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Solidus of Byzantine Empire with Bust of Jesus Christ, minted under Justinian II

Artist Culture
Byzantine, 394–1204, 1261–1453
Justinian II, reigned 685–695; 705–711
Minted in
Istanbul, Istanbul province, Byzantine Empire, Turkey, Asia
Coins & currency, metalwork
Current Location
On View, Gallery 208
diameter: 3/4 in. (1.9 cm)
19 mm
4.4 grams
Credit Line
Museum Purchase, by exchange
Public Domain
Object Number
A particularly important moment in the history of Christian art is depicted on this gold coin. A bearded image of Christ Pantokrator (Ruler of All), inspired by earlier Greco-Roman images of the god Zeus, dominates the obverse (front). In his left hand, Christ holds the book of Gospels; his right hand is raised in a gesture of benediction. On the reverse, the emperor Justinian, rendered at a smaller scale, identifies himself as a "servant of Christ." This imagery represents the first time in the history of the Byzantine Empire that Jesus Christ appears as the preeminent image on coinage, with the emperor relegated to subservient status on the back.
by 1947 – 2011
Christian Peper (1910–2011) St. Louis, MO, USA, purchased from Burdette G. Johnson (d.1947), St. Louis Stamp and Coin Co., St. Louis, MO [1]

2011 – 2012
Jonathan Perkins, St. Louis, MO, by inheritance [2]

Edward J. Waddell, Ltd., Frederick, MD, purchased at auction on behalf of the Saint Louis Art Museum, “Auction IX,” Gemini Numismatic Auctions, New York, NY, January 8, 2012, lot no. 531; consigned to auction by Jonathan Perkins [3]

2012 –
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Edward J. Waddell, Ltd. [4]

[1] Harlan J. Berk, owner of Gemini Numismatic Auctions, LLC., verbally confirmed that Mr. Peper purchased the coin from Mr. Johnson, which was also confirmed by the original envelope from that transaction labeled St. Louis Stamp and Coin, Co. [SLAM document files].

[2] Jonathan Perkinds inherited the coins from his grandfather, Christian Peper [SLAM document files].

[3] See auction catalogue [Gemini Numismatic Auctions, LLC. Auction IX, NY, lot no. 531, p. 110].

[4] Invoice dated January 10, 2012 [SLAM document files]; Minutes of the Collections Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, February 27, 2012.
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