Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 111   |   24 September 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 225

Estimate: 125'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 100'000 CHF Price realized: 160'000 CHF
Constantine I, 307 – 337. Medallion of 2 solidi, Thessalonica circa 326, AV 8.72 g. CONSTANTINVS – AVG Diademed head r. Rev. SENA – TVS The Emperor, laureate and togate, standing l., holding globe and sceptre; in exergue, SMTS. C –. Gnecchi –, cf. 51 = Alföldi –, cf. 468 = RIC –, cf. 272 = Depeyrot p. 153 (all Roma, 4 ½ solidi).Apparently unique and unpublished. A spectacular medallion with a
magnificent style, almost invisible marks on reverse field,
otherwise virtually as struck and almost Fdc
Ex NAC sale 88, 2015, 499 and previously privately purchased from A. Tkalec in 1998. From the Collection of a Retired Banker.
When it began, 326 held every promise of being the most extraordinary year of Constantine's life. It opened with his sharing the consulship with Constantius II, his middle son by Fausta, who had been made Caesar in November of 324, after the defeat of Licinius I. Their joint-consulship is marked by this rare and beautiful two-solidus medallion of Thessalonica which portrays Constantine in a most elaborate manner, with eyes raised to the heavens. The reverse shows him dressed in richly adorned senatorial garb as he holds an ornate sceptre and a banded globe, representing his singular authority over the world.
This medallion and its companions (including a three-solidus with the same reverse type and a consular bust portrait that is in the British Museum) may have been distributed in mid-April of 326, as entries in the Codex Theodosianus reveal that Constantine was on a westward trek that would have taken him through Thessalonica at about that time. The Codex marks his being at Heraclea on 3 February and 5 March, then in Constantinople on 8 March. From there Constantine likely stopped in Thessalonica before continuing westward, arriving at Aquileia at the start of April to inaugurate a stay in Italy of nearly eight months. While there, Constantine attended celebrations marking his 20th anniversary of power along with the 10th anniversaries of his two eldest sons, Crispus and Constantine II.
In the midst of his stay in Italy, however, a series of tragic events took place. For reasons that still defy explanation, Constantine ordered the execution of Crispus, his eldest son, by Minervina, and his principal heir to the throne. Constantine followed up this horrific act with the execution of his wife, Fausta, the mother to his three remaining sons. Cleary these two events were related, and they amounted to a dynastic crisis that cast a dark cloud over a year that otherwise was devoted to celebrations that concerned the unity and longevity of the ruling family.

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