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Byzantine Empire Justinian II Gold Solidus 5x3 MS NGC
First reign, obv Christ
rv Justinian II w/cross
- Gold solidus, 4.41 g., 20 mm., minted in Constantinople. NGC graded MINT STATE , Strike 5/5, Surface 3/5, NGC # 4373227-005, a spectacular specimen with a exceptional and sensitive rendition of the first numismatic portrait of Jesus Christ on a gold coin
- Obverse: Facing bust of bearded Christ Pantokrator, holding Gospels and with his right hand raised in benediction.
- Reverse: Justinian standing, facing, wearing loros and holding cross potent on a two-stepped base, The reverse has a couple of small scratches that form a sideways V, NGC has noted this as graffito thus holding it back from a possible Choice Mint State status. Very PQ for the grade.
- This coin can be found in the Top 100 Ancients book, coin #77 on page 114.
- A "First Reign" example can be found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art- New York. Where if certified today would possibly grade in the XF-CHXF range. Our specimen is an incredible high grade rarity that would normally be found in another prestigious Museum or centuries old european collection.
The introduction of the depiction of Jesus Christ on Byzantine coins takes place under Justinian II, whose rule is separated into two distinct periods, before and after his exile from Constantinople. During Justinian's "First Reign" Christ appears for the first time on coinage, shown as a older bearded man with the traits of a classical philosopher, accompanied by the legend "Rex Regnantium" ("King of Kings"). The famous scholar Ernst Kitzinger, has described this first rendition of Christ as follows: "Majestic, serene and benignly paternal, it conveys in human terms the Christian emperor's 'image' of his heavenly Overlord. It is a 'portrait' in the Hellenic tradition, in which the likenesses of mortals had met and merged with those of the eternal gods on the level of the generically human and humane." The priority of figures also was reversed on the coin, with the front proclaiming "Jesus Christ, Lord, King of those Reigning," while Justinian's name appears only on the reverse, with the title of "Servant of Christ" rather than the usual designations of imperial power.