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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |The Late Empire| ▸ |Zeno||View Options:  |  |  |   

Zeno, 18 January - 17 November 474 and August 476 - 11 April 491 A.D.

Zeno was an Isaurian chieftain who moved to Rome and married Emperor Leo I's daughter, Ariadne. Their son, Leo II, succeeded Leo I as emperor, and shortly after declared his father Augustus. An exceedingly unpopular emperor, Zeno spent his 17-year reign defending the empire not only against the barbarians but also against many rebellions. He died in 491 A.D after suffering an epileptic fit. Mediterranean 476 AD


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Gold never tarnishes, however, ancient gold coins were never pure gold. There is always a small amount of silver in the gold and for reasons that only a chemist could explain, the small amount of silver sometimes tones slightly red. This coin is attractive red toned gold.
SH85084. Gold solidus, RIC X 929, DOCLR 633, Depeyrot 108/1, Tolstoi 16, SRCV V 21514, Ratto -, Choice about Uncirculated, well centered and struck, lustrous with red tone, weight 4.456 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 180o, 4th officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 2nd reign, Aug 476 - 11 Apr 491, 5th issue; obverse D N ZENO PERP AVG, helmeted bust facing, pearl diademed, trefoil on front of crested helmet, cuirassed, spear in right over shoulder, shield on left arm decorated with horseman riding down and spearing enemy; reverse VICTORI-A AVGGG ∆ (victory of the three emperors, 4th officina), Victory standing left, long jeweled cross in right, star right, CONOB in exergue; SOLD


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In 474, Zeno's oppressive rule resulted in a revolt which forced him to flee to Isauria. Verina, the widow of Leo I, claimed the Empire and installed her brother, Basiliscus, on the throne. The following year, Basiliscus was deposed and Zeno reclaimed the Empire. He didn't change and new rebellions were frequent. In 491 A.D., after a turbulent reign of seventeen years, he died. He was succeeded by Anastasius, who married his widow Ariadne.
SH90883. Gold solidus, RIC X 912 (R4), DOCLR 632 var., Depeyrot 108/1 var., SRCV V 21514 var. (only RIC X 912 has the cross), gVF, mint luster, flow lines, die wear, bumps, graffiti, scratches, weight 4.429 g, maximum diameter 20.7 mm, die axis 180o, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 2nd reign, Aug 476 - 11 Apr 491 A.D.; obverse D N ZENO PERP AVG, helmeted bust facing, pearl diademed, cross on helmet, cuirassed, spear in right over shoulder, shield on left arm decorated with horseman riding down enemy; reverse VICTORIA AVGGG Θ (victory of the three emperors, 9th officina), Victory standing left, long jeweled cross in right, star right, CONOB in exergue; ex Edgar Owen; very rare; SOLD


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RIC does not list this type with AVGG T in the reverse legend. DOCLR identifies the T as indicating the Thessalonica mint.
SH87354. Gold solidus, DOCLR 664 (also 4th officina), Tolstoi 38 var. (TI), Ratto -, RIC X -, near Mint State, lustrous, radiating flow lines, a few light marks, weight 4.496 g, maximum diameter 20.7 mm, die axis 180o, 4th officina, Thessalonica mint, 2nd reign, Aug 476 - 11 Apr 491, 5th issue; obverse D N ZENO PERP AVG, helmeted bust facing, pearl diademed without jewel on crested helmet, cuirassed, spear in right hand over right shoulder, shield on left arm decorated with horseman riding down and spearing enemy; reverse VICTORI-A AVGG T ∆, Victory standing left, long jeweled cross in right, star right, CONOB in exergue; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 67, lot 660; very rare; SOLD


