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Argenteus Minutus

CNG 106, Lot: 915. Estimate $1000.
Sold for $2200. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

MEROVINGIANS, Uncertain mint in Austrasia or Neustria. temp. Childeric I - Clovis I. Late 4th-early 5th centuries. AR Argenteus Minutus (14.5mm, 0.27 g, 6h). Diademed, cuirassed, and draped bust right; pseudo-legend around / Roma seated right, holding small Victory and spear; star to left, pellet to right; pseudo-legend around. Cf. J. Lafaurie, “Les dernières émissions impériales de Trèves au Ve siècle” in Mélanges Bastien, pl. 25, 16; MEC I pp. 90, 105, & 111-2. VF, toned, holed for suspension. Very rare.

From the BRN Collection. purchased from Andy Singer, December 2014. Ex Sonntag 19 (2 June 2014), lot 109.

The argentei minuti are the earliest silver coinage attributed to the Merovingian period. They are all copies of late 4th century Roman siliquae, with weights ranging from 0.40 to 0.20 grams, and are found primarily in the region between the Seine and Rhine rivers in northern Francia, which corresponds to the medieval regions of Austrasia and Neustria. Most have been found in graves, and were holed and worn on a necklace or bracelet, apparently as payment by the deceased to Charon to gain passage over the river Styx ('Charon's obol' or 'viaticum'). As noted in MEC, the exact purpose of these coins is uncertain, but there is anecdotal literary evidence that they were disbursements to the poor by the king. While some pieces bear good Latin legends, many are partially or completely degraded as on the present piece.