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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ Constantinian Era ▸ Constantine the GreatView Options:  |  |  |   

Constantine the Great, early 307 - 22 May 337 A.D.

Flavius Valerius Constantinus, Constantine the Great, was the son of Helena and the First Tetrarchic ruler Constantius I. Constantine is most famous for his conversion to Christianity after the battle of the Milvian Bridge where he defeated emperor Maxentius. Before the battle he saw the words "In Hoc Signo Victor Eris" (By this sign you shall conquer) emblazoned on the sun around the Chi Rho, the symbol of Christianity. After placing this Christogram on the shields of his army, he defeated his opponent and thus ruled the empire through divine providence. He also shifted the capital of the empire to Constantinople, establishing the foundation for an Empire that would last another 1000 years. He died in 337 and his sons divided the Roman territories.


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Sear notes the VI following the officina letter may be a mark of value indicating six scrupula.
RL76361. Billon centenionalis, RIC VII Thessalonica 88 (R4), SRCV IV 16201, Cohen 119 (5 fr.), VF, nice green patina, well centered, some porosity, light cleaning marks, weight 2.342 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 180o, 3rd officina, Thessalonica (Salonika, Greece) mint, c. 320 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse D N CONSTANTINI AVG, VOT XX, TSΓVI in exergue, no wreath; very rare; $200.00 (€176.00)
 


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On 19 Jun 325, the First Council of Nicaea opened in the presence of the emperor, but it is uncertain who presided over the sessions. In the extant lists of bishops present, Ossius of Cordova, and the presbyters Vitus and Vincentius are listed before the other names, but it is more likely that Eustathius of Antioch or Alexander of Alexandria presided. (see Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner S.J.)
RL90400. Billon centenionalis, RIC VII Antioch 52 (R4), LRBC I 1334, SRCV IV 16200, Cohen VII 110, VF, sharp detail, well centered, porous, light corrosion, weight 2.231 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 135o, 3rd officina, Antioch mint, 324 - 325 A.D.; obverse laureate head right, no legend; reverse CONSTAN/TINVS / AVG in three lines, wreath above, SMANTΓ over pellet below; rare; $180.00 (€158.40)
 


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In 318, Constantine was given the title Brittanicus Maximus for victories in Britain. The details of the battles are unknown.
RL71415. Billon follis, RIC VII 164, SRCV IV 16083, Cohen VII 536, Nice VF, attractive green patina with red earthen highlighting, weight 3.616 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 315o, 1st officina, Arelatum (Arles, France) mint, 318 A.D.; obverse IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse SOLI INVICTO COMITI, Sol standing half left, radiate, nude but for cloak over shoulders, raising right hand commanding the sun to rise, globe in left hand, P star in crescent in exergue; scarce; $175.00 (€154.00)
 


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Sol Invictus ("Unconquered Sun") was the sun god of the later Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers. In 274 the Roman emperor Aurelian made it an official cult alongside the traditional Roman cults. The god was favored by emperors after Aurelian and appeared on their coins until Constantine. The last inscription referring to Sol Invictus dates to 387 and there were enough devotees in the 5th century that Augustine found it necessary to preach against them. It is commonly claimed that the date of 25 December for Christmas was selected in order to correspond with the Roman festival of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, or "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun."
SH71416. Billon follis, RIC VII Lugdunum 35 (R4), SRCV IV 16069, Cohen VII -, VF, nice armored bust left, sea green patina, light scratches, weight 3.142 g, maximum diameter 21.2 mm, die axis 0o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 314 - 316 A.D.; obverse IMP CONSTANTINVS AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust left; reverse SOLI INVICTO COMITI, Sol standing half left, radiate, nude but for chlamys over shoulders and left arm, raising right hand commanding the sun to rise, globe in left hand, TF left, star right, PLG in exergue; very rare; $175.00 (€154.00)
 


