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Rare Ticinum Mint Solidus

CNG 111, Lot: 805. Estimate $7500.
Sold for $13000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Constantine I. AD 307/310-337. AV Solidus (19mm, 4.38 g, 6h). Ticinum mint. Struck AD 320. CONSTANT-INVS P F AVG, laureate head right / CONCORD-I-A AVGG NN, Concordia seated left, holding caduceus in right hand, cradling cornucopia in left arm; SMT. RIC VII 101; Alföldi 13a; Depeyrot 17/1; Calicó –; Biaggi –; Hunterian –; Jameson –; Mazzini 65 var. (obv. legend break). EF, underlying luster, a few minor marks. Very rare, only one listed by Depeyrot (in Vienna), three in CoinArchives.

Constantine I “the Great” imposed radical and important reforms to all parts of the Roman currency system during his reign, one of the most significant of these being his replacement of the gold aureus with the lighter gold soldius, a new gold denomination, weighing approximately 4.50 grams, that would survive well into late Antiquity. While, in the East, the aureus continued to be struck by Maximinus II and Licinius into the 320s, the production of the solidus began early in Constantine’s reign in the West of the Empire.  The fractional denominations of the new solidus were the gold semissis (half solidus), and the gold 9-siliqua (or 1½ scripulum) piece, which would later be discarded in favour of the tremissis (one-third solidus).  Constantine also abandoned Diocletian’s silver argenteus, and toward the end of the 320s introduced the lighter silver siliqua (although it might have continued to be called the argenteus by contemporaries), as well as the heavier silver miliarensis.  The miliarensis weighed the same as a solidus, but was worth 1/18th of the gold coin, whereas a silver siliqua was worth ¾ of the miliarensis.  Both of these silver denominations also proved to have longevity, continuing to be used well into the early Byzantine period.  The billon coinage steadily decreased in size and weight throughout Constantine’s reign, and he finally abandoned the follis as a denomination in around AD 318/9.  With Licinius’s defeat in the East in AD 324, the mints there came under Constantine’s control, meaning that his new coinage would finally be produced uniformly throughout the Empire.