Numismatica Ars Classica > Auction 132Auction date: 30 May 2022
Lot number: 636

Price realized: 60,000 CHF   (Approx. 62,709 USD / 58,545 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:


Constantine II caesar, 317 – 337
Medallion, Thessalonica circa 320, AR 6.44 g. CONSTANTINVS IVN NOB CAESAR Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust l., holding eagle-tipped sword and Victory on globe, crowning him. Rev. VOTA ORBIS ET V – RBIS SENET PR Cippus inscribed XX / XXX / MLV / FEL. In field, two stars and in exergue, pellet TS pellet Γ pellet. C –. RIC–. Toynbee –. Gnecchi –.
Apparently unique and unrecorded. A spectacular medallion with an interesting and
unusual portrait. Lovely old cabinet tone and extremely fine

Ex Tkalec sale 18 February 2002, 248 (obverse illustrated on the front cover page).
This unique silver piece belongs to a larger series of rare issues that are variously described as medallions or heavy miliarenses. The characterization as medallions is preferred here on the basis of the high level of artistry involved in the obverse portraits. Ten specimens in total are currently known from the mints of Aquilea, Siscia and Thessalonica featuring portraits of Licinius I, Constantine I and his sons Crispus and Constantine II. Such medallions were obviously struck to commemorate a special occasion in which the dynasty of Constantine I and his eastern colleague Licinius I were involved. It has been noted that the inscription on the cippus of the reverse (XX/ XXX /MVL/ FEC) would seem to suggest that the occasion was vicennalia (twentieth anniversary) of Constantine's reign in AD 325, but this is precluded by the involvement of Licinius I. He was deposed in 324 and executed in 325, making it highly unlikely that he would have been commemorated on a medallic issue of the same year. An association with Constantine's quindecennalia (fifteenth anniversary) in 320/1 has also been proposed since Constantine I is not known to have struck coinage involving Licinius I after 320 and on January 1, 321 Constantine II shared the consulship with Crispus for the first time. Nevertheless, it remains perplexing that the cippus seems to refer to the vicennalia (XX) rather than the quindecennalia (XV). Clearly more research into this remarkable series is needed. The impressive radiate portrait of Constantine II may tend to support the association of the medallion series with 320/1. Prior to 320, the usual portrait of the young Caesar represented him in the traditional manner, wearing a laurel wreath. The radiate crown was introduced as a distinctive feature of his portraits in 320. However, the regular coinage never reached the quality of execution that we find on this medallion and did not represent Constantine II holding Victory in his hand. The reverse type depicts an inscribed cippus or monument topped with a bowl-like shape surmounted by a jagged design. Although it is uncertain, it is tempting to suggest that the monument was topped by a cauldron in which a fire was lit so that it could serve as a beacon of imperial triumph and illuminate the night with the glory of the house of Constantine. The surrounding legend indicates that the medallion was produced as part of a vow (VOT) for Rome and the whole world (ORBIS ET VRBIS). The formulaic address to the city and the wider world had long been a feature of imperial proclamations and survives to this day in the introductions to solemn Papal blessings given at Christmas, Easter, and upon the proclamation of a new Pope.

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Estimate: 40000 CHF