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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |Constantinian Era| ▸ |Constantine the Great||View Options:  |  |  |   

Constantine the Great, early 307 - 22 May 337 A.D.

Flavius Valerius Constantinus, Constantine the Great, was the son of Helena and the First Tetrarchic ruler Constantius I. Constantine is most famous for his conversion to Christianity after the battle of the Milvian Bridge where he defeated emperor Maxentius. Before the battle, he saw the words "In Hoc Signo Victor Eris" (By this sign you shall conquer) emblazoned on the sun around the Chi Rho, the symbol of Christianity. After placing this Christogram on the shields of his army, he defeated his opponent and thus ruled the empire through divine providence. He also shifted the capital of the empire to Constantinople, establishing the foundation for an Empire that would last another 1000 years. He died in 337 and his sons divided the Roman territories.


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In 321, Constantine I assigned convicts to grind Rome's flour in a move to hold back the rising price of food in an empire whose population had shrunk as a result of plague.
RL89935. Billon centenionalis, RIC VII Trier 266 (R3), SRCV IV 16317, Cohen VII 690, Hunter V 53 var. (2nd officina), Choice gVF, well centered, dark brown tone, weight 2.850 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 180o, 1st officina, Treveri (Trier, Germany) mint, 320 A.D.; obverse CONSTAN-TINVS AVG, helmeted and cuirassed bust right; reverse VIRTVS EXERCIT (courage of the army), trophy of captured arms with VOT/XX, flanked on each side at the base by a seated captive, captive on the left (veiled female?) raising hand to face in mourning, captive on the right with hands bound behind his back and head turned back left, PTR in exergue; rare; $9999.00 SALE |PRICE| $8999.00
 


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Because of his fame and because he was proclaimed Emperor while he was in Roman Britain, later Britons regarded Constantine as a king of their own people. In the 12th century, Henry of Huntingdon included a passage in his Historia Anglorum that Constantine's mother Helena was a Briton, the daughter of King Cole of Colchester. Geoffrey of Monmouth expanded this story in his highly fictionalized Historia Regum Britanniae, an account of the supposed Kings of Britain from their Trojan origins to the Anglo-Saxon invasion. According to Geoffrey, Cole was King of the Britons when Constantius, here a senator, came to Britain. Afraid of the Romans, Cole submitted to Roman law so long as he retained his kingship. However, he died only a month later, and Constantius took the throne himself, marrying Cole's daughter Helena. They had their son Constantine, who succeeded his father as King of Britain before becoming Roman Emperor. Historically, this series of events is extremely improbable. Constantius had already left Helena by the time he left for Britain. Additionally, no earlier source mentions that Helena was born in Britain, let alone that she was a princess.
RL91202. Billon follis, RIC VI Londinium 246 (R), SRCV IV 15889, Cohen 144, Hunter V -, VF, well centered with full legends on a broad slightly oval flan, some scratches,, weight 3.651 g, maximum diameter 23.8 mm, die axis 180o, 1st officina, Londinium (London, England) mint, 312 - 313 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINVS P F AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right; reverse FELICITAS AVGG NN (the good fortune of our two emperors), Roma seated left, helmeted and draped, branch in raised right hand, globe in left hand, star in left field, PLN in exergue; very rare reverse type; $200.00 SALE |PRICE| $180.00
 


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Constantine is most famous for leading the Empire to Christianity. Before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, he saw "In Hoc Signo Victor Eris" (By this sign you shall conquer) on the sun around a Chi Rho ligature. With the symbol of Christ on his army's shields, he was victorious. He moved the capital to Constantinople.
RL89036. Billon follis, RIC VI 117, SRCV IV 15507, Cohen VII 80, Hunter IV-, aEF, dark brown patina, lighter green highlights, weight 5.900 g, maximum diameter 25.9 mm, die axis 0o, 3rd officina, Aquileia mint, as caesar, late summer 307 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES, laureate head right; reverse CONSERV VRB SVAE (Guardian of the city traditions), Roma seated facing on throne, head left, globe in right hand, scepter vertical in left, grounded shield at right side, all within hexastyle temple decorated with knobs as acroteria and wreath in pediment, AQΓ in exergue; ex CNG e-auction 233 (26 May 2010), lot 421 (realized $130 plus fees); $140.00 (€123.20) ON RESERVE


