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The Miliaresion Thread


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A silver piece that was consistent for a long time, but also not as well known as the follis or solidus. Therefore, I will share an example from my collection:

Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, with Romanus I and Christopher, 913-959. Miliaresion. Constantine was the fourth Emperor of the Macedonian dynasty reigning from 6 June 913 to 9 November 959. He was the son of Emperor Leo VI and his fourth wife, Zoe Karbonopsina, and the nephew of his predecessor Emperor Alexander. He was known as a scholar and the epithet "born in the purple" refers to his birthplace in the Imperial chamber adorned with the purple stone porphyry. Much of his reign was covered by regencies, first under his mother and later under Romanus I.


(AR, 25 mm, 3.15 g, 12 h), Constantinople. IҺSЧS XRISTЧS ҺICA Cross potent set on three steps; below, globe. Rev. +ROmAҺO' / XPISTOFOR' / CЄ COҺSTAҺ' / ЄҺ X'ω ЄVSЄ/b' bASIL' R' in five lines. DOC 18. SB 1754.

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Please post your Miliaresions in this thread! And, Happy Father's Day from the Byzantine Empire.

 

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Posted · Supporter

I have one to offer up! Funny enough (not for him) yesterday, Leo the Isaurian died 1281 years ago to the day. Here's a coin of his:

2606675_1645797534.l-removebg-preview.png.5b7abcecd5c91e3b7b7f8311fbaf310f.png

(Silver. 1.68g 22mm) LEO III THE "ISAURIAN", with CONSTANTINE V (717-741). Miliaresion. Constantinople.
IhSVS XRISTVS nICA./ Cross potent set on three steps.
Rev: LEOn / S COnST/AnTInE E/C ΘEV bA/SILIS./ Legend in 5 lines.
Sear 1512.

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While not technically a Miliaresion, the Miliarense of the Late Roman Empire probably served a similar function to it in the economy.

Plus I never get to show this bad boy off!

RIC_0392.4.jpg

Theodosius II AR Miliarense. Thessalonica mint, 408-423 AD. D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped & cuirassed bust right / GLORIA ROMANORVM, Theodosius standing facing, head left, holding spear & shield; star in left field, COM in ex. RIC X 392; RSC 20 var (mintmark), 4.25 grams. 

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Nicephorus III Botaniates with Maria 1078-1081 AR Miliaresion. 

Constantinople mint.

22mm, 1.20g

EN TOVTW NIKATE NIKHF KAI MARIA Cross-crosslet on globe resting on three steps, X in centre, dot in crescent on shaft, crowned busts of Nicephorus, bearded and wearing jewelled chlamys on left, and Maria wearing loros, on right.

NIKHFR-KAI MARIA-PICTOI RA-CILEIC PW-MAIWN in five lines

SBCV 1886 ; DOC 6 . 
C0761C2D-0F2F-4597-9913-D2E079841BC7.jpeg.610354afc91d0cd7615a34ce91ae3aa4.jpeg

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Despite collecting Byzantine coins for 40 years, I had never purchased a miliaresion, until this year.   Disappointment at losing bid after bid in auctions as the price of solidi has risen prompted me to essay a few bids on some silver coins, hoping to win one.  To my surprise I won 5 out of 6 bids, and a nice assortment of coins they are.  One of them is this miliaresion.  

Basil I, reigned 867-886 AD, and his son Constantine, died 879 AD.

13D8ACA1-40FA-4F6E-B3FF-C94F1894267D.jpeg.9d2369b238fe441c4a93b5100b3dfb3b.jpeg530FF587-FC15-4EF0-8BA3-2C8A0544994C.jpeg.1dd91c938ae2b1b902dbf5a041f4755e.jpeg

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Posted · Benefactor

I have an opportunity to buy this, I’m by far an expert in this denomination. Any thoughts from the experts?


6FC6BA3A-1F85-4F6D-B766-D3E230EDF623.jpeg.51fa3e2d6d4fe671439556095bba64a0.jpeg

Theodosius II, Eastern Augustus of the Theodosian Dynasty 402-450 AD, Silver ‘Light’ Miliarense (4.34g, 23mm), Constantinople mint 408-423 AD. 
 

Sear-21172; RIC-370; RSC-20a

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Looks beautiful to my eye, though I am not an expert on Byzantine silver.  My impression is that lots of late Roman and Byzantine silver coins have flan cracks. The granular chip leading into the flan crack leads me to wonder if the silver is crystallized.  This would be both a reassurance of authenticity, and a bit of a concern.  If you buy it, don’t drop it.  

