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Carthage Mint Tremissis (!!!) - Unique, Unpublished, and Mysterious


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Here is an interesting piece that is somewhat of an enigma! 265C611C-31AF-49FA-82BA-50B48A2D965F.jpeg.fd81a7ecf0b8c334c68f1b39b6c080ce.jpeg



 Weighing in at 1.41 grams, this appears to be a unique tremissis from the Carthage mint of Constantine IV! That denomination is totally unknown from the the carthage mint across all emperors in the history of its operation save one coin footnoted in DOC II from the Louvre museum. That example was mentioned as possibly being a contemporary imitation and belongs to a different emperor, the ill fated Constans II. i could not verify its existence in any of the online collections nor is it plated in DOC.


This tremissis has dies of 16mm and 13mm for the obverse and reverse respectively, both of which fall into known die diameters for the famously small (in size, not weight!) Byzantine ‘dick’ (German for thick) solidii. 

Here is an example of Sear type 1191 (MIB type 28) solidus. While the two coins do not share dies (nor could I find any die matches in the sales archives or numerous reference works I have), this example shares the  same indiction marks and special die characteristics that allow the tremissis to firmly be placed alongside the year 10 indictional ‘special emissions’ (as noted by Hahn) of MIB 28. The type features a ‘P’ on the cross alongside unique indictional markings, highlighting the unusual nature of the series. This remarkable unpublished (and seemingly unique) specimen lends legitimacy to the special emission theory, dated to 682 AD. For the entire history of the empire no tremissii* are minted at Carthage until an unusual ‘P’ marked ‘special emission’ occurs…what could have brought this unprecedented development about?

The exarchate scored a major victory over the forces of Uqba ibn Nafi at the Battle of Vescera in 682, aided by the Berber king, Kusaila. This victory forced the Muslim forces to retreat to Egypt, giving the exarchate a decade's respite. However, the repeated confrontations took their toll on the dwindling and ever-divided resources of the exarchate.” - Wikipedia (its getting too late to head to my books but I can assure you the event is accurate).

Is it implausible to postulate a connection? I can’t find anything like this tremissis anywhere. Ever seen something like it?

*the aforementioned untraceable and possibly barbaric tremissis of Constans excepted

Edited by TheTrachyEnjoyer
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Wow, @TheTrachyEnjoyer, many thanks for posting this amazing example, replete with your characteristic level of erudition.

I can't begin to touch Byzantine gold, whether conceptually or otherwise.  Never mind this early in the series.  But from here, that much of this forum is all about expanding one's horizons.  On that front, you're in the top echelon.  Thanks again.

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16 minutes ago, AussieCollector said:

Thanks @TheTrachyEnjoyer, interesting coin and thanks for sharing.

I can't help but think it's a contemporary imitation - something niggling away at the back of my mind. A pity we can't read the mint, and I hope I'm wrong!

The mint visibility doesnt matter in this case. 3/4 frontal bust on a tremissis is enough alone, plus matching indiction markings. Its certainly from Carthage…now, imitation or not is a separate question entirely. I will say this era of a coinage is exceptionally crude so just an ugly looking coin (which it is) isnt enough to condemn. The legends are surprisingly complete and legible, something that matches this particular subset of carthaginian solidii production. Hahn notes the increase in fine style for the final carthaginian emissions of Constantine IV which this coin falls in line with (suffering from a flat strike but enough is still present). Hahn speculates Constaninople trained workers were brought in to achieve that.


Compare the 1191 solidii and tremissis to an example of the earlier subgrouping.


In my opinion it isnt an imitation. I am biased 😁 since it is my coin but I dont see any evidence of non official mint production. However, I am definitely open to counter arguments.   


MIB plates for the later fine style solidii, of which the tremissis is related to 28.

Edited by TheTrachyEnjoyer
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