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Numismatics

ID number:  BIRBI-B0167
Object type:  Coin
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Named collection:  P. D. Whitting Collection
Collector:  Whitting, Philip D.
Maker:  Justin I (518-527)
Denomination:  Solidus
Place made:  Mint of Constantinople
Culture:  Byzantine
Date made:  519-527
Metal:  Gold
Weight (g):  4.23
BIRBI-B0167.jpg

Description:  Obverse: Bust of Justin I wearing cuirass, paludamentum (military cloak), and plume topped helmet with diadem. Justin holds a spear in his right hand and a shield with a horseman spearing a fallen enemy device.
Reverse: Angel holding a long cross in right hand and a globus cruciger in left.

When Anastasius I died there was no heir, so the Senate had to choose the new emperor. Eventually the commanding officer of the Excubitors (imperial guard unit) was chosen. Justin I was a peasant from Illyria (modern Serbia). Justin is mostly remembered today for paving the way for the rise to power of his nephew Peter, the future Justinian I. On this coin Justin is shown in the traditional guise of soldier emperor (in his case an accurate representation). On the reverse of this coin Justin I replaced the image of Victory (present in one form or another since 420) with that of an Angel. This event has been linked with the union between the Church of Rome and that of Constantinople, concluded in 519. The plural Augustorum is a relic of the fourth and fifth centuries when there were multiple emperors. Originally the number of C’s indicated the number of emperors.

Inscriptions:  Obverse:. DNIVSTI NVSPPAVC (Our Lord Justin Eternal Augustus)
Reverse: VICTORI AAVCCCA (Victory of the Augusti Officina [workshop] A)
CONOB (CON=Mint mark of Constantinople, OB=obrizum, refined gold) in exergue.

Bibliography:  Bellinger, A.R. Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection (Washington D.C. 1966) coin 2a
Grierson, P. Byzantine Coins (London 1982) 43-83.
Whitting, P.D. Byzantine Coins (London 1973) 99-106.

2 Related People

Justin I
Byzantine
c.450
1st August 527
Whitting, Philip David
British
1903
1988
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