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2022 - A year of Byzantines and a late Roman...


ewomack
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Looking back, I still don't know what exactly triggered it, but, sometime around July of this year, I found myself wanting to acquire Byzantine coins like some crazy person. It probably came from learning more about the fall of Rome and its transformation into the eastern empire, coupled with a lifelong appreciation of Byzantine art (memories of visiting San Marco in Venice, with its amazing facade plundered from Constantinople after 1204, still linger). Byzantine coins in no way compare to their mosaics and architecture, of course, but they do have a unique style all of their own that combines elements of Roman and Medieval coinage. Since the mania hit, I have managed to pick up 7 coins that bellowed "buy me!"

But first, just before the Byzantine bonanza, I picked up another long wanted specimen of Julian II, who I had first read about in an anthology of Cynic philosophy.

360_to_363_JulianII_AE1_BIMalorina_01.png.dd3449afa18d787cab7fac921865e174.png360_to_363_JulianII_AE1_BIMalorina_02.png.32bab6ce9bb83bf9cb238b6083786ad7.png
Julian II (360 - 363) AE1 (BI Maiorina); Thessalonika Mint; Obv: DN FL CL IVLIANUS PF AUG; Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right; Rev: SECVRITAS REIPVB; Bull standing right, two stars above;*TESΓ in exergue; Ref: RIC 226; NGC Graded Ch. XF
 

After the Julian bull arrived, I began scouring VCoins for Byzantine portraits that bopped my fancy. A few threads here helped me know what to expect: Byzantine bronzes often have significant wear and one often has to compromise fully legible text for a decent portrait, or vice versa. A coin that I saw during my very first random rummage pulled me in. I'm sure far nicer examples of this type exist, but it's still the nicest one I've yet seen for the, relatively low, price range. The chunk missing from the upper left likely lowered the price considerably.

813_to_820_LeoV_AE_Follis_01.png.380853c15c46e53795e002194cb2ac69.png813_to_820_LeoV_AE_Follis_02.png.d4ce4e1941f7294d958ddc47fad09394.png
Leo V AD 813-820, Æ Follis (23mm, 4.43 grams) Constantinopolis; LEON S CONST; facing busts of Leo (l.) and Constantine (r.);
Large M between XXX and NNN; cross above and A below; Sear 1630

 

And what Byzantine set is complete without at least one Justinian I? Another very helpful thread here helped me determine whether this one at least met minimum standards. It ended up looking much nicer than the dealer's photo. It's definitely not the best example of a Justinian Follis, but the price and the quality seemed well matched, so "good enough."

527_to_565_JustinianI_Follis_01.png.2ed0e0cd44b966bf27338c99ba4e1b17.png527_to_565_JustinianI_Follis_02.png.6288179a78d0e802425ca5fb8b633a5d.png
Justinian I Follis (540/1 - Year 14), Constantinople mint, Obv: DN IVSTINIANVS PP AVG, helmeted, cuirassed bust facing holding cross on globe and shield; cross to right. Rev: Large M, ANNO to left, cross above, XIIII (date) to right, A below, CON in exergue, Sear 163


Yet another extremely helpful thread here led to me purchase this Theophilus Follis. The consensus was that someone had cleaned it very thoroughly, but it showed no signs of tooling. When it arrived, I posted magnified pictures of suspicious areas and they seemed to clear the tooling test. So far, I haven't seen any signs of BD on this coin.

829_to_842_Theophilus_AE_Follis_01.png.e46337b41e1e12728a60c747769cca92.png829_to_842_Theophilus_AE_Follis_02.png.343394a72db8198f6583627a66a64d07.png
Theophilus (AD 829-842) Æ Follis; Constantinople mint; AD 830-842; Obv: ΘEOFIL bASIL; Half-length figure standing facing, holding labarum and globus cruciger; Rev: ΘEO / FILE AVG / OVSTE SV / hICAS in four lines; 27.66mm; 7.46 grams; Sear 1667


I usually don't care much for provenance, but I liked the combination of this coin's portrait and its history, including Wayne Sales and the Chrysler museum, so those made me take the leap.

813_to_820_LeoV_AE_Follis_02_01.png.c0e25dfe149a2806d770e4fa2d2f06dd.png813_to_820_LeoV_AE_Follis_02_02.png.7b7813983f8f06bc780a70c181d95af4.png
Leo V AD 813-820, Æ Follis (21.59mm, 5.48 grams) Constantinople Mint, Obv: LЄ-OҺ ЬASIL, crowned and draped bust facing, holding cross potent and akakia; Rev: Large M, [X/X/X] to left, cross above, N/N/N to right, A (officina) below, Sear 1629


Though, once again, probably far from the nicest example of this type, I nonetheless succumbed to the portraits on this one.

