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CNG Feature Auction 126

Lot nuber 995

Alexander. 912-913. AV Solidus (21.5mm, 4.35 g, 6h). Constantinople mint. EF.

CNG Feature Auction 126
Lot: 995.
 Estimated: $ 20 000

The Family of Constantine Collection, Coin-in-Hand Video, Gold

Sold For $ 70 000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

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Alexander. 912-913. AV Solidus (21.5mm, 4.35 g, 6h). Constantinople mint. Christ Pantokrator enthroned facing on suppedion, nimbate, raising hand in benediction and holding Gospels / Crowned facing figure of Alexander, wearing loros decorated with a cross at end and holding globus cruciger, being crowned by St. Alexander, to right, holding cross. DOC 2; Füeg 2.A; SB 1737. Toned, a couple light scratches. EF. Very rare.

From the Family of Constantine Collection, assembled with guidance by Roland Michel, Geneva. Ex Triton IV (5 December 2000), lot 828.

Alexander, the third son of Basil I, was co-emperor throughout his brother Leo VI’s reign, although he took no part in actual governing. Upon Leo’s death, he succeeded to the position of senior emperor, ruling alongside Leo VI’s young son Constantine VII. Contemporary sources are unanimous in proclaiming Alexander a self-indulgent drunkard, feckless and unfit to rule. In contrast to his brother Leo VI deemed “the wise,” Alexander was anything but. He dismissed nearly all of Leo’s ministers and generals, whose diplomatic skills had kept the empire relatively stable and prosperous for the previous twenty-five years. He additionally broke a peace treaty with the Bulgarians by refusing to pay tribute upon his accession which prompted a long and destructive war. Alexander also reportedly considered having his nephew (and prospective successor) Constantine castrated in order to end his line out of spite. Ultimately, Alexander was spared witnessing the consequences of his terrible decisions after he reportedly either contracted a stomach ailment or suffered internal bleeding from an injury during a ball game. He died after only a year and a month as senior ruler before he could do further damage to the empire. In his final act of disdain for his successor, Alexander set up a regency council on his deathbed to order to hamper the new ruler Constantine VII. Constantine’s mother Zoe was notably excluded from this first regency.

Despite Alexander’s notorious career as emperor, his very rare gold solidi are notable, however, for featuring a new reverse type for Byzantine coinage. This solidus features Saint Alexander, who is shown crowning the emperor on the reverse. This likely represents Alexander of Constantinople, the first archbishop of the city, who lived during the time of Constantine the Great. The reverse type of the emperor being crowned by a saint (often a namesake) would be adopted in future reigns. Additionally, this series of solidi was the first to feature a saint other than the Theotokos on Byzantine coinage.

The final winners of all CNG Feature Auction 126 lots will be determined during the live online sale that will be held on 28-29 May 2024. This lot is in Session Four, which will begin 29 May at 2 PM ET.

Winning bids are subject to a 22.5% buyer's fee for bids placed on this website and 25% for all others.

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