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    Leo II and Zeno: Unique Variety?

    Leo II and Zeno, Eastern Roman Emperors (AD 474). AV solidus (21mm, 4.47 gm, 6h).  Constantinople, February-November AD 474. D N LEO ZE-NO P P AЧG, diademed, helmeted and cuirassed facing bust (of Zeno?), head slightly right, holding spear over right shoulder and on left arm shield decorated with horseman motif /  SALVS REI ? PVBLICAE, Leo II and Zeno enthroned facing, each nimbate, diademed and wearing imperial mantle, each holding mappa, † above, CONOB in exergue. RIC X, 803 var (no ET in obverse legend, no officina letter). Depeyrot 98/1 var (same). Light graffiti in obverse field. Extremely rare, possibly a unique variant! NGC (photo-certificate) AU? 5/5 - 2/5, graffito.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection. Ex Stack's (New York, 12 January 2009), lot 3038; M & M 52, (19-20 June 1975), lot 815.

    During his long, tumultuous reign, Leo I "The Great" relied on a Romanized Isaurian chieftain, Zeno, to do much of the reign's heavy lifting and dirty work. To cement the relationship, he married his daughter Ariadne to Zeno; about AD 467 she bore him a son who was named Leo after his grandfather. When Leo I died on January 18, 474, the child ascended to the East Roman Throne as Leo II, but it soon became clear he needed a protector and the Byzantine Senate named his father Zeno as co-Augustus on February 9. The child fell ill toward the end of the year and died in November, leaving the unpopular Zeno as sole ruler. Rumors flourished that Zeno had poisoned his own son, but this seems as unlikely as it was unnecessary. 

    The very rare gold coinage of the brief joint reign depicts an armored figure on the obverse, presumably Zeno, while the reverse depicts the two rulers seated in a double throne. Interestingly, the smaller of the two figures, Leo II, is seated to the left, in the "senior" position. This variety, unrecorded and possibly unique, omits the ET ("and") in the obverse legend and simply runs the two names together. This, coupled with the lack of an officina number, indicates it was struck at the very outset of the brief joint reign. 

    All Roman gold coins from the Dimitriadis Collection have been issued a photo-certificate by NGC. These may be sent in for encapsulation after the auction at the request of the buyer, free of charge. Please e-mail SamS@HA.com if you would like to utilize this option.


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2014
    10th-16th Thursday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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