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Valentinian III on a copper Eastern coinage


seth77
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Last month a known German auctioneer and dealer offered a few of these Valentinian III AE4 'cross types' -- assumingly all from Cyzicus. This was arguably the best of them, checking both enough legend to make the attribution to Valentinian certain and enough of the exergue to assign it to the mint where it was struck.

s-l1600.jpg.99937363ef17cd0b01b99c583f985623.jpg

AE4 12mm 1.12g minimus, minted probably in Cyzicus, ca. 425-35.
DN VALENTINIANO PF AVG; diademed draped cuirassed bust r.
anepigraphic; cross inside wreath
SM[K..] in exergue
RIC X 452, R

 

The type is well-known for Theodosius II and it was struck extensively in the East (with notable appearances in North Africa also) from the 420s. Once Valentinian III was instated as Augustus in the West with the blessing of his cousin Theodosius and with the practical help of the Eastern warlords and the patricius and magister officiorum Helion, who worked closely with Theodosius, two Eastern mints -- Constantinople and Cyzicus started minting in the name of Valentinian too. The coinage in his name is rather scarce, so this one was probably a short-lived issue, likely centered around the elevation of Valentinian as Augustus in late October 425.

For Theodosius the type is usually dated 425-35 in RIC. DO has an earlier dating for Theodosius, to before 420, which would imply that the coinage for Valentinian III of the same type was not struck simultaneously with that for his cousin, rather unlikely considering the very coherent nature of this series. A likely later similar issue for Valentinian III was struck at Rome (so under the direct control of Valentinian) probably in the 440s, but that is completely different style-wise and was likely a case of a 'crude imitation' coinage.

On this specimen the mintmark is not complete, but with SM... the only mint can be Cyzicus. Taking in consideration the period of the year in which Valentinian was elevated as Augustus by Helion and the fact that 425 was probably when the type started in the East, plus the scarcity of the Valentinian issues, this coinage was probably restricted to around the end of 425 to 426. Moreover, once Valentinian was instated, the Eastern influence retreated back to Constantinople and Valentinian was left with the regency of his mother Galla Placidia and the power struggle between the Western warlords Felix, Aetius and Bonifatius. So very likely, after marking the notable feat of having his cousin on the throne in the West, Theodosius II soon discontinued the AE coinage in his name.

There are very few coinages acknowledging the Western emperors past 420. One of them is the Cherson maiorinae series for Theodosius II and Valentinian III, another one is this small-scale minting of AE4s.

Edited by seth77
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  • seth77 changed the title to Valentinian III on a copper Eastern coinage

Nice coin.

 

Here is my Valentinian III from Kyzikos

Valentinianus_III_R124.jpg.5e8b526b9eea32ef80eb6bbe7a4f751b.jpg

Valentinianus III
Æ-Nummus, Kyzikos
Obv: DN VALENTINIANO P F AVG, Bust of Valentinian, draped, cuirrased, right-
Rev: Victory advancing forward, holding wreath in both hands. SMKA
RIC X (theososius II), p. 274, 438, R3

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Great score!  I certainly haven't seen these very often, if at all.  I did have one of the Victory types like @shanxi, but sold it:

spacer.png

For cross-type nummi I only have a slightly earlier issue, with legend, for Theodosius II.  I think this is the first type issued with a simple cross as its design; the date I have in my notes is 402-408, while tiny Theo was still junior Augustus under his father Arcadius:

image.jpeg.bc130f4d6542edda0b6ac495e8791f68.jpeg

I'm not sure which mint its from, Nicomedia, Heraclea, or Cyzicus.

I do have one of the other Eastern mint coins for Valentinian III, though, the Cherson maiorina:

image.jpeg.1c8e711f4c1513fbd25da012562a06c8.jpeg

I really need to give it a Verdicare treatment, it will look a lot better I think!  Some weakness in areas on this coin, but I like that it's not tooled.  For some reason the metal detectorists finding these things seem to have an overwhelming urge to tool them.

