World Coins

Apparently unique bronze coin in Nomos auction

An apparently unique pattern coin of Valens, in bronze, created circa A.D. 364, is one of many highlights of Nomos Ag’s May 10 auction in Zurich.

Coin images courtesy of Nomos Ag.

A pattern bronze coin for the emperor Valens is one of many highlights in Nomos Ag’s May 10 auction in Zurich.

The circa A.D. 364 coin (of an unspecified denomination) is likely a pattern for a gold semissis or a heavy siliqua, issued in Sirmium, a city in the Roman province of Pannonia. The coin was created very soon after Valentinian made his brother Valens co-emperor on March 28 that year (Valentinian’s reign began on Feb. 26).

According to Nomos catalogers, “This coin is proof that even a well-studied series can produce major surprises.”

The obverse of the coin shows a diademed, draped, cuirassed bust of Valens, facing right. 

The reverse shows both rulers: Valentinian stands facing but with head turned to his left, wearing military dress and holding a spear in his right hand and a globe in his left. At the right side of the coin, Valens, also in military garb, also holds a spear in his right hand and globe in his left. 

“That Valentinian was the senior emperor is clearly shown by his being portrayed as taller than his brother on the reverse of this coin,” the auction firm said. 

A portion of reverse legend, GAVD-IVM R P (which translates to guardian of the state or joy of the republic), provides an important clue to identifying the piece as a pattern. According to the auction house, “legends with GAVDIVM are actually only found on gold of the House of Constantine.” 

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