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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ Constantinian Era ▸ ConstansView Options:  |  |  |   

Constans, 9 September 337 - 19 January 350 A.D.

Constans was the youngest son of Constantine I and Fausta. Born around 320, Constans inherited part of the Western Empire upon its division among the sons of Constantine. In 340, his brother, Constantine II, invaded his territory but was defeated and killed leaving Constans in total control of the West. In 350, however, the general Magnentius rebelled and Constans fled as his legions switched sides. He was overtaken and killed while trying to escape to Spain.


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Constans began his reign in an energetic fashion. In 341 - 342, he led a successful campaign against the Franks, and in the early months of 343 he visited Britain. The source for this visit, Julius Firmicus Maternus, does not provide a reason, but the quick movement and the danger involved in crossing the channel in the dangerous winter months suggests it was in response to a military emergency, possibly to repel the Picts and Scots.
RS28057. Silver siliqua, RIC VIII Trier 164 (R), RSC 161a, SRCV V 18504, Choice about Mint State, weight 3.603 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, die axis 180o, Treveri (Trier, Germany) mint, 1st group, 342 - 343 A.D.; obverse FL IVL CONS-TANS P F AVG, rosette diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse VICTORIAE D N AVG (victories of our lord emperor), two Victories standing facing each other, holding wreath inscribed VOT / V / MVLT / X, TR in exergue; rare; SOLD


Constans, 9 September 337 - 19 January 350 A.D.

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"OB" means "on account of," is an abbreviation for the word obryzum, which means refined or pure gold, and is the Greek numeral 72. Thus the legend may be read, "on account of our celebration of our triumph" or it may use the multiple meanings and read "1/72 pound pure gold for the celebration of our triumph." The Romans found the use of double meanings clever. We believe the choice of this legend was intended to be clever.
SH08818. Gold solidus, RIC VIII Siscia 114, Cohen -, Choice EF, weight 4.46 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 180o, Siscia (Sisak, Croatia) mint, 342 A.D.; obverse FL IVL CONS-TANS P F AVG, laurel and rosette diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse OB VICTORIAN TRIVMPHALEM, two Victories standing facing center, holding between them a wreath inscribed VOT X MVL XX, SIS* in exergue; beautifully centered and struck with no sign of circulation or wear, would be MS except for digger's mark across lower reverse; very rare (R3); SOLD


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"OB" means "on account of," is an abbreviation for obryzum (refined or pure gold), and is the Greek numeral 72. Thus the reverse legend may read, "on account of our celebration of our triumph" or, using the multiple meanings, "1/72 pound pure gold for the celebration of our triumph." The Romans were amused by double entendres and puns. The double meanings were almost certainly a clever intention.
SH43072. Gold solidus, RIC VIII Siscia 115, Cohen -, VF, weight 4.431 g, maximum diameter 20.2 mm, die axis 180o, Siscia (Sisak, Croatia) mint, 342 A.D.; obverse FL IVL CONS-TANS P F AVG, laurel and rosette diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse OB VICTORIAM TRIVMPHALEM, two Victories standing facing center, holding between them a wreath inscribed VOT X MVL XX, SIS* in exergue; well centered; rare (R2); SOLD


City and People of Rome, 1100th Year Anniversary Commemorative, 348 A.D.

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Suetonius reports that from the roof of the Basilica Julia "Caligula threw coins among the people." Many other emperors made similar donatives to the people. This very rare type is almost always very well centered and struck. Unusual quality control at the mint ensured a medallic appearance because it was minted for an imperial distribution during celebrations commemorating the 1100th anniversary of Rome's foundation. The rarity of this type suggest that all of the coins, including this coin, may have been thrown to the crowd by the emperor Constans himself.
RL87768. Bronze medallic nummus, RIC VIII 104 (R4), Vagi 3049, LRBC II 611, Hunter V -, VF, excellent full circles strike, green patina, porosity/light corrosion, edge crack, weight 1.978 g, maximum diameter 17.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, struck under Constans, 348 A.D.; obverse ROMA, helmeted and draped bust of Roma right; reverse Virtus standing facing in military attire, head right, spear vertical in right hand, resting left hand on grounded oval shield, P - R (Populi Romania - people of Rome) cross field; very rare; SOLD


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The reverse legend translates, "Happy Times Restored." Happy times would not last for Constans. This coinage was among his last issues before his general Magnentius rebelled and had him killed.
RL90437. Billon heavy maiorina, RIC VIII Siscia 244, LRBC II 1136, Voetter 31, SRCV V 18730, Cohen VII 10, Choice gVF, light encrustations, weight 4.945 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 45o, 2nd officina, Aquileia mint, 348 - 350 A.D.; obverse D N CONSTA-NS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse FEL TEMP REPARATIO (happy times restored), Constans standing left in Galley left, labarum in left hand, Phoenix on globe in right hand, Victory steering at stern, AQS• in exergue; SOLD


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The reverse legend translates, "Happy Times Restored." Happy times would not last for Constans. This coinage was among his last issues before his general Magnentius rebelled and had him killed.
RL90440. Billon heavy maiorina, RIC VIII Siscia 252, LRBC II 1151, Voetter 47, SRCV V 18673, Cohen VII 13, Choice VF, weight 4.795 g, maximum diameter 23.4 mm, die axis 225o, 5th officina, Siscia (Sisak, Croatia) mint, 349 - 350 A.D.; obverse D N CONSTA-NS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse FEL TEMP REPARATIO (happy times restored), Constans standing left in galley left, Victory with wreath and palm on globe in right hand, labarum in left hand, Victory seated in stern steering, A left, •ESIS• in exergue; SOLD


