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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According to the firm, this coin tells of the empire’s joy at
having two legitimate emperors. While that would explain why the
minting authorities in Sirmium produced the reverse type represented
on this coin, lacking any known examples of an issue in gold, the
auction firm concludes no general issue of the design was authorized
by the imperial government
Additionally, lack of further bronze examples would indicate that
this pattern was not only not approved for general issue, it was not
even allowed to be produced as a bronze donative (special gift or
presentation piece) at Sirmium itself.
The apparently unique coin has “remains of deposits and some
cleaning marks,” but is Extremely Fine, and has an estimate of 3,250
Swiss francs (about $3,371 U.S.).
For more information, visit the auction firm’s website.
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