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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Gods, Non-Olympian| ▸ |Sol||View Options:  |  |  |   

Sol

Sol sometimes called Sol Invictus ("Unconquered Sun") was the solar deity in Ancient Roman religion. Worship of Sol began early but seems to have become more significant from the reign of Aurelian until the abolition of paganism under Theodosius I.


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

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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. The date 25 December was selected for Christmas to replace the popular Roman festival Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun."
RL89581. Billon follis, RIC VI Treveri 893, Hunter V 45, SRCV IV 16125, Cohen VII 514, gVF, well centered, dark green patina, lighter highlights, minor encrustations, weight 4.247 g, maximum diameter 23.9 mm, die axis 180o, Treveri (Trier, Germany) mint, 310 - 313 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINVS P F AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right, from the front; reverse SOLI INVICTO COMITI (to the unconquered Sun, minister [of the Emperor]), Sol radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right seen from behind, no mintmark mark; ex CNG e-auction 233 (26 May 2010), lot 428; $140.00 (123.20)


Gallic Empire, Victorinus, Summer to November 268 - mid 271 A.D.

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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. The date 25 December was selected for Christmas to replace the popular Roman festival Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun."
SL89824. Billon antoninianus, Mairat 582, RIC V-2 114, Schulzki AGK 9b, Cohen VI 49, Elmer 683, Cunetio 2534, SRCV III 11170, NGC MS, strike 5/5, surface 4/5, silvering (3815624-001), weight 2.49 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Treveri (Trier, Germany) mint, issue 3, phase 2, late 269 - mid 271 A.D.; obverse IMP C VICTORINVS P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse INVICTVS, Sol advancing left, radiate, nude but for chlamys over shoulders and left arm, raising right hand commanding the sun to rise, whip in left hand, star left; from the Martineit Collection of Ancient and World Coins; $140.00 (123.20)


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D.

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RS86634. Silver denarius, RIC IV 123, RSC III 448, BMCRE VI 950, Hunter III 68, SRCV II 7916, Choice EF, excellent portrait, attractive Sol, well centered and stuck, attractive toning, some very light marks and scratches, weight 2.377 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 234 A.D.; obverse IMP ALEXANDER PIVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse P M TR P XIII COS III P P, Sol advancing left, radiate, nude but for chlamys over shoulders and left arm and flying behind, raising right hand commanding the sun to rise, whip in left hand; $125.00 (110.00)


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

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David Sear notes, "It is tempting to regard the cross in the reverse field as an early instance of Christian symbolism on the Constantinian Coinage."
RL89937. Billon follis, RIC VII Ticinum 45, SRCV IV 16088, Cohen VII 536, Hunter V -, Choice VF, excellent centering, turquoise-green patina, weight 2.994 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Ticinum (Pavia, Italy) mint, 316 A.D.; obverse IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right; reverse SOLI INVICTO COMITI (to the unconquered Sun, minister [of the Emperor]), 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, cross left, star right, PT in exergue; $120.00 (105.60)


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

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In 316, Constantine I sent his half-brother Julius Constantius to Licinius at Sirmium (Pannonia), with a proposal to make Bassianus caesar with power over Italy. Licinius refused, elevated Valerius Valens to augustus, mobilized an army against Constantine, and executed Bassianus. Constantine I defeated Licinius and Valerius Valens at the Battle of Mardia (near Harmanli, Bulgaria).
RL88036. Billon follis, RIC VII Trier 135, SRCV IV 16063, Cohen VII 525, Hunter V -, Choice gVF, excellent centering, black tone with some coppery high spots, tiny edge cracks, weight 3.271 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 180o, 1st officina, Treveri (Trier, Germany) mint, 317 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINVS P F AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse SOLI INVICTO COMITI (to the unconquered Sun, minister [of the Emperor]), 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 turned outward, T - F divided across fields, ATR in exergue; $90.00 (79.20)


Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D.

