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How to get started on Frankish Kingdom collecting?


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I was wondering on how to get a few examples of Carolingian/early Frankish kingdom coins without paying over $200. I have a few medieval coins but none from France. Is it possible? What are some popular types? Is Charlemagne out of price range? 

Also I noticed eBay is probably the worst place for those coins in particular because (99% of them look fake to me)

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@JeandAcre and @seth77 should have some ideas. I agree with your comment about EBay... I would stick to reputable auction houses and places like VCoins and MA Shops, as well as known French ancients dealers specializing in Medieval coins like cgb.fr. Although you will likely need to sacrifice quality to stay below your budget of $200!

Charlemagne is definitely out of price range IMO. 

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...ah oui oui!... another going the Frank way...kool..( in fact, i was just looking at Grand Blanc's)..but idk about getting Carolingian coins for less than around $200.....i've chose the Louis rabbit hole fractal meself...(and might possibly be the only one in the world :P)...i seen a dinar of Louis the Pius at one of the auction houses starting at 130 euros but with shipping and juice, if it sold just for the starting price would be around $200...i lQQked for years( and if was fun & educating ^^) ...CBG is a go to place for French coins (plus some on ebay too)..go look and find a coin you like and make an offer on it and they'll ask the owner and get back with ya...i started off with a coin of St. Louis  as i was born there..the rest is history  :P...good luck to ya and here's a shot of me Louis i have so far (plus a Phillip IV, father of Louis X and killer of Jacques DeMolay)...:D


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ebay is probably the worst place to start for Carolingian coin, as you noted. The fakes abound and some of them are GOOD. So if you are just starting stay away from there unless you buy from a dealer you already know and trust.

I would start with taking a look at the inventory of CGB. They are very reliable and overall a top tier company. You will not get fakes from them and since you are starting out, you might also want to get some books, they have a wide array of books that I think they print themselves, if I recall I got my Boudeau from them.

The Carolingian section that I have linked is probably the most expensive of their categories but Carolingian coin is usually more expensive. But you can browse and see for yourself what might peak your interest in your price range. I would suggest the GDR type and it's many immobilizations, they are usually more affordable as much of this coinage was used as tribute money for Vikings and it was intensely hoarded. 

Good luck.

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Dear @Amarmur

About one year ago I became interested in Carolingian coins and began accumulating a few of them.  I also picked up a couple of the standard books. @JeandAcre among others was kind enough to provide some advice and observations, and the result was the thread below.  I do not know if this link brings you to the beginning or the end of the thread, but it is pretty short in any case.  Nevertheless I suspect there is some information you will find useful, and there are some truly beautiful examples of Carolingian coinage to whet your appetite. 

To address some of the issues you raise in your post, it is true that coins of Charlemagne are very expensive, enough that I have yet to acquire one.

Ebay is plagued with numerous fake Carolingian coins, and you are wise to avoid purchase there.  I second the recommendation of CGB as a good place to start.  I think it is a safe bet that the vast majority of Carolingian coin collectors are in Northern Europe, and the majority of dealers with expertise in the series are located there also. 


Edited by Hrefn
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Apologies to all.  I obviously made some error inserting the link in my post, which resulted in an enormous blank area.  (Now edited ).   I hope this is not some sort of visual metaphor for my brain, but nothing would surprise me.  

Edited by Hrefn
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(...Back from work.  Many thanks to @Romismatist for your vote of confidence.  :<} )

@Amarmur, Congratulations on embarking on this!  Only over the past couple of years, I've been stepping deeper into the water with Sasanian, 11th-c. German, and early Scandinavian stuff.  In each instance, just getting an initial acquaintance with the series has been its own inimitably bracing, ongoing process.  It's always fun to step back and appreciate the vastness of what I don't know!  Has to be a primary reason why, as collectors, we do this.

Given which, the news from here isn't great.  It's been a few years since I was actively collecting these, and it looks as if some of the European dealers I relied on have scaled back what they're doing with Carolingian.  In some cases, dramatically.

As a case in point --but to a lesser degree than some-- @seth77's recommendation of cgb was one of my first candidates.  But I must warn you, if you go back far enough (as much as a decade or more), relative to Carolingian and feudal, they're a shadow of their former selves.  No fears, though; they still deal in them, both via auctions and their online shop, and are always, eminently worth a look, for all of @seth77's reasons.  

...Just, not in the same volume.  And, yep, prices, even for the most affordable GDR issues of Charles le Chauve, have gone up.  But there's still some very respectable material at or slightly below 200 Euros.

