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question about dating of Leo I solidus


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When this, the cheapest solidus on vcoins, showed up,I hopped on it.  It arrived today.  From the picture, I thought that there would be some damage to the face, like a punch or something, but looking at it under a magnifier, it just lookslike the regular ol' die break face that so many of these have.  Anyway, it's still a much better placeholder than the decrepit nummus I have.

There's just something satisfying about gold coins.

My question: there's a way to tell which period these came from by where the spear is in relation to the lettering.  Which is mine?  Could people post some examples of the different periods?

I also got a hemiobol.  I had always wanted one of this issue.  It's amazing how many survived.

LeoI-457-474-AVSolidus-4.31gRICX605VICTORI-AAVGGGA.jpg.72dea3b8d5c6742d5bc7d24ff7a4beb4.jpg

 

Leo I AV21 Solidus. Victory w. long cross. Constantinople

 

Obv: Pearl-diademed, helmeted and cuirassed bust facing slightly to right, holding spear and shield decorated with horseman motif. D N LEO PERPET AVG.

 

Rev: Victory standing to left, holding long jewelled cross; star in right field, CONOB in exergue. VICTORIA AVGGG A.

 

RIC X 605.  AD 457-474.   4.31g. 

 

Kyzikos-ARHemiobol-9_5mm0.36gSNGParis375525-475BC-boarrxlionhead.jpg.658a37279ffc27e1f9f034d3f8d14039.jpg

Mysia. Kyzikos AR9.5 Hemiobol.  Boar / Lion

 

Obv: Forepart of boar to left; on the boar's shoulder, retrograde Ε; to right, tunny fish swimming upwards.

 

Rev: Head of roaring lion to left within incuse square.

 

SNG Paris 375.  525-475 BC.  .36g.

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Oh wow, what a coincidence. I just posted a similar solidus on Facebook. No, there's nothing in the stylistic touches of this reign that can be used for dating (that I'm aware of). This was a very stable period in Byzantine history.

Rasiel

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Yes, it's in Sear RCV 5.  The tip of the spear intersects certain letters.

There are two spans of time mentioned, I think.

The face looks less ghastly in person.  The trick of the reflection made it look like there was a divot. It's the same smushed nose/mouth that so many of these have.

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Leo’s standard solidi of Thessalonica have either one or two stars in the reverse field. Dumbarton Oaks’ Catalogue of Late Roman Coins assigns the one-star Thessalonican variety to the earlier part of the reign.  “But when or why the transition was made, we do not know.”   -Grierson.  I cannot find information on dating the Constantinopolitan solidi in this catalogue.   image.jpeg.7b3c8385d3e6ea8953bcd0b95debd1fd.jpegimage.jpeg.3ce021923d85d6638cad0e88e8862fde.jpeg

Here are Leo’s solidi from Constantinople and Thessalonica.  

The first was purchased from Giessener Munzhandllung Dieter Gorny of Munich.  Berk-13.  D.O. 528.  4/1990

The second is from Stack’s Auction 16 Feb 1994 lot number 26.  

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Those are really nice examples.

I suppose it's lucky that gold is so difficult to photograph.  The coin probably would never have stuck around if a trick of the lighting hadn't made the face look gashed out, even though it's not.  It's 'only' VF, but otherwise normal.

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Quoting from Sear, "RIC distinguishes two phases of this issue.  The earlier (457-68) has an angled form of the letter G in the inscriptions, while the tip of the emperor's spear on obverse normally points between the P and E of PERPET.  The later (468-473) has a rounded G and the spear points between the E and T.

I guess mine is the second phase one?  Sear pictures two 21404's but the spear's in the same place on both.

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So that would make my Constantinople solidus one of the earlier type according to Sear.   I will update my notes.  Position of the spear tip on the Thessalonican coin may not have the same significance;  being a one-star variety on the reverse it is the earlier type, but the spear tip is between E and T like the later Constantinople coins.   

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Yes, I think the notes only applied to Constantinople.  At least, that's the way I interpreted it.

It's pretty cool that my budget solidus was made during the 'fall' of Rome.  Were it one of the Western emperors, it would have cost a lot more.  It could very well have been made to finance the ill-fated Basiliscus expedition (what a numpty).

This humble coin has certainly brought me a lot of joy. 

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8 hours ago, Nerosmyfavorite68 said:

It's pretty cool that my budget solidus was made during the 'fall' of Rome.

