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20 Byzantine Coins...


ewomack

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20 Byzantine Coins - Part I

I bought my first Byzantine coin in July of 2022 and that led to a frenzy of buying (for me, at least) to obtain more and more examples. A year and a half later, I have accumulated 20 Byzantine coins in all. I'm still not sure what set it all off, but it had something to do with the numismatic aesthetic of Byzantines sitting somewhere between classic Roman and medieval coins (I love both types). Their "strangeness" also appealed to me. Lines of rulers who, when I started, I had never heard of, untrodden paths to follow, my past visit to the very Byzantine cathedral of St. Mark's in Venice, the glimpses of Byzantium from my historic studies, etc. Though I still don't fully understand the obsession, I've enjoyed getting to know this obscure back closet of ancient numismatics, one that some people dismiss outright. I do understand, this road isn't for everyone. It apparently suited me just fine. So, here are those 20 Byzantine coins, in order of reign, in two parts because one can only upload so many images in a single post. I don't have anything particularly rare at this point, but I think I've acquired some decent-looking pieces, especially considering the average eye appeal of many obtainable Byzantine coins.

Anastasius I - 491 to 518
491_to_518_AnastasiusI_Follis_01.png.b34cbfa9a723984b593783a687580c59.png491_to_518_AnastasiusI_Follis_02.png.2533a6bfeafa00fdd3e850f29660d107.png
Anastasius I (491-518), Æ follis-17.41g, 33 mm, Constantinople mint; Obv: DN ANASTASIVS PP AVG, Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Anastasius right; rev: Large "M", delta below, cross above, star to each side, "COM" in exergue; Sear 19

Justin I - 518-527

518_to_527_JustinI_AE_Follis_01.png.6776e4049e7c8cb6fdea2e9c139d9297.png518_to_527_JustinI_AE_Follis_02.png.5925a41947507c16dae8a56ad047771f.png
Justin I (518-527), Æ follis- 17,95 gram- 31 mm, Constantinople mint; Obv: DN IVSTINVS PP AVG, diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right; rev: Large M, below, A; *-* in fields, above cross, CON in exergue; Sear 62; MIB 11

Justinian I - 527-565

527_to_565_JustinianI_Follis_01.png.9e4390e9c55900e8feb9641717dd20ff.png527_to_565_JustinianI_Follis_02.png.058cb631ecdb14947f14b0a5fc5e0c1a.png
Justinian I Follis (540/1 - Year 14), Constantinople mint, Obv: DN IVSTINIANVS PP AVG, helmeted, cuirassed bust facing holding cross on globe and shield; cross to right. Rev: Large M, ANNO to left, cross above, XIIII (date) to right, A below, CON in exergue, Sear 163

Justin II - 565-578

569_to_570_JustinIIAndSophie_Follis_01.png.33fcb79fd76e2aba7466e98d4a7a70c6.png569_to_570_JustinIIAndSophie_Follis_02.png.08f9c0404fa97a4cfdd2d6d813270468.png
Justin II & Sophie (Year 5, 569 - 570), Æ Follis, 31.4mm, 11.83g, Nicomedia, Obv: DN IVUSTINUS PP AVG Justin II and Sophie seated facing forward, each with nimbus, holding globus cruciger and cruciform scepter; Rev: ANNO U, large M surmounted by cross, with B below, NIKO in exergue, Sear 369

Tiberius II Constantine - 578-582

578_to_582_TiberiusIIConstantine_AE_Follis_01.png.2ea5c9d87320d9d339bb04ea2fd79f29.png578_to_582_TiberiusIIConstantine_AE_Follis_02.png.347aaa6e26859fd7f0709fbffc681cb7.png
Tiberius II Constantine. 578-582 AD. Æ Follis (37mm, 16,64g, 12h). Constantinople mint. Dated year 5 (578/9 AD); Obv: d M TIb CONS-TANT PP AVC, crowned facing bust in consular robes, holding mappa and eagle-tipped sceptre; Rev: Large M; cross above, ANNO to left, u to right; CONE. MIBE 25; Sear 430.

