Munten, Constantijn I, Follis
312-313 - Ostia - ZF - Bronzen - RIC:83
- Nominale waarde: Follis
- Jaar: 312-313
- Atelier: Ostia
- Metaal: Bronzen
- Diameter: 22.7
- Hoofdpersonage: Constantijn I
Constantine I “the Great”
- Reign over the Western Roman Empire: AD 306–337
- Reign over the Byzantine Empire: AD 324–337
- Period: Constantinian dynasty
Flavius Valerius Constantinus was born around 272 in the city of Naissus in Moesia (modern-day Niš in Serbia) and died on May 22, 337, in Nicomedia in Bithynia (modern-day İzmit in Turkey). His reign was of exceptional longevity for the period.
Among the major reforms, we are indebted to him for the end of the Tetrarchy and the reunification of the Western Roman and Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empires in 324 following his defeat of Licinius. The capital of the Byzantine Empire was then founded in 324: the ancient city of Byzantium became Constantinople. It would take six years of work before the city was inaugurated in 330.
He brought an end to the religious persecution of Christians with the Edict of Milan in 313 and had the Orthodox doctrine of Christianity defined with the First Council of Nicaea in 325.
Under his leadership, the prefects of the prefectures became great administrators: maintaining order, managing the post, taxes, maintenance of public buildings, education, payment of salaries, etc. They also supervised the governors of the provinces. This system of administrative decentralization rendered the vast empire governable again.
Economy and currency
In 312, the aureus was greatly depreciated. Constantine then replaced it with a new currency of account, the gold solidus (4.55 grams), which would endure for nearly 1,000 years in the East. This respectable currency, the millesimal fineness and weight of which were closely monitored by the workshops issuing it, boosted the economy and pushed the wealthy into hoarding as a safe investment. While silver, bronze, and copper coins suffer the effects of inflation, that is not the case for the solidus.
Painting: "The Triumphant Entry of Constantine into Rome" by Peter Paul Rubens (1621)
Bronze (not to be confused with brass, although usage of the two terms varied in times of yore) is an extremely ancient alloy with origins going back to the period around 2,000 BC. Also known...wait for it...as the Bronze Age (who would have guessed?). Back in ancient times, a proportion of 10% tin was added to copper. It was used in particular for luxurious objects such as swords, helmets, hairpins, and even chariot ornaments.
That is by no means insignificant though, as when putting on a bronze helmet you would already find yourself with an extra 3 kilos or so on your head. Add to that your sword and armor…let’s see you advance quickly now!
The heavyweight of alloys one might say*.
The first Western bronze coins probably date back to the end of the 4th century BC and Greece.
Although the coins may be ancient, it is more difficult to date the appearance of a specific word for this alloy. The earliest record is a Venetian manuscript in Greek dating from the 11th century, but it is not impossible that it was in use earlier.
Nowadays, the bronze used in coinage is an alloy of copper (majority) and tin (minority) along with other metals such as zinc, for example, which improves the castability, or nickel, which produces a harder alloy. Its main qualities are undeniably its great resistance to corrosion and mechanical wear as well as...its aesthetic aspect.
The patina of bronze can vary, ranging from verdigris to brown through to black.
*Actually, puns aside, copper and cupronickel have a greater density, for example.
An “EF(40-45)” quality
As in numismatics it is important that the state of conservation of an item be carefully evaluated before it is offered to a discerning collector with a keen eye.
This initially obscure acronym comprising two words describing the state of conservation is explained clearly here:
This means – more prosaically – that the coin has circulated well from hand to hand and pocket to pocket but the impact on its wear remains limited: the coins retains much of its mint luster, sharp detailing and little sign of being circulated. Closer examination with the naked eye reveals minor scratches or nicks.