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What books do you recommend? Carolingian coins


Hrefn
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First, a confession.   I know it is more wise to “buy the book before the coin”.   But I was weak, and yielded to temptation.  The coin was so pretty, so historic, and it was just sitting there, in the midst of an auction which had almost no Carolingian coins.   Perhaps it would be overlooked by the other bidders?   So I pondered the new reality of higher coin prices, and placed an aggressive bid.  To my absolute open-mouthed shock, I won the coin.  

Custom (or superstition) seems to dictate that we refrain from posting pictures until receiving the coin in hand.  So I will refrain from posting the seller’s pics, unless there is a consensus that waiting for my admittedly non-professional photographic efforts is an unnecessary scrupulosity.   

Which brings me to my request.  What books on Carolingian coins are worthwhile additions to one’s numismatic library?  Assume one is starting from almost empty shelves.  What are the best introductions and overviews?  Best comprehensive studies?   Old auction catalogs of outstanding collections?  Focused studies of particular mints or types?

I will start by saying I already have a copy of:

Medieval European Coinage (1) The Early Middle Ages (5th-10th centuries) by Philip Grierson and Mark Blackburn.  This book is based primarily on Professor Grierson’s personal collection housed at the Fitzwilliam Museum.  It was published in 1986 by the Cambridge University Press.  Approximately 1500 coins of Europe are featured, beginning with the earliest issues of the Vandals, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and Lombards; other minor Germanic peoples;  the gold and silver of the early Franks through to the decline of the Carolingians;  about 30 pages devoted to Anglo-Saxon thrymsas and sceattas and another 40 pages featuring Anglo-Saxon pennies.  Each coin is illustrated in the excellent plates.  The scholarly and historical chapters benefit from the erudition of Professor Grierson as a professional medieval historian, as well as Mark Blackburn’s expertise in Anglo-Saxon numismatics. 

It is remarkable to consider that this volume deals with only about 10% of Grierson’s collection, AFTER he had divested himself of his Byzantine coin holdings.  It is an indispensable overview of the peoples and coinages described;  in my opinion the best initial book of the period.

 

image.jpeg.aa8fa17882a24c3fa0a0dcfa73272028.jpeg

 

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@Hrefn, seriously looking forward to seeing the coin!!!  But I'm enjoying the suspense.  

The two books on Carolingians that I rely on are

Georges Depeyrot, Le Numéraire Carolingien: Corpus des Monnnaies.  (3rd ed., expanded; Wetterin, Belgium: Moneta, 2008.  A subsequent edition was printed a few years ago.)

Patrick Nouchy, Les Rois Carolingians de Francie Occidentale: De Pepin le Bref A Louis V (751-987).  (Dreux: Editions du Grenier Durocasse, 1994.)

For an analogy from feudal coins, Nouchy is a little like the Duplessy to Depeyrot's ...well, whatever a more contemporary version of Poey d'Avant would look like.  Depeyrot has a lot more detail about, for instance, known examples of given issues, with their respective weights.  That can be helpful even to a civilian like me, particularly when trying to distinguish lifetime issues from earlier immobilizations.  Depeyrot is arranged by mint (alphabetically), from which he proceeds, reign by reign.

Nouchy does the opposite; listing by reign, and proceeding by mint and issue.  ...And it's a smaller book, so that's where I often start.  

Both have indices of legends, while Nouchy compensates for his arrangement by indexing the mints.  ...Depeyrot also has a lot more introductory, interpretive material at the beginning, in French, of course.

You could easily get by with either one, but they're both of real value.

Regarding what coins to get first, well, of course, if you really wanted to 'pee with the big dogs' (as my uncle from Saarland used to say), you could get one of Charlemagne.  These show up pretty frequently, but they're decidedly high end!  

For easier options, three are obvious.  The commonest of the whole series are the 'GRATIA D-I REX' issues of Charles the Bald, issued from the Edict of Pitres in 865.  But issues of his that predate that are pretty easy to find, too.  --Beware of immobilizations, though!!!  Particularly the ones of Melle.  If you wind up like me, those will have their own fascination, but ...well, you get the drift.  A third, iconic but common issue are the Temple deniers of Louis I.  Those don't state the mint, although lots has been done recently toward locating them by style and variant, in triangulation with find spots.

Best of luck!  ...On a purely esthetic level, I find the Carolingian capitals in the legends to be a resonant complement to the monumentality of the legends in Julio-Claudian coins.

 

Edited by JeandAcre
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image.jpeg.83d124f68b608c0f291290ef6ab9e601.jpegI do have a coin which could be claimed to be a Charlemagne lifetime issue, but I do not think of it as a Carolingian coin.  The Duchy of Beneventum issued coins which were imitative of contemporary Byzantine pieces, initially.  Later, they became more brave, and began putting their own initials, and later, their names and portraits on their coins. Two Lombardic tremisses are shown.  The first is probably from 788-792 AD, and on the reverse the Lombardic Duke of Benevento acknowledges the suzerainty of DOMinuS CARolus ReX.   The second coin is a bit later, after Charlemagne was a safe distance away, and Grimoald no longer felt the need to show subordination.  image.jpeg.162be30ea21141889e66d1edb1deba51.jpeg

