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Constantine I - early large follis


Tejas

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I got this follis of Constantine I. I really like these early large folles. This one has a diameter of 28mm. 

On the other folles of the Tetrachy there are usually the letter S F on the reverse. Yet, the comparable pieces of Constantine I have S A. Does anybody know what these letters stand for. Do they denote the denomination?

21.PNG

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Nice coin!

Trier did start with S-F for Constantine, then S-A, then S-C. These are all issue marks.

S-F is easy - almost certainly SAECVLI FELICITAS.

The S-A issue started when Constantine was in alliance with Maximianus (and includes him). These issue marks appear to mostly be feel-good slogans/propaganda, and one can often find them as legends on coins of the period. Based of these sort of ideas, and the timing with Maximianus, my guess is that S-A may be SALVS AVGVSTI, and S-C SALVS CAESARI. But these are just guesses.

 

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2 hours ago, Tejas said:

I got this follis of Constantine I. I really like these early large folles. This one has a diameter of 28mm. 

On the other folles of the Tetrachy there are usually the letter S F on the reverse. Yet, the comparable pieces of Constantine I have S A. Does anybody know what these letters stand for. Do they denote the denomination?

21.PNG

Dirk, what are the weights of the two coins you posted 🤔?

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Pictured below are two Constantine I folles from my collection, the 1st coin appears to be from the same issue as the 1st coin posted by Dirk ☺️.

CNG477lot638imageobv_rev..jpg.b71ddc92ab7442794652581a169c8294.jpg

Constantine I as Caesar, AD 306-309 (struck AD circa summer of AD 307). Trier Mint, 1st Officina. AE Follis: 8.73 gm, 29 mm, 6 h. RIC VI 719b. Ex CNG Inventory 774824, July 2006.

2420232-005AKCollection.jpg.6fc67fd23d302c9873dfa16b2bbe1a55.jpg

Constantine I as Caesar, AD 306-309 (struck circa AD 306-early 307) Trier Mint, 1st Officina. AE Follis: 9.50 gm, 28 mm, 7 h. A trace of silvering is still visible. RIC VI 666A.

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Posted (edited)

Wow, these are really heavy exemplars. How did you determine the officina number? They were probably minted before my coins. For the second one with S-F this is certainly the case. 

Edited by Tejas
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1 hour ago, Tejas said:

Wow, these are really heavy exemplars. How did you determine the officina number? They were probably minted before my coins. For the second one with S-F this is certainly the case. 

I won the older coin at a CNG auction about 14 years ago where it was described as a 1st officina issue (prima for the P in exergue), & used the same reasoning for the later issue 😉.

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It seems most likely that from 303-315 AD the "P" of PTR meant Pecunia, since at this time the mint was only using a single officina and there would therefore be no need to indicate which officina had struck a coin.

Supporting this we can see that earlier (295-303 AD) when Trier had been using multiple officinas (first 3, then reduced to 2), it had chosen to mark them first as A/B/C, A/B and I/II (not P/S/T). When the mint expanded back to 2 officinas in 315 AD it again goes with the A/B marking scheme. It's not until the coinage reform of 318 AD that we see Trier using PTR/STR instead.

Supporting "P" for Pecunia (money) as opposed to some other non-numeric meaning such as Percussa (struck [at]), we see London first using PLN then temporarily switching to M-based alternatives such as MLN and MSN (Moneta, Moneta Sacra), then back to PLN, and the eastern mints also using the SM (Sacra Moneta) prefix on occasion. It seems likely there was some consistency here and PLN and MLN would have had a similar meaning, and therefore all of PLN, PTR and PLG just meant "money from <city>" at times when a single officina was in use.

 

Edited by Heliodromus
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1 hour ago, Heliodromus said:

It seems most likely that from 303-315 AD the "P" of PTR meant Pecunia, since at this time the mint was only using a single officina and there would therefore be no need to indicate which officina had struck a coin.

Supporting this we can see that earlier (295-303 AD) when Trier had been using multiple officinas (first 3, then reduced to 2), it had chosen to mark them first as A/B/C, A/B and I/II (not P/S/T). When the mint expanded back to 2 officinas in 315 AD it again goes with the A/B marking scheme. It's not until the coinage reform of 318 AD that we see Trier using PTR/STR instead.

Supporting "P" for Pecunia (money) as opposed to some other non-numeric meaning such as Percussa (struck [at]), we see London first using PLN then temporarily switching to M-based alternatives such as MLN and MSN (Moneta, Moneta Sacra), then back to PLN, and the eastern mints also using the SM (Sacra Moneta) prefix on occasion. It seems likely there was some consistency here and PLN and MLN would have had a similar meaning, and therefore all of PLN, PTR and PLG just meant "money from <city>" at times when a single officina was in use.

 

Your ideas sound reasonable, but it does seem odd that the mint would label coins "pecunia" (P) for a coin type that had been in use since circa AD 294. The early issue follis pictured below from the Ticinum mint has no P or officina letter in the exergue. 

