Two Victories/VLPP Type
Constantine the Great Imitatives

 

 

One of the more common Constantinian bronze types is the Two Victories/"VICTORIAE LAETAE PRINC PERP" (VLPP) type, minted c. 313-320 AD in various cities, including Rome; Ticinum, Pavia; Arles, Gaul; Lugdunum, Gaul; Trier, Gaul; London; and Siscia, Pannonia. Like many Roman coins this type was intended to broadcast the propaganda message of Roman invincibility, with two standing Victories on the reverse and the reverse legend translating into "To the Joyful Victories of Our Emperors Forever."

This was also the most commonly copied Constantinian coin, with these imitatives also depicting the wildest styles and most illiterate legends of any other 4th century imitative series. VLPPs were copied for about a decade by the so-called barbarians or tribal peoples who would sack and ultimately overthrow Rome a century or so later. Hoard and find evidence indicates that these particular imitatives were minted over a large area by a number of different tribal peoples living at the outskirts of the Roman Empire. Included here are the Goths, a Germanic people in the Balkans; the Franks, a Germanic people in present-day Germany; the Gauls, a Celtic people in present-day France; and the Britons, a Celtic people in Britain. Some of these coins may also have been minted unofficially, as counterfeits, by Romans living in outlying areas.

In addition to Constantine the Great, other Roman leaders also minted the VLPP type, including Licinius I, Licinius II, Crispus, and Constantine II, though the imitatives are typically attributed as copying the coins of Constantine the Great unless their legends or style suggests otherwise. Most of the imitatives are of the variety with the portrait (Constantine the Great) facing right and wearing a helmet, a laurel wreath (mark of distinction), and a cuirass (armor for chest and back). A smaller number copy the variety depicting a helmeted portrait facing left. An even smaller number copy varieties depicting just a laureate portrait or a bare-headed portrait. Constantine the Great also minted a gold aureus of the same type.

What follows is a selection of bronzes, starting with an official specimen of the variety depicting a helmeted, laureate, and cuirassed bust right, and moving on to the coins that imitate it. Some of the imitatives are close to the official coins, in which only the inscriptions are slightly blundered. These are more likely to be unofficial Roman counterfeits. Some include inscriptions that are completely illiterate, frequently consisting primarily of I's or H's. Some depict devices that are crudely or cartoonishly rendered. The wilder imitations with illiterate legends are more likely to be official tribal coinage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Official issue Constantine I bronze AE-3 (18mm, 3.0g). Siscia, Pannonia (present-day Croatia), c. 318-319 AD. Sear 3883, RIC VII 53. Obverse: Constantine I facing right wearing a helmet, laurel wreath, and cuirass, "IMP CONSTANTINVS PF AVG" ("Commander in Chief Constantine I, Dutiful and Wise Emperor"), Reverse: Two winged Victories (Nikes) placing a shield inscribed with "VOT PR" ("Vows of the People of Rome" -- annual vows of loyalty to the Emperor) -- on an altar (sometimes identified as a cippus, or low typically square pillar) inscribed with an X and four pellets, "VICTORIAE LAETAE PRINC PERP" ("To the Joyful Victories of Our Emperors Forever"), E-S-I-S for Siscia, the easternmost city that minted this coin type. These coins were struck with a silvered surface, to make them appear to have higher instrinsic value, and some of the silvering remains on the above specimen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal imitative Constantine I bronze AE-3 (18mm, 2.8g), c. 318-330 AD. Cartoonish portrait with large nose, double-struck mouth, Victories' wings each consisting of dotted line, exaggerated noses on Victories, illiterate legends, dot instead of "VOT PR."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal imitative Constantine I bronze AE-3 (18mm, 1.8g), c. 318-330 AD. Cartoonish portrait with large nose, Victories' wings each consisting of dotted line, illiterate legends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal imitative Constantine I bronze AE-3 (19mm, 2.9g), c. 318-330 AD. Cartoonish portrait with large nose, Victories' wings each consisting of dotted line, illiterate legends consisting mostly of H's.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal imitative Constantine I bronze AE-4 (16mm, 2.5g), c. 318-330 AD. Cartoonish portrait with long and thick neck, Victories' wings each consisting of dotted line, illiterate legends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal imitative Constantine I bronze AE-3 (18mm, 2.9g), c. 318-330 AD. Realistic devices, including portrait and more carefully rendered Victories though breast of Victory on left accentuated by design and patina, illiterate legends consisting mostly of I's and some backward S's.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal imitative Constantine I bronze AE-4 (16mm, 1.6g), c. 318-330 AD. Realistic portrait, Victories carefully rendered except for exaggerated noses, illiterate legends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal imitative Constantine I bronze AE-3 (18mm, 3.0g), c. 318-330 AD. Realistic devices, accentuated cuirass, illiterate legends with obverse consisting mostly of I's, O's, and A's.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal imitative Constantine I bronze AE-3 (18mm, 2.3g), c. 318-330 AD. Realistic portrait, Victories' wings each consisting of dotted line, illiterate legends consisting mostly of I's.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal imitative Constantine I bronze AE-4 (16mm, 2.5g), c. 318-330 AD. Angular portrait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal imitative Constantine I bronze AE-3 (18mm, 2.8g), c. 318-330 AD. Realistic portrait, Victories' wings each consisting of dotted line, illiterate legends consisting primarily of I's on obverse and H's on reverse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal imitative Constantine I bronze AE-3 (17mm, 2.3g), c. 318-330 AD. Realistic portrait, Victories' wings each consisting of dotted line, illiterate legends consisting of multiple shapes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal imitative Constantine I bronze AE-2 (21mm, 3.1g), c. 318-330 AD. Realistic portrait, Victories with carefully rendered wings, illiterate legends consisting mostly of I's and S's.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal imitative Constantine I bronze AE-3 (17mm, 2.5g), c. 318-330 AD. Realistic portrait, Victories' wings each consisting of dotted line, illiterate legends consisting of multiple shapes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal imitative Constantine I bronze AE-3 (20mm, 3.1g), c. 318-330 AD. Realistic devices, carefully rendered Victories, illiterate legends consisting of nonsensical letters, granular surfaces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal imitative Constantine I bronze AE-3 (17mm, 2.1g), c. 318-330 AD. Realistic portrait, Victories' wings each consisting of dotted line, illiterate legends consisting mostly of H's and I's, granular surfaces.

 

 

   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zach Beasley has an excellent page on the Constantine Siscia VLPPs. Other Web sites about Constantine VLPP imitatives include those of Victor Clark, Warren Esty, Zach Beasley, and Ed Flinn. Other pages of mine on coins copying Athens, Alexander the Great, Lysimachos, Parion, Thasos, Constantine the Great, and other coins can be found at my site on Ancient Imitative Coinage.

 

 

Constantinian Bronzes

Constantine Sols

 Constantine VLPP Imitatives

Julian II Copies

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House of Constantine

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