820_to_829_MichaelII_AE_Follis_01.png.a6e95b435c051f4fcb5ad81a1392b83f.png820_to_829_MichaelII_AE_Follis_02.png.7877c4593851babd12ac247a966ca2b9.png
Michael II the Amorian (AD 820-829) with Theophilus Æ Follis; Constantinople mint; Obv: MIXAHL S ΘЄOFILOS, crowned facing busts of Michael (on left) and Theophilus (on right); cross above; Rev: Large M, X/X/X to left, cross above, N/N/N to right, Θ below; 29.12mm; 6.21 grams; Sear 1642

 

After reading through the Sear book, the passage on this particular type said it apparently existed in greater numbers than any other Byzantine type. So, I thought nice examples shouldn't prove too hard to find. This, like the Leo V above, is still the nicest one I have seen, though, again, I'm sure far better ones exist out there.

886_to_912_LeoVI_AE_Follis_01.png.a1a5d324901629f04966b26f7dd148d5.png886_to_912_LeoVI_AE_Follis_02.png.b9943256bd932ca67f9cb621d152695a.png
Leo VI (AD 886-912); Constantinople; Æ Follis; Obv: +LEOn bAS - ILEVS ROM' Bust facing wearing crown and chlamys, holding akakia in l. hand; Rev: Inscription in four lines: +LEOn / Eh ΘEO bA / SILEVS R / OmEOh; 7.67g.;  Berk 918, Sear 1729

 

And finally, what likely qualifies as one of the ugliest coins I've ever acquired, this Phocas portrait proved too good to pass on. As far as portraits go, I haven't seen a better one on any Phocas bronze coins yet. The flan and the reverse could definitely use some help, though. Still, I love the coin overall.

602_to_610_Phocas_AE_Follis_01.png.098b084caa922987c3ce617a80edfca9.png602_to_610_Phocas_AE_Follis_02.png.57e3e302f2bdd59772df5169f0250cde.png
Phocas (602-610), Æ Follis (33mm, 11.79g), Cyzicus, Dated RY 4 ? (605/6); Obv: δN POCAS+PERPAVG, Crowned bust facing, wearing consular robes and holding mappa and cross, small cross to left; Rev: Large XXXX, ANNO above, II/II (date) to right, KYZA, Sear 665


I still might yet pick up more coins this year, but, so far, none have shouted at me as loudly as the 8 above. These make up all of my coin purchases (so far) for 2022, so a "top 10" doesn't really seem warranted. Going forward, I don't know if I will continue the Byzantine quest or if I might divert back into Roman or medieval. I don't really plan my purchases and instead just "let them happen." We'll see. In any case, this board has been extremely helpful to me in building up a small collection of ancients, so it's been a great year overall.

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2 hours ago, ewomack said:

Looking back, I still don't know what exactly triggered it, but, sometime around July of this year, I found myself wanting to acquire Byzantine coins like some crazy person. It probably came from learning more about the fall of Rome and its transformation into the eastern empire, coupled with a lifelong appreciation of Byzantine art (memories of visiting San Marco in Venice, with its amazing facade plundered from Constantinople after 1204, still linger). Byzantine coins in no way compare to their mosaics and architecture, of course, but they do have a unique style all of their own that combines elements of Roman and Medieval coinage. Since the mania hit, I have managed to pick up 7 coins that bellowed "buy me!"

But first, just before the Byzantine bonanza, I picked up another long wanted specimen of Julian II, who I had first read about in an anthology of Cynic philosophy.

360_to_363_JulianII_AE1_BIMalorina_01.png.dd3449afa18d787cab7fac921865e174.png360_to_363_JulianII_AE1_BIMalorina_02.png.32bab6ce9bb83bf9cb238b6083786ad7.png
Julian II (360 - 363) AE1 (BI Maiorina); Thessalonika Mint; Obv: DN FL CL IVLIANUS PF AUG; Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right; Rev: SECVRITAS REIPVB; Bull standing right, two stars above;*TESΓ in exergue; Ref: RIC 226; NGC Graded Ch. XF
 

After the Julian bull arrived, I began scouring VCoins for Byzantine portraits that bopped my fancy. A few threads here helped me know what to expect: Byzantine bronzes often have significant wear and one often has to compromise fully legible text for a decent portrait, or vice versa. A coin that I saw during my very first random rummage pulled me in. I'm sure far nicer examples of this type exist, but it's still the nicest one I've yet seen for the, relatively low, price range. The chunk missing from the upper left likely lowered the price considerably.

813_to_820_LeoV_AE_Follis_01.png.380853c15c46e53795e002194cb2ac69.png813_to_820_LeoV_AE_Follis_02.png.d4ce4e1941f7294d958ddc47fad09394.png
Leo V AD 813-820, Æ Follis (23mm, 4.43 grams) Constantinopolis; LEON S CONST; facing busts of Leo (l.) and Constantine (r.);
Large M between XXX and NNN; cross above and A below; Sear 1630

 

And what Byzantine set is complete without at least one Justinian I? Another very helpful thread here helped me determine whether this one at least met minimum standards. It ended up looking much nicer than the dealer's photo. It's definitely not the best example of a Justinian Follis, but the price and the quality seemed well matched, so "good enough."

