Featured The death of Constantine The Great

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Ocatarinetabellatchitchix, May 22, 2020.

  1. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Well-Known Member

    May 22nd 337 AD was the day of the death of Constantine the Great. But was he really that "Great" ? Hard to tell ; he always had a controversial reputation. Bruno Bleckmann wrote in his Sources of the history of Constantine : "ancient sources for his reign are abundant and detailed, but they have been strongly influenced by the official propaganda of the period and are often one-sided; no contemporaneous histories or biographies dealing with his life and rule have survived". Many stories had been told about him, but were they the truth, only the truth and nothing but the truth ? Not sure at all. Here is an example : Some of the ancient sources detail plots that Galerius made on Constantine's life in the months following Diocletian's abdication. They assert that Galerius assigned Constantine to lead an advance unit in a cavalry charge through a swamp on the middle Danube, made him enter into single combat with a lion, and attempted to kill him in hunts and wars. Constantine always emerged victorious: the lion emerged from the contest in a poorer condition than Constantine; Constantine returned to Nicomedia from the Danube with a Sarmatian captive to drop at Galerius' feet. It is uncertain how much these tales can be trusted.

    A recent statue of Constantine (1998), York UK.

    Such was Constantine, a character very mixed from a political and moral point of view: excellent son, murderer of his stepfather, his son and his wife, founder of a new Rome, after having abandoned the old one, reorganizer of the Empire without having reformed it, clever enough to abandon paganism early, not believing enough to embrace Christianity as quickly, master of others in religious affairs as in civilians, not always master of himself. He lived on the border of two worlds: in him ended the crimes of paganism and began the Christian virtues.

    Colossus of Constantine ( at the origin 40 feet high ).

    What can we say about the coinage in his time ? Constantine stopped minting the Diocletian's silver argenteus soon after 305 AD, while the billon currency continued to be used until around year 360. He reduced the size of the nummus from 1/32 to 1/40 of a pound at the beginning of the year 307 in the workshops of London, Treves and Lyon. Another reduction took place at 1/48 of a pound in summer 307 AD (also applied by Maxentius in Italy and North Africa). Constantine will continue in this way by reducing the nummus to 1/72 of a pound in 310.

    Constantine Follis, Trier 4.20g 310 AD

    In the spring of 313 AD, after the elimination of Maximinus Daia and while the empire was ruled only by Constantine and Licinius, the size of the nummus goes to 1/96 of a pound across the empire.

    Constantine Ae3, Lyons 3.5g 314-315 AD

    In the space of 6 years, the weight of the nummus was thus divided by three while its silver content decreased from approximately 5 to 1%. After Licinius' death in 324, the monetary system was harmonized. Constantine made 2 new reductions of the nummus, in 330 (1/132 of a pound, 2.48g) then in 336 (1/192 of a pound, 1.70g). The proportion of silver, which has been declining steadily since the reform, then barely reached 1%. As for gold, it is always struck in limited quantities, even if the reduction of the weight of the unit in gold from 1/60 to 1/72 of a pound (4.54g) by Constantine around 310 probably gave a little breath into production. The gold currency lightened by Constantine is commonly called solidus, which will gradually impose itself on the entire empire and which will experience an exceptional longevity, even surviving the fall of the empire.

    Now let's stop babbling and please show us your favorite coin of this "Great" Emperor and also tell us why it is special for you. Here is mine, first coin I ever bought from another CoinTalk member (@Bing ).

    Constantine Follis, London 2.82g. 319-320 AD
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  3. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    I'm unsure of how to explain why these are my favorites, but I will post them anyway.
    The portrait
    Constantine I 15.jpg
    The style Constantine I 24.jpg
    The message
    Constantine I 14.jpg
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
  4. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    Until I stepped into an antiques store in the harbour district of Byblos, Lebanon in 2003, I wasn’t aware it was even possible to collect ancient coins.
    I left the store 360$ poorer and a hobby richer, with 8 coins, 3 silk embroidered table cloths and an oil lamp neately wrapped in.
    I gave 3 coins to my coin collecting uncle, and kept 5 for myself. I think it took me 2 years to find out how I could identify the coins. I was happy to learn that one of them was from the time of Constantine the Great:


    I have always thought that I overpaid at that time, but considering what that deal has provided, it may have been one of the best purchases of my life. My mother still uses those nice table cloths daily, my uncle found out he had someone in the family to discuss coins with, and I got a hobby that has provided me with new friends and new knowledge. Needless to say, those coins are sacred in the collection. :)
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
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  5. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana

    In contrast to @svessien, my first Constantine joined my collection as coin #73... I don't recall why it took that long for me to get one.

    Constantine1 Campgate400.jpg CONSTANTINE I
    AE3. 3.98g, 19mm. Antioch mint, AD 331/333-334, 5th officina. RIC VII Antioch 81. O: CONSTAN-TINVS AVG, rosette-diademed head right. R: PROVIDEN-TIAE AVGG, campgate with 11 layers, 2 turrets and star inbetween, pellet in doorway; SMANTЄ in exergue.

    Here are a few other favorites that I've managed to add through the years.

