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An incredible contemporary counterfeit: Louis of Burgundy as Prince of Achaea


seth77

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This is possibly unique.

louiscounterfeit.jpg.ad3bcd29b84afc23fc6490699f477547.jpg

AE19x18mm, 0.71g, copper denier tournois, a contemporary forgery, local issue, possibly Attica and Neopatras, ca. 1316 to 1318/1320.
+ ꞏ LOADI DЄ [B] P AChЄꞏ; cross pattee;
+ ͦ˒DЄ CL ꞏ A ꞏ R[ЄNC]IA; chateau tournois flanked by annulets
cf. Malloy 29, Schlumbereger XII, 23 for official coinage; Seltman (Late Deniers Tournois...) Class A

 

A remarkable counterfeit of a rather rare and brief emission for Louis de Bourgogne, done in very good style.

Baker (Coinage and Money... p. 1488) tentatively dates these 'better-quality specimens' about 'from the later years of the thirteenth century until approximately the time of the Catalan conquest' (Athens 1311 and Neopatria 1318) -- but this specimen pushes the series of unofficial coining to ca. 1316-1318(?) at least, if not to the 1320s.

This specimen would've been hard to spot as a counterfeit as long as the coating held, the style being almost official.

If style, legend, lettering and overall look of the fabric and die and striking quality is to be taken as basis for a classification in the progression from clean style and literate legends on good metal planchets to low quality 'thin and spread material' (Seltman) and impossible legends, then this specimen helps push the 'good-quality specimens' to at least 1316-1318 if not 1320.

This situation could link to the possibility that Venetian interests did actually strike and spread counterfeit deniers tournois in 1322 (Baker p. 1388, Stahl - European Coinage in Greece after the Fourth Crusade p. 358 / Zecca: The Mint of Venice in the Middle Ages p. 62) and possibly these very good (although faulty) silver-washed specimens were part of those fraudulent Venetian operations.

Edited by seth77
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Truly amazing, @seth77; congratulations!  Couldn't have gone to a more worthy scholar /collector.  I've got to be reminded of French feudal immobilizations of the preceding couple of centuries, which are easily, if not ubiquitously cruder than this.  The skill of the forger here is very impressive.

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4 hours ago, JeandAcre said:

Truly amazing, @seth77; congratulations!  Couldn't have gone to a more worthy scholar /collector.  I've got to be reminded of French feudal immobilizations of the preceding couple of centuries, which are easily, if not ubiquitously cruder than this.  The skill of the forger here is very impressive.

Thanks, I'm hunting these regularly, especially if they are not in Baker's opus. The Greek Frankokratia is so prolific coin-wise at this time that it dwarfs any French issue at any time post ca. 1270-5. And starting with the 1320-30s the tournois is a common fixture in the Balkans and on the Danube. But more on this in later episodes.

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And the official issue:

louis.JPG.7cf7b9cc55f78c88d576dd55cdc624de.JPG

AR18/20mm 0.81g billon denier tournois, ca. 210/1000, minted at Glarentza cca. July-December 1316.
+ LODOVIC' ꞏ D' ꞏ B' ꞏ P ꞏ AChЄ; cross pattee
+ ° DЄ CLARЄNCIA °; chateau tournois, annulet in left field.
Malloy 29, Schlumbereger XII, 23; Tzamalis Elis/1964 Hoard LB A

 

Louis was Prince of Achaea and titular King of Thessalonica during an uncertain period of conflict between the Angevins and the Catalan Company in Greece. He ruled by jus uxoris and was recognized as prince between 1313 and 1315 and then again after defeating Ferdinand de Majorca at Manolada in July 1316. Coins were minted in his name probably only after the defeat of Ferdinand in July 1316. There is only one series of tournois recorded for Louis and it only has one small variation (Malloy 29-30, p.365) which makes his coins very rare.

This is probably the best specimen that I have seen for the type.

It is also worth observing when comparing the official billon issue with the unofficial plated specimen above that the counterfeiting operation was likely very professional. The letter shapes are precise and even the literacy of the text is approximately there. If fully plated, the unofficial coin would have had no problem being accepted as legal tender by anyone in Morea, even literate people.

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Congratulations, @seth77, on finding such a solid example of the prototype. 

In one especially memorable instance, I had to do the same thing with an imitation of a Charles le Chauve GDR denier of Bayeux, issued in the county of Rouen /Duchy of Normandy, likely by Richard I (943-996; posted somewhere here). 

Only a little less peripherally, I just reposted a denier of Hugues IV, the first of the dukes of Burgundy to fall into the titular kingdom of Thessalonika, who "bought the titular rights to the kingdom of Thessaloniki from the exiled Emperor Baudouin II of Constantinople in Paris in Jan 1266, for 13,000 livres tournois."  (Quoting Charles Cawley's inimitable website about medieval genealogy: https://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/BURGUNDY.htm#HuguesIVDucdied1272A.)  Here's the link to @ominus1's post, where that shows up.   

 

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