Obverse: DN VALENS PF AVG; Diademed, Draped, and Cuirassed Bust of the Emperor Facing Right
Reverse: GLORIA ROMANORVM; Valens Standing to the Right, Holding a Labarum and Dragging a Captive Behind Him
Flavius Valens was the brother of Emperor Valentinian I who was elevated to the throne by the Roman Legions. Valentinian ruled over the western half of the empire and selected his brother to serve as co-Augustus and ruler of the east. By 378 A.D., the Ostrogoths, who had been allowed to settle in the Roman Empire three years earlier, became an armed uprising. Valens led an army to suppress this insurrection; however, he was soundly defeated outside of Adrianople. Valens led an attack against the inferior barbarian armies without waiting for reinforcements to arrive first. They were led right into a trap. Two-thirds of the Roman army of the East was destroyed and Emperor Valens body was never recovered. History tells us that he either led a valiant last stand against the invaders and was slaughtered or else retreated to a country farmhouse where he and a few loyal soldiers holed up until the barbarians burned the building. Either way, it is certain that Valens marched into his death, overconfident of the strength of the Roman army.
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 ancient coin is a memorial to an emperor passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation that still appears as vibrant today as the day it was struck.