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    Finest Known Mezezius Solidus

    Mezezius (AD 668-669). AV solidus (20mm, 4.48 gm, 7h). NGC Choice MS★ 5/5 - 5/5. Syracuse, 5th officina. d n MЄZЄZI-VS PP AVЧ (second Z retrograde), bust of Mezezius facing with short beard and long mustache, wearing cuirass and plumed helmet with frontal cross, globus cruciger in right hand, shield decorated with horseman motif in left / VICTORIA-AVϚЧ Є, cross potent with base set on three steps, CONOB below. Sear 1146 (this coin). Berk 167 (this coin). BMC (Constantine IV, Carthage) 54, Pl. XXXVII, 12. MIB 9 (Constantine IV, Constantinople). DOC (Constantine IV, uncertain Balkan mint) 71.

    Extremely rare and the finest known, with about seven total known specimens for this emperor.

    From the Penn Collection. Ex Important Private Collection of Byzantine Coins (Sotheby's, 2 November 1998), lot 286 (cover lot); Lanz, Auction 14 (18 April 1978), lot 497

    Constans II was assassinated in his bath at Syracuse on 15 September AD 668, possibly as a result of the heavy financial burden imposed on Sicily to support the emperor's presence there. The Armenian noble, Mezezius (Mzhezh in Armenian), one of the conspirators, was proclaimed emperor by the army in Sicily. There are two sources which detail the end of his usurpation, which lasted after about seven months. The eight-century historian, Theophanes the Confessor (Chronographia 352.4-7), writes Constantine IV marched on Sicily and successfully captured Mezezius and the other conspirators and executed them, taking back the Byzantine throne for the Heraclian dynasty. An opposing source, the Liber pontificalis (1.346), detailing history from the time of Peter to the ninth century, describes troops from Africa and Italy arriving shortly after Constans' murder, with the exarch of Ravenna suppressing the revolt, beheading Mezezius and sending his head to Constantine IV in Constantinople.

    The coinage of Mezezius was not recognized until 1978, when this specimen, with clear legends, first came to light. Earlier reference works attributed the few known specimens to Constantine IV.

    The other known specimens include:

    1) British Museum (BMC 54=Grierson 559)
    2) Barber Institute, Birmingham
    3) Hess-Leu (April 1963), lot 326 (possibly the Barber Institute specimen)
    4) An Important Collection of Standard Byzantine and Other Related Dark Age Gold Coins (Bonhams, 3 December 1980), lot 181
    5) Gemini, Auction II (11 January 2006), lot 531
    6) Bertolami Fine Arts, Auction 12 (29 October 2014), lot 1023

    View all of [The Penn Collection ]

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2021
    21st-22nd Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 24
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