Most beginning collectors of ancient coins have something in common: they want an ancient gold coin in their collection. The Roman solidus is a good candidate.
Gold coins from ancient times are most of the times expensive investments. Think of the golden aureus from Roman Imperial times or gold Greek staters. These coins mean the investment of thousands of dollars or euros. A good alternative to these more expensive types is the Roman golden solidus. I will discuss this attractive type of coin below.
The first gold solidus was minted during the early reign of Constantine the Great (early third century CE). They were minted for the first time in the German city of Trier but subsequently struck at other mints throughout Constantine’s empire as well. In the year 324 CE, 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. Aurei had been minted since the time of the Roman Republic but by the third century it had lost its reputation for purity, greatly reduced in weight and fineness.
It seems, however, that the rulers of Rome had learned from this. Seventy-two solidi could be minted from a roman pound (326.6 g). This is the equivalent of the modern 4.5 grams – almost a gram less than the former aureus. The success of the solidus was not because of its weight but because of its constant fineness and weight.
The solidus became an icon of economic imperial power in the Byzantine Empire. The solidus was soon accepted everywhere in the 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 at the time that could compare 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 used in Europe, the Mediterranean, parts of Asia and, in certain periods, the Arab world. It’s impact and utility can be compared with the contemporary dollar or euro.
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Gold Solidi from MA-Shops.com
- Catalog: S-620
- Weight: 4.40 g
Constantinople mint. Draped & cuirassed bust facing. Reverse: Angel standing facing holding long cross & cross on globe.
- Catalog: Cohen 44 | RIC 1287
- Weight 4.29 g
- Diameter: 21 mm
Slightly weak strike but still some luster.
- Weight: 4.36 g
- Diameter: 20.10 mm
- Catalog: Sear:56
Struck 519-527 CE, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right, angel standing facing, holding jeweled 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
- Weight: 4.20 g
Solidus 638/639 CE. VICTORIA AVCC, CONOB.
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