    Constantine I - Follis Dattari Gloria Exercitus 2344.jpg
    AE3. 3.4g, 21.3mm. Constantinople, AD 327-328. RIC VII Constantinople 22 (R3). O: CONSTANTI-NVS MAX AVG, rosette-diademed head right. R: GLORIA EXERCITVS, soldier standing left, looking right, holding spear and resting hand on shield; Γ in left field, CONS in exergue.
    Ex Giovanni Dattari Collection

    Constantine - as Caesar Vota Trier Mazzini 2573.jpg CONSTANTINE I
    AE Quarter-Follis. 1.82g, 16.7mm. Trier mint, AD 306-307. RIC VI Trier 750; Mazzini 748 (this coin). O: FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NC, laureate, cuirassed bust right. R: VO/TIS/X in three lines within wreath.
    Ex Giuseppe Mazzini Collection

    Constantine I - Libertas Pvblica.jpg CONSTANTINE I
    AE3. 3.15g, 19mm, Constantinople mint, AD 327-328. RIC VII 25 (R2). O: CONSTANTI-NVS MAX AVG, rosette-diademed head right. R: LIBERT-A-S PVBLICA, Victory standing with head left on a galley, holding up a wreath in each hand; CONS in exergue, B in left field.

    Constantine - Constantiniana Dafne Eyes to Heaven.jpg CONSTANTINE I
    AE3. 3.12g, 20mm. Constantinople mint, AD 328. RIC VII Constantinople 32. O: CONSTANTI-NVS MAX AVG, rosette-diademed head of Constantine right, looking up to the heavens. R: CONSTANTINI-ANA DAFNE, Victory seated left on cippus, palm branch in left hand and laurel branch in right hand, looking right, spurning a captive kneeling left with head turned right; a shield at her foot and a trophy before her; gamma in left field, CONS in exergue.
  6. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    Well at least you knew what you were doing then, which we can see from the choices you made. Really neat coins.
    I buy a late Roman every now and then. One that I really like is this one, bought from Naville this year:

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  7. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    On this follis some silvering remains.



    This follis has a lustrous patina plus the phrase "Our Lord Constantinus the Great Augustus" on the reverse


  8. ominus1

    ominus1 Supporter! Supporter

    the truest history is full of fiction...my 1st ancients were LRB's of Constantine... constantine ae 'after death' 001.JPG constantine ae 'after death' 002.JPG
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  9. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana

    That's a very enviable coin.... excellent style, well struck, and a full 27mm in size!
    svessien likes this.
  10. NicholasMaximus

    NicholasMaximus Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately, most of what we know about Ancient Roman leaders, needs to be analyzed through the political lens of the time. Most of our best sources, were political animals, Senators and leaders in their own right.

    To think that their own politics didnt impact their writing, is unbelievable in my opinion. In some of my college studies, I personally found Caligula to be an emperor that was likely treated unfairly by the ancient sources. Of course, since he was also the first emperor to be condemned by "damnatio memoriae" many artifacts from his rule were destroyed.

    Anyway, back to Constantine. I only have two coins that depict him (i'm new to this hobby). The reverse with him as Jupiter, is my favorite of the two. The details on the "Dafne" arent great, but both of these were very affordable so i snapped them up anyway.

    constantiniana dafne.jpg constantine.jpg
  11. Shea19

    Shea19 Supporter! Supporter

    This one will always be my favorite coin of Constantine I. It is from the unrecorded period in his reign when he apparently put on 50 pounds and grew out some awful long skinny sideburns. I’ll never understand how this portrait came to be, but I always get a good laugh when I see this one in my tray.

    Constantine I, AE Follis Cyzicus circa 313, (22mm., 3.61g.) Laureate head right/ Rev. Jupiter standing l., holding Victory and eagle standing l. with wreath: in r. field, B and in exergue, SMK. RIC 3.
  12. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    Must have been from his biker days! :D Great coin.
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  13. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    When I stopped buying garbage lots and decided to start a "one of each" collection, I thought I could get just one coin of Constantine. I couldn't. They are too common, too interesting, and too affordable!

    First up, a follis as Caesar from London Constantine as Caesar follis Lyon GENIO POP ROM.jpg

    His "participation medal" after agreeing to relinquish his initial claims to the purple - FIL AVGG, "Son of the Emperors"
    Constantine fil avgg genio.jpg

    An early issue as Augustus, still sporting a beard and a rather generic portrait
    Constantine follis iovi conservatori avgg nn.jpg

    Some assorted favorites from later in his reign
    constantine captives banner siscia.jpg
    Constantine sol invicto comiti helmeted.jpg
    constantine marti conservatori mars bust.jpg
    Constantine constantiniana dafne eyes to heaven.jpg

    An early example of a cross sneaking its way onto a pagan coin design
    Constantine sol invicto cross.jpg
    constantine I gloria exercitvs antioch.jpg
    And his posthumous coinage - quite fond of this design
    Divus constantine quadriga.jpg

    As for the man himself - I'm generally inclined to think that in the long term, he did a lot more harm than good for the empire. Rome was never the same after his death.
  14. JulesUK