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5 hours ago, Egry said:

I have an opportunity to buy this, I’m by far an expert in this denomination. Any thoughts from the experts?


6FC6BA3A-1F85-4F6D-B766-D3E230EDF623.jpeg.51fa3e2d6d4fe671439556095bba64a0.jpeg

Theodosius II, Eastern Augustus of the Theodosian Dynasty 402-450 AD, Silver ‘Light’ Miliarense (4.34g, 23mm), Constantinople mint 408-423 AD. 
 

Sear-21172; RIC-370; RSC-20a

I recall seeing this coin in hand at the dealer’s both during NYINC. It’s a nice example. The flan crack is typical for the issue. There seems to be an area of flat strike around the ear and bangs, but such areas of flat strike are often seen on this type. There was another example of this type that I liked at NYINC (at another dealer’s table) which had an area of flat strike on the reverse. I passed on it for that reason. I should also add that I previously owned a well provenanced example of this type which I sold for the same reason. 

Edited by Romancollector
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1 hour ago, Romancollector said:

I recall seeing this coin in hand at the dealer’s both during NYINC. It’s a nice example. The flan crack is typical for the issue. There seems to be an area of flat strike around the ear and bangs, but such areas of flat strike are often seen on this type. There was another example of this type that I liked at NYINC (at another dealer’s table) which had an area of flat strike on the reverse. I passed on it for that reason. I should also add that I previously owned a well provenanced example of this type which I sold for the same reason. 

Thanks. Was it this exact coin you saw? I believe the person who is willing to sell it to me has just purchased it from the London Coin Fair. The price they are asking is a bit high so I’m somewhat undecided. When I had its in hand it was a really nice example, but now that you pointed out the flaws the stick out.

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Cool thread!  I wasn't familiar with the miliarense, especially as a prototype.

Here are my 1 1/2 miliaresions.  From one of my Viking OPs, but what the heck.

Two other Basil and Constantines; Basil II Bulgaroktonos and Constantine VII; issued 977-989.

BYZANTINE, BASIL II, AR MILIARESION, ALEX.jpg

And the billon (eventually AE) knock-off of Mstislav Vladimirovich (brother and rival of Jaroslav the Wise), Prince of Tmutarkan, in the extreme, coastal southeast of Kievan Rus'.

KIEVAN RUS, Mstislav.jpg

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3 hours ago, Egry said:

Thanks. Was it this exact coin you saw? I believe the person who is willing to sell it to me has just purchased it from the London Coin Fair. The price they are asking is a bit high so I’m somewhat undecided. When I had its in hand it was a really nice example, but now that you pointed out the flaws the stick out.

Yes, I believe so. I recall seeing it at the Baldwins table and it is still listed on their vcoins shop. In this case, maybe Baldwins didn't take down the listing? If you would like to see the miliarense that the other dealer has for a comparison, PM me. Even though this dealer has a vcoins shop, the coin is not listed there.

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On 6/23/2022 at 11:49 AM, Egry said:

I have an opportunity to buy this, I’m by far an expert in this denomination. Any thoughts from the experts?


6FC6BA3A-1F85-4F6D-B766-D3E230EDF623.jpeg.51fa3e2d6d4fe671439556095bba64a0.jpeg

Theodosius II, Eastern Augustus of the Theodosian Dynasty 402-450 AD, Silver ‘Light’ Miliarense (4.34g, 23mm), Constantinople mint 408-423 AD. 
 

Sear-21172; RIC-370; RSC-20a

@Egry I was researching a different coin, and stumbled across the exact same coin you posted. It was sold in Roma Auction XIX

 

9004.210.2_1.jpg

https://www.romanumismatics.com/253-lot-978-theodosius-ii-ar-miliarense?arr=0&auction_id=0&box_filter=0&cat_id=&department_id=&exclude_keyword=&export_issue=0&gridtype=listview&high_estimate=0&image_filter=0&keyword=Miliarense&list_type=list_view&lots_per_page=100&low_estimate=0&month=&page_no=1&paper_filter=0&search_type=&sort_by=lot_number&view=lot_detail&year=

 

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I prefer the Hexagrams over the Miliaresion. Personally I like thicker, chunky coins such as the Hexagram. The Miliaresion are way too thin for my taste. From what I’ve seen, the thin flans caused the Miliaresion to be damaged easily. So I’m not planning to acquire a Miliaresion anytime soon.

My Hexagram was minted during the reign of emperor Heraclius. Heraclius’s Hexagrams tend to weakly struck with crudely engraved dies. The Byzantine Empire was being invaded by the Persians and Avars, as well as experiencing economic depressions and plagues. This explains the poor quality control on the Hexagram coinage. Allegedly, Heraclius confiscated silver plates from churches to produce the Hexagrams.

