Constantine I, 307/310-337.
Follis (Bronze, 18.4 mm, 3.10 g, 12 h), Rome, circa 320. CONSTA-NTINVS AVG Laureate, helmeted and cuirassed bust of Constantine I to right. Rev.
XC•VI / R Q in two lines within wreath. RIC -. Unpublished and unique, and of great numismatic and historical importance. Traces of corrosion, otherwise,
From the collection of Dr. L. Ramskold, formed since 1969.
This unique coin may look unassuming and quite battered, but it is, in fact, one of the greatest rarities and enigmas of the Constantinian coinage, as it is the only known Constantinian bronze coin with a 'XCVI' reverse. This reverse is clearly derived from the 'XCVI' argentei, where the Roman number indicates that they were struck at 96 to a pound. The style of both the obverse bust and the reverse wreath indicate that the mint is Rome, and the mint mark is 'R Q'. Flan size, weight and style all indicate that the coin belongs to RIC emissions 143-224, and that the date must be 320. When this coin was issued, the weight standard for bronze coins had been lowered, and the 'XCVI' appears to indicate that bronze coins were struck at 96 to a pound, meaning circa 3.4 grams on average.
When production of the 'R P/ PR' emissions began, the Rome mint had not struck coins for at least two years, and the last emission had been struck at the earlier, heavier standard. Perhaps the 'XCVI' type was the first to be produced, to advertise the new weight standard. If so, it remains a question why the type was produced in rather small numbers, with only a single example surviving today. Most interesting is the obverse die match to another coin, with the reverse type 'three turrets, no doors', also in the Ramskold collection and offered here (lot 3043 below). As each die was used for a very short time, hours or days, the two coins were struck shortly apart from one another, if not the same day, then at least the same week (see Ramskold (2020) for die lifespan in a similar emission).