    JulesUK Well-Known Member

    I have a very soft spot for Constantine I, mainly because as @Finn235 just said, there are a lot of them and they are affordable for the budding collector (Like me).
    Funnily enough, my first ever coin just happens to be a Constantine I (Six more are in my collection thus far), which is why this one is so special to me:-

    1-Constantine I 2 Soldiers.jpg

    CONSTANTINE I AE 18mm 2.9g. RIC VII Antioch 86.
    Bought 18/10/19 £9.25
  15. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    My absolute favorite ""Manus Dei""

    P1230118 (2).JPG

    P1150046b (2).jpg P1170999 (2).JPG P1140478 (2).JPG P1140646 (2).JPG
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  16. DonnaML

    DonnaML Well-Known Member

    Other than his commemorative coins for Constantinople and Rome, I have only one coin of Constantine I:

    Constantine I, silvered billon Centenionalis, Siscia Mint 321-24 AD. Obv. Laureate head right, CONSTAN-TINVS AVG/ Rev. D N CONSTANTINI MAX AVG, laurel wreath enclosing VOT/•/XX. Mintmark Γ[gamma]SIS followed by sunburst/radiate semicircle [= Siscia mint, 3rd officina]. RIC VII 180 (p. 446), Sear RCV IV 16220. 20 mm., 3.38 g.

    Constantine I - VOT XX - jpg version.jpg

    Here's my Constantinopolis commemorative:

    Constantine I, Billon reduced Centenionalis, Siscia Mint 334-335 AD. Obv. Bust of Constantinopolis left, wearing laureate helmet and imperial robes, & holding scepter over left shoulder, CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS / Rev. Winged Victory standing left, right foot set on ship’s prow, holding transverse scepter in right hand and resting left hand on shield; • BSIS • [Siscia, Second officina] in exergue. RIC VII 241 (p. 456), Sear RCV IV 16469. 18 mm., 2.5 g.

    1001-CONSTANTINOPOLIS Constantine I jpg version - RCV IV 16469.jpg

    I just posted my VRBS ROMA coin in another thread yesterday, so here's a link to it: https://www.cointalk.com/threads/new-purchase.360332/#post-4517640.

    And then there's this Constantinopolis coin I bought for approximately 25 cents at my local coin shop back when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I was very proud of it at the time, and as wretched as it is, have kept it all these years:

    Constantine AE3 O1.jpg

    Constantine AE3 R1.jpg

    If anyone can identify the mint, please let me know!
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
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  17. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Well-Known Member

    Great post once again from @Ocatarinetabellatchitchix the Great !

    This one is my favorite, for it's style, preservation and rarity :

    Constantine the Great, Follis - Nicomedia mint, 2nd officina, c. AD 311
    IMP C FL VAL CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate head right
    VIRTVTIE-XERCITVS Mars/Virtus advancing right in military dress, holding transverse spear and shield ; trophy over shoulder. B in right field. SMN in exergue.
    4.88 gr, 22 mm
    RIC-, C-, Roman coins -
    RIC lists this type only for Licinius and Maximinus . "Iovi Conservatori and Virtuti Exercitus both appear for Licinius and Maximinus, emissions for the former being the more scarce: coinage for Constantine is extremely rare. Date, c. 311". Coin should be listed after NICOMEDIA 70c.
    Please see Victor Clarks website for further information at :http://www.constantinethegreatcoins.com/unlisted/

    And I'll post the following too, because on his passing anniversary, I feel I have to :

    Constantine the Great, Posthumous AE3 - Nicomedia mint, 2nd officina
    D V CONSTANTINVS PT AVGG, veiled bust right
    Anepigraph, Constantine the great in a Quadriga right, SMNS at exergue
    2.19 gr
    Ref : Cohen # 760, LRBC # 1132

  18. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE


    The only ones I have. I am not a fan.

    RI Constantine I CE 306-337 Æ Follis 19mm 3.2g Siscia CE 326-7 AVG Laureate R - PROVIDENTIAE AVGG Camp gate 2 turrets no door star RIC 200

    RI Constantine I AVG Follis Votive XX seated captives 2.69g 18mm RIC VII 191 London

    RI Constantine I Folles 306-337 CE Captives VOTA Banner
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  19. DonnaML

    DonnaML Well-Known Member

    I'm not a fan of Constantine I the man either, but I'm not a fan of lots of Roman Emperors, and that hasn't stopped me from buying their coins so far! The bigger obstacle for me is that I'm not a big fan of LRB's in general, although they're generally still so inexpensive, even in decent condition, that I do try to buy at least one nice coin from each different emperor I come across. So far I have coins from three of his four sons. I'm still looking for a Constantine II I'd like to buy.
  20. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE

    I just came away reading about him as: "Control the Empire, now let's control their MINDS."

    Mine aren't pretty, but I have a couple:


    RI Constantine II 337-340 CE AE3 GLORIA EXERCITVS Glory to the Army 2 Soldiers 2 Standards

    RI Constantine II 337-340 CE AE3 VOT X
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  21. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark all my best friends are dead Romans Dealer

    It's Thessalonica, the mintmark is SMTSE
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