 

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From my experience there are a whole lot of little Valentinian III ae coins out there. Problem is that they are poorly struck or very worn or struck a lot off-center. In any case finding nicer and identifiable Val III types is tough to do. Here's a few of mine:

1. Obv: D N VALENTINIANO P F AVG; Cuirassed bust right

   Rev: Cross within wreath; SMKA in exergue

1625301768_ValIIICrossBB.jpg.a4a7af314493a4251a82fde2438d4e3b.jpg

2. Obv: D N VALEN AVG; Cuirassed bust right

    Rev: CAS - TRA; Camp-Gate, star above

689980049_ValIIICampGateCASBB.jpg.f1629ad5c76ee7e5214c59dcb152be73.jpg

3. Obv: D N VALENTINIANO AVG (or similar); Cuirassed bust right

    Rev: VICTORIA AVGG; Two Victories standing facing and jointly holding a wreath, P above; RM in exergue

1306654555_ValIIITwoVictoriesBB1.jpg.cd2797b2fda1bcfbc341ee9e72c5f16b.jpg

 

Edited by O-Towner
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19 hours ago, O-Towner said:

From my experience there are a whole lot of little Valentinian III ae coins out there. Problem is that they are poorly struck or very worn or struck a lot off-center. In any case finding nicer and identifiable Val III types is tough to do.

This exactly. I've got bags and bags and bags of VLRBCs (very LRBC) that I was never able to fully ID. Val III? Johannes? Avitus (if they even exist!)? Majorian? I'm sure there are some of each in the hundreds I pulled from group lots over the years and decades, but I'll probably never know (until photo die matching technology improves). Deciding between Johannes and Val III is especially tough. 

Here are two I have photos. First one has the name, I'm assuming Val III not II. Second one is more typical, could maybe be Johannes or someone else. 

spacer.png

 

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EDIT: Couple more (the next two probably Johannes not Val III, possibly the one just above ^ too):

image.jpeg.96f4d7fdfbfc52ed1143edd5a50faa26.jpeg

 

image.jpeg.876b740b76a451b721e66a5df7db39f5.jpegimage.jpeg.bbc3260bdd8a7e08308d23dbf28289cd.jpeg

 

I love AE4s -- but they got pretty weird at the end!!

Edited by Curtis JJ
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There are certainly a lot of Val III unidentified because of faulty striking, corrosion, circulation etc, things that make the obverse legend impossible to read. But unless you consider all of the coins of this 'cross in wreath' type that are illegible to be initially minted for Val III (an unreasonable hypothesis at the very least) then it's still a great disparity between the output for Theo II and Val III in Theo's favor (no surprise here). And that disparity accounts for a reduced output for Val III at Constantinople and Cyzicus, likely due to a short(er) minting period.

The coins posted by @O-Towner (apart from the cross in wreath from Cyzicus) and @Curtis JJ on the other hand are Western types (assuming that the first one shown by Curtis is actually a Val III rather than a late 380s Val II SALVS REIPVBLICAE, hard to be sure from the photo), so their scarcity and/or quality does not depend on decisions by a third party, in this case the AE4 policy of the Eastern Empire. That being said, the West minted less even as early as Honorius, which is obvious in the material preserved today because one can always find more and better-preserved specimens from the reign of Honorius from the Eastern mints rather than the Western ones. In fact this is what prompted the Western communities from Hispania to northern Gaul to strike their own petty currency in the form of, for instance, the 'Spanish maiorinae' of ca. 400 and after.

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2 minutes ago, seth77 said:

unless you consider all of the coins of this 'cross in wreath' type that are illegible to be initially minted for Val III (an unreasonable hypothesis at the very least) then it's still a great disparity between the output for Theo II and Val III in Theo's favor (no surprise here)

I'm sure that's true. I've got bunches of the cross coins but I don't think I've ever had one I thought was Valentinian III (yours is fantastic for the type, BTW, very impressive for a tiny). I agree about the one I showed being Val II vs. Val III -- hard to tell, must be 20 years since I labeled it, but I think it was based on the style of the reverse (flan size is a bit larger than usual, though).