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Sol Invictus ("Unconquered Sun") was the sun god of the later Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers. In 274 the Roman emperor Aurelian made it an official cult alongside the traditional Roman cults. The god was favored by emperors after Aurelian and appeared on their coins until Constantine. The last inscription referring to Sol Invictus dates to 387 and there were enough devotees in the 5th century that Augustine found it necessary to preach against them. The date 25 December was selected for Christmas to replace the popular Roman festival Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun."
RL89581. Billon follis, RIC VI Treveri 893, Hunter V 45, SRCV IV 16125, Cohen VII 514, gVF, well centered, dark green patina, lighter highlights, minor encrustations, weight 4.247 g, maximum diameter 23.9 mm, die axis 180o, Treveri (Trier, Germany) mint, 310 - 313 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINVS P F AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right, from the front; reverse SOLI INVICTO COMITI (to the unconquered Sun, minister [of the Emperor]), Sol radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right seen from behind, no mintmark mark; ex CNG e-auction 233 (26 May 2010), lot 428; $140.00 SALE |PRICE| $126.00
 


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Soon after the Feast of Easter 337, Constantine fell seriously ill. He left Constantinople for the hot baths near his mother's city of Helenopolis. There, in a church his mother built in honor of Lucian the Apostle, he prayed, and there he realized that he was dying. He attempted to return to Constantinople, making it only as far as a suburb of Nicomedia. He summoned the bishops, and told them of his hope to be baptized in the River Jordan, where Christ was written to have been baptized. He requested the baptism right away, promising to live a more Christian life should he live through his illness. The bishops, Eusebius records, "performed the sacred ceremonies according to custom." It has been thought that Constantine put off baptism as long as he did so as to be absolved from as much of his sin as possible. Constantine died soon after at a suburban villa called Achyron, on 22 May 337.
RL88038. Billon reduced centenionalis, RIC VIII Antioch 39; LRBC I 1374; SRCV V 17488; Voetter 34; Cohen VII 760; Hunter V p. 283, 4 ff. var. (officina), EF, attractive highlighting desert patina, light marks, tight flan, weight 1.705 g, maximum diameter 15.2 mm, die axis 0o, 9th officina, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, posthumous, Sep 337 - 340 A.D.; obverse DV CONSTANTINVS PT AVGG, veiled bust right; reverse Constantine in quadriga right, veiled, the hand of God reaches down to take him to heaven, star above, SMANΘ in exergue; $130.00 SALE |PRICE| $117.00
 


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Manus Dei, the hand of God, reaches down to take Constantine up to heaven. Constantine is a saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
RL88042. Billon reduced centenionalis, RIC VIII Antioch 39; LRBC I 1374; SRCV V 17488; Voetter 34; Cohen VII 760; Hunter V p. 283, 4 ff. var. (officina), EF, highlighting desert patina, die break reverse right side, weight 1.654 g, maximum diameter 14.9 mm, die axis 180o, 7th officina, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, posthumous, 337 - Apr 340 A.D.; obverse DV CONSTANTINVS PT AVGG, veiled bust right; reverse Constantine in quadriga right, veiled, the hand of God reaches down to take him to heaven, SMANZ in exergue; $130.00 SALE |PRICE| $117.00
 


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Soon after the Feast of Easter 337, Constantine fell seriously ill. He left Constantinople for the hot baths near his mother's city of Helenopolis. There, in a church his mother built in honor of Lucian the Apostle, he prayed, and there he realized that he was dying. He attempted to return to Constantinople, making it only as far as a suburb of Nicomedia. He summoned the bishops, and told them of his hope to be baptized in the River Jordan, where Christ was written to have been baptized. He requested the baptism right away, promising to live a more Christian life should he live through his illness. The bishops, Eusebius records, "performed the sacred ceremonies according to custom." It has been thought that Constantine put off baptism as long as he did so as to be absolved from as much of his sin as possible. Constantine died soon after at a suburban villa called Achyron, on 22 May 337.
RL87872. Billon reduced centenionalis, Hunter V p. 284, 12 (also 1st officina); RIC VIII Alexandria p. 541, 32; LRBC I 1473; SRCV V 17473; Cohen VII 716, EF, excellent centering, brown tone with some silvering, flow lines, reverse center a little weak, tiny edge cracks, weight 1.706 g, maximum diameter 16.9 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Alexandria mint, posthumous, late 347 - 348 A.D.; obverse DV CONSTANTINVS PT AVGG, veiled bust right; reverse VN - MR (venerabilis memoria - revered memory), Constantine standing slightly right, head right, veiled and togate, raising right hand, SMALA in exergue; ex Beast Coins, ex Malter Galleries; $125.00 SALE |PRICE| $113.00
 