The quality control and artistry of the Hexagram coinage would improve under Heraclius’s successor Constans II. I believe Constans II struck his Hexagrams using Solidus dies.

CS2m6McJSaqltPJSRMGt_6bvfOLq.jpg

Heraclius & Heraclius Constantine AR Hexagram. Constantinople Obv: Heraclius and Heraclius Constantine seated facing on double throne, each holding globus cruciger. δδ NN ҺЄRACILЧS ЄT ҺЄRA CONST. Rev: Cross potent set upon globus set upon three steps; K to right. δЄЧS AδIЧTA ROMANIS. SB 798. 6.06 g. 610-641 AD.

Edited by MrMonkeySwag96
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Here are a few from my collection:

Byzantine Empire: Basil I the Macedonian (867-886) AR Miliaresion, Constantinople (Sear-1708)

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Byzantine Empire: Basil II Bulgaroktonos with Constantine VIII (977-989 CE) AR Miliaresion, Constantinople (Sear-1810; DOC 17)

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Byzantine Empire: Constantine IX (1042-1055) 2/3 Miliaresion, Constantinople (Sear-1835)

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Byzantine Empire: Constantine VI & Irene (780-797) AR Miliaresion, Constantinople (Sear 1595; DOC 4b)

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Byzantine Empire: Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus and Romanus I (913-959) AR Miliaresion, Constantinople (Sear 1754; DOC 18)

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Byzantine Empire: Constantine X Ducas (1059-1067) AR ⅔ Miliaresion, Constantinople (Sear-1851; DOC 6d)

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Byzantine Empire: John I Tzimisces (969-976) AR Miliaresion, Constantinople (Sear-1792; DOC 7b)

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Byzantine Empire: Leo V the Armenian (813-820) AR Miliaresion, Constantinople (Sear 1628; DOC 4)

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Byzantine Empire: Michael I Rhangabe (811-813) AR Miliaresion, Constantinople (Sear 1616; DOC III.3)

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Byzantine Empire: Michael II the Amorian (820-829) AR Miliaresion, Constantinople (Sear 1641; DOC 6)

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Byzantine Empire: Michael VII (1071-1078) Miliaresion, Constantinople (Sear-1873)

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Byzantine Empire: Michael VII Ducas (1071-1078) AR ⅔ Miliaresion, Constantinople (Sear-1876; DOC-8)

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Byzantine Empire: Nicephorus II Phocas (963-969), Miliaresion, Constantinople (Sear-1781)

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There are some exceptional coins in this thread!  I love miliaresia.  By contrast with @MrMonkeySwag96 I much prefer them to the poorly produced hexagram.  Plus it's very cool that they were introduced by Leo III along with his iconoclasm.  So the early ones are iconic iconoclastic coins. 😄

The most exceptional example that I have is in fact a 1/2 miliaresion (only 16mm and 0.73g), struck on the occasion of Constantine V's coronation, and around when the denomination was introduced:

image.jpeg.d9737f1d22b9674345affd985c2e9b59.jpeg

It's the fourth known example: there's one in the DOC (#23 in Leo III), one in a Swiss collection mentioned in the DOC, one from the Aurora Family collection mentioned in the DOC as the Buffalo coin, and mine.  The auction house didn't fail to point out that it was special, ("Half Miliaresia of Leo III are among the great rarities in the Byzantine silver series") but those interested in Byzantine silver were thin on the ground for that auction and I was flabbergasted to win it at my extreme low-ball bid.  Sometimes I contemplate getting an ordinary Leo III miliaresion instead and putting the funds towards other things, but it's hard to let go of this historical coin. 😄  It was probably a ceremonial issue and was likely touched by some important people... maybe the emperor himself!

Here are my more ordinary miliaresia.

John I Tzimisces (969-976):

image.jpeg.2698e4a5527f3f26aeed5cea7c277e14.jpeg

 

Basil II, Bulgaroktonos (976-1025):

image.jpeg.d10a5b0ca24244a6dd1eb45fc61e8072.jpeg

and here's a 1/3 miliaresion of Romanus IV who is otherwise difficult to get a portrait for:

image.jpeg.dcb31162f4ec4dcf9c507e6e38043b66.jpeg

Edited by Severus Alexander
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On 6/29/2022 at 10:59 PM, Severus Alexander said:

Extremely cool overstrike on an Umayyad dirham, @quant.geek!  Your other coins are fabulous too. 🤩

I was hunting that particular type for a while.  I wanted one that showed the undertype enough to be somewhat identifiable...

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