Constantine the Great

Commemorative Coins
 

  
     Constantine and his sons issued a few different types of commemoratives from 330-346. These were issued to mark the foundation of Constantinople and to also re-affirm Rome as the traditional center of the Empire. Thirteen mints produced these types: Trier, Lugdunum (Lyons), Arelate (Arles), Aquileia, Rome, Siscia, Thessalonica, Heraclea, Constantinople, Nicomedia, Cyzicus, Antioch and Alexandria. The two most common are the CONSTANTINOPOLIS (Victory on a prow) and VRBS ROMA (wolf and twins) types. The female figure on the obverse is the personification of Constantinople or Rome. The wolf and twins type depict Romulus and Remus (the founders of Rome) being suckled by the she-wolf. The two stars on the reverse represent the dioscuri ( the twins Castor and Pollux).

The famous Wolf
            (Lupa Capitolina). The statue was made circa 500 B.C. It
            used to stand on the Capitoline Hill.
The famous Wolf (Lupa Capitolina). The statue was made circa 500 B.C. and it used to stand on the Capitoline Hill.
Romulus and Remus were added during the Renaissance.

    The victory on a prow type alludes to the naval victory of Crispus and his subsequent capture of Byzantium (soon to be re-named Constantinople). Zosimus said that Constantine's fleet had 200 ships and Licinius had 350 ships. Zosimus might have exaggerated, but all sources agreed that Constantine's fleet was greatly outnumbered. What accounted for the surprise victory of Constantine's forces? Could it have been that Constantine had better trained sailors...maybe divine providence? A papyrus letter from circa A.D. 323, gives an answer. The letter is from a procurator who said that the government of Egypt had an urgent requirement of box and acanthus wood for repair of the men-at-war vessels in the arsenals of Memphis and Babylon. Egypt sent a total of 130 ships to serve in the navy of Licinius, but it seems that they were all old tubs!1

    The description in RIC describes Constantinopolis as holding reversed spear . This object might actually be a scepter, rather than a reversed spear. Compare the object with the scepter that the victory on the reverse is holding. The ends are alike--they both end in small globes.  On some coins, Constantinopolis is holding what might be considered a cross- scepter with a globe (often topped with a smaller globe). This may or may not have had Christian significance, but Constantine first used this symbolism in A.D. 315 on a silver medallion, which also has a chi-rho on the crest, issued in Ticinum. The cross-scepter imagery was later an imperial attribute and sign of power on some gold coins of Valentinian III. This symbolism, and other imagery, may not have been understood by many people at the time, though. In the sixth century, John of Ephesus wrote that the general public believed that the figure of Constantinopolis on gold coins of Justin II was actually Venus.2  It seems that a lot of the message of ancient coins was lost on the audience!


Palladas, a fourth-century pagan poet, wrote mockingly about the city of Constantinople and coins with Victories on the prow --

"Here we are, the Victories, the laughing maidens, bearing victories to the Christ-loving city. Those who loved the city fashioned us, stamping figures appropriate to the victories." (Anth. Plan. 282)


   The mints of Heraclea, Constantinople, Nicomedia and Cyzicus which surrounded the Propontis (the Sea of Marmara) dropped the S from the obverse legend. This is a regional variation and "reflects the fall of the terminal -s in the spoken language."3The obverse legend break for all the mints is always CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS except for coins from Rome and one issue from Aquileia (RIC137), which used the legend break  CONSTANTI-NOPOLIS . Sometimes the engravers at Rome misunderstood what the reverse was supposed to depict, and engraved the prow moving towards Victory, instead of Victory standing on the prow. The tendency in the western mints was to render the prow of the ship in a very simple fashion, but some of the eastern mints occasionally engraved the prow with more style, and sometimes you can even see the oars of the galley.
 
 

Here is a page of line drawings of Constantinopolis Commemoratives and various field marks from the Vienna collection in the book by Guido Bruck, Die Spätrömische Kupferprägung - Ein Bestimmungsbuch Für Schlecht Erhaltene Münzen.


Constantinopolis Commemorative
The Constantinopolis coins are arranged geographically (the same as RIC), from west to east.




Lyons

A.D. 330-331

16x17mm    1.9g

Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.

Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield, seen from side.

In ex.•PLG

RIC VII Lyons 246


Constantinopolis-Lugdunum Lyons 246


A.D. 332
17x16mm    2.4 g
Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield. 
in ex. in crescent PLG
RIC VII  Lugdunum 256 

Constantinopolis-Lugdunum 256
Trier
A.D. 330-1
17x16mm    2.1gm
Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield. 
in ex.  TRP
RIC VII Trier 530

Constantinopolis
                    Commemorative Trier 530

A.D. 332-3
18mm    2.2gm
Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield.
in ex.  TR P
RIC VII Trier 543
Constantinopolis Commemorative Trier
eyes
to the
heavens
bust

A.D. 332-3

18mm      2.1gm

Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.

Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield.

in ex.  TRP

RIC VII Trier 548

'Eyes to the Heavens'
                    bust

A.D. 332-3

17mm      2.4gm

CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS; laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.

Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield.

in ex.  TRP

RIC VII Trier 548


Constantinopolis RIC VII Trier 548

 
A.D. 333-4
18x17mm    1.9gm
Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield. 
In left field wreath;in ex. TRS
RIC VII Trier 554
This coin is from the 'monneron' hoard
Constantinopolis Trier
                    554

A.D. 333- 334

18x19mm      2.6gm

CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS; laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.

Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield; palm branch in left.

in ex.  TRS

RIC VII Trier 563


Constantinopolis RIC VII Trier 563

Arles
 A.D. 330
18mm 2.6 gm
Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.
REV- Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield; ✶in left field.
  in ex. PCONST
RIC VII Arles 352
RIC VII Arles 352
                      star in left field

A.D. 330- 331

17mm    2.8gm

CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.

REV- Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield; ✶in left field.

in ex. PCONST

RIC VII Arles 352


RIC VII Arles 352
                    star in left field


A.D. 330- 331

16mm 2.2 gm

CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.

REV- Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield; ✶in left field.

in ex. PCONST

RIC VII Arles 352


Constantinopolis
                      Commemorative victory on prow RIC VII Arles 352
                      star in left field


A.D. 330- 331

18x19mm  2.3gm

CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.

Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield, star in left field.

in ex. PCONST

RIC VII Arles 352


Constantinopolis Commemorative RIC
                                VII Arles 352 star left field

A.D. 332

17x18mm   3.1gm

CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.

Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield; palm branch in left field.

in ex. PCONST

RIC VII Arles 363


Constantinopolis
                      Commemorative RIC VII Arles 363 palm branch in
                      left field

 
A.D. 332-3 
17mm 2.3 gm 
Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield. 
triple palm branch in left field, in ex. PCONST 
RIC VII Arles 369

RIC VII Arles 369 triple
                    palm branch in left field
 
A.D. 335 
18mm 2.1 gm 
Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield. 
wreath in left field, in ex. SCONST 
RIC VII Arles 374

Constantinopolis-Arles
                    374

A.D. 333- 334

18mm    2.8gm

CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.

Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield; • in wreath in left field.

in ex. PCONST

RIC VII Arles 380


Constantinopolis-Arles
                      380


A.D. 335

18x17mm     1.9gm

Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.

Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield; Pine tree in left field.

in ex. PCONST

RIC VII Arles 393

Constantinopolis-Arles
                    393

A.D. 335

19mm    2.1 gms

Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.

Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield; Pine tree in left field.

in ex. PCONST

RIC VII Arles 393

Constantinopolis-Arles
                    393

A.D. 335

17x19mm     2.2gm

CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.

REV: Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield; Pine tree in left field.

in ex. SCONST

RIC VII Arles 393


Constantinopolis Commemorative RIC VII Arles
                    393 victory on prow

Chi-rho 
A.D. 336
17mm 1.8gm
Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield; in left field CHi-Rho.
in ex. PCONST
RIC VII Arles 401
Constantinopolis- RIC
                    VII Arles 401 Chi-Rho
Chi-rho 
A.D. 336
16mm 2.3gm
Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield; in left field CHi-Rho.
  in ex. SCONST
RIC VII Arles 401 
Constantinopolis- RIC VII Arles 401 Chi-Rho
Chi-rho 
A.D. 336
16mm 2.3gm
Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield.
Chi-Rho in left field, in ex. SCONST
RIC VII Arles 401
Constantinopolis- RIC VII Arles 401 Chi-Rho




Chi-rho

A.D. 336

14x16mm   1.6gm

Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.

Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield.

Chi-Rho in left field.

in ex. PCONST

RIC VII Arles 401

 

Victory's chest seems over-emphasized



Constantinopolis- RIC VII Arles 401 Chi-Rho


A.D. 337- 340
14mm  1.5gm
Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS,  laureate and crested helmet, necklace and ornamental mantle over left shoulder, holding sceptre
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield; in left field X
in ex. PCONST  
RIC VIII Arles 26
Constantinopolis
Rome
A.D. 330
19mm     2.3g 
Obv. CONSTANTI-NOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding cross- scepter with a globe. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield. 
in exergue  R F E   RIC VII Rome  332 
RF in the exergue likely stands for Roma Felix  (Happy Rome)
Constantinopolis- Rome 332

A.D. 330

18mm 2.3g

Obv. CONSTANTI-NOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding cross- scepter with a globe.

Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield.

in exergue RFQ

RIC VII Rome 332

unlisted officina
Constantinopolis- Rome 332

A.D. 330 
20x18mm 2.4g 
Obv. CONSTANTI-NOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding cross- scepter with a globe. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield. 
in exergue dot R dot F dot epsilon dot        RIC VII  Rome 334     r4 
RF in the exergue likely stands for Roma Felix  (Happy Rome)
Constantinopolis- Rome 334

A.D. 330 
18mm 2.5g 
Obv. CONSTANTI-NOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding cross- scepter with a globe. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield. 
in exergue R wreath E
RIC VII  Rome 355
Constantinopolis- Rome 355

A.D. 330

18mm 2.0g

Obv. CONSTANTI-NOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding cross- scepter with a globe.

Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield.

in exergue R wreath E

RIC VII  Rome 355


Constantinopolis- Rome 355


A.D. 330-1
17x16mm 2gm 
Obv. CONSTANTI-NOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding cross- scepter with a globe. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield. 
in exergue R B E    RIC VII Rome 339
RB in the exergue likely stands for Roma Beata (Blessed Rome)
Note that Victory is not on the prow, but the prow is coming towards her. The engraver misunderstood his instructions!
Constantinopolis- Rome 339

A.D. 335-6 
19x18mm 2.2g 
Obv. CONSTANTI-NOPOLIS  laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding cross- scepter with a globe. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield. 
in exergue R
RIC VII  Rome 371  
Note that Victory is not on the prow, but the prow is coming towards her. The engraver misunderstood his instructions!
Constantinopolis- Rome 371
Aquileia
A.D. 334- September 335 
18mm 2.5gm
Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield. 
in ex. AQP 
RIC VII Aquileia 123
Constantinopolis Aquileia 123

A.D. 334- September 335 
19x18mm 2.1gm
Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield. 
in ex. AQP 
RIC VII Aquileia 123
Constantinopolis
                    Aquileia 123
 
A.D. 334- September 335 
18x17mm     2.5 gm 
Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield. 
in ex. AQS 
RIC VII Aquileia  123 
Constantinopolis
                    Aquileia

A.D. 334- 335

17x18mm 2.3gm

CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS; laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.

REV.- Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield.

in ex. AQP

RIC VII Aquileia 123


Constantinopolis Aquileia 123

 
A.D. 334- Sept. 335
20x18mm     2.3 gm
Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding cross- scepter with a globe. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield.
* left field, in ex. AQS
RIC VII  Aquileia 129    
Constantinopolis
                    Aquileia

A.D. 334- Sept. 335

17mm 2.4 gm

CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS, laureate helmet, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.

Reverse- Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield; * left field

 in ex. AQS

RIC VII Aquileia 129


Constantinopolis Aquileia


A.D. 335-336

17x18mm    1.8 gm

Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter.

Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield, F left field.

in ex. AQP

RIC VII Aquileia 137


Constantinopolis RIC VII Aquileia 137

 
A.D. 335-336
18mm    2.7 gm
Obv. CONSTANTI-NOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding scepter. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield.
F left field, in ex. AQS
RIC VII  Aquileia 137    r4
Constantinopolis
                    Aquileia
Siscia
A.D. 330-3 
19mm     2.3gm 
Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding cross- scepter with a globe. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield. 
in ex.  BSIS 
RIC VII Siscia 224
Constantinopolis-Siscia 224

A.D. 330-3

18mm     2.4gm

Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding reversed spear/scepter. 

Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield engraved with equilateral cross. 

in ex.  BSIS

RIC VII Siscia 224


The shield is engraved with a quadripartite design



Constantinopolis Siscia 224 engraved shield

A.D. 330-3

18mm     2.4gm

Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding reversed spear/scepter.

Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on engraved shield.

in ex.  BSIS

RIC VII Siscia 224

 

The shield is engraved with a quadripartite design, with a dot in each section



Constantinopolis Siscia 224 engraved shield

A.D. 330-3

17x19mm     2.4gm

Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding reversed spear/scepter. 

Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on engraved shield. 

in ex.  BSIS

RIC VII Siscia 224

 

The shield is engraved with a quadripartite design, with a dot in each section



Constantinopolis Siscia 224 engraved shield
 
A.D. 334-5 
19x18mm     2.9gm
Obv. CONSTAN-TINOPOLIS laureate, helmeted, wearing imperial mantle, holding cross- scepter with a globe. 
Rev. Victory stg. on prow, holding long scepter in r. hand, and resting l. hand on shield. 
in ex.