Once again bouncing off of @seth77's observations, immobilizations, even the early ones (c. mid-late 10th century), are pretty consistently cheaper, at least by enough to notice.  ...Yes, these are the great gray area between later Carolingian and early feudal; generally issued by local authorities, whether seigneurial, episcopal, or even civic.  Here's a link to his brilliant explication of how this plays out in the context of Quentovic, from the previous forum.  https://www.cointalk.com/threads/quentovic-and-the-conundrum-of-carolingian-vs-feudal.390337/ 

I'm guessing that, very understandably, your preference would be to start out with examples which are unambiguously lifetime issues.  That's where the GDR issues of Charles le Chauve are still likely to be your best bet.  ...But also Charles's earlier issues from Melle, pairing the '+CARLVS REX FR' with the '+METxVLLO' mint signature as a border legend.

(Cf. this example ...the only Carolingian I have with Viking peck marks, making it dear to my heart:)



Regarding Charlemagne, it's like, Ouch, that's never even been on my bucket list.  But the 'Temple' issue of his son, Louis 'le Pieux,' without mint signatures, is another one that's still easy to find, within a comparable price range.  (The temple motif proceeds to be variously copied and riffed on by feudal issues all the way from Richard I of Normandy in the later 10th century, to the abbey of Tours from the 11th and 12th.  More on this follows; you were warned.)  


Among immobilizations, the ones to watch out for include the later issues of Melle, with the linear rendering of 'METALO.'  Here's a candidate for a lifetime issue of Charles III /le Simple, based primarily on style and weight.


...And an immobilization, as late as the end of the 11th century.  (...Corresponding to the equally entertaining but, thank you, no less emphatically post-Carolingian dukes of Aquitaine.  For references, Duplessy, Monnaies Feodales picks up right where Depeyrot and Nouchy leave off, with date ranges for the immobilizations themselves, based on triangulations of style and weight from the available hoard evidence.)


Still harping on immobilizations, others among the usual suspects include ones from Limoges in the name of Louis IV, and the 'GDR' issues of Le Mans.  ...But, thank you, there's a surprising range of mints which are doing this as of the later 10th century.  Arras comes to mind, as another instance of a Charles II 'GDR.'

And I don't mind telling you, the first Louis IV of Limoges I got, ostensibly as a lifetime issue (...and I thought I was All That), is likely one of the relatively early immobilizations. 


So, Right, you really need to start with justly established, ethical and knowledgable dealers, who are willing to address questions you have about, ahem, little details like this.  Beyond cgb, the two candidates I can find offhand are these.  If you're in the US, Elsen has a history of having to wrangle with US Customs to finalize shipping.  But that also means that they're used to doing exactly that.  First, Monnaies d'Antan:


And Elsen (personal favorites, despite Customs):


Hope some of this is of real help, however randomly.



Edited by JeandAcre
"incluide"? don't think so
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One of the very remarkable things about Carolingian coinage is its apparent overall scarcity.  George Depeyrot clearly made an earnest effort to track down and record as many examples as he could find of each coin type for his book, now in its fourth edition.  Many of the “exemplaires” are scarce or very scarce.  This may be related to the empire’s practice of recalling and melting earlier types as fiscal policy.  In other cases, it may be because the type was only issued for a short time.  Lastly, the eventual debasement of the silver alloy, and the decrease in mass of the denier, would have made the earlier heavier and purer coins profitable to recoin or turn to jewelry and plate.

A type known to M. Depeyrot in 266 examples would seem to qualify as a common Carolingian coin, and might be available for less than the above-mentioned $200 limit.  And so it proves to be.  The coin below is the newest addition to my Carolingian collection, and hammered for $175 at Heritage.  Since it was at Heritage, it is slabbed. 🙄  Rotomagus is the city of Rouen.

image.png.0613b60192bd4647522b72f724a644be.png    image.png.4996460a0b4d9122767ba28e0506c0b6.pngimage.png.5f8865a64c98d169822c1db385345302.png  

Monogram of Karolus on the obverse is retrograde.  +CRATIADIREX for +GRATIA D-I REX.  Reverse +ROTVMACVS CIVII for +ROTOMAGUS CIVI.  Central device is a cross without pellets.  

Depeyrot 878, examples known 266, numerous variants exist. 



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My first thought on your question "How to get started on Frankish kingdom collecting" was build up a nice war chest, find a rich uncle, or play the lottery!

Frankish coins are no small feat!

Merovingian coins are expensive and Carolingian coins are expensive!

There are less expensive Carolingian coins.  You can find coins of Louis the Pious, Charles the Bald, and Charles the Simple for under $200.  But you would be hard pressed to find an authentic coin of Charlemagne for that price, and it would probably be in a wretched shape.  Save up for a decent one.

Keep an eye on listings on vcoins and ma-shops.

Good luck and let us how the collection is doing!

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