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On 3 July 324 A.D., Constantine I defeated Licinius at Adrianople, forcing him to retreat to Byzantium. Soon after, Crispus destroyed Licinius' fleet at the Battle of Hellespont in the Dardanelles, allowing Constantine to cross over the Bosporus into Asian provinces and besiege Byzantium. On September 18th Constantine definitively defeated Licinius at Chrysopolis. Licinius escaped but abdicated on 19 December. Thanks to the pleas of his wife, Constantine's half-sister Constantia, Licinius was pardoned by Constantine and banished to Thessalonica as a private citizen. The next year he was executed on the charge of conspiring and raising troops against the emperor.
RL89582. Billon centenionalis, RIC VII Heraclea 64, SRCV IV 16224, Cohen VII 123, Hunter V 303 var. (no pellet at end of mintmark, EF, near full silvering, weight 3.331 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 0o, 2nd officina, Heraclea (Marmara Ereglisi, Turkey) mint, 324 A.D.; obverse CONSTAN-TINVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse D N CONSTANTINI MAX AVG, VOT / XX in two lines above star, all within wreath, SMHB• in exergue; ex Forum (2010); scarce; $120.00 SALE |PRICE| $108.00
 


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David Sear notes, "It is tempting to regard the cross in the reverse field as an early instance of Christian symbolism on the Constantinian Coinage."
RL89937. Billon follis, RIC VII Ticinum 45, SRCV IV 16088, Cohen VII 536, Hunter V -, Choice VF, excellent centering, turquoise-green patina, weight 2.994 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Ticinum (Pavia, Italy) mint, 316 A.D.; obverse IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right; reverse SOLI INVICTO COMITI (to the unconquered Sun, minister [of the Emperor]), Sol standing half left, radiate, nude but for chlamys over shoulders and left arm, raising right hand commanding the sun to rise, globe in left hand, cross left, star right, PT in exergue; $120.00 SALE |PRICE| $108.00
 


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The reverse legend abbreviates, Victoriae Laetae Principium Perpertua, which translates, "Joyous victory to the eternal Prince." VOT P R on the shield abbreviates, Vota Populi Romani, which translates, "Vows (prayers) of the Roman people."
RL89634. Billon centenionalis, RIC VII Trier 226 (R4), Cohen VII 629, SRCV IV -, Hunter V -, Choice VF, full borders centering, some silvering, minor encrustations, weight 3.384 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Treveri (Trier, Germany) mint, 319 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINVS MAX AVG, laureate, helmeted, and cuirassed bust right; reverse VICTORIAE LAET PRIN P (Joyous victory to the eternal Prince), two Victories standing confronted, together holding shield inscribed VOT / P R (vows of the Roman people) over altar, star on altar, •PTR in exergue; ex Beast Coins VLPP Collection, ex Forum (2003), ex Aiello Collection; very rare; $100.00 (€88.00) ON RESERVE




  



