MA-Shops: The Golden Solidus
Most starting collectors of ancient coins have something in common. They want an ancient gold coin in their collection. Golden coins from ancient times are most of the times expensive investments.
Think of the golden aurei from Roman Imperial times or the Greek golden staters. These coins are investments of thousands of euros. A good alternative for this are the golden solidi. I will discuss this attractive type of coin.
The first golden solidus was minted during the early reign of Constantine the Great (the early 3rd century AD). They were minted for the first time in city Trier. Subsequently the solidi were minted in the other mints of Constantine’s empire as well. In the year 324 AD Constantine the Great became the sole ruler of the empire. After this he made the solidus the standard gold coin of the Roman Empire.
The solidus then replaced the aureus. The aurei had been minted since the Roman Republic but lost his reputation in the 3rd century AD. Seventy-two solidi could be minted from a roman pound (326.6 g). This is the equivalent of the modern 4.5 grams. It was almost a gram less than the former aureus.
The success of the solidus was not because of his weight but because of his constant fineness and weight. The aureus reduced for centuries in weight and fineness. Because of this it lost his trust completely. It seems that rulers learned from this.
The solidus developed as an icon of economic imperial power in the Byzantine Empire. The solidus was soon accepted everywhere in the then known world.
Many empires decided to copy this coin instead of creating their own because of the great reputation of the solidus. There was no coin in this time that could be compared to the solidus. It was a magnificent invention. Since it was for more than 700 years struck in the same weight and fineness, the solidus became the main trade coin from Europe, the Mediterranean, parts of Asia and in certain periods the Arab world. It can be compared with the nowadays dollar/euro but at that time one of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages.
Written by Joël van Dam, Owner of Joëlnumismatics.
Solidus 602-610AD Byzantium
Weight: 4.40 g
Constantinople mint Draped & cuirassed bust facing
rev. Angel standing facing holding long cross & cross on globe.
Catalog: Cohen 44 | RIC 1287
weight 4,29gr. | Ø 21mm.
Catalog: Cohen 44 | RIC 1287 R
Slightly weak strike but still some lustre
Weight: 4.36 g
Diameter: 20.10 mm
Struck 519-527 AD, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right,angel standing facing, holding jewelled cross and cross on globe;
Star in right field; mintmark CONOB,D N IVSTI-NVS P P AVG,VICTORI-A AVGGG B
Catalog: Hahn 48 Sommer 11.32 Sear 767
Solidus 638/639 4.20 g.
VICTORIA AVCC, CONOB
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