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Oriens is Latin for "east." Literally, it means "rising" from orior, "rise." The use of the word for "rising" to refer to the east (where the sun rises) has analogs from many languages: compare the terms "Levant" (French levant "rising"), "Anatolia" (Greek anatole), "mizrahi" in Hebrew (from "zriha" meaning sunrise), "sharq" in Arabic, and others. The Chinese pictograph for east is based on the sun rising behind a tree and "The Land of the Rising Sun" to refers to Japan. Also, many ancient temples, including the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, were built with their main entrances facing the East. To situate them in such a manner was to "orient" them in the proper direction. When something is facing the correct direction, it is said to have the proper "orientation."
RS87916. Silver antoninianus, RIC IV 213, RSC IV 167, Hunter III 167, SRCV III 8626, Choice VF, well centered on a broad flan, light marks, some die wear, small edge cracks, weight 4.077 g, maximum diameter 23.9 mm, die axis 30o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 242 - 244 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse ORIENS AVG (the rising sun of the Emperor), 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; ex Beast Coins; $85.00 (74.80)


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D.

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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. The date 25 December was selected for Christmas to replace the popular Roman festival Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun."
RB73721. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 538d, BMCRE VI 593, Hunter III 154, SRCV II 8004, Cohen IV 449 var. (bust), Choice aVF, nice portrait, well centered, nice green patina with some smoothed red areas on the reverse, light corrosion, weight 21.746 g, maximum diameter 31.7 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 234 A.D.; obverse IMP ALEXANDER PIVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from the front; reverse P M TR P XIII COS III P P, Sol advancing left, radiate, nude but for chlamys over shoulders and left arm, raising right hand commanding the sun to rise, whip in left hand, S - C across field below center; $80.00 (70.40)


Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D.

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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. The date 25 December was selected for Christmas to replace the popular Roman festival Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun."
RA89643. Billon antoninianus, Gbl MIR 1611g, RIC V-1 630, SRCV III 10172, RSC IV 51b var. (bust), Hunter - (p. lxix), Choice gVF, near full silvering, excellent centering, bold legends, weight 3.340 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 260 - 268 A.D.; obverse GALLIENVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right; reverse AETERNITATI AVG, 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, star in left field; ex Beast Coins, ex Dan Hoffman Gallienus Collection; $80.00 (70.40)


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

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In 316, Constantine I sent his half-brother Julius Constantius to Licinius at Sirmium (Pannonia), with a proposal to make Bassianus caesar with power over Italy. Licinius refused, elevated Valerius Valens to augustus, mobilized an army against Constantine, and executed Bassianus. Constantine I defeated Licinius and Valerius Valens at the Battle of Mardia (near Harmanli, Bulgaria).
RL88033. Billon follis, RIC VII Trier 104, SRCV IV 16063, Cohen VII 525, Hunter V -, Choice gVF, full circles centering, nice portrait, some die wear, tiny edge cracks, weight 3.032 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 180o, 2nd officina, Treveri (Trier, Germany) mint, 316 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINVS P F AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse SOLI INVICTO COMITI (to the unconquered Sun, minister [of the Emperor]), 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, T - F divided across fields, BTR in exergue; $70.00 (61.60)


Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D.

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Gallienus was the first Roman emperor to commission primarily cavalry units, the Comitatenses, that could be dispatched anywhere in the Empire in short order. He also forbade senators from becoming military commanders. These policies undermined senatorial power, as equestrian commanders rose to prominence. These reforms and the decline in senatorial influence not only helped Aurelian to salvage the Empire, but they also make Gallienus one of the emperors most responsible for the creation of the Dominate, along with Septimius Severus, Diocletian, and Constantine I.
RA89649. Billon antoninianus, Gbl MIR 577a, RIC V-1 S160, RSC IV 38b, Hunter IV 54, SRCV III -, gVF, near full silvering, broad oval flan, clashed dies, slightly off center, weight 3.684 g, maximum diameter 21.8 mm, die axis 0o, 3rd officina, Rome mint, 260 - 268 A.D.; obverse GALLIENVS AVG, radiate head right; reverse AETERNITAS AVG, Sol standing half-left, raising right commanding the sun to rise, globe in left hand, Γ left; ex Beast Coins, ex Dan Hoffman Gallienus Collection; $60.00 (52.80)




  



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