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They look similar, but there is a significant physical difference between angels and Victory. Angels are all male. Victory (Nike) is female. On Byzantine coinage, the male angel replaced the female Victory after the reunion with Rome was concluded on 28 March 519 A.D.
SH42812. Gold solidus, DOCLR 641 (also 9th officina), Tolstoi 22, Ratto 283, RIC X 910, Depeyrot 108/1, SRCV V 21514, EF, obv flan defect, weight 4.459 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 180o, 9th officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 2nd reign, Aug 476 - 11 Apr 491; obverse D N ZENO PERP AVG, helmeted bust facing, pearl diademed ornamented with trefoil on arc, cuirassed, spear in right over shoulder, shield on left arm decorated with horseman riding down enemy; reverse VICTORIA AVGGG Θ (victory of the three emperors, 9th officina), Victory standing left, long jeweled cross in right, star right, CONOB in exergue; SOLD


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Zeno had two reigns. Basiliscus revolted against Zeno in January 475 and held power until Zeno's return in August 476. Basiliscus took power after forcing Zeno to flee from Constantinople, but he alienated the people of Constantinople. Zeno returned and Basiliscus was captured and put to death.
SH33940. Gold solidus, DOCLR 643 (also 10th officina), Tolstoi 24, Ratto 284, RIC X 910, Depeyrot 108/1, SRCV V 21514, gVF, flan a bit wavy, a few small bumps around base of cross, well struck, weight 4.477 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 180o, 10th officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 2nd reign, Aug 476 - 11 Apr 491; obverse D N ZENO - PERP AVG, helmeted bust facing, pearl diademed with trefoil ornament, cuirassed, spear in right over shoulder, shield on left arm decorated with horseman riding down enemy; reverse VICTORIA AVGGG I, Victory standing left, long jeweled cross in right, star right, CONOB in exergue; SOLD


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Zeno, an Isaurian chieftain, married Emperor Leo I's daughter, Ariadne. Their son, Leo II, succeeded Leo I as emperor and shortly after declared his father Augustus. Unpopular, Zeno spent his 17-year reign fighting not only barbarians but also against many rebellions. He died after an epileptic fit.
SH89781. Gold solidus, DOCLR 643 (also 10th officina), Tolstoi 24, Ratto 284, RIC X 910, Depeyrot 108/1, SRCV V 21514, Choice VF, well centered and struck, some die wear, scratch/graffito on obverse, weight 4.449 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 180o, 10th officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 2nd reign, Aug 476 - 11 Apr 491, 5th issue; obverse D N ZENO PERP AVG, helmeted bust facing, pearl diademed with trefoil ornament on crested helmet, cuirassed, spear in right hand over right shoulder, shield on left arm decorated with horseman riding down and spearing enemy; reverse VICTORI-A AVGGG I, Victory standing left, long jeweled cross in right, star right, CONOB in exergue; ON LAYAWAY


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In 479, Marcian, son of the Western Roman emperor Anthemius (467472), a grandson of Emperor Marcian (450457), and Zeno's brother-in-law, tried to overthrow Zeno and claim the throne. His force of citizens and foreigners marched on the imperial palace and, supported by citizens who attacked from the roofs of their houses, overwhelmed the imperial troops. The emperor almost fell into the hands of the rebels but during the night an Isaurian unit, quartered in nearby Chalcedonia, was moved into Constantinople and Marcian's soldiers were bribed to allowed Zeno to flee. The following morning, Marcian, understanding he had failed, took refuge in the church of the Holy Apostles, but was arrested. Marcian would to rebel two more times but fail each time.
SH51498. Gold tremissis, RIC X 914, DOCLR 464, Tolstoi 30, Ratto 392, MIRB 14, Depeyrot 108/4, SRCV V 21532, VF, nice centering, good strike, bumps, scratches, wavy flan, weight 1.475 g, maximum diameter 14.5 mm, die axis 180o, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, Aug 476 - 11 Apr 491 A.D.; obverse D N ZENO PERP AVG, pearl diademed draped and cuirassed bust right; reverse VICTORIA AVGVSTORVM (to the victory of the Emperor), Victory advancing right, head left holding wreath and globus cruciger, star in right field, CONOB in exergue; SOLD


