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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Confirming a Possible New Mint for Zeno

CNG 106, Lot: 861. Estimate $3000.
Sold for $1800. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Zeno. Second reign, AD 476-491. AV Solidus (19mm, 4.44 g, 6h). Uncertain mint, 4th officina. D N ZENO PERP AVG, pearl-diademed, helmeted, and cuirassed bust facing slightly right, holding spear over shoulder with right hand, on left arm a shield decorated with horseman spearing an enemy below / VICTORI A AVCCC, Victory standing left, holding jeweled cross in right hand; star to right; Δ//CONOR. Cf. RIC X 3627 (Ravenna; for type); Lacam Classe I, Type 1 (attributed to Bononia) under Theoderic); Ranieri –; Depeyrot –. EF, a few minor marks. Extremely rare.

Based on the CONOR in the exergue, Lacam assigned this issue to the reign of the Ostrogothic king Theoderic, an attribution which catalogers of these coins have generally adopted. M.A. Metlich, in his recent study of the Ostrogothic coinage (COI), however, states that no solidi in the name of Zeno can be attributed to Theoderic, implying that such issues must be official coinages of the emperor. In fact, P. Grierson noted a Zeno with Leo tremissis with the CONOR mintmark in Dumbarton Oaks (DOCLR 628), which he assigned to Constantinople. While CONOR is suggestive of an unofficial or imitative issue, examples with this mintmark are recorded with one of seven different officina letters – A, B, Γ, Δ, Є, Z, and Θ. So many officina letters are unknown in contemporary Germanic issues that imitate imperial coinage, and rather suggest a well-structured official mint whose identification is not yet certain.