I suspect this is the closest I will come to a lifetime Charlemagne issue.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

@JeandAcre  I followed your advice and picked up a copy of Patrick Nouchy’s Les Rois Carolingiens de France Occidental.   Here is the listing of my new coin, a Class 2 denier of Louis the Pious from Lyon.D0B06BE0-C741-460E-B48A-C2DF844F9F39.jpeg.ea54f814390e9164dcf026312729b127.jpeg

 

and here is the example in MEC as number 772.   F9DBE1CA-E7F8-4C94-AB1B-ED97623F1779.jpeg.1284e2ba7633623ef8747645471fb650.jpeg

And here is the coin itself.D7C02D4C-4DA9-4DA9-92E5-1075692298C6.jpeg.1cc47730e160f1577e300f930ff37a4a.jpeg236F90EC-1A34-4CF8-B195-9BBDCCCE9792.jpeg.c468eeebfb850b6780e1a99e1335e5d9.jpeg

 

I think I did well.  Grierson states in MEC that the Class 2 deniers are not uncommon as over a thousand of them were found in two large hoards, though these were divided amongst multiple mints, with Venice accounting for a fifth of them.  (MEC 1 p. 215).  Forty different mints for the Class are known.  I am not sure how common the coins from Lyon are, and I have only found one prior sales record thus far.  That information may be in Depeyrot, but I have not located a copy of his book yet.  

Thank you again for your kind and informative post. 

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@Hrefn, it's a joy to have been of any help.  (Promise you, I don't get to do that every day.)

And your example is difficult to describe without resort to expletives.  But, why not, I'll try. 

Generally, the convergence of toning and detail are as good as you're likely to get.  And those outer borders are truly stunning.  Especially for something on this level, the diameter, weight, and even a side view or too would be really welcome.

This is why, for this series, the linear legends are this resonant compelling totemic all of the above.  Hearty congratulations for starting at this level!!!

...Conspicuously including the impressive range of other sources you consulted.  ...Right, this is from Depeyrot (3rd, only penultimate edition, 2008).  In honor of the level you're already at, this will be a full quotation.  Unedited, except for the absence of French diacritics (I've never figured out how to include those without a Lot of annoying cutting and pasting), and other formatting details which are only less relevant. 

[P. 269:] Type de 819-822: Louis le Pieux (814-840), Pepin I roi d'Aquitaine (817-838), Lothaire I (817-855)

523.  Denier de Louis de Pieux (31 exemplaires etudies)

+HLVDOVVICVS IMP croix                        lVGD-VNVM en 2 lignes

Gariel XVI 64; Morrisn-Grunthal 379, 380; Depeyrot (1) (2) [right, previous editions] 523; 

Collections: Berlin 1,80, 1,75 [thank you, grams]; New York 1,78; Prou 630 (1,73), 631 (1,78), 632 (1,83); MEC 772 (1,76).

Tresors: Apremont (820-829), 19 ex. (D 17; H. 2 date de 819); Belvezet (829-830), 4 ex.  (D. 40; H date de 822) (1,81); Saint-Cyr-en-Talmandois (864-875), 1 ex. (D. 297; H. 56 date de 864).

...Right, I don't have a scanner, other than a very second-hand one that I can no longer persuade to work.  But here's hoping that was to some point.

Edited by JeandAcre
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@JeandAcre  Many thanks for the relevant info from Depeyrot!  The new denier came in a PCGS holder, a fact about which I have mixed feelings.  Among other constraints, I am unable to weigh it.   And I searched the coin on the PCGS look-up site, and there is no information about the coin’s mass.  

99% of my Byzantine and medieval collection has not been third party graded.    As a collector who began before the onset of slabbing, I never felt the need for it, though I am not rabidly against the practice.  For mint state modern coins it makes sense to me.   And it provides some protection if I should drop it.

DE57452D-A186-4100-82EE-996F7B9674D2.jpeg.562170bea6a0695e896c98f1cc74e99d.jpeg

 

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@Hrefn, as someone who has yet to get a slabbed coin, the practice continues to elicit all the scorn of which I'm capable. 

...In so very many ways.  With reference to a veteran collector of English hammered, in the UK, who had occasion to buy a slabbed coin from California, if memory serves, and who was diplomatic enough to express nothing beyond his sheer bemusement.  --Right, he summarily cracked it.

Regarding any substantive help they provide toward attribution, let alone authentication, I have to recall a dealer, exceptionally erudite in all things medieval, going back as far as the UK collector (c. 2000s-2010s).  This in reference to customers' requests for certificates of authenticity.  I don't know how she navigated that in real time, but from email correspondence, her preferred response was along the lines of, 'Fine.  What would you like it to say?' 

Never mind the fact that, as long as this frankly fantastic coin is in that slab, you won't be able to determine those Oh, So Minor details, such as weight and diameter.  Crikey.

...My last two cents, for what they're worth.  From here, the ostensible virtues of slabbing --whether in case you drop a coin (this is why we have carpeted floors), or someone (demonstrably not you) has a perceived need of the largely fictional level of expertise that most of these outfits relentlessly demonstrate-- elicit the following response. 

This is Why We Have Baseball Cards.  

 

Edited by JeandAcre
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