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    Description

    First Christ Portrait

    Justinian II, first reign (AD 685-695). AV solidus (20mm, 4.49 gm, 6h).  Constantinople, 9th officina, AD 692-695. IhS CRISΤDS RЄX RЄΣNANΤIЧM, facing half-length bust of Christ Pantocrator, raising right hand in gesture of benediction, book of Gospels cradled in left arm, cross behind / D IЧSTINI-AN-ЧS SERЧ CHRISΤI, full-length figure of Justinian standing facing, dressed in loros, holding cross potent on steps in right hand and akakia in left; Θ[//CONOP] in exergue. Sear 1248. DOC 7g.1. MIB 8. NGC (photo-certificate) MS 5/5 - 5/5.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection. Ex Spink & Sons (London, November 1989), lot 97. 

    The portrait of Christ on the obverse of this solidus is the first numismatic representation of Jesus, and immediately followed the ruling of the Trullan Synod of  AD 692 that Christ could be depicted in human form. Justinian II was ostentatiously devout and placing the divine image on his coinage was a reflection of this. The appearance of Christ  on the Byzantine coinage also may have spurred the Caliph 'Abd al-Malik to decree that no images offensive to the Muslim faith should appear on coins struck or used by the Arabs, an edict of AH 74 / AD 693. This first numismatic portrait of Christ is remarkably naturalistic and lifelike, and was likely based on the mosaic image of Christ in the apse of the Great Palace of Constantinople, which was itself influenced by Hellenistic depictions of Zeus. 

    This coin from the Dimitriadis Collection has been issued a photo-certificate by NGC. It may be sent in for encapsulation after the auction at the request of the buyer, free of charge. E-mail SamS@HA.com if you would like to utilize this option.


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2014
    3rd-10th Wednesday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 10
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