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Research Coins: Feature Auction

CNG 87, Lot: 1293. Estimate $12500.
Sold for $12505. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Irene. 797-802. AV Histamenon Nomisma (19mm, 4.31 g, 6h). Constantinople mint. Crowned facing bust of Irene, holding globus cruciger and cross-scepter / Crowned facing bust of Irene, holding globus cruciger and cross-scepter; pellet at start of legend, cross in circle at end. DOC 1; Füeg 2.B.1; SB 1599. EF, slight double strike. Rare.

The powerful personality of Irene had always overshadowed that of her son Constantine, and only an army mutiny had prevented her from taking power in 790 AD. After a short period in exile, she returned to Constantinople, and began working at eliminating her enemies. As the coinage shows, she quickly relegated her son to second place. By 797 AD she had discredited Constantine to the point that she could have him deposed, blinded, and murdered with little outcry. In 802 AD Irene was also deposed after attempting to arrange a marriage between herself and Charlemagne.