This was a great find for me. I picked up this ancient Roman at the coin show last weekend for $8, which I think was a great price, considering the detail and full legends. The photos don't do it justice: in real life, it has a nice, even, clean look to it, although it's very dark (I think someone cleaned it with olive oil, which often darkens old bronze.)
Anyway, it was unattributed when I bought it, but the legends are so clear that researching it was quite easy.
This was minted under Emperor Licinius sometime around AD 321-324. It was minted in
Heraclea, in present-day Turkey, on the Black Sea.
The legend on the obverse ("heads") reads: IMP C VAL LICIN LICINIVS P F AVG, which is the abbreviated "Imperator Caesar Valerius Licinianus Licinius, Pius Felix Augustus." The portrait strikes me as having a little more natural feel than some of the ones I've seen.
The reverse says IOVI CONSERVATORI, or "Jupiter the Protector," and depicts Jupiter holding a statue of Victory. To his right is an eagle holding a wreath, and to his left at his feat is a captive. Beneath his feat, in exergue, is the mint mark: SMHA, representing Sacred Money of Officina A of the
Next to Jupiter is an X over II plus a broken I, referred to as "mu" (as in the Greek letter.) This is the denomination: 12 ½. The thing is, nowadays, no one really knows for sure: 12 ½ of what?
Licinius ruled a divided empire. Toward the end, his big rival was Constantine the Great. Licinius held out for quite a while (he became emperor in 308), but
was always looking for ways to undermine him. In 324, after a war, Licinius was captured, but briefly spared due to the pleading of his wife, Constantine 's sister. A year later Constantine had him hanged on suspicion of plotting against him. Constantine