Coin of Constantine

“Constantine The Great” is inscribed in Latin on this half-dollar-size silver coin struck to celebrate the founding of Constantinople. On May 11, 330 CE, Constantine presided over a ceremony in which the city’s name was changed from Byzantium to Constantinople. As part of the festivities, the emperor presented dignitaries with special coins that were struck at a Constantinople mint (identified at the bottom, in the coin’s exergue) and engraved with his portrait. Since it was Roman tradition for emperors to make such presentations themselves, this coin may have actually been handled by the first Christian ruler of the Roman Empire.

Only six other coins from Constantinople’s inauguration have turned up; all are housed in European museums. This coin, recently purchased and identified by Chicago collector Harlan J. Berk, a noted authority on ancient coins, differs from the others in that its reverse side shows Roma, the goddess of Rome, while the other coins are stamped with the goddess of Constantinople.

“Strata- Constantine The Great,” BAR, Nov-Dec 1996.