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Lot 4237

Justin I and Justinian I, 527. Gold Solidus (4.4g) minted at Constantinople. D N IVSTIN ET IVSTINAN PP AVG. Nimbate, draped figures seated facing of Justin and Justinian on a shared throne represented by uprights and crossbar, their right hands at their breasts, each holding a globus in his left hand; between their heads, a cross; in exergue, CONOB. Reverse: VICTORI - A AVGGG I. Victory standing facing, holding long cross in right hand, globus cruciger in left; to right, star; in exergue, CONOB. Cf. Sear 119 and DO 4 (officina letter). Slightly uneven flan. Very Rare. Lustrous. Superb Extremely Fine.

A Thraco-Roman swineherd from Dardania in Illyricum, Justin found his way to Constantinople after fleeing a barbarian invasion that savaged his land. Joining the army, he rose rapidly thanks to his martial abilities, becoming a general, then commander of the palace guard under Anastasius. Using his position, he was able to secure the throne for himself after Anastasius death. Called a "boorish, rude and illiterate soldier" by the historian Procopius, Justin, who spoke barely rudimentary Greek, was a military man who had little knowledge of statecraft.

Understanding his own weaknesses, Justin wisely surrounded himself with advisors he could trust. Chief among these was his nephew, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius: Peter, renamed Justinian at court, who would become one of the most brilliant emperors of the Byzantine empire. When Justin's health began to fail in early 527, he made Justinian co-emperor. This political development was popularly disseminated via the issuance of this join-reign coinage with all its appropriate symbolism. Viewing the number of dies used for this coinage, it served as a major tool in broadcasting the new power structure. Given the rarity of these coins, though, the majority appear to have been melted down.

The remarkable coinage of the brief joint reign of Justin I and his chosen successor Justinian I (April-August 527) was issued from four mints and in an extensive range of denominations. This rare and attractive solidus shows the two nimbate emperors enthroned side by side, while the reverse has the facing Victory type introduced by Justin about 522. This possibly reflects the union with the Church of Rome which laid the foundations for Justinian's later reconquest of Italy.
Estimated Value $4,000 - 6,000.
The Hunter Collection.

Realized $3,565

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