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Anonymous Æ Follis, class B (Romanus III/Michael IV)...


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This coin was supposed to arrive on December 23rd, but it missed the traditional "birthday" of its depicted icon and didn't arrive until the 26th. I didn't order it for that reason, I just thought the timing was somewhat amusing. Oh well. Showing a scowling image of Christ the Pantocrator (my wife's exact words upon seeing it were "he looks pissed off"), this Class B example of an Anonymous Follis appears overstruck onto a Class A2 Anonymous Follis, as Sear notes: "This type is often overstuck on the large-size folles of Class A2." Sear then adds "In the Dumbarton Oaks Catalogue Class B is assigned to the time of Michael IV." Sear assigns it to Romanus III, as did the dealer. Sayles apparently follows Dumbarton Oaks and also assigns it to Michael IV, as does Grierson. It could easily belong to either emperor, since Romanus III ruled from only 1028 to 1034 and Michael IV reigned from 1034 to 1041. The anonymous nature of these pieces obviously makes them difficult to attribute, but research unknown to me may have weighed the scales towards Romanus III.

A section of the legend "+EMMANOVHA" from the overstruck Class A2 follis appears to obverse left, along with a portion of the right side of the Class A2 nimbus, with its 2 pellets in the cross limb, to obverse right. Probably due to the overstrike, the text on the reverse appears fairly illegible, with some exceptions. Apparently, decent portraits of Christ on Class B folles remain difficult to find. From the numerous books and catalogs that I've perused, I have yet to see an example as clear as this one, which reveals the main reason that I decided to add it to my pile. As shown, it came slabbed, graded NGC Ancients AU with an unsurprising "overstruck" designation. I bought the coin, not the slab, and the slab made the coin aggravatingly difficult to photograph. Temptations to break it out gurgle within me. In certain light, splotches of green appear to mid-obverse right and in some tiny areas on the reverse (somewhat visible on the photos). These don't show in direct light. From what I can tell, it doesn't look diseased, but I'll keep a wary eye on it over time. These types continue to fascinate me given the history of iconoclasm in the Byzantine empire and their various and interesting depictions of Christ. It's also interesting why one ruler, if that is who made such decisions, would want to overstrike an anonymous coin of a predecessor. They're anonymous, after all. Perhaps at the time they circulated as far less anonymous than they appear to us now? Their attribution and association with a particular ruler was probably much more obvious at the time of striking.

Romanus III (1028-1034); Constantinople; Æ Anonymous Follis, Class B, Obv: IC to left, XC to right, to bust of Christ, nimbate, facing, holding book of Gospels; Rev: IS XS / BAS ILE / BAS ILE to left and right above and below cross on three steps; 29 mm. 10.2 gm.; Sear 1823

Please share your anonymous Folles!


Edited by ewomack
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Here is the most recent which you may recall as I posted it last week. The trick with these coins is locating examples which have a clear and unworn face of Christ. These tend to command a premium in the market. As you can see below with the second coin Christ's face is worn as is normally the case.


Anonymous Folle, time of Romanus IV, circa 1068-1071. Follis (Bronze, 26 mm, 9.69 g, 5 h), Constantinopolis.

Nimbate bust of Christ facing, wearing tunic and pallium, raising his right hand in benediction and holding book of Gospels in his left; in fields, IC - XC. 

Rev. Nimbate bust of the Virgin Mary facing, orans, wearing pallium and maphorium; in fields

MHP - ΘV. DOC Class G. SB 1867. Some deposits, otherwise, very fine.


And another from the collection:

Romanus III or Michael IV A.D. 1028-1041 AE Anonymous Follis, 28mm, 12.7 grams

Obverse: EMMANOVHL, facing bust of Christ, wearing nimbus cruciger, pallium and colobium, holding gospels with both hands, to left IC, to right XC

Reverse: Cross on three steps with pellet at each extremity, in fields IS-XS/BAS-ILE/ BAS-ILE (Jesus Christ, King of Kings)

Reference: SBCV 1823





Edited by Ancient Coin Hunter
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