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OBVERSE| LEGENDS|

AVGVSTVS
COMISCONSTANTINIAVG
CONSTANTINVSAG
CONSTANTINVSAVG
CONSTANTINVSCAESAR
CONSTANTINVSFILAVGG
CONSTANTINVSMAXAG
CONSTANTINVSMAXAVG
CONSTANTINVSMAXAVGCOSIIII
CONSTANTINVSMAXPFAVG
CONSTANTINVSMAXPFAVGCOSIIII
CONSTANTINVSMAXIMAVG
CONSTANTINVSNOBC
CONSTANTINVSNOBCAES
CONSTANTINVSNOBCAESAR
CONSTANTINVSNOBILC
CONSTANTINVSNOBILIC
CONSTANTINVSPAG
CONSTANTINVSPAVG
CONSTANTINVSPAVGCOSIIII
CONSTANTINVSPFAVG
CONSTANTINVSPFINAVG
DDNNCONSTANTINVSETLICINIVSAVGG
DIVOCONSTANTINOAVG
DIVOCONSTANTINOP
DIVCONSTANTINVSPFAVG
DIVVSCONSTANTINVSAVGPATERAVGG
DNCONSTANTINVSAVG
DNCONSTANTINVSMAXAVG
DNCONSTANTINVSPFAVG
DVCONSTANTINVSPTAVGG
FLVALCONSTANTINVSAVG
FLVALCONSTANTINVSFILAVG
FLVALCONSTANTINVSNC
FLVALCONSTANTINVSNOBC
FLVALCONSTANTINVSNOBCAES
FLVALCONSTANTINVSNOBCAESAR
FLVALCONSTANTINVSNOBILC
FLVALCONSTANTINVSNOBILIC
FLVALCONSTANTINVSPFAVG
FLVALERCONSTANTINVSPFAVG
FLVALERIVSCONSTANTINVSPFAVG
IMPCCONSTANTINVSPFAVG
IMPCCONSTANTINVSPFINVAVG
IMPCFLVALCONSTANTINOPFINVAVG
IMPCFLVALCONSTANTINVSPAVG
IMPCFLVALCONSTANTINVSPFAVG
IMPCFLVALCONSTANTINVSPFINVAVG
IMPCONSTANTINVSAG
IMPCONSTANTINVSAVG
IMPCONSTANTINVSINAVG
IMPCONSTANTINVSMAXAVG
IMPCONSTANTINVSMAXPFAVG
IMPCONSTANTINVSPAVG
IMPCONSTANTINVSPIINAVG
IMPCONSTANTINVSPFAVG
IMPCONSTANTINVSPIVSFAVG
IMPCONSTANTINVSPIVSFELIXAVG
INVICTVSCONSTANTINVSMAXAVG


REFERENCES|

Bastien, P. Le Monnayage de l'Atelier de Lyon, De la Réforme Monétaire de Dioclétien à la fermeture temporaire de l'Atelier en 316 (294 - 316). Numismatique Romaine XI. (Wetteren, 1980).
Bastien, P. Le monnayage de l'atelier de Lyon. De la réouverture de l'atelier en 318 à la mort de Constantin (318 - 337). Numismatique Romaine XIII. (Wetteren, 1982).
Bruun, P. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol VII, Constantine and Licinius A.D. 313 - 337. (London, 1966).
Carson, R., P. Hill & J. Kent. Late Roman Bronze Coinage. (London, 1960).
Carson, R., H. Sutherland & J. Kent. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol VIII, The Family of Constantine I, A.D. 337 - 364. (London, 1981).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 7: Carausius to Constantine & sons. (Paris, 1888).
Depeyrot, G. Les émissions monétaires d'Arles (4th -5th Siècles). Moneta 6. (Wetteren, 1996).
Depeyrot, G. Les monnaies d'or de Dioclétien a Constantin I (284 - 337). (Wetteren, 1995).
Failmezger, V. Roman Bronze Coins From Paganism to Christianity, 294 - 364 A.D. (Washington D.C., 2002).
King, C. & D. Sear. Roman Silver Coins, Volume V, Carausius to Romulus Augustus. (London, 1987).
Milchev, S. The Coins of Constantine the Great. (Sophia, 2007).
Paolucci, R. & A. Zub. La monetazione di Aquileia Romana. (Padova, 2000).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. V. Diocletian (Reform) to Zeno. (Oxford, 1982).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. IV: The Tetrarchies and the Rise of the House of Constantine...Diocletian To Constantine I, AD 284 - 337. (London, 2011).
Speck, R. & S. Huston. Constantine's Dafne Coinage at Constantinople. (San Francisco, 1992).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).
Voetter, O. Die Münzen der romischen Kaiser, Kaiserinnen und Caesaren von Diocletianus bis Romulus: Katalog der Sammlung Paul Gerin. (Vienna, 1921).

Catalog current as of Saturday, August 24, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Constantine the Great