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The Roman poet Ovid tells the story of the Phoenix: 'Most beings spring from other individuals; but there is a certain kind which reproduces itself. The Assyrians call it the Phoenix. It does not live on fruit or flowers, but on frankincense and odoriferous gums. When it has lived five hundred years, it builds itself a nest in the branches of an oak, or on the top of a palm tree. In this it collects cinnamon and spikenard, and myrrh, and of these materials builds a pile on which it deposits itself, and dying, breathes out its last breath amidst odors. From the body of the parent bird, a young Phoenix issues forth, destined to live as long a life as its predecessor. When this has grown up and gained sufficient strength, it lifts its nest from the tree (its own cradle and its parent's sepulcher), and carries it to the city of Heliopolis in Egypt, and deposits it in the temple of the Sun.'
RL71446. Billon quarter maiorina, RIC VIII Cyzicus 88 (R), LRBC II 2482, SRCV V 18721, Cohen VII 22, Voetter -, Hunter V -, Choice VF, weight 3.113 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 225o, 3rd officina, Cyzicus (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, 348 - 350 A.D.; obverse D N CONSTA-NS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse FEL TEMP REPARATIO (happy times restored), radiate Phoenix standing right on celestial globe, star right, SMKΓ in exergue; rare; SOLD


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In the final years of his reign, Constans developed a reputation for cruelty and misrule. Dominated by favorites and openly preferring his select bodyguard, he lost the support of the legions. In 350, the general Magnentius declared himself emperor at Augustodunum with the support of the troops on the Rhine frontier and, later, the western provinces of the Empire. Constans was enjoying himself nearby when he was notified of the elevation of Magnentius. Lacking any support beyond his immediate household, he was forced to flee for his life. As he was trying to reach Hispania, supporters of Magnentius cornered him in a fortification in Helena (now Elne) in the eastern Pyrenees of southwestern Gaul, where he was killed after seeking sanctuary in a temple. A prophecy at his birth had said Constans would die in the arms of his grandmother. His place of death happens to have been named after Helena, mother of Constantine and his own grandmother, thus realizing the prophecy.
RL40880. Billon heavy maiorina, RIC VIII Alexandria 65 (S), SRCV V 18706, Cohen VII 14, LRBC II -, Voetter -, Choice EF, weight 4.800 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 0o, 2nd officina, Alexandria mint, 348 - 350 A.D.; obverse D N CONSTANTIVS P F AVG, laurel and rosette-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust left, globe in right; reverse emperor standing left, in military dress, standard in right, left resting on shield, two bound captives wearing Parthian caps seated before him with heads turned towards one another, star left, ALEB in exergue; rare; SOLD


Constans, 9 September337 - 18 January 350 A.D., Barbaric Imitative

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From the Aiello Collection.
RL04489. Billon reduced centenionalis, Unpublished, gem uncirculated, weight 1.63 g, maximum diameter 14.5 mm, die axis 180o, 1st officina, Treveri (Trier, Germany) mint, 337 - c. 340 A.D.; obverse CONSTANS P F AVG, rosette-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust left; reverse GLORIA EXERCITVS (glory of the army), two soldiers standing facing, flanking a standard in center, heads confronted, each holds a spear in outer hand and rests inner hand on grounded shield, TRP in exergue; extraordinary counterfeiter's style; no left facing busts are recorded at Trier for the period; SOLD


Constantinopolis Commemorative, c. 348 A.D.

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RL08473. Billon reduced centenionalis, RIC VIII Rome 106 (R4), VF, weight 2.78 g, maximum diameter 16.0 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Rome mint, c. 348 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINOPOLIS, pearl diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse P - R, Pax standing front, head left holding olive branch in right and long transverse scepter in left; very rare; SOLD




  




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OBVERSE LEGENDS

CONSTANSAVG
CONSTANSAVGVSTVS
CONSTANSCAESAR
CONSTANSPFAVG
DNCONSTANSPFAVG
FLCONSTANSNOBCAES
FLCONSTANTISBEAC
FLIVLCONSTANSAVG
FLIVLCONSTANSNOBC
FLIVLCONSTANSNOBCAES
FLIVLCONSTANSPERPAVG
FLIVLCONSTANSPFAVG
FLIVLCONSTANSPIVSFELIXAVG


REFERENCES

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. 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 Constantin II à Zenon (337-491). Moneta 5. (Wetteren, 1996).
Failmezger, V. Roman Bronze Coins From Paganism to Christianity, 294 - 364 A.D. (Washington D.C., 2002).
King, C. & D. Sear. Roman Silver Coins, Volume V, Carausius to Romulus Augustus. (London, 1987).
Milchev, S. The Coins of Constantine the Great. (Sophia, 2007).
Paolucci, R. & A. Zub. La monetazione di Aquileia Romana. (Padova, 2000).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. V. Diocletian (Reform) to Zeno. (Oxford, 1982).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. 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, 2011).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. V: The Christian Empire: The Later Constantinian Dynasty and the Houses of Valentinian and Theodosius and Their Successors, Constantine II to Zeno, AD 337 - 491. (London, 2014).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).
Voetter, O. Die Münzen der romischen Kaiser, Kaiserinnen und Caesaren von Diocletianus bis Romulus: Katalog der Sammlung Paul Gerin. (Vienna, 1921).

Catalog current as of Tuesday, January 22, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Constans