Featured Anepigraphic CONSTANTINIANA DAFNE from Constantinople

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Victor_Clark, Jul 23, 2020.

  1. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark standing on the shoulders of giants Dealer

    My newest acquisition is this anepigraphic (no legend) coin from Constantinople.


    Constantine I
    A.D. 327
    21mm 3.2g
    OBV. Anepigraphic: rosette diademed head, looking up to heavens
    REV. CONSTANTINIANA DAFNE; Victory seated l. on cippus, palm branch in left hand and laurel branch in right hand, looking r.; trophy at front, at the foot is a kneeling captive with head turned being spurned by Victory; E in left.
    in ex. CONS
    Constantinople mint

    The obverse is the famous “eyes to heaven” bust, likely inspired by Alexander the Great coins.

    "How deeply his soul was impressed by the power of divine faith may be understood from the circumstance that he directed his likeness to be stamped on the golden coin of the empire with eyes uplifted as in the posture of prayer to God: and this money became current throughout the Roman world." (Eusebius IV.15)

    The reverse has an interesting legend CONSTANTINIANA DAFNE; which translates as Constantinian Dafne. The word dafne in Greek (daphne) means laurel; which is a symbol of victory. (see Jones, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins) So the reverse legend actually means “Constantinian victory” and the victory was the Battle of Chrysopolis (A.D. 324) in which Licinius was defeated.


    The small captive on the reverse was also a symbol of victory. So much victory symbolism packed into one coin!

    Following this victory, four entirely new coins were struck only for Constantine from Constantinople--GLORIA EXERCITVS, GLORIA ROMANORVM, LIBERTAS PVBLICA, and SPES PVBLIC.
    It was during these issues that the bust types changed from laurel to diadem. Philostorgius (Greek historian A.D. 368- 439) said that Constantine began wearing the diadem as a sign "of his sole rule and Victory over opponents." The fifth coin in the victory series, DAFNE types, was also only struck for Constantine.

    This anepigraphic type is not listed in RIC VII. According to Speck and Huston in "Constantine's Dafne Coinage at Constantinople" (1992), note 8, there were three specimens of this coin in the Bankhaus H. Aufhaeuser Munich auctions 7. 1990, 777; 8, 1991, 704; and 9, 1992, 522.

    However, this type was known much earlier and somehow forgotten.

    Jules Maurice mentioned an unpublished coin with diademed head and no legend..."une tete diademee sans legende" (pg 514 #3) in his 1911 book "Numismatique Constantinienne"

    This type was even illustrated in the Otto Voetter catalogue of 1909 “Constantinvs Junior Inbesonders seine Münzen als Augustus und die gleichzeitigen Kupferprägungen in den römischen Münzstätten”


    RIC also misdescribes the reverse as Victory holding two palm branches, when it is actually a palm and a laurel branch. Voetter noticed the difference between the branches in his 1921 Gerin catalogue "Victoria mit Zweig und Palmzweig" (Victory with branch and palm branch).

    And to end on a speculative note--

    At some point, the pagan Victory also became the Christian angel. In this transition, the image of Victory did not even change. She still had wings and is depicted with the victor's wreath and palm. "This is perhaps the only case in which the transition from pagan goddess to Christian angel is perfectly clear." (Harold Mattingly, The Man in the Roman Street.)

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  3. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Nice example.
  4. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    I've always liked the "Dafne" types, but haven't bothered to acquire one. A great addition, Victor.
  5. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    There were a couple of coins I was watching on Roma too -- this one and a denier tournois of Helena Angelina -- but both went too high for my budget.

    Congrats on a beautiful coin. Although I still think that Valens campgate you showed us a fortnight ago is hard to beat.
  6. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Enrich the soldiers...ignore all others

    Very nice coin Victor. And thanks for the interesting backdrop to the coin.
  7. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark standing on the shoulders of giants Dealer

    Thanks everyone. This is my third anepigraphic Dafne, but I have since sold the other two. I plan on keeping this one for a while.


  8. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    Nice example of a neat type! cns31.JPG
  9. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    That's a real beauty, Victor. Congratulations. I would love to acquire one of these someday.
    Or perhaps it was his nephew, Licinius II, whom Constantine had murdered at age 9 because--let's face it--9-year-olds present a profound risk to one's sovereignty.

    I have the more common eyes-to-heaven type:
    Constantinople mint, A.D. 328
    RIC 32
    Rev: CONSTANTINI-ANA DAFNE - Victory on cippus, holding palms; trophy in front; captive at feet
    CONS in exergue; B in left field
    20 mm, 3.1 g.

    BTW, how many of you have seen this version of the coin with the obverse portrait deliberately rotated CCW about 25 or so degrees listed as "eyes to heaven"?

    Constantinople mint, A.D. 328
    RIC 35
    19 mm, 2.7 g.
    7Calbrey, Johndakerftw and Bing like this.
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