2491170-018AWK.jpg.c8cc5d1ee8ceedc21ad334588af92600.jpg

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Yes - the P is a bit of an oddity, and limited to the London, Lyons and Trier mints.

One might also ask why did London switch from LON to PLN when where was never more than one officina in use ? And, why did they then dabble with MLN and MSN ? Does "Moneta" make any more sense than "Pecunia" ? MS, and SM, at least echo the earlier "Sacra Moneta Avgg Et Caess NN" sentiment.

Still, it'd seem very odd if Trier, having used A/B/C when there were three officinas, then both A/B and I/II when there were two, would feel the need to put anything, let alone P(rima) when there was only one, then a few years later revert to A/B when there were two again !

Another indication of Trier's P (at this date) not being an officina is Lyon's PL A|B and LP A|B marks. The A|B is clearly the officina, so the P must be something else (Pecunia/whatever).

 

 

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Interesting discussion and one which I never really thought about. Anyways here's another Constantine S-F type, but from Arles:

Ae Reduced Follis, Arles mint (20mm, 2.7gms)

Obv: CONSTANTINVS AVG; Laureate bust right

Rev: VIRTV-S AVGG; Camp-gate with open doors, star above; S-F to either side, ARLS in exergue

ConstantineOpen-DoorArles.jpg.ce2db2c551e242b7e8dd21bc5578ebd1.jpg

 

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Posted (edited)

Here are all of my GENIO POPVLI ROMANI follis from the Trier mint:

Diocletianus, Maximianus Herculius, Galerius, Constantius I Chlorus, Maximinus II Daia, Constantine I

Note the mintmarks on the folles of Maximianus Herculius, Constantius I and Galerius is II TR. I suppose here the letters indicate the second officina. Note also, that on the coins of Maximinus II Daia and Constantine, the drapery of the Genius has changed to cover the private parts. Somehow I've never noticed that before.

 

22.PNG

Edited by Tejas
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1 hour ago, Tejas said:

Note also, that on the coins of Maximinus II Daia and Constantine, the drapery of the Genius has changed to cover the private parts.

Yes, this change was made under Constantius I as augustus, and only at Trier. At London and Lyons the genius continued to go commando !

The change seems to have been made very soon after he became augustus, since coins with the undraped-loins after this are pretty rare.

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Just thought I'd add this coin from the Trier mint which instead of S - F across the fields it has T - F which just adds to the mystery of what this means.

Constantine I Ae Nummus (?) Trier mint (21.3mm, 2.6gms)

ConstantineMARTICONSERVATORITrier1.jpg.84d94736ba7f4199ce63f8fdd410e96d.jpg

Obv: CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate and cuirassed bust righ

Rev: MARTI CONSERVATORI; Mars standing right holding spear and shield, T - F acrss fields; ATR in ex.

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Seeing as we're doing Trier, here's a group that took a while to assemble - all Constantine as caesar.

Top coin is a nummus (RIC 719b) for size comparison.

Bottom four coins are the type set of this time as half-nummi (left to right RIC 737, 743, 741, 740).

image.png.bb9b30a33d117cd20b3be7bdd54cfd51.png

Edited by Heliodromus
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Posted (edited)

That is a very nice type set!

Another thing that I had never realized before: On the super common SOL INVICTO COMITI series there are two different representations of SOL. 

Top coin: Sol turning to left.

Bottom coin: Sol turning to right

The second variant seems to be slightly scarcer than the first.

 

10.PNG

Edited by Tejas
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19 minutes ago, Tejas said:

Another thing that I had never realized before: On the super common SOL INVICTO COMITI series there are two different representations of SOL. 

Yes, and this issue is interesting because:

1) Both of your coins are from the same issue, despite one having a dot in exergue (dot ATR), and one not (BTR)

2) The "standing left" vs "standing right, head left" variants are (in this issue) strictly by officina. Officina A is always std left, and B std right (with spread chlamys).

This issue also includes the GENIO POP ROM type for Licinius I, and that one is also sometimes (not always like Sol) differentiated by officina with officina A having Genius with regular turreted headgear, but officina B sometimes showing Genius with a definite city gate headgear, sometimes with one arch and sometimes with two arches looking like Trier's Porta Nigra city gate !

 

Edited by Heliodromus
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On 3/1/2024 at 2:16 PM, Al Kowsky said:

Your ideas sound reasonable, but it does seem odd that the mint would label coins "pecunia" (P) for a coin type that had been in use since circa AD 294. The early issue follis pictured below from the Ticinum mint has no P or officina letter in the exergue. 

2491170-018AWK.jpg.c8cc5d1ee8ceedc21ad334588af92600.jpg

Beautiful coins and great post, @Tejas — and remarkable portrait of Maximian, @Al Kowsky his nose is very unique compared to other Roman Emperors.

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