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Byzantine light weight solidi


Hrefn
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A new purchase has lead me to reading more about light weight solidi of Byzantium, and in particular those of Justin II which have OB*+* in the exergue.  Their value seems to be 22 siliquae, compared to a full weight solidus of 24 siliquae.  These light weight solidi are found mainly outside the borders of the Empire, and indeed it may have been illegal to use them in commerce inside the Empire.  The purpose for which they were made seems to have been lost.  

Aside from the the exergue, the only apparent difference from the usual solidus is the globus cruciger on the reverse has become a simple globus.

The mint which struck them is variously mentioned as either Constantinople or Antioch.  Antioch suffered a terrible earthquake during the reign of Justinian I in 526 AD.   Justinian caused the city to be rebuilt and renamed Theuopolis, the city of God.  Supporters of the Antiochene origin of these light weight solidi take the reverse legend which ends in “theta sigma” as evidence for their theory.  I notice that when CNG lists these, they are always attributed to Constantinople, but other dealers do claim Antioch.  I have not seen an argument which is conclusive.  That space on imperial solidi is usually reserved for the officina letter, but theta-sigma does not correspond to the usual practice.  Perhaps it does signify THeuopoliS.

Please share your light weight solidus of whatever variety, and your opinions on their origins and purpose.  image.jpeg.41d3862d135e4c3b670be0893c16189a.jpegimage.jpeg.5798292f8ed77be818c7bc06111f919c.jpeg

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

A new auction win from Roma Numismatics.  There are better struck light weight solidi of Maurice Tiberius on the market.  This coin differs from the usual full weight solidus only by the small star in the field on the obverse, and its mass of 4.33 grams.  Nevertheless, I found the portrait appealing.image.jpeg.9af2cc52de7c0e9951c7fa4c07c666ec.jpeg4AE8FA5A-2946-4368-8329-AD4FCBC34DCD.jpeg.21959fa828ad6862e6f3dcdf9dff67f2.jpeg

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Here is a talk by Robert Hoge who is ANS curator emeritus on the light weight solidi.  Some beautiful coins are shown.  The coins were issued in weights which probably correspond to 23, 22, and 20 siliqua or carats in size.  I did not appreciate the number of issues, and the length of time over which they were issued - both much longer and more various than I had supposed.   

 

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On 10/16/2022 at 2:35 PM, Hrefn said:

A new purchase has lead me to reading more about light weight solidi of Byzantium, and in particular those of Justin II which have OB*+* in the exergue.  Their value seems to be 22 siliquae, compared to a full weight solidus of 24 siliquae.  These light weight solidi are found mainly outside the borders of the Empire, and indeed it may have been illegal to use them in commerce inside the Empire.  The purpose for which they were made seems to have been lost.  

Aside from the the exergue, the only apparent difference from the usual solidus is the globus cruciger on the reverse has become a simple globus.

The mint which struck them is variously mentioned as either Constantinople or Antioch.  Antioch suffered a terrible earthquake during the reign of Justinian I in 526 AD.   Justinian caused the city to be rebuilt and renamed Theuopolis, the city of God.  Supporters of the Antiochene origin of these light weight solidi take the reverse legend which ends in “theta sigma” as evidence for their theory.  I notice that when CNG lists these, they are always attributed to Constantinople, but other dealers do claim Antioch.  I have not seen an argument which is conclusive.  That space on imperial solidi is usually reserved for the officina letter, but theta-sigma does not correspond to the usual practice.  Perhaps it does signify THeuopoliS.

Please share your light weight solidus of whatever variety, and your opinions on their origins and purpose.  image.jpeg.41d3862d135e4c3b670be0893c16189a.jpegimage.jpeg.5798292f8ed77be818c7bc06111f919c.jpeg

Beautifull coin!

 

 

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