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A legible Byzantine AE tetarteron


Valentinian

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"Tetarteron" has more than one meaning in Byzantine numismatics. There are gold "tetarteron" coins (from Nicephorus II, 963-969, until the reform of Alexius I in 1092) and small AE "tetarteron" coins after the reform. I recently got a post-reform coin that is actually legible:

image.jpeg.e610c79a9fd5091801ccf75a84777ecc.jpeg

John II, 1118-1143
AE tetarteron, 17.5-16.1 mm.3.81 grams.
Sear 1946. DOC 4.2 plate X.13. John II 13, page 269 in volume 4.1 "1118-1122?"

Virgin, orans (i.e. arms spread like that with hands out)
MP ΘV  [Mother of God]
Emperor standing holding jeweled scepter and globus cruciger.
Legend:
IW        ΦV
ΔEC     PO
ΠOT     ΓC
TW       NH
ΠOP     T

Reading down the left first we have
John
Despot
The
Por- [continued down the right]
phyrogenit[us]    ["born in the purple", i.e. he was born when his father, Alexius I, was emperor]

So, reading from the obverse and inserting the implied "aid" the whole coin translates to
"Mother of God, aid John, Despot, born in the purple."

Thank you, @voulgaroktonou, for help with the legend. 
 
I'd love to see other tetartera!
 
 
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Very nice example @Valentinian , it is a rarer one and it is a city ( Metropolitain) coin, so it did have silver content around 2 to 4%.  The coin in its original issue would have been silvered as well. 

Here is one example with some silvering still intact. 

1946.jpg.9fa77e0430cf4d4fd0cea697c025f567.jpg

The legend was true, he was born in the purple room, that meant he was born to rule. He was the first one in a long time to get to use that. John was called John the beautiful, not because he was good looking but because of his pious ways. His coinage was at the highest standard of the century. Ironically, John III a century later knocked it off, his gold coinage was less pure but identical to John II even using the legend of born to the purple. 

 

 

Here is an image of one of the last tetartera, just before the Assarion replaced it.  It was issued by Andronicus II and its imagery is very similar.  SBCV-2358 

8d.jpg.5c03fdaece0b8d640151ed4ced707b8f.jpg

 

 

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Brilliant examples, @Valentinian and @Simon.

Post-reform fractions are one subseries for which I have a real soft spot, based even more on the esthetics than the historical context.  A complementary one is late Tudor -early Stuart pence and halfgroats.  In both cases, they're just that much fun, for the amount of detail the engravers managed to get onto the modules involved.

Sadly, most of the active collecting goes back several years, before, Rats, I was organized enough even to consistently save dealers' pics.  But @Valentinian nailed it; with these, as with contemporary trachys, the acid test is how much legend you get.  That can easily be the difference between a good and a great example.

This is the latest of mine, and the only one with a pic.  It's another Isaak II, this one Sear 1945.  @Simon, I'm pretty sure you're the guy who posted links to the Dumbarton Oaks website on the other forum, but --maybe owing to the site being updated (?)-- I'm having trouble navigating them at the moment.  With thanks to @Valentinian --and @voulgaroktonou-- this issue has the same regnal legends as Sear 1946.

image.jpeg.bc7e441689fac14e25d9cd96ebdeced4.jpeg

Edited by JeandAcre
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6 minutes ago, JeandAcre said:

This is the latest of mine, and the only one with a pic.  It's another Isaak II, this one Sear 1945.  @Simon, I'm pretty sure you're the guy who posted links to the Dumbarton Oaks website on the other forum, but --maybe owing to the site being updated (?)-- I'm having trouble navigating them at the moment.  With thanks to @Valentinian --and @voulgaroktonou-- this issue has the same regnal legends as Sear 1946.

