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Each time he introduces us to a new topic, we are sure to learn something new, not only about ancient coins, but especially about periods of antiquity that we know less about. Let's chat a little this week with one of the members we all really appreciate, seth77.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, your family, hobbies, work…?

I'm an European citizen and a rather EU enthusiast. I consider myself a centrist in political terms and an agnostic in terms of religion, although I lean more towards Christianity/Judaism in terms of moral predisposition. I am a father of two kids and a cat, friend of critters and the environment. I like hanging out with my kids, I really enjoy decorating for Halloween and Christmas, although I prefer the sun and the summer heat to anything winter has to offer. I love Halloween because if we are lucky the weather is nice enough to allow the kids to costume up and the nights are soft enough to allow beers outside until around 2am easily. Besides coins, I really enjoy old horror movies, Stephen King books and Nike sports shoes -- AF1 and Air Max in particular. I have done work in: networking (setting up local networks for businesses and homes), translation (mostly Darwin, genetics, personal ancestry, etc) and AI linguistics. 

How did you get interested in ancient coinage ?

I was into coins and currency since I was a child. I was attracted to both the aesthetic and utilitarian aspect of money. Living in a country where the design of the national currency changed often served to preserve my interest and helped me develop an additional interest in the symbolic and political aspect of money.

What was the first coin you ever bought ?

I cannot recall. I used to go to the local 'coin club' as an early teen and save up my weekly allowance to buy coins and notes there. But what that first coin I ever bought was I just don't remember. I remember the first coin I bought in the internet age: a 348-9 'centenionalis' of Constantius II.


What did you write about ?

I generally follow my present interest. In terms of numismatic articles I have written about the coinage of the 'Congiura dei Baroni' and Nicola di Monforte in the context of the pro-Angevin revolt in the Kingdom of Naples between 1459 and 1463/4, the help that very specific coinage legends might give us to make educated guesses regarding the whereabouts of an emperor at a specific time, pedigree sleuthing connecting disparate specimens to old and famous collections based on old numismatic literature, personal hypotheses regarding details and adjuncts on coins in connection with ancient sources in both Roman coinage and 'Crusader' coinage -- Frankish Greece in my case. In terms of general history I have written for national periodicals about the Crusades with emphasis on poetics -- with multimedia support from the Trouvère culture. Also did limited translations from Occitan and langues d'oil in this context. Also regarding the Danube as a place of both margin and center for the Imperium of Constantine the Great.

1. the coin of Nicola di Monforte and the paper it was discussed in the background


2. another example, with a separate set of privy marks



Can you tell us an anecdote about a coin you own ? Your best bargain ? Your rarest   coin ? The specimen you will never sell ? The one you dream of acquiring ?


I think this an opportunity to dwell on two specimens of the same type, bought 8 years apart. The coinage is the so-called 'Poemenius centenionalis' struck at Trier only sometime in August or early September 353 for Constantius II but using the large chi-rho reverse of the Magnentian large base metal denomination of 353.

The first coin is an 'ex Ernst von Ferrari collection' -- which I have traced back to Leo Benz who had bought it in Lanz 100 Lot 579 in 2000. A ca. 150EUR coin in 2014 (which at that time was more than 200USD):



A beautiful coin, although underweight and missing most of its mint mark. 8 years later this one was 15EUR Fedex factored in:



Certainly not as beautiful, but 10 times as cheap, with a fuller weight and a clear mint mark. Is the pedigree and patina worth 10 times the price when you factor in the fuller weight and the mint mark on flan of the 15EUR spec?

These are of course market things and not numismatic things, which show the volatility of the collectibles market in general. I actually think that for strict numismatic purposes the second coin is better, as it shows a median regular example for the type with most its devices there. It also shows a middle point in the evolution of the type, from the heavier early pieces to the very late September 353 emissions that are light and have at least some of the die off flan.

As for the 'rarest coin' -- this is a very hard question. One could add the almost unique 'barbaric imitations' as very rare coins and be technically right. In fact I'm going to do exactly that with a coin of (likely) pre-Visigothic Barcino, either one of the 'Spanish maiorinae' that copied with some degree of latitude the 'maiorinae' of the first half of the 380s and were probably the blueprint for the AE2 coinage of Maximus of Barcino in 410.



The series of AE2s continued after 411 and with the partial mint mark of SM[B...], this coin could be post Maximus. I went to some lengths with this coin, from my initial enthusiasm that it might have been an official AE2 of Maximus to the likelier chance that it is part of the ongoing series of local imitations in the area around Barcino and in Barcino proper. Manuel Pina of Tesorillo discusses these coins more here.


The one you dream of acquiring ?

Well, I have to admit that I have no such dreams. The coins that I would like to have and study are too few for me to hope to have a chance at buying. And they are mostly medieval. But I would like to happen upon an auction with an unidentified denier tournois of Salona. And/or a lead tessera mercantile of the Crusader community at Vadum Iacob in the 1170s.


