Jump to content

A Perplexing Late Byzantine Scyphate


Zimm
 Share

Recommended Posts

Recently, while scrolling through auction catalogues, a certain group lot caught my attention, namely a lot of 6 trachea. 

unknown.png

Whilst most of the coins in the lot were easily identifiable, one of them seemed quite odd, namely the one in the bottom left corner. Although the design itself was fairly standard, with Christ being seated on a backless throne on the obverse, and two emperors holding a cross between each other on the reverse, the style itself was peculiar. (And thanks to the poor quality of the image, I could not make out the legend properly, which made me doubt whether it was actually an official issue or not). Ultimately the lot ended up selling for very cheap, even without taking the perplexing coin into account, making me very happy with the purchase even before having the chance to inspect the coin in question.

IMG_7249.jpg

Now that I have the coin in hand, I still have no clue what it could be. The only thing that became clear was that the legend was, in fact, in Greek, hinting at it possibly being an official issue. I have done some research on my own but have found no matching examples. 

 

I’m not usually one to ask for help, but since I am at a complete loss, I see no other way to solve this enigma than to ask you fellow collectors who are more experienced in the field than I am. Below I have provided some further pictures of the coin from different angles and some remarks I’ve made: 

 

Obverse: Christ seated on a backless throne, holding the Book of Gospels, “IC - XC”

Reverse: Two figures (emperors?) holding a patriarchal cross between each other, “… [Δ]ЄCΠΟΤΗC”

I am also relatively confident, but not certain, that both of the two figures are bearded.

 

Further images: https://imgur.com/a/s5aom3h

 

Now, the question is, do any of you have an idea what the type could be or who issued (or when it was issued)? 

Thank you in advance.

Edited by Zimm
  • Like 9
  • Mind blown 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 hours ago, seth77 said:

I don't think it's 'Bulgarian' possibly a local coinage in Asia Minor similar to these mentioned by @Glebe?

Those are very interesting examples. Even though the style seems to be different from the example I have, the design is practically identical.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

With local "provincial" variations I think it's expected for styles to vary according to the city which minted them. Anaia, where the coins presented on CT were discovered, was under Genoese and then Venetian administration for much of the second half of the 13th century, and this is probably where the coins originated and might explain the approximate style and legends. A bit more to the north was the city of Smyrna that had been rebuilt in the 1220s by Ioannes III Vatatzes and was under the direct rule of the Nicaean Empire and then after 1261 of the Palaiologan restored Eastern Empire. This is perhaps the type of city that might have produced "provincial" trachea at this time. Another possibility is Magnesia or Philadelphia, both known mints at certain points in the 13th century, with Magnesia still possibly minting official coinage for Michael VIII after 1261.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

After a few days of research, and having discussed the coin with a fellow trachy collector, I have come up with a theory for what the coin could be. Although it might be a local imitation issue like discussed above, I‘d love to hear what you think about this new theory of mine. Here are the three pieces of evidence I have gathered for it so far:

    1.    The legend
Even though the most of the legend is unclear, with only [Δ]ЄCΠΟΤΗC being legible (on the left side), on the right side there is a single crucial letter I can make out, an alpha. Although the despotes part doesn‘t help much, knowing that the legend starts with A narrows down the list of possible emperors quite a lot.

    2.    The portraits and the style
From the pictures I have attached below, you can clearly see that both the emperors are bearded with very distinct beard styles. The one on the left has a more bushy and round/flat beard whereas the emperor on the right has a narrower and forked beard. In addition, the emperor with the bushy beard has his hand higher on the cross, marking his seniority.

If we now have a look at all the possible emperors (who had co-rulers), the list can be narrowed down greatly.

Michael VIII & Andronicus II can be ruled out due to Andronicus II not being bearded on (most of) their joint reign issues and the style being too different. In addition, the legend starts with A, hence marking the senior emperor on the left as the one whose name starts with A (which would in this case be Andronicus, which would be contradictory as Michael was the undisputed senior emperor)

Andronicus II & Michael IX can be ruled out for stylistic reasons; Michael IX is almost always beardless (sometimes he is portrayed with a short round beard, not the elongated and sharp beard as seen on this coin).

For John V & VI the style is wrong for the time period and the likelihood of it being from their reign is next to none. In addition the legend doesn‘t start with an A, hence ruling them out in that regard as well.

