Ancient Byzantine AV Solidus (gold coin) - Romanus I - Circa (923-931 AD) - Mounted in 18K gold with diamond accents on the bale

Denomination:  AV Solidus                                                                      

Date:  Circa: (923-931 AD)

Mint:  Constantinople                                                                           

Grade: ANCS (Ad 921-931) EF 40

Mount: 18kt gold – Accented with .10 CT diamonds on the bale.

Description: Romanus I Lecapenus, BYZANTINE EMPIRE Obverse: Christ enthrones facing, wears nimbus crucifer, pallium, and colobium; raises right, Gospels in left; Reverse: ROMAN ETVNISTONO AUGG, Crowned busts facing of Romanus I (left) in loros and Christopher in chlamys, holding long patriarchal cross between them.

History: Romanos, born in Lakape (later Laqabin) between Melitene and Samosata (hence the name), was the son of a peasant with the remarkable name of Theophylact the Unbearable (Theophylaktos Abastaktos), usually identified as Armenian.  March 25th, 919, at the head of his fleet, Lekapenos seized the Boukoleon Palace and the reins of government. Initially, he was named magistros and megas hetaireiarches, but he moved swiftly to consolidate his position: in April 919 his daughter Helena was married to Constantine VII, and Lekapenos assumed the new title basileopator. On 24 September 920, he was named Caesar; and on December 17th, Romanos was crowned senior emperor.

Ever since Emperor Constantine I, introduced it in 309, the Byzantine Empire's main coinage had been the high-quality solidus or nomisma, which had remained standard in weight (4.55 grams) and gold content (24 carats) through the centuries.  Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas (r. 963–969), however, introduced a new coin, the [nomisma] tetarteron ("quarter coin") which was 2 carats lighter than the original nomisma. The latter now became known as the histamenon, from the Greek verb ἵστημι, "to stand up", implying that these followed the traditional standard. The reasons for this change are not clear; Byzantine chroniclers, however, suggest fiscal motives, reporting that Nikephoros collected the taxes as before in the histamenon. while paying back with the tetarteron, which was officially rated as equal in value to the full-weight coin.