probably an unofficial (and possibly later) emission.

For the first two specs, the legend is in one case certain and in the other known although on irretrievable specimens by RIC, but obviously retrievable now.

Since the votive coinage at Rome ending in 321 for Constantine's quindecennalia seems to also double as a dynastic coinage, followed closely by coinage in the mints under direct Constantinian control for Crispus and Constantine as quinquennalia soluta and vowing for a future votis decennalibus, marking symbolic events in the political careers of both Crispus and Constantine II, such as them becoming consuls together in 321, seems to follow the same general trend of dynastic purpose ascribed on his coinage by Constantine I, with very interesting and rare twists.

Edited by seth77
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Here is an example from my collection: 





Mint: Trier

Date: 2nd half of AD 322

Weight: 3.09 g.
 RIC 198, 387 (R4). Alten/Zschucke 129


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I was once so into the BEATA series, that I paid 95GBP (about 150$ at the time) for this one in 2014 on the account of the bust type:



which is so interesting -- RMBT has this as a variation of RIC 383, with an I2 bust (laureate and draped, victory on globe in right, with scepter in left hand). But this seems like a separate bust type -- trabeate, laureate Victory on globe in left hand and scepter in right hand, with the orbiculus beneath the right shoulder. Lech from NotInRic considers that 383 is wrongly described and that the I2 is the closest reference for this bust type. On this specimen there are also other details on the trabea, possibly a wreath just above the right hand, there's also a wreath motif on the trabea shoulders and a dotted motif on the collar of the garment.

(To contrast with the specimens that I posted in the Op that were in the 20-50$ range despite being considerably way more interesting historically and numismatically.)


Edited by seth77
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