Maurice Tiberius - 582-602

582_to_602_MauriceTiberius_Decanummium_01.png.3077c48162562da583642e09e6498991.png582_to_602_MauriceTiberius_Decanummium_02.png.f71b15e5fd02461190459f1bd57f02e2.png
Maurice Tiberius. 582-602. Æ Decanummium 17mm, 3.1g Theoupolis (Antioch) mint. Dated RY 8 (AD 589/90); Obv: blundered legend, Crowned facing bust, wearing consular robe, holding mappa and eagle-tipped scepter; Rev: Large X; cross above, R below; A/N/N/O U/III (date) across field; Sear 536

Phocas - 602-610

On this forum, I described this very misshapen Phocas follis as exhibiting "ugly beauty" and many people agreed. Some agreed with the "ugly" and some with the "beauty." I think more agreed with the "ugly."

602_to_610_Phocas_AE_Follis_01.png.6cdda4f99b603be1766035cbd99e0f64.png602_to_610_Phocas_AE_Follis_02.png.249a55c19ef168b422c778a7233b82ff.png
Phocas (602-610), Æ Follis (33mm, 11.79g), Cyzicus, Dated RY 4 ? (605/6); Obv: δN POCAS+PERPAVG, Crowned bust facing, wearing consular robes and holding mappa and cross, small cross to left; Rev: Large XXXX, ANNO above, II/II (date) to right, KYZA, Sear 665

Constans II - 641-668

"The great beard." I think I read that one of his servants assassinated him in his bath with a soap dish.

641_to_668_ConstansII_AE_Follis_01.png.e077dd85ff3133b7a56d4fc8fb7a5813.png641_to_668_ConstansII_AE_Follis_02.png.1e8505c1e4a11bacbf62cd3b2c643f87.png
Constans II (641-668), AE Follis / 40 Nummi, Syracuse, 652-3, AE 23-27mm. 6g. Constans standing facing, wearing crown and chlamys, holding globus cruciger in right hand; I/H/Δ to l., I/A to right / Large M; cross above; SCL. MIB 208; DOC 179; S. 1108.

Constantine IV Pogonatus - 668-685

I purchased this coin in person at the Harlan Berk offices in downtown Chicago. The staff on hand searched for maybe half an hour for it, even though I had a catalog number (it's an immense place). So, how could I not buy it when they finally presented it to me? They did give me a nice discount as well. A great experience overall that always comes back to me whenever I see this coin.

668_to_685_ConstantineIV_Follis_01.png.aeaa075dd831c07ed2e97b687bce90b3.png668_to_685_ConstantineIV_Follis_02.png.3f82fd5ff97eda26614b1dba6a21792e.png
Constantine IV Pogonatus (668 - 685), with Heraclius and Tiberius, Æ Follis (20mm, 4.38 g). Syracuse mint; Obv: No legend, Crowned and cuirassed facing bust, holding globus cruciger; Rev: Large M, flanked by Heraclius and Tiberius standing facing; TKW monogram above, [SC]L in exergue; MIB 104; SB 1207

Leo V - 813-820

This was the first Byzantine coin that I purchased. I just searched VCoins for "Byzantine" and came across these two guys, unknown to me at the time, staring out at me intriguingly. Something told me to press the "buy" button.

813_to_820_LeoV_AE_Follis_01.png.68a055038baf9661c2d46403dbb930f8.png813_to_820_LeoV_AE_Follis_02.png.06e453e907fef953145c6ea7a98e08d0.png
Leo V AD 813-820, Æ Follis (23mm, 4.43 grams) Constantinopolis; LEON S CONST; facing busts of Leo (l.) and Constantine (r.);
Large M between XXX and NNN; cross above and A below; Sear 1630

This Leo V came with provenance from Wayne Sayles and a deaccession number from the Chrysler Museum

813_to_820_LeoV_AE_Follis_02_01.png.ff20b5f9d2b3afad53d5e282930d230f.png813_to_820_LeoV_AE_Follis_02_02.png.6a8afc74f969f7fa742e958b1301c068.png
Leo V AD 813-820, Æ Follis (21.59mm, 5.48 grams) Constantinople Mint, Obv: LЄ-OҺ ЬASIL, crowned and draped bust facing, holding cross potent and akakia; Rev: Large M, [X/X/X] to left, cross above, N/N/N to right, A (officina) below, Sear 1629