The links are still good for the DOC, I just downloaded Volume 5 for a post I was writing, I saved it as a pdf to my computer.  I do need to give credit where credit was due. @quant.geek was the one that discovered they were free. 

https://www.doaks.org/research/publications/books/catalogue-of-the-byzantine-coins-in-the-dumbarton-oaks-collection-and-in-the-whittemore-collection-1
https://www.doaks.org/research/publications/books/catalogue-of-the-byzantine-coins-in-the-dumbarton-oaks-collection-and-in-the-whittemore-collection-2
https://www.doaks.org/research/publications/books/catalogue-of-the-byzantine-coins-in-the-dumbarton-oaks-collection-and-in-the-whittemore-collection-3
https://www.doaks.org/research/publications/books/catalogue-of-the-byzantine-coins-in-the-dumbarton-oaks-collection-and-in-the-whittemore-collection-4
https://www.doaks.org/research/publications/books/catalogue-of-the-byzantine-coins-in-the-dumbarton

 

As for this denomination I have spent 20+ years collecting it and in the later years studying all I could.  Perfect examples are difficult to find, the coin was made so abundantly they did not take the time. Both examples posted above by @Valentinian and @JeandAcre are very nice and do have good legends. However both of the coins are city tetartera and both are more difficult to find. They did not really circulate outside of the capital, Constantinople.

As for legends, they remain fairly consistent in the first part of the century, in the later years before the fall to the Latins they become numerous and difficult to get all of the variations. 

 

This tiny half tetarteron was beautifully made with good dies, just a bit Off center to be choice. 

sexy4.jpg.5a737ba82822a6c94917bbd5ff4e9f99.jpg

This Andronicus I full tetarteron is also nicely struck, it cointains the abbreviated legends. 

a6.jpg.bb3ed0f50a64737926508edc876a8a0d.jpg

Here is another half tetarteron of Manuel I, the nicest I have seen, perfect patina. 

y7.jpg.930a07ba5420a04eeb5f5aeaa10b9586.jpg

 

And this is one of my favorites, An Alexius I cross coin but with complete legends. One of the best examples known. 

Alexius.jpg.77016d79b27e37c573926249cf58bc03.jpg

 

It is an interesting series, I have completed it all the way to Alexius III, An Alexius IV or 2nd reign of Isaac II would add to the collection, have not had the opportunity to get one of those yet.  The REX tetarteron I am waiting until the price goes down, many examples are in the market, I just think there are too many for the price it commands. 

 

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Well, okay, all right, I just now found this, one of the wins on biddr that I'd never downloaded the pics of.  Doo-Doo-Wada.  ...The legends are nothing to write home about, but I still didn't have a tetarteron of Alexioc, and some of the detail is pretty solid.  Shamelessly copying the text of the listing (Neumann, from the past year or so), along with the pics.

ALEXIUS I COMNENUS (1081-118). Tetarteron. Constantinople.   Obv: Christ Panto...

 

ALEXIUS I COMNENUS (1081-118). Tetarteron. Constantinople.

Obv: Christ Pantokrator enthroned facing.
Rev: Crowned facing bust of Alexius, holding cruciform sceptre and globus cruciger.

Sear 1922.

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On 5/24/2023 at 6:35 PM, Simon said:

It is an interesting series, I have completed it all the way to Alexius III,

That's impressive! The four you showed are outstanding. It is hard to find tetartera in such excellent condition.

Here is my Alexius III (1195-1203), Sear 2015:

image.jpeg.30d4152c06b060d1f595565c11da538d.jpeg

20.7-17.2 mm. 3.22 grams.
St. George, nimbate, with curly hair, holding spear
Θ ΓEP   ΠOC

Emperor standing facing with labarum and globus cruciger
AΛΕΞ[IOC]   ΔECΠOTHC
Sear 2015, mint of Thessalonica.
DOC 4.2 plate XXIV.5 and 4.1 page 415 "1197-1203"

 

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That is a fantastic example at @Valentinian, mine are much darker metal, I do have several, but the Sear numbers and DOC examples are limiting. I really feel the empire and the mints were in a free fall at that time period.

@JeandAcre that coin is a rarer one, it too had silver content. I have one very porous example that had too much silver in it.  

 

Here is the coin that gave me the goal to finish the collection, only one other example is known and that is in the Thessalonica archeological museum. A third one was found at Corinth but it is unclear where it is.  This coin is believed to be the 5th issue from Thessalonica, when Michael Hendy wrote DO 12 he included it because Sabatier had a found an example a century before.  A example was found before publication of DOC IV in the museum. It is believed to be the 5th coinage of Thessalonica because of the monogram of Alexius name. It is believed to be a very short lived issue.

14b.jpg.062b8ebbca3b8d7470f6b522ad987b32.jpg

ALEXIUS I AE Tetarteron S- Unlisted DOC 41 CLBC 2.4.11
OBV Monogram of Alexius.

