World Coins

Byzantine Empire gold solidus set the tone for American

A gold solidus from the Byzantine Empire with the first numismatic depiction of Christ brought $5,170 at an April 9 auction.

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Collectors of U.S. coins will sometimes turn to ancient and world coins when they feel that they’ve exhausted their collecting options. The introduction of U.S. collectors to this field is often by chance. Perhaps they have seen a coin in a dealer’s case that interests them, or maybe they stumble across a lot in an auction catalog. That there is third party grading for these coins gives U.S. coin buyers confidence. Here are three fascinating old gold coins from ancient cultures that might appeal to U.S. collectors, from Heritage’s recent Chicago International Coin Fair auction.

The Coin 

Circa A.D. 65 to 695 Byzantine Justinian II gold solidus, Mint State

The Price


The Story 

Gold coins from the Byzantine Empire are often a gateway ancient coin for U.S. collectors in that handsome, common examples can sell for less than $500. Like all coins, there are more exceptional representatives that bring many multiples of this, but even great Byzantine coins can sell for less than a modestly circulated 1907 Saint-Gaudens, High Relief double eagle.

For example, Heritage’s April 9 CICF auction saw this gold solidus from the first reign of Justinian II (A.D. 685 to 695), graded by Heritage in the catalog as lustrous Mint State, bring $5,170 against an estimate of $4,000 to $5,500. It’s notable as being the first numismatic representation of Jesus and the obverse image of Christ was possibly based on the image in the apse of the Great Palace of Constantinople.

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