What do you collect exactly ? What is the size of your collection ?

These days I would say:

- Medieval, with a special focus on the denier tournois denomination; Crusader realms and Levantine colonial from the maritime city states (Venice, Genova)

- Late roman, but starting not with the Diocletian reform but rather with the third century crisis

- Provincial Roman, with a special focus on Balkan-Black Sea area and an even more special focus on Glykon

- Late Byzantine, mainly trachea/stamena starting with the 4th Crusade and the Palaiologoi but also assaria and tornesi

- Odds and ends -- the general Greek world, 'Celtic' imitations, Crimea

As to how many, I think there are around a couple hundred items. After losing some during the covid-related relocations, I am not really weary of counting and having an exact number. Coming to terms with that loss also made me more restrained about the funds I spend on coin collecting in general.


Why are you interested in medieval history ?

This is even a mystery to myself. It just happened that way in my evolving interests, from the cheap late Roman bronzes that were so easily available on ebay to the complex and rich history behind the feudal and royal coinages of Western Europe and to the melting pot between West and East that was the Balkans, the Black Sea and the overall Levant area. Since my main interest is as a historian, I am unapologetically accepting lesser grade coins if I find something in them that attracts my interest. With the late Roman era I also go for the shift in aesthetics as well as ideology that is encapsulated in the 3rd to 4th century, moving away from the naturalistic portrait of the specific emperor to a more standardized effigy that would eventually reign supreme in Byzantine coinage. Since this period is known for the overabundance of coins, it is also easier to get higher grade material. Provincial Roman offers an interesting fusion between the centralized power of the emperor and the particularities of local religion and politics. These coins have a sense of identity that is more specific and their smaller patterns of circulation and lower emission outputs make it very easy to find great rarities which in turn make great identification and attribution projects. To an extent, this is also true for late Byzantine coinage, which is a field that still needs a lot of research and systematization and where collectors have a more pronounced importance due to us being relatively fewer. The billon denier tournois is a staple of the medieval world, being at one time or another in circulation between north-western Europe and the Eastern Levant. There were dozens of minting places and the quality and material variation is amazing and so is the array of polities that minted them. This focus overlaps partially with the late Byzantine focus as the Palaiologoi tornesion is a direct response of Constantinople to the 'denarization' of Eastern Europe under the influence of post-1204 Frankish, Venetian and Genoese expansion. Inside the medieval focus there are also sub-focuses that haven't fully developed: monastical coinage, Italian pre-Renaissance, colonial coinage of the maritime powers, medieval Netherlands, the denier parisis, etc. There are also some questions that I am trying to address with my collection - like for instance regarding the possible tournois and parisii of Louis X and Philippe V of France, the 'war money' from the Congiura dei Baroni in southern Italy, the series of tournois imitations from the Balkan-Greek-Aegean area, the elusive separation line between late Carolingian and early feudal issues and who actually minted them, etc.

Medieval European history in particular has also the particular appeal of a complex and evolutive social and political system based on land ownership, law and a highly dynamic system of social relationships known as 'feudalism'. Coinage plays a lot into this interest, because droit de monnoie starts as a centralized feature during Carolingian times, devolves into (often competing) monetary systems starting with ca. 1000, where the seigneuriage is enjoyed by not just the royalty but a countless number of barons and even lesser nobility, the right is often usurped, types are often imitated and economies are undermined by lesser coins of the same general types as the better coins, etc. The general history of medieval Europe and to some degree the 'Crusader' principalities in the Levant is tightly connected to the monetary systems of medieval Europe and to the financial powerhouses that developed starting with the 12th century.


Do you have a numismatic goal for the next year ?

No, not really. I hope to spot interesting things and keep my interest despite the real life responsibilities that have impacted on my available time for numismatics. I would really want to get a denier tournois of Mehun-sur-Yevre, since the only one I have seen for sale in the last 10 years got 'lost' en-route from France. But I don't know how likely that is.


What numismatic books do you own / consult most often ?

For the Greek Frankokratia I go to Tzamalis - Coins of the Frankish Occupation of Greece and Baker - Coinage and Money in medieval Greece; for the Holy Land I go with Robert Kool - The Circulation and Use of Coins in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and any adjacent paper, including his research on tesserae mercantile and the permeation of Frankish coinage in the Kigdom of Jerusalem during the early phases of the Crusades; for French royal and the Frankish feudal coinage I go with Duplessy and Poey d'Avant as catalogues and periodical papers on particular periods and polities that I have a particular interest in -- and that includes French contemporary documents and copies of documents from chancelleries like Histoire de Berry for instance;


for Late Roman I go with RIC and DO for catalogues and papers on specific aspects of late Roman coinage, I also use the many online resources, from Not In RIC to Victor Clark's forum on late Roman bronzes, Nummus Bible Database and the forums, Numismatikforum.de, LaMoneta.it, etc; for late Byzantine I use DOC and the series by Bendall and Donald on the Palaiologoi, also the great site at Glebecoins; for the 'provincial' Roman coinage I use RPC extensively in tandem with local authors for the provinces of Thracia and Moesia Inferior -- these are easily available either on academia.edu or on the home sites of local periodicals from Bulgaria and Romania. And I'm sure I did leave stuff out too.





