Obverse: Helmeted and Cuirassed Bust of the Emperor Facing Forward, Holding Cross
Reverse: Victory Standing Facing Holding Labarum and Globus Cruciger
Justinian I was one of the most remarkable individuals to grace the Imperial throne. While serving Emperor Justin, he married the former actress Theodora; but only after the law prohibiting marriages between senators and actresses was repealed. He rose rapidly in the ranks and, in 527 A.D., was crowned Augustus and sole emperor. His main obsession, after religion, was jurisprudence; a talent for which led to the codification of all valid Imperial constitutions from Hadrian to the present. The Codex Iustinianus was first promulgated in 529 A.D. and later revised in 534 A.D. His building, the great church Hagia Sophia, has linked his name with one of the most beautiful architectural structures in the world. Justinian’s extraordinary vitality and energy created what historians refer to as a “Golden Age;” a legacy his successors were unable to live up to.
How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who might have touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after it leaves our hands. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and location, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of a long forgotten empire. This stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural detail that is often lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. This magnificent coin is a memorial to the ancient glories of the Byzantine Empire passed down from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation.