Munten, Constantijn I, Follis
317-318 - Ticinum - PR - Koper - RIC:68
- Nominale waarde: Follis
- Jaar: 317-318
- Atelier: Ticinum
- Metaal: Koper
- Diameter: 19.1
- 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)
Copper might not be classed a precious metal but still falls into group 11 of the periodic table alongside gold and silver. Three metals frequently used to mint coins. Why, you might ask? Whilst there is no doubt that silver and gold are precious, copper is more common. It oxidizes little upon contact with air and both its visual appeal and availability in its natural state are also undeniable aspects.
Furthermore, copper is one of the oldest metals to have been worked by humans. There is evidence of it having been used almost 8,000 years ago.
The melting of copper began in the wind furnaces of the Iranian plateau around 5000 BC.
As is often the case with coins, its first known use was in Greece in a few centuries BC. It was also used for the Chinese cash issued for the first time by the Qin dynasty (221 to 206 BC).
The word copper comes from the Latin cŭprĕum, in other words Cyprus, the main source of the mineral in antiquity. Copper naturally has a reddish-orange color and, to add a touch of polytheism, is traditionally dedicated to the goddess of beauty Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans).
Copper’s patina is generally verdigris.
An “AU(55-58)” 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 been in circulation but sufficiently little that its original beauty is preserved almost in its entirety. The wear is barely visible and any other defect can only be identified with a magnifying glass or a particularly keen eye. The number (55-58) indicates that between three quarters and almost all of the original luster remains.