And that is the heart of ancient coin collecting right there.  And there is no straight line correlation between a coin’s price and the enjoyment one can derive from it.   I picked up this delightful little bronze nummus this year, showing the ascension of Constantine the Great into heaven by chariot, with the Hand of God extending down to receive him.  That’s a lot of historical gravitas in a tiny package, and at eight euro is within almost anyone’s budget.

 image.jpeg.9624b92be1788dcf9c2121d3ed743a26.jpeg

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Silver is my preferred medium for coins, not bronze or gold, but I make exceptions.  Leo I is one such. Can you even find a silver coin of Leo? Despite his 17 years on the throne, Roman Silver Coins Vol. V lists just two basic varieties (#11 and #12).  The prices are north of 225 (US$ £ ?), and I can't assume the 2004 reprint has updated David Sear's estimated values from 1987. So, like Nerosmyfavorite68, I have a nummus and solidus of Leo I.  I've now noted that the solidus is from the later issue.

Leo I the Great. 457474 AD. Æ Nummus (0.87 gm, 9.5mm, 7h). Constantinople mint. Pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right. D N LEO P F AVG.  / Lion crouching left, head right, tail right [all within wreath]. ex: CON.  aVF. CNG EA 541 #623, ex-CNG 525 #1359.  RIC X # 674; DOC LR 573-575; LRBC 2260. Dark brown surfaces. The crouching lion doesn't look anything like a crouching lion.  
 
Leo I the Great. 457-474 AD. AV Solidus (4.39 gm, 20.3mm, 6h) Constantinople, 468-473 AD. Diademed & helmeted 3/4-facing bust, holding spear over shoulder & shield, DN LEO PERPET AVG. / Victory standing left, holding long jeweled cross, star to right; VICTORIA AVGGG ɪ, ex: CONOB. EF. CNG Auction 61 #2155. RIC X p.288 #630; Depeyrot p.258 #93/1; DOC 516-529; MIRB 3a, 3b; SRCV V (phase 2 issue) #21404.
 

 

 

RE.LeoI.RIC_10_630..jpg

RE.LeoI.RIC_10_674v..jpg

Edited by Anaximander
Change photo resolution to make it smaller
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Posted (edited)

Very nice!

I examined my solidus again, and under certain light, it does look like the picture.  What's going on is a blob of metal in the nose area.  It doesn't seem to be a divot or gash.  There doesn't seem to be damage on the reverse, so I'm guessing there wasn't a repaired hole. My guess would be a serious die break?

Unless one looks at it really closely, it doesn't look bad from afar.  It's certainly an upgrade to my sub $20 nummus.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My Zeno placeholder arrived.  Both were from the same dealer.  Given some similarities in wear between the Leo and the Zeno, one wonders if both came from the same hoard?

Zeno-474-491-AVSolidus-VICTORIAAVGGGdeltaCONOBRIC910-20mm4_22g.jpg.aba6d81d567be7a85b778fda74c2a032.jpg

 

Zeno second reign AV20 Solidus. Constantinople 

 

Obv: Helmeted, diademed and cuirassed bust of Zeno facing, holding spear over his right shoulder and with shield, ornamented with a horseman spearing a fallen foe, over his left. D N ZENO PERP AVG.

 

Rev: Victory standing left, holding long jeweled cross in her right hand, to right, star. VICTORIA AVGGG Δ, CONOB, 

 

RIC 910.  4.22g.  AD 476-491. 

 

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On 4/20/2024 at 3:23 PM, Nerosmyfavorite68 said:

I examined my solidus again, and under certain light, it does look like the picture.  What's going on is a blob of metal in the nose area.  It doesn't seem to be a divot or gash.  There doesn't seem to be damage on the reverse, so I'm guessing there wasn't a repaired hole. My guess would be a serious die break?

I'd wager it was a broken nose, just as with living people. To paraphrase a Japanese saying...  "A nose that sticks out gets hammered down."
We're rather used to having the high points subject to wear, this looks more like a fair amount of circulation damage plus a pummeling. I bet he lost that fight!

By the way, I was looking at acsearch.info for this solidus of Leo I (search term leo solidus RIC X 605) and was shocked to see the last two sales from Roma Numismatics with 37 Leo solidii, Auction 39 with 13 coins (all with no reserve) and E-Auction 118 with a whopping 24 coins. Looking further back, they sold 184 of them since December 2020!  When it rains (gold), it pours.  I've never purchased from them, or even looked at their catalogs, so I don't know how out-of-ordinary this is for them. I will say this: there are a lot of broken noses here. Check out lot 2040! 🫢
image.png.43d3a1b5a0ace6f9ee27c362b5130aa1.png

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Yes, I had noticed the same phenomenon.

I'm happy with my purchases.  As a budget collector, I don't usually purchase coins above $350.  They were a bit dinged up, but both were preferable to my budget nummi placeholders.

The coins might have an interesting story to tell.  I wonder if they were payments to barbarian mercenaries or tribes?

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