REV Bust of Emperor wearing stemma divitision and jeweled loros of traditional type holds in r. hand jeweled scepter and in l. gl. cr.

Size 16/18mm

Weight 2.3gm

This is believed to be a Thessalonica minted coin, it contains no silver. This example has now been published in BULLETIN du cercle d'etudeas Numismatiques VOL 52 Jan 2015 by Cedric Wolkow, three examples are shown. This one appears to be in the best condition.

DOC lists the above coin as the only example Weight 3.74gm and size at 17mm. Mine is considerably lighter.

 

Here is other examples of monograms done by the Thessalonica mint. They were created under Alexius grandson Manuel I Comnenus. 

14c.jpg.a7a708f12268302a709107289309d9df.jpg

MANUEL AE HALF TETARTERON S-1979 DOC 22 CLBC 4.4.11OBV Large, often ill formed letters

REV Bust of emperor, beardless, wearing stemma, divitision, collar piece ( Most frequently decorated with 6 jewels) and paneled loros of simplified type; holds in r. hand labarum on long shaft and in l. Globus cruciger.

Size 17.33mm

Weight 2.59 gm

This coin is good Very fine, lightly circulated. I believe this to be a perfect example.

DOC lists 27 examples with weights ranging from 1.10gm to 2.96 gm with sizes from 14mm to 18mm.

14d.jpg.3e9d5ef748ba9a7f73664d42ff24f3e0.jpg

MANUEL AE HALF TETARTERON S-1977 DOC 20 CLBC 4.4.7

OBV Small neat letters Monogram Sear 57

REV Bust of emperor, beardless, wearing stemma, divitision, collar piece ( Most frequently decorated 5 jewels) and paneled loros of simplified type; holds in r. hand labarum on long shaft and in l. Globus cruciger.

Size 20.26mm

Weight 2.7gm

DOC lists 12 examples with weights ranging from 2.04gm to 2.77 gm with sizes from 18mm to 21mm.

 

It is important to note the average sizes and weights listed above are from DOC IV, they are incorrect because they did include the imitations finds of these coins. I believe the imitations created the third unknown mint in Hendy's works, I do believe in a third mint but for a different reason and for specific issues only. That third mint is Cyprus. 

Certains coins of the rule of Alexius and John II seem to only come from Cyprus, I was swayed by reading the article written by D.M. Metcalf.

 

Edited by Simon
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A Scarce Type of copper Tetarteron of the early 12th century  from Cyprus , written by P.J. Donald,  D.M. Metcalf and  A. G. Pitsillides. 

In it he uses SBCV-1934 as a coinage perhaps minted exclusively for Cyprus, I also believe SBCV-1933 was a coin minted in Cyprus. That second coin was not mentioned in the article.

15c.jpg.41ceae6434a1bee42c04c140ebb61c6b.jpg

 

 

And SBCV-1933, Interesting because the coin is listed as a whole and a half tetarteron depending on the catalog. 

16d.jpg.eeabb2e357c616c0b1f681d30a32554a.jpg

 

 

Edited by Simon
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Additional note to this posting, there is a third possibility for a coin being minted in Cyprus or minted exclusively for the Cyprus market, not many of these around but my last acquisitions of these type (Not this coin.) came from Cyprus. However not enough examples are known to make this more than a hunch. None of the examples are found in Corinth or Athens excavations. It was included in DOC IV because of one being known in a private collection.

1953v.jpg.30112359b4ea8cd34354047b2fa38a7b.jpg

JOHN II AE Tetarteron S-NL DOC 15 CLBC 3.4.4
OBV Bust of Christ, bearded and nimbate, wearing tunic and kolobion; holds gospels open in l. hand

REV. Bust of emperor wearing stemma, divitision and jeweled loros of a traditional type; holds in r. labarum on a long shaft and in l. Globus cruciger.

Size 16.85mm

Weight 3.4gm

 

The coin is erasable confusable with these two. 

1953.jpg.9f98d17e123f33de91aedde6fc2286f6.jpg


And this one, same imagery as SBCV-1953 but the length of Christ is different. This was pointed out by Zervos  so I call it the Zervos variation. 

1953a.jpg.7952f1ab115c48da192b8e1311ae8286.jpg


 

 

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