Here's another I put down as probably Val III (?). Given the distinct characters of the partial legends (and the distinctive Victory), I could probably narrow this one down further:

image.jpeg.ec5d32bde3228be9b2b16fb520b7b1d5.jpeg

 

Here are a few of my crosses that I happened to have photographed (all mine are probably all Theo's and Vandal, I think). (I have another group photo of 20 or 25 others that I can't find presently...). Like most of my AE4s, they're group lot rescues, some downright awful. Some I've sold years ago:

image.jpeg.c6d135f70300983a2cd995098bb2f6ec.jpeg

image.jpeg.94c4390c803a573e82e8690b08e8cae3.jpeg

 

image.jpeg.03d0b3e149fc073d09bd5dd626f4fd8e.jpeg

944083213_crosscoins6arev.jpg.bb616f0ddbe005c58b0de37004fc2794.jpg671500513_lateromancrosscoins9arev.jpg.bf949fc51d282633b434df99f9959772.jpg

 

Sorry for all the group shots... There was a nicer Theo in this one, can't find it's solo shot:

image.jpeg.bb853b6bc6545f08c896f0cbc3e9ac9a.jpeg

 

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13 minutes ago, Curtis JJ said:

I'm sure that's true. I've got bunches of the cross coins but I don't think I've ever had one I thought was Valentinian III (yours is fantastic for the type, BTW, very impressive for a tiny). I agree about the one I showed being Val II vs. Val III -- hard to tell, must be 20 years since I labeled it, but I think it was based on the style of the reverse (flan size is a bit larger than usual, though).

Here's another I put down as probably Val III (?). Given the distinct characters of the partial legends (and the distinctive Victory), I could probably narrow this one down further:

image.jpeg.ec5d32bde3228be9b2b16fb520b7b1d5.jpeg

 

 

This is what dealers often advertise as Avitus.

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By the way, for anyone interested, the AugustusCoins.com/ed/ pages on very late Roman AEs seem to have been updated recently. (I hadn't checked in a long time, but I'm glad I did just now.)

Here's the very useful Valentinian III page: http://augustuscoins.com/ed/ricix/ValentinianIII.html

The starting page for all three late rulers:

Esty's Guide to Late Roman AE Coin Types, AD 364-450

Edited by Curtis JJ
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On 8/6/2022 at 7:10 PM, O-Towner said:

In any case finding nicer and identifiable Val III types is tough to do. Here's a few of mine:

That's a great trio of positively-identified Valentinian III's! Amazing how much better the style at Cyzicus was compared to the weird little misshapen ones from Rome mint, etc.

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Very nice!

I don't enjoy the iconography nearly as much as the earlier empire, but the handful of incredible rarities hiding in the AE4s have always captivated me.

I don't own any Val III cross types (that I know of) but at one point I kept any cross AE4 that I came across - it's just a really neat type!

My favorite is a Theodosius II from Antioch

2099394177_TheodosiusiicrosswreathANTD.jpg.bc3b44c362c48c33164ea4586997d4c8.jpg

The type was also imitated by the Vandal king Hilderic

This one ends in -REX making the attribution unambiguous

584900893_VandalsHildericRexnummuscross.jpg.d1f914a2d4b6313dbd96a8960504bc08.jpg

There's a little uncertainty with this one, but the wreath style is Vandal

741594973_VandalsHildericnummuscross.jpg.a8fe1b23134588feec7d3be8a7f6ed84.jpg

(It's worth noting that Hilderic's mother was Eudocia, daughter of Valentinian III and granddaughter of Theodosius II, hence why he felt compelled to issue a type that had been out of production for nearly a century!)

Just for fun, I also collect barbarous imitations of the type

280946939_Barbarousae4theodosiusiicrossgiraffeneck.jpg.9ecb62d32939786bf5846282ebfe6fa9.jpg1657763223_Unknownbarbarouscross.jpg.293b4bb1e569fa3184f25d7ec4193a89.jpg

These two opted to replace the cross with a swastika!