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According to a legend, popular at the time and recorded by two ancient historians, Zeno was buried alive after going mad due to drinking or an illness; he called for help, but Ariadne did not allow anyone to open the sarcophagus. In truth, Zeno died of dysentery or of epilepsy, after ruling for 17 years and 2 months. No sons were to succeed him: Leo had died in 474, Zenon, the first son, in his youth, while living at court. Ariadne then chose a favored member of the Imperial court, Anastasius, to succeed Zeno.
SH16823. Gold solidus, RIC X 910, DOCLR 630 var. (4th officina), Depeyrot 108/1, SRCV V 21514, Choice gVF, well centered, some luster, obverse scratch, edge bump, weight 4.458 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 180o, 1st officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 2nd reign, Aug 476 - 11 Apr 491; obverse D N ZENO - PERP AVG, helmeted bust facing, pearl diademed with trefoil ornament, cuirassed, spear in right over shoulder, shield on left arm decorated with horseman riding down enemy; reverse VICTORIA AVGGG A (victory of the three emperors, 1st officina), Victory standing left, long jeweled cross in right, star right, CONOB in exergue; SOLD


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In August 476, Zeno, who had been removed from the throne by the usurper Basiliscus, besieged Constantinople. The Senate opened the gates for him to resume the throne. Basiliscus fled to sanctuary in a church, but surrendered himself and his family after extracting a solemn promise from Zeno not to shed their blood. Zeno kept his promise, he sent Basiliscus to a fortress in Cappadocia where he died from starvation.
SH65216. Gold tremissis, RIC X 916; Depeyrot 108/4, gVF, perfectly centered, exceptional reverse style, minor flaw on neck, weight 1.488 g, maximum diameter 14.2 mm, die axis 180o, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, Aug 476 - 11 Apr 491 A.D.; obverse D N ZENO PERP AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse VICTORIA AVGVSTORVM (to the victory of the Emperor), Victory advancing right, head left, wreath in right hand, globus cruciger in left hand, star in lower right field, CONOB in exergue; SOLD


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The obverse legend for this type is usually off flan, incomplete, and blundered.
SH81746. Bronze nummus, cf. RIC X 961, LRBC II 2282, SRCV V 21562, VF, very nice for the type, weight 1.208 g, maximum diameter 10.4 mm, die axis 0o, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, Second reign, Aug 476 - 11 Apr 491 A.D.; obverse D N ZENON PY[...] (or similar), pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse Zeno monogram (RIC monogram 4) within wreath, mint mark (KOC?) off flan in exergue; rare; SOLD




  




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OBVERSE| LEGENDS|

DNZENOPERPAG
DNZENOPERPAVG
DNZENOPERPFAV
DNZENOPERPFAVG
DNZENOPFAVG
INPZENOFELICISSIMOSENAVG


REFERENCES|

Carson, R., P. Hill & J. Kent. Late Roman Bronze Coinage. (London, 1960).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappes sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 8: Nepotian to Romulus Augustus, plus tesserae & cotorniates. (Paris, 1888).
Depeyrot, G. Les monnaies d'or de Constantin II Zenon (337-491). Moneta 5. (Wetteren, 1996).
Grierson, P. & M. Mays. Catalogue of Late Roman Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection. (Washington D.C., 1992).
Hahn, Wolfgang. Moneta Imperii Romani-Byzantinii. (Vienna, 1989).
Kent, J. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Volume X, The Divided Empire and the Fall of the Western Parts, AD 395 - 491. (London, 1994).
King, C. & D. Sear. Roman Silver Coins, Volume V, Carausius to Romulus Augustus. (London, 1987).
Ranieri, E. La monetazione di Ravenna antica dal V all' VIII secolo: impero romano e bizantino, regno ostrogoto e langobardo. (Bologna, 2006).
Ratto, R. Monnaies Byzantines et d'autre Pays contemporaines l'poque byzantine. (Lugano, 1930).
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. V: The Christian Empire...Constantine II to Zeno, AD 337 - 491. (London, 2014).
Tolstoi, I. Monnaies byzantines. (St. Petersburg, 1913 - 14).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Thursday, November 21, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Zeno