JUSTINIAN II FIRST REIGN GOLD SOLIDUS – SPECTACULAR OFFICINA THETA SPECIMEN OF THE FIRST COIN TO DEPICT JESUS CHRIST – CHOICE MINT STATE NGC GRADED BYZANTINE COIN (Inv. 16517)
BYZANTINE EMPIRE. JUSTINIAN II, FIRST REIGN, AD 685-695
Gold solidus, 4.42 g, 20 mm, minted in Constantinople, officina Θ
Obv. IhS CRISTOS RЄX REgNANTIЧM, facing bust of bearded Christ Pantocrator, holding Gospels and with his right hand raised in benediction.
Rev. D IЧSTINIANЧS SЄRЧ ChRISTI, Justinian standing, facing, wearing loros and holding cross potent on a two-stepped base, CONOPA in exergue, officina Θ.
NGC graded CHOICE MINT STATE, Strike 4/5, Surface 5/5, spectacular super high grade portrait of Christ as a bearded “philosopher”; Sear variety 1249, where the mint name is rendered as CONOPA, is scarce.
The introduction of Jesus Christ on Byzantine coinage takes place with this issue minted 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 bearded man with the traits of a classical philosopher, accompanied by the legend “Rex Regnantium” (“King of Kings”). The great French numismatist Lacam has referred to this bearded portrait as the “Christ of the Ascension and Redemption.”