I am particularly fond of Tzamalis which, although dated in some respects is still an illuminating read for the context and importance of Western coinage in Frankish Greece and Abruzzi e Molise was helpful in my study of the tornese of La Congiura.



Many thanks for participating in our project, seth77. You certainly piqued our curiosity and gave us the desire to broaden our numismatic horizons. Looking forward to see what NF members have to say about your generous responses !

Edited by Ocatarinetabellatchitchix
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Many thanks to @Ocatarinetabellatchitchix for following his idea about interviewing Forum members. This was actually a lot more fun than I thought would be and I am very happy with the questions and the way they allow the interviewed to dwell on the specificities he enjoys rather than force him to talk about generalities. 

It was very fun participating and I would highly recommend participating if you get asked. 

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Another excellent & in-depth interview with Ocat & seth77 ☺️! I have only a slight interest in medieval coinage & no important examples to speak of, never the less, I really enjoyed this interview. seth77 is a highly educated numismatist with obvious expertise in his chosen hobby & enjoys sharing his knowledge. At my age it is highly improbable that I'll ever delve into medieval coinage, however, I hope all the younger members of this website read this interview & entertain the idea of seriously collecting medieval coinage. 

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Excellent interview. Thank you @seth77 for letting us know you and your numismatic interest a bit more.

Here's for you something that will recall Tzamalis cover illustration, even though it's from Dombes...


Dombes, ND - Anne Marie Louise d'Orleans (1650-1693), Sequin d'or, Atelier de Trévoux
FRANC PRINC - SM TREVO, Saint Marc à droite remettant un étendard au prince à gauche. Dans le champ DVX
SIT TX ADIVTO - REGIS TE DOMBA, Le Christ bénissant de face, entouré de seize étoiles
3,47 gr
Ref : Divo Dombes # 219, Friedberg # 123, Mantellier -, Poey d'Avant # 5134 (Poey d'Avant attribuait cette monnaie à François II de Bourbon Montpensier)


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I really enjoyed your write-up/ and personal interests/ history/ thanks for sharing. I personally love Medieval coinage/ the most beautifull coin ever struck was the fantastic AV 50 Enriques from Henry IV of Aragon 175g.  98mm

That Dombes AV Florin is very nice Q

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Great interview.

I always enjoy @seth77’s contributions. It was only because of one of his detailed posts that I was able to attribute this example.

Crusaders, Duchy of Athens
Regency of Helena Angelina for Guy II de la Roche (AD 1287-1291)
BI Denier Tournois, Thebes mint, struck ca. AD 1287-1288(?)
Dia.: 19 mm
Wt.: 0.82 g
Obv.: + ⦂ ThEBE ⦂ CIVIS ⦂ Chateau tournois
Rev.: + ⦂ G ⦂ DVX ⦂ ATENES ⦂ Cross pattee
Ref.: Malloy 86, Tzamalis GR105

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Another great write up!
I have been finding myself more interested in medieval history and coinage lately but the coins are a bit daunting, I will admit.  
Perhaps I need to buckle down and start learning more about this interesting period in time. 
Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

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On 10/23/2023 at 7:37 AM, Curtisimo said:

Great interview.

I always enjoy @seth77’s contributions. It was only because of one of his detailed posts that I was able to attribute this example.

Crusaders, Duchy of Athens
Regency of Helena Angelina for Guy II de la Roche (AD 1287-1291)
BI Denier Tournois, Thebes mint, struck ca. AD 1287-1288(?)
Dia.: 19 mm
Wt.: 0.82 g
Obv.: + ⦂ ThEBE ⦂ CIVIS ⦂ Chateau tournois
Rev.: + ⦂ G ⦂ DVX ⦂ ATENES ⦂ Cross pattee
Ref.: Malloy 86, Tzamalis GR105

The denier tournois of the Duchy of Athens from the mid to late 1280s is probably the most aesthetically pleasing coinage of the Greek Frankokratia. It is also marked by many experimental short-lived issues that help a lot in the understanding of the development of the locally minted 'Western' coinage in Greece. Also these coins and the coins of neighboring Achaea are so plentiful that they vastly outnumber any other 'Crusader' coinage (with honorable mentions for the Antiochene 'helmet denier' and the copper follari of early 1100).

In fact these coins were so successful that they become legal tender in post 1278 Angevin Italy and ca. 1300-7 France (during the shenanigans of Philippe IV le faux-monnayeur), where they circulated as the 'better' monies.


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