535103914_VandalAE4swastikainwreath.jpg.61121f21ae938da0aca2a5d874194b19.jpg1462922652_ZomboDroid22042022120531.jpg.a375ac6b969588346fea1fb5e03b3d23.jpg

For Valentinian III, my "main" coin of his is a tremissis, actually minted by Theodosius II

576126166_Valentinianiiitremissisvictoriaavgvstorvm.jpg.c9dae5fe02f6a93270a09b9ce7784ca1.jpg

Followed by this very scarce AE4 with a dative legend - DN VALENTINIANO, reverse too garbled to read1308198394_ValentinianIIIAE4victorydegenerate.jpg.b3462b8694de8414b5992d6cc2174d59.jpg

Back in my LRB lot hunting days, I always saved ambiguous types that I struggled to identify, "just in case". Most of them were of course Honorius, but I got lucky on a couple

DN PL- cinches this one

80501101_ZomboDroid08072021122209.jpg.18d39cb6c137e4b12317549f370a5d88.jpg

As does the RM mintmark on this one

585383919_ZomboDroid08072021142617.jpg.1fbcf5cf996d15cc46056ddc2df52cee.jpg

These aren't 100% identifiable IMO but Val III is a top contender

720915651_ZomboDroid08072021142701.jpg.01a474a98d3e88e9daefe8927e1a6fdc.jpg771045625_ZomboDroid08072021122122.jpg.6cb5473622b93007d05ee687ba9117c3.jpg

 

And, since it was brought up, "Avitus" (also bought in a large lot, so not like I paid big bucks)

1173354639_AE4VICTORIAAVGGGValentinianiii.jpg.213d4fec0f18abe565d9535f207356be.jpg

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47 minutes ago, Finn235 said:

Back in my LRB lot hunting days, I always saved ambiguous types that I struggled to identify, "just in case"

That's a great batch of VRLBCs! Sounds like how I assembled my stash. Love the  DN VALENTINIANO (or is it -NANO?)!

I think the concern with the Avitus types is that very few or none (depending how you judge the RIC 2412 specimen) show the left side of the legend. Personally, I'm agnostic on this particular issue, but I'd like to find new information to help decide. If there were more photographs of examples of AE4s showing a legible "AVIT," I'm sure it would help me understand, I just have never been able to find them.

The RIC X 2412 plate coin, which was sold by Lanz in 2000, and discussed skeptically in Suarez's  "The Avitus AE Problem"  (see also the 2014 discussion on CT), is the only clear example I've seen. But I think the theory is that Kent et al. were a bit too credulous in accepting the few examples, and they may have been misidentifications or tooled examples from others. 

I recall when having the "SP..G" or possibly "VSP..G" on the right of the legend break was considered diagnostic of an Avitus, but I think opinions have changed (at least among some). There was another example posted by @mc9 in the AE4s thread; one of my "VSP..G" (maybe) examples is above in this thread.

Most of those examples, as Ras suggested in his 2014 blog, do strike me as possibly being small Honorius types (or, for some, conceivably Val III with abbreviated/jumbled legends, or imitative / pseudo-imperial). I think there will be stronger answers based on improvements in photography and die matching technology. I can't find any progress in the conversation since I was trying to search for these myself, years back, but that doesn't mean I didn't miss it.

 

Edited by Curtis JJ
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Just thought I'd add a Galla Placidia into the thread, given all the other similar coins posted:

image.jpeg.e3cf4ce646b08222a3713515dd2d82cc.jpeg

The hairstyle, small chin, and most especially the earring and three cord ties are enough to settle the attribution.  In hand under the magnifier the lettering is a bit clearer too, though nowhere near clear enough to be definitive by itself.

I agree 100% with Rasiel Suarez that the "VS" Victoria AVGG(G) coins are in fact Honorius, Esty type 55 but AE4 module.  I actually own the third Honorius example on that page now, which Warren attributed to Honorius.  I need to check with him why he took that ID to be certain. Here's a much better photo:

image.jpeg.b889c2817d70ad51cab3e6dd4677d282.jpeg

The second officina mark is clear in the left field, but as Ras discusses on his "The Avitus AE problem" page, Val III still used officina marks early on, though... so I'm not sure why this has to be Honorius.  You can see the RM mint mark in the ex.

