Theodosius I, 379-395. Medallion of 2 Solidi (Gold, 27 mm, 8.93 g, 12 h), Aquileia, c. 379. DN THEODO - SIVS P F AVG Pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Theodosius I to right. Rev. GLORIA - RO - MANORVM / AQOB Roma and Constantinopolis seated; Roma facing, helmeted, holding Victory on globe with her right hand and scepter with her left; Constantinopolis to left, turreted, holding Victory on globe in her right hand and a cornucopia with her left, her right foot on a galley prow . Gnecchi - but cf. the comparable piece of Gratian, now in Vienna and found in the Banat (now Romania) in 1865, Cohen 19 = Gnecchi 6 and pl. 19, 1 = RIC IX, p. 98, 19. Apparently unique. A coin of the greatest importance, surely struck at the start of the then joint reign of Theodosius I with Gratian and Valentinian II. A few minor marks, otherwise, extremely fine.
From a European collection, acquired privately in Munich in the 1990s.
The medallions made by the Romans were produced for very different reasons than the medallions, which have been made since the Renaissance. The main difference is that all those produced by the Romans, whether in precious metals or in bronze, had a monetary value, and could be used in commercial transactions. Impressive gold pieces like this one were designed to be handed out to officers and bureaucrats (though not of the highest rank - they would have gotten much larger gold coin medallions, nowadays even rarer than the extremely rare double solidus we have here) at imperial accessions, at the completion of vows and the making of new ones, and after successful military operations. This piece was surely produced in honour of his coming to the throne as a result of Valens' disastrous defeat and death at Adrianople.