Byzantine coinage brings $1.5 million

Gold solidus leads Oct. 25 Swiss auction
Published : 11/18/11
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A circa 742 to 743 gold solidus of Artavasdus struck at the Constantinople Mint realized 57,500 Swiss francs (about $65,066 in U.S. funds), leading all bidding in an Oct. 25 auction.

After conspiring to depose the Byzantine emperor Theodosius III and following the death of his successor, Leo III, Artavasdus attacked Leo’s son and successor as Byzantine emperor, Constantinus V, also Artavasdus’ brother-in-law. While Constantinus fled to gain support, Artavasdus triumphantly entered Constantinople in circa 741 or 742 as emperor “to much acclaim,” according to the firm. Constantinus V, however, soon ousted Artavasdus and his sons, all of whom he apprehended and publicly blinded.

The coin depicts Artavasdus and his son Nicephorus, who served as co-emperor with his father during the family’s brief reign.

The coin, which is “one of the finest known,” according to the auction firm, is graded “Virtually as struck,” in Brilliant Uncirculated condition.

The coin was the chief highlight among nearly 600 lots of a special selection of Byzantine gold coinage. The auction, conducted by Sincona Swiss International Coin Auction AG, realized 1,345,500 Swiss francs, (about $1,522,540 U.S.).

The auction, the third ever held by the firm, was among three scheduled across one week by the Swiss firm. Combined, all four sales realized 13,455,000 Swiss francs, or about $15,298,024 in U.S. funds, including a 15 percent buyer’s fee. For results of the other auctions, find additional news coverage at

All the auctions were held in the Hotel Savoy in Zurich, Switzerland.

A total of 520 lots from 591 offered, or 87 percent, were sold.

A 15 percent buyer’s fee applied to all successful lots, with an additional applicable fee varying depending on bidding method.

Catalogs may be viewed at

Write to the firm at Pelikanstrasse 11, CH-8001 Zürich, telephone Sincona at (011) 41 44 215 1090, email the company at or visit the website

Some highlights:

Byzantine, Justinus I and Justinianus I, 527 gold solidus, Constantinople Mint, 4.48 grams, Extremely Fine, 12,075 Swiss francs ($13,664 U.S.).

Byzantine, Justinianus I, circa 537 to 542 gold solidus, psuedo-officina, “all other known specimens have the obverse legend divided IVSTINI - ANVS,” “perhaps only 3-4 known of the type and perhaps the first with this obverse legend,” 24,150 Swiss francs ($27,328 U.S.).

Byzantine, Mauricius Tiberius, 586 to 587 gold solidus, regnal year P, Rome Mint, 4.43 grams, “a bit rough in the strike but otherwise About Uncirculated.” 4,600 Swiss francs ($5,205 U.S.).

Byzantine, Heraclius Constantinus, March 11 to July 641 gold solidus, Officina mark I, 4.51 grams, “cabinet piece,” Uncirculated, 6,325 Swiss francs ($7,157 U.S.).

Byzantine, Constantinus IV Pogonatus, with Heraclius and Tiberius, 668 to 674 gold solidus, Syracuse Mint, 4.55 grams, Good EF, 10,063 Swiss francs ($11,387 U.S.).

Byzantine, Anastasius II Artemius, 711 to 713 gold solidus, 3.99 grams, EF, 9,200 Swiss francs ($10,411 U.S.).

Byzantine, Theodosius III of Adramytium, 715 to 717 gold solidus, Constantinople Mint, Officina mark A, 4.39 grams, Good EF, 18,400 Swiss francs ($20,821 U.S.).

Byzantine, Constantinus VI and Irene, 790 to 792 gold solidus, Constantinople Mint, 4.49 grams, “beautifully struck, all five portraits clear and sharp, small roughness on obv[erse] due to gold impurity,” BU, 5,750 Swiss francs ($6,507 U.S.).

Byzantine, Michael I Rhangabe, with Theophylactus, 811 to 813 gold solidus, Constantinople Mint, 4.39 grams, AU to EF, 29,900 Swiss francs ($33,834 U.S.).

Byzantine, Michael III the Drunkard, 842 to 843 gold solidus, Constantinople Mint, 4.45 grams, Good VF, 13,800 Swiss francs ($15,616 U.S.).

Byzantine, Alexander, 912 to 913 gold solidus, Constantinople Mint, 4.36 grams, Good VF, 52,900 Swiss francs ($59,861 U.S.). ■

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