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In 321, Constantine I assigned convicts to grind Rome's flour in a move to hold back the rising price of food in an empire whose population had shrunk as a result of plague.
RL76394. Billon centenionalis, RIC VII London 185 (R2), SRCV IV 16315, Cohen VII 690, Choice EF, attractive style, excellent strike, some silvering, weight 2.941 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 195o, 1st officina, Londinium (London, England) mint, 320 - 321 A.D.; obverse CONSTA-NTINVS AVG, helmeted and cuirassed bust right; reverse VIRTVS EXERCIT, vexillum inscribed VOT / XX in two lines, two captives seated at base facing outward, the one on the left with hand to face in attitude of mourning, the one on the right with hands bound behind and turned looking back left, PLON in exergue; from the Scott Collection; $165.00 (€145.20)
 


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This variety appears to be much rarer than RIC VIII's R2 rating indicates. RIC references LRBC and an example from the Chorleywood Hoard found in Hertfordshire, England in 1977. We found only one other example online - in the Forum Members' Gallery.
RL70557. Billon reduced centenionalis, RIC VIII Arles 41 (R2), LRBC 41, Voetter -, Milchev Constantine -, aF, scratches, weight 1.269 g, maximum diameter 14.7 mm, die axis 180o, Arelatum (Arles, France) mint, posthumous, 9 Sep 337 - May 340 A.D.; obverse DIVO CONSTANTINO P, veiled and draped bust right; reverse AETERNA PIETAS, Constantine standing right, in military dress, inverted spear behind in left, globe in right hand, X left, [PCON or SCON] in exergue (off flan); very rare; $150.00 (€132.00)
 


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In 326, Constantine reorganized the Roman army into smaller units classified into three grades: palatini, (imperial escort armies); comitatenses, (forces based in frontier provinces) and limitanei (auxilia border troops).
RL76326. Billon centenionalis, RIC VII Arles 291, LRBC I 292, SRCV IV 16307, Hunter V -, Choice EF, near perfect centering and strike, light contact marks, areas of slight porosity, weight 3.643 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 180o, 1st officina, Arelatum (Arles, France) mint, 325 - 326 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse VIRTVS AVGG, campgate with four turrets, open gates, star above, PA crescent RL in exergue; $150.00 (€132.00) ON RESERVE


City of Rome Commemorative, 330 - 333 A.D.

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On 11 May 330, Constantine I refounded Byzantium, renamed it Constantinopolis after himself, and moved the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to his new city. The new capital was Christian, old gods and traditions were either replaced or assimilated into a framework of Christian symbolism. Constantine built the new Church of the Holy Apostles on the site of a temple to Aphrodite. Generations later there was the story that a divine vision led Constantine to this spot. The capital would often be compared to the 'old' Rome as Nova Roma Constantinopolitana, the "New Rome of Constantinople." Special commemorative coins were issued with types for both Rome and Constantinople to advertise the importance of the new capital.
RL76974. Billon reduced centenionalis, RIC VII Heraclea 129 (R4), LRBC I 902, SRCV IV 16517, Cohen VII 17, EF, a few scratches on reverse, weight 2.461 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, 5th officina, Heraclea (Marmara Ereglisi, Turkey) mint, 330 - 333 A.D.; obverse VRBS ROMA, helmeted bust of Roma left wearing imperial mantle; reverse Romulus and Remus suckling from wolf, two stars and three pellets above, SMHE in exergue; scarce; $150.00 (€132.00) ON RESERVE


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Sol Invictus ("Unconquered Sun") was the sun god of the later Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers. In 274 the Roman emperor Aurelian made it an official cult alongside the traditional Roman cults. The god was favored by emperors after Aurelian and appeared on their coins until Constantine. The last inscription referring to Sol Invictus dates to 387 and there were enough devotees in the 5th century that Augustine found it necessary to preach against them. It is commonly claimed that the date of 25 December for Christmas was selected in order to correspond with the Roman festival of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, or "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun."
RL77001. Billon follis, RIC VII Trier 105, SRCV IV 16063, Cohen VII 525, Choice EF, superb style, excellent centering and strike, nice green patina, weight 3.287 g, maximum diameter 20.25 mm, die axis 0o, 2nd officina, Treveri (Trier, Germany) mint, 316 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINVS P F AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right; reverse SOLI INVICTO COMITI, Sol standing left, nude but for chlamys over left shoulder and arm, raising right hand commanding the sun to rise, globe in extended left, T- F across fields, BTR in exergue; $150.00 (€132.00)
 