Andronicus II & Andronicus III is where it gets interesting. In his later years, Andronicus II was portrayed with a flatter beard instead of the traditional forked beard used by emperors like Michael VIII or John III. Andronicus III on the other hand was portrayed with a thin, forked beard that extends all the way from the chin to where the stemma begins. (Picture of hyperpyron from their co-rule below as well as the portraits on my coin)

C9A842A9-9056-4F43-BE3B-1C2F9704F36C.jpeg.e0727fde9ef94029db1fc2d3ce466bd1.jpeg
783B43E0-B409-42CB-88BE-8DED5D636EA6.jpeg.b22c5b7c819bd064b13d6d5511754a9c.jpeg

07A49DD6-55D6-410E-8DB3-7DBAF7E49C7F.jpeg.3f82f410bf152e76e7fe0aa334aa4a2c.jpeg
 

3.  The size
The coin weighs about 2.4g and is 22-24mm in diameter, which would roughly place it in the later half of the 13th or the earlier half of 14th century.

For the reasons given I have reason to believe the coin could have been issued under the rule of Andronicus II & Andronicus III (due the legend, the size and the portraits). I‘m not sure what the mint could be (perhaps a provincial one?), but I do believe it could be an official issue due to the legends being in clear and legible Greek (even if provincial). I‘d love to hear your opinion on my theory.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Update:

Having now returned from a week-long holiday (during which I was understandably unable to inspect the coin in hand), I can confidently state that I have not only confirmed the first letter to be "A", but also that the second letter is "N"

This would mean that the legend reads as following:

"AN…[Δ]ЄCΠΟΤΗC"

hence making it almost certain that at least one of the emperors was named Andronikos.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 

 

As noted elsewhere, one possible candidate for this coin is the obscure type PCPC 379, which may be the same as S.2535=PCPC 297, LPC 146/10 attributed by Bendall to John V & John VI (which seems unlikely to say the least).

Anyway four examples of what seem to be PCPC 379 turned up as No’s 23-26 in the Anaia C hoard in Asia Minor, which can found here:

 https://www.academia.edu/76253430/Kadikalesi_Anaia_Hoard_C_Thirty_Three_Copper_Trachea_and_Stamena_from_the_Main_Church_in_Kadikalesi_Anaia_Excavation

They are all pretty messy but worth looking at. The authors describe the rulers as holding a long cross, but on No. 25 it looks more like a patriarchic cross to me, while the reverse legend seems to be Andronikoc.....

These types at least seem to be provincial issues in Asia Minor.

Ross G.

1844203603_AnII-MIX-s.2459a-3-4-Anaia.C25-6.JPG.904505778fabf93f75dd0539bdb5fd91.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Glebe
  • Like 3
  • Smile 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Glebe said:

 

 

 

As noted elsewhere, one possible candidate for this coin is the obscure type PCPC 379, which may be the same as S.2535=PCPC 297, LPC 146/10 attributed by Bendall to John V & John VI (which seems unlikely to say the least).

Anyway four examples of what seem to be PCPC 379 turned up as No’s 23-26 in the Anaia C hoard in Asia Minor, which can found here:

 https://www.academia.edu/76253430/Kadikalesi_Anaia_Hoard_C_Thirty_Three_Copper_Trachea_and_Stamena_from_the_Main_Church_in_Kadikalesi_Anaia_Excavation

They are all pretty messy but worth looking at. The authors describe the rulers as holding a long cross, but on No. 25 it looks more like a patriarchic cross to me, while the reverse legend seems to be Andronikoc.....

These types at least seem to be provincial issues in Asia Minor.

Ross G.

1844203603_AnII-MIX-s.2459a-3-4-Anaia.C25-6.JPG.904505778fabf93f75dd0539bdb5fd91.JPG

Those certainly are fascinating. The designs are almost identical and the legends are very similar (assuming both the coins feature an emperor whose name was Andronikos).

"…. PONIKOS…" on the clear Anatolian imitation

and "AN…ECPOTHC" on mine.

 

As I have already stated above, however, I believe the style to be too refined to blindly be grouped together with the imitations found at Kadikalesi. The detailed engraving, more realistic body proportions (and proper faces) as well as better-engraved letters would lead me to believe this issue was more alike to official ones (Note the inverted letters on the ones found at the dig site, the blundered legend on the obverse around Christ (Coin no. 25) and the overall poor style not much better than the Latin coins from centuries prior). In my opinion, the coin I’ve acquired is not much worse than worse than issues from cities like Philadelphia (though it is clearly inferior to Constantinople). 
 

As I was writing my reply, another theory came into my mind. Could the coin in question, due to it‘s far superior quality, be the original issue that the coins found at the site were were imitating? That would not only explain their shared designs but also why the other coins were of inferior quality. I have no evidence to back up the claim, but it‘d certainly be an interesting idea to entertain.

Edited by Zimm
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...