Here's another I think is Honorius, but I don't have in hand yet!

image.png.362d44901972f6ea60db38c0785d7174.png

There looks to be enough legend on the left there to confirm.  Surely the alleged "Avitus" coins showing just the right hand side of the obverse legend are almost certainly these?

1 hour ago, Finn235 said:

As does the RM mintmark on this one

585383919_ZomboDroid08072021142617.jpg.1fbcf5cf996d15cc46056ddc2df52cee.jpg

@Finn235, if the above is correct, and it's impossible to confirm the positive lack of an officina letter on a coin, I think the RM mintmark doesn't mean it's Val III, it could well be Honorius.  Or am I missing something?  (I'm not as expert in this area as you are!)

Does anyone else have an Esty type 54 from Rome, only for Honorius c. 410-415?  Mine:

image.jpeg.11dec6bbc87efb7588f0ab82f164f617.jpeg

These are the last coins issued there larger than the AE4 nummus.  It was probably called a centenionalis and should officially be AE3 module.  This one's only 14.5mm but it does weigh a hefty 3.28g.  As far as I can tell these are pretty darn rare.

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55 minutes ago, Severus Alexander said:

Does anyone else have an Esty type 54 from Rome, only for Honorius c. 410-415?

Oh, that is very cool. I forgot those existed. I've got a weird little AE4 that seems to have two captives on it (this tiny low quality photo is cut from the ones above). Haven't been able to figure out what exactly it is, but I don't think that's a Chi-rho or other off. mark to the left? (That thing on the left is what I suspect of being the second, kneeling captive.)

It's not an Esty 54. But I don't know what it is (aside from a Victory w/ trophy dragging captive). The style and fabric aren't quite as crude as most of the really late ones, but not too far off. Unfortunately I have it filed away in an envelope somewhere, but I think it's probably about 10 or 11mm, maybe a bit less?

image.png.148cacb7d2d132cfcb54e901f7e9d707.png

I would've thought your Esty type 55 above was a Valentinian III or Johannes just on style (I've got at least one or two pretty close). Similarly, I would wonder if your new Savoca is a Johannes? That "O" would be consistent with that as well as Honorius.

Edited by Curtis JJ
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13 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

Does anyone else have an Esty type 54 from Rome, only for Honorius c. 410-415?

I've got a single, not so great, example but the two captives show nicely.

1562571642_HonoriusGLORIAROMANORVMTwoCaptives.jpg.32c99fd0e5fa2bd8beba55d69cb3c801.jpg

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15 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

 

@Finn235, if the above is correct, and it's impossible to confirm the positive lack of an officina letter on a coin, I think the RM mintmark doesn't mean it's Val III, it could well be Honorius.  Or am I missing something?  (I'm not as expert in this area as you are!)

If I'm not mistaken, the Honorius with the RM mintmark always has a plural reverse legend, i.e. AVGG or AVGGG - the legend on mine ends -VG which I think only leaves Val III and some crazy rare dudes (like Libius Severus) as possibilities - Occam's Razor - it is almost always the more common emperor.

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38 minutes ago, Finn235 said:

If I'm not mistaken, the Honorius with the RM mintmark always has a plural reverse legend, i.e. AVGG or AVGGG - the legend on mine ends -VG which I think only leaves Val III and some crazy rare dudes (like Libius Severus) as possibilities - Occam's Razor - it is almost always the more common emperor.

Ah! Makes sense, thanks! It does look like that one has to end in AVG. 👍

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On 8/7/2022 at 11:36 PM, Severus Alexander said:

Does anyone else have an Esty type 54 from Rome, only for Honorius c. 410-415?  Mine:

I just realized I do have one but only a very old photo. I seem to have long ago misidentified mine as a Barbarous imitation of Gloria Romanorum. I'm sure it's one that I found in a big bag of uncleaned Roman bronze coins c. 2000-2010.

But taking a new look, it definitely appears to be the Honorius type w/ two captives, very similar to @Severus Alexander's. It seems like some of these are engraved in much better style (by late 4th cent. standards) than others:

image.jpeg.d694a399ff88885e92de3a98f514a045.jpeg

Now I just have to dig it up and take a better photo!

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