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This coin was struck in 314 AD. Anno Domini (AD) year numbering was developed by a monk named Dionysius Exiguus in Rome in 525. In Roman times, the dominant method of identifying Roman years was to name the two consuls who held office that year. The regnal year of the emperor was also used to identify years. The year 314 AD was known as the Year of the Consulship of Rufius and Annianus. Imagine how difficult it would be to use the Roman system. If someone was born in Kennedy year 2, could you determine how old they are now by adding up the number of years each president served since then? Most Romans did not know their own age.
RL71418. Billon follis, RIC VII Rome 19, SRCV IV 16096, Cohen VII 536, Choice gVF, attractive style, weight 2.679 g, maximum diameter 20.2 mm, die axis 315o, 1st officina, Rome mint, 314 A.D.; obverse IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right; reverse SOLI INVICTO COMITI, Sol standing slightly left, radiate, nude but for chlamys over shoulders and left arm, raising right hand commanding the sun to rise, globe in left hand, R - F flanking at sides, R*P in exergue; $145.00 (€127.60)
 




  



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OBVERSE LEGENDS

AVGVSTVS
CONSTANTINVSAG
CONSTANTINVSAVG
CONSTANTINVSFILAVGG
CONSTANTINVSMAXAVG
CONSTANTINVSMAXPFAVG
CONSTANTINVSNC
CONSTANTINVSNOBC
CONSTANTINVSNOBCAES
CONSTANTINVSPFAVG
DVCONSTANTINVSPTAVGG
FLVALCONSTANTINVSFILAVG
FLVALCONSTANTINVSNC
FLVALCONSTANTINVSNOBC
FLVALCONSTANTINVSNOBCAES
IMPCONSTANTINVSAVG
IMPCONSTANTINVSPFAVG
IMPCONSTNTINVSMAXAVG


REFERENCES

Bastien, P. Le Monnayage de l'Atelier de Lyon, De la Réforme Monétaire de Dioclétien à la fermeture temporaire de l'Atelier en 316 (294 - 316). Numismatique Romaine XI. (Wetteren, 1980).
Bastien, P. Le monnayage de l'atelier de Lyon. De la réouverture de l'atelier en 318 à la mort de Constantin (318 - 337). Numismatique Romaine XIII. (Wetteren, 1982).
Bruun, P.M. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol VII, Constantine and Licinius A.D. 313 - 337. (London, 1966).
Carson, R., P. Hill & J. Kent. Late Roman Bronze Coinage. (London, 1960).
Carson, R., H. Sutherland & J. Kent. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol VIII, The Family of Constantine I, A.D. 337 - 364. (London, 1981).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 7: Carausius to Constantine & sons. (Paris, 1888).
Depeyrot, G. Les monnaies d'or de Dioclétien a Constantin I (284 - 337). (Wetteren, 1995).
Failmezger, V. Roman Bronze Coins From Paganism to Christianity, 294 - 364 A.D. (Washington D.C., 2002).
Milchev, S. The Coins of Constantine the Great. (Sophia, 2007).
Paolucci, R. & A. Zub. La monetazione di Aquileia Romana. (Padova, 2000).
Sear, D.R. Roman Coins and Their Values, Volume IV: The Tetrarchies and the Rise of the House of Constantine: The Collapse of Paganism and the Triumph of Christianity, Diocletian To Constantine I, AD 284 - 337. (London, 211).
Speck, R.S. & S.M. Huston. Constantine's Dafne Coinage at Constantinople. (San Francisco, 1992).
Voetter, O. Die Miinzen der romischen Kaiser, Kaiserinnen und Caesaren von Diocletianus bis Romulus: Katalog der Sammlung Paul Gerin. (Vienna, 1921).

Catalog current as of Saturday, February 06, 2016.
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Roman Coins of Constantine the Great