Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.   |   Auction 72   |   3 - 6 February 2013 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 4217

Estimate: 25'000 USD   |   Starting price: 12'500 USD Price realized: 37'000 USD
Valerius Valens, AD 316-317. AE Follis (4g). Minted at Alexandria, October-December AD 316. Usurper in the East. IMP C AVR VAL VALENS P F AVG. Laureate head of Valens right. Reverse: IOVI CONSER-VATORI AVGG. Jupiter standing left, holding Victory on globe in right hand and scepter in left; eagle holding wreath in beak standing before; K in left field; wreath over X / B in right field; ALE in exergue. RIC VII 19 (R5) var (different officina); Cc-2 var (officina not recorded). Exceptionally well struck on a full flan with a pleasing dark chocolate brown patina. Extremely rare. Easily the finest of fewer than a dozen known specimens. Superb Extremely Fine. .

The brief "reign" (only three-months) of Gaius Aurelius Valerius Valens, took place amid the power struggle between Licinius, Roman emperor of the East, and his western counterpart, Constantine I "the Great." Though allies during the civil wars following the collapse of the Second Tetrarchy (AD 308-312), Constantine and Licinius soon fell to bickering. Valens was a general in Licinius' service, probably a career soldier from the Danubian provinces, as were most important military men of his day. His place and date of birth are unknown. By AD 316, Valens had risen to the post of Dux Limitis in Dacia, placing him in overall command of Licinius' Balkan armies. The post was a critical one, as tensions were rising between the rival emperors and forces were being massed at their mutual border. On October 8, AD 316, Constantine launched a preemptive strike on Cibalae, in present-day Bulgaria. Despite having superior numbers, Licinius was forced to retreat. But he paused at Serdica (modern Sofia) and defiantly proclaimed that Constantine, due to his illegal aggression, had been officially deposed. He then appointed his loyal general Valens as Augustus of the West in Constantine's place. Licinius instructed Valens to hold the line as long as possible while he raised reinforcements. But after another setback, Licinius slipped away into Asia Minor, leaving Valens and the rearguard stranded and surrounded. Defeated and outmaneuvered, Licinius sued for peace and was granted fairly generous terms from Constantine, whose army had also suffered heavy casualties. The peace settlement, signed on March 1, AD 317, allowed Licinius to remain master of the East in return for ceding some Balkan territory and recognizing Constantine as senior Augustus. Constantine also demanded that Valens be deposed. Licinius not only deposed Valens but, for good measure, executed his faithful general and co-ruler as well. The whole sorry episode would be repeated scarcely seven years later.

Despite the ephemeral nature of his reign, a few bronze folles were struck for Valens at the mints of Cyzicus in Asia Minor and Alexandria in Egypt. The types, with their stylized portraiture and emphasis on Jupiter as "Protector of the Emperors," follow those of Licinius. This piece, with its crisp strike, attractive patina and absence of wear, is undoubtedly the finest surviving coin of Valerius Valens.

Estimated Value $25,000 - 30,000.

Provenance: Ex Numismatica Ars Classica 62, lot 2094; Ex Triton X, 10 January 2007, lot 778.

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