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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: CNG 64, Lot: 1231. Estimate $750. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 24 September 2003. 
Sold For $620. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THEODOSIUS II. 402-450 AD. AV Solidus (4.43 gm). Constantinople mint. Struck 443 AD. Helmeted, diademed, and cuirassed bust facing slightly right, holding spear and shield decorated with horseman motif / Constantinopolis enthroned left, left foot on prow, holding globus cruciger and sceptre; shield at her side, star in left field; COMOB. RIC X 301; Depeyrot 84/1. Choice EF. ($750)

The exact significance of the very large issue of solidi dated to the forty-second regnal year of Theodosius II to which this coin belongs has stirred interest among scholars for many years. There is the unlikely explanation that Theodosius was stressing the length of his reign, as he was the first emperor in over four hundred years to have achieved the same length of rule as Augustus. The problem with this theory is that by the standards of the time, Augustus' reign was considered to have started with the death of Caesar in 44 BC, making his reign 56 years in length. The more plausible explanation for the reverse legend is that, by Byzantine reckoning, Christ was born in the forty-second year of Augustus' reign and Theodosius was drawing attention to this fact (see J.P.C. Kent, "IMP XXXXII COS XVII PP," Florilegum Numismaticum, pg. 189-196).