527_to_565_JustinianI_Follis_01.png.2ed0e0cd44b966bf27338c99ba4e1b17.png527_to_565_JustinianI_Follis_02.png.6288179a78d0e802425ca5fb8b633a5d.png
Justinian I Follis (540/1 - Year 14), Constantinople mint, Obv: DN IVSTINIANVS PP AVG, helmeted, cuirassed bust facing holding cross on globe and shield; cross to right. Rev: Large M, ANNO to left, cross above, XIIII (date) to right, A below, CON in exergue, Sear 163


Yet another extremely helpful thread here led to me purchase this Theophilus Follis. The consensus was that someone had cleaned it very thoroughly, but it showed no signs of tooling. When it arrived, I posted magnified pictures of suspicious areas and they seemed to clear the tooling test. So far, I haven't seen any signs of BD on this coin.

829_to_842_Theophilus_AE_Follis_01.png.e46337b41e1e12728a60c747769cca92.png829_to_842_Theophilus_AE_Follis_02.png.343394a72db8198f6583627a66a64d07.png
Theophilus (AD 829-842) Æ Follis; Constantinople mint; AD 830-842; Obv: ΘEOFIL bASIL; Half-length figure standing facing, holding labarum and globus cruciger; Rev: ΘEO / FILE AVG / OVSTE SV / hICAS in four lines; 27.66mm; 7.46 grams; Sear 1667


I usually don't care much for provenance, but I liked the combination of this coin's portrait and its history, including Wayne Sales and the Chrysler museum, so those made me take the leap.

813_to_820_LeoV_AE_Follis_02_01.png.c0e25dfe149a2806d770e4fa2d2f06dd.png813_to_820_LeoV_AE_Follis_02_02.png.7b7813983f8f06bc780a70c181d95af4.png
Leo V AD 813-820, Æ Follis (21.59mm, 5.48 grams) Constantinople Mint, Obv: LЄ-OҺ ЬASIL, crowned and draped bust facing, holding cross potent and akakia; Rev: Large M, [X/X/X] to left, cross above, N/N/N to right, A (officina) below, Sear 1629


Though, once again, probably far from the nicest example of this type, I nonetheless succumbed to the portraits on this one.

820_to_829_MichaelII_AE_Follis_01.png.a6e95b435c051f4fcb5ad81a1392b83f.png820_to_829_MichaelII_AE_Follis_02.png.7877c4593851babd12ac247a966ca2b9.png
Michael II the Amorian (AD 820-829) with Theophilus Æ Follis; Constantinople mint; Obv: MIXAHL S ΘЄOFILOS, crowned facing busts of Michael (on left) and Theophilus (on right); cross above; Rev: Large M, X/X/X to left, cross above, N/N/N to right, Θ below; 29.12mm; 6.21 grams; Sear 1642

 

After reading through the Sear book, the passage on this particular type said it apparently existed in greater numbers than any other Byzantine type. So, I thought nice examples shouldn't prove too hard to find. This, like the Leo V above, is still the nicest one I have seen, though, again, I'm sure far better ones exist out there.

886_to_912_LeoVI_AE_Follis_01.png.a1a5d324901629f04966b26f7dd148d5.png886_to_912_LeoVI_AE_Follis_02.png.b9943256bd932ca67f9cb621d152695a.png
Leo VI (AD 886-912); Constantinople; Æ Follis; Obv: +LEOn bAS - ILEVS ROM' Bust facing wearing crown and chlamys, holding akakia in l. hand; Rev: Inscription in four lines: +LEOn / Eh ΘEO bA / SILEVS R / OmEOh; 7.67g.;  Berk 918, Sear 1729

 

And finally, what likely qualifies as one of the ugliest coins I've ever acquired, this Phocas portrait proved too good to pass on. As far as portraits go, I haven't seen a better one on any Phocas bronze coins yet. The flan and the reverse could definitely use some help, though. Still, I love the coin overall.

602_to_610_Phocas_AE_Follis_01.png.098b084caa922987c3ce617a80edfca9.png602_to_610_Phocas_AE_Follis_02.png.57e3e302f2bdd59772df5169f0250cde.png
Phocas (602-610), Æ Follis (33mm, 11.79g), Cyzicus, Dated RY 4 ? (605/6); Obv: δN POCAS+PERPAVG, Crowned bust facing, wearing consular robes and holding mappa and cross, small cross to left; Rev: Large XXXX, ANNO above, II/II (date) to right, KYZA, Sear 665


I still might yet pick up more coins this year, but, so far, none have shouted at me as loudly as the 8 above. These make up all of my coin purchases (so far) for 2022, so a "top 10" doesn't really seem warranted. Going forward, I don't know if I will continue the Byzantine quest or if I might divert back into Roman or medieval. I don't really plan my purchases and instead just "let them happen." We'll see. In any case, this board has been extremely helpful to me in building up a small collection of ancients, so it's been a great year overall.

Excellent Byzantine additions along with the anti-Christian Julian II maiorina 😊.

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