Jump to content

The Smallest Tetarteron


Recommended Posts

  • Benefactor

I should start this thread with " Call me Ishmael.

 Unattractive I know but easily still attributable. It is a coin I have sought after, to the point, I questioned if it existed as an official issue.

The coin is described Sear Byzantine coins and their Values and in CLBC, also Doc, each gave it a different description, but one thing was in common, the coin was very small. In CLBC they listed the die diameter at 11mm.

The only main difference in SBCV and CLBC is description of the Archangels inscription. In CLBC it is AP on R and M on left. In Sears catalog he says it is identical the full tetarteron O/X/AP on l. and X/MI on r.


My example follows Sears description for legend


 1.7gm  15.5mm SBCV-2006

The coin was produced under the rule of Isaac II, 1185-1195 CE, his family lead to the destruction of the empire at the hands of the crusaders.

He was a follower of the Cult of the Archangel Michael, the tetartera from Thessalonica was of two types, a full tetarteron and a coin called its half.

His full tetarteron was sized at around 20mm (die size 18mm) but the half listed in Sear and CLBC only at 15mm or less down to 11mm.  the size in Morrison is 11mm and Grierson does not include the coin in his catalog nor does Sommer.

The weight listed in CLBC says from 1.17 to 1.8 gm.

(The ONLY other example that appears on the web is in Forums Ancient Coins prior sales, it is of a cruder imagery than mine and the die sizes do not appear to be uniform.)


Bellow I include the two listed denominations for a visual comparison.



 As my good friend @catadc will point out, a 15mm die size does exists as well but my examples by weight, don’t make it apparent of being a different denomination. That riddle remains.

In any case I have finally found the smallest tetarteron and have conclusively completed the collection I started out to complete, every listed tetarteron for the emperors of the 12th century Eastern Roman Empire. 



  • Like 16
  • Cool Think 1
  • Clap 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Benefactor


44 minutes ago, TheTrachyEnjoyer said:

Are you considering usurpers too?

It was Not part of the original goal BUT I have 5 types of Isaac Comnenus usurper of Cyprus tetartera.

I also changed my focus to get all coinage of the 12th century emperors a few years ago, the copper ones were the most difficult. The other ones just required money and patience; I will complete the collection in the next few years. Alexius I is the biggest hurdle. 


here is my rarest Isaac Comnenus Usurper tetarteron.  SBCV-1999




  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Benefactor

This example is the only one I have found that is similar. My photo is of a plate in Julian Bakers " Coinage and Money in Medieval Greece 1200-1430".  The text attributes as the larger version I believe that to be a typo. It is type VI. The example is in Athens, the author did not give weight, but he said they were photographed to size, the example he has to the left of it (cropped out here) shows the same scale as in my original posting. 



One example that is findable on the web is on Labarum. This appears to be the example That Forum Ancient coins sold. Different dies and appear to be mismatched. 15mm and 11mm is my estimate.  The example is 1.24gm and 17.5mm at the widest point. The inscription for Isaac is heavily abbreviated and the reverse AO? (This is not my coin.) This example seems to match the one used in DOC IV description.




This example Is not a half tetarteron, not by size anyway. It has always left me a bit baffled. Its weight is only 2.2gm but it is full sized, the dies here too appear to be mis matched. The full size is over 20mm but with a full die sized at 18mm and the other less at 15mm. The coin is very thin but is nicely struck considering its very low weight.




Last but not least is a heavy example 4.5gm but with 15mm dies. 




I have others of the large sized and midsized dies, but the weights vary, not clearly showing any consistency of weight. The examples in my collection are not a good picture of the denomination as a whole, I picked them for visual purposes, I have no idea on where they were actually found and how they compared with coins from the same area. 

I think my example of the half tetarteron is extremely official looking for the obverse, I have no doubt it was an official issue. 


Here once again a comparison picture of the three sized dies.  

If you have thoughts and observations on the series or the denomination in general, please feel free to post.



  • Like 11
  • Popcorn 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.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

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.

  • Create New...