Michael II The Amorian - 820-829

820_to_829_MichaelII_AE_Follis_01.png.18fa3231cf0c009081e8e4e90623bead.png820_to_829_MichaelII_AE_Follis_02.png.3a909a9c187b4595f55f46f80962c9e3.png
Michael II the Amorian (AD 820-829) with Theophilus Æ Follis; Constantinople mint; Obv: MIXAHL S ΘЄOFILOS, crowned facing busts of Michael (on left) and Theophilus (on right); cross above; Rev: Large M, X/X/X to left, cross above, N/N/N to right, Θ below; 29.12mm; 6.21 grams; Sear 1642

Theophilus - 829-842

829_to_842_Theophilus_AE_Follis_01_01.png.479f0f65641e3b5df6ec02ab81721096.png829_to_842_Theophilus_AE_Follis_01_02(2).png.c0c224f66b9dc177a9707bc5b61ae8d9.png
Theophilus (AD 829-842) Æ Follis; Constantinople mint; AD 830-842; Obv: ΘEOFIL bASIL; Half-length figure standing facing, holding labarum and globus cruciger; Rev: ΘEO / FILE AVG / OVSTE SV / hICAS in four lines; 27.66mm; 7.46 grams; Sear 1667

829_to_842_Theophilus_AE_Follis_01_02.png.ad3072b35341eea4d090bbb9951a59d8.png829_to_842_Theophilus_AE_Follis_02_02.png.4d0b394d08a6380b06e3048e997eed63.png
Theophilus (AD 829-842) Æ Follis; Constantinople mint; AD 830-842; Obv: ΘEOFIL bASIL; Half-length figure standing facing, holding labarum and globus cruciger; Rev: ΘEO / FILE AVG / OVSTE SV / hICAS in four lines; 28mm; 8.26 grams; Sear 1667

Leo VI "The Wise" - 886-912

886_to_912_LeoVI_AE_Follis_01.png.b0c0773780aa02a1cb537cc84d46e844.png886_to_912_LeoVI_AE_Follis_02.png.d945b4c7b8bab3a359f18f5d55933b78.png
Leo VI (AD 886-912); Constantinople; Æ Follis; Obv: +LEOn bAS - ILEVS ROM' Bust facing wearing crown and chlamys, holding akakia in l. hand; Rev: Inscription in four lines: +LEOn / Eh ΘEO bA / SILEVS R / OmEOh; 7.67g.;  Berk 918, Sear 1729

886_to_912_LeoVI_AE_Follis_02_01.png.7b35b47e2e0f5805677d0ad0e3b9ab1c.png886_to_912_LeoVI_AE_Follis_02_02.png.a1042a37c8ea76e7aa3f217fc6f7549b.png
Leo VI (AD 886-912); Constantinople; Æ Follis; Obv: +LEOn bAS - ILEVS ROM* Leo enthroned facing, wearing crown and loros, and holding labarum and akakia; Rev: Inscription in four lines: +LEOn / Eh ΘEO bA / SILEVS R / OmEOh; 6.90g, 28.00 mm;  Sear 1728

 

Edited by ewomack
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20 Byzantine Coins - Part II

Romanus I Lecapenus - 920-944
If forced to choose a favorite out of this lot, I might choose this one. Romanus I's story and the look of this coin make me want to stare at it continuously.

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Romanus I Lacapenus (920 - 944); Constantinople Æ Follis; Obv: +RwMAN bAS-ILEVS Rwm’ Facing bust of Romanus I, bearded, wearing crown and jeweled chlamys, and holding labarum and globus cruciger; Rev: +RwMA/N’ENΘEwbA/SILEVSRw/MAIwN; 27mm, 8.09g, 6h; R.1886-8, Sear 1760

Anonymous Follis attributed to Romanus III - 1028-1034

This coin just arrived today, the 20th purchase of the lot.
1028_to_1034_RomanusIII_Follis_01.png.94776e15412fa7b74be9dfb33b1b6305.png1028_to_1034_RomanusIII_Follis_02.png.382756063afb6e96ba67584c95c7ef3e.png
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

Anonymous Follis attributed to Romanus IV -1068-1071

1068_to_1071_RomanusIVDiogenes_Follis_01.png.462b48cbbe06b24e5997d8b9d2f6585d.png1068_to_1071_RomanusIVDiogenes_Follis_02.png.7190ab556d5bc4d57be9abeabd500654.png
Romanus IV Diogenes AD (1068-1071); Constantinople; Æ Anonymous Follis, Class G, Obv: IC-XC to left and right of bust of Christ, nimbate, facing, right hand raised, scroll in left, all within border of large dots; Rev: MP-ΘV to left and right of Mary, nimbate, ands raised, all inside border of large dots; 26-28 mm. 10.2 gm.; Sear 1867

Manuel I Comnenus - 1143-1183

1143_to_1183_Comnenus_tetarteron_01.png.ebf4c0b6e5f1e340c2cb9a071d056835.png1143_to_1183_Comnenus_tetarteron_02.png.2a3a6c5cd9358882ccd8df93e67e82ae.png"
Manuel I Comnenus (1143-1183), Æ Tetarteron; Thessalonica; Obv: ⨀/Γ/Є to left and P-over-w/Γ/O/S to right, half-length bust of St. George facing, holding spear and shield ; Rev:  MANɣHΛ ΔЄCΠΟΤ, bust of Manuel facing, holding labarum and globus cruciger; 20 mm,3.24g; DOC 18; Sear 1975

Edited by ewomack
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Nice procession of coins. The Romanus and Leo VI coins stand out. It appears that for a brief time there was a significant improvement in style and fabric, when compared with earlier and later issues. It may have had something to do with the contemporaneous artistic revival and increasing wealth and power of the empire as the Abbasids in Baghdad started to fade a bit.

Here's my Leo VI

leo_VI.jpg.e5800c475c55fcc7ede3ea6e4e162fd3.jpg

 

Edited by Ancient Coin Hunter
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ewomack, You're building an impressive collection of Byzantine bronze coins 🤩! My favorites are the well struck Anastasius 40 nummi, the Phocas 40 nummi with the not so ugly 😂 portrait, & the slabbed Romanus III bronze 😍. How did NGC grade grade the Romanus III bronze 🤔? The Romanus I bronze is a truly handsome coin too ☺️

Edited by Al Kowsky
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Love seeing this and the time you took to put it together. I too have gotten in deep with a Byzantine obsession, without an exact reason of why. If you haven't begun the journey of listening to "History of Byzantium" by Robin Pierson is what truly has kept me hooked. 275 or so podcasts later (Leo 1 through 4th crusade so far), keeps you connected to the emperors and history while you enjoy the coins with them. Do check it out, can't recommend enough.

You have excellent taste as it seems you've gotten all high quality pieces, and not just scrambled to check off Sear numbers (i'm slightly guilty here). I especially like your Romanus 1, much as you've already picked. Also a fan of your Cyzicus minted Phocas as @Al Kowsky mentioned. I've found the Cyzicus minted coins to be the most interesting, keep an eye out for them as they always seem to have extra details on them.

Keep going, you have an amazing collection here.

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Thank you for the nice comments, @Ancient Coin Hunter, @Al Kowsky, and @ela126. Though I have no great rarities, I've still enjoyed putting this collection together. I try to remain very picky by buying pieces that appeal to me visually, which probably helps explain why I only have 20 coins after 1.5 years. Sometimes, such as the Tiberius II Constantine, one can obtain only "good enough for the type" examples. I've passed on countless "almost" coins since I've started. I haven't decided whether I regret not buying one Irene example that I saw; I passed on it because, though it looked decent overall, it didn't show her cat-eared crown, which is something that I want to see on an Irene coin. The Anastasius I follis was shockingly cheap. Apparently, I bought it only minutes after it first appeared on VCoins, according to another member here who happened to be watching at that time. It's been great posting on a site with others who appreciate the sometimes askew aesthetics of Byzantine coins. I still remember the post, I don't remember by who - and it doesn't matter - where someone claimed that Byzantine coins were "objectively ugly." This seemed to suggest that liking them was some kind of a mistake. I still find that amusing.

11 hours ago, Al Kowsky said:

How did NGC grade grade the Romanus III bronze 🤔?

AU with an "overstrike" designation. The temptation to break it out of that slab still bubbles within me. It does have some greenish areas that I'll need to keep an eye on. If those begin to morph, I'll break it out immediately.

10 hours ago, ela126 said:

If you haven't begun the journey of listening to "History of Byzantium" by Robin Pierson is what truly has kept me hooked. 275 or so podcasts later (Leo 1 through 4th crusade so far), keeps you connected to the emperors and history while you enjoy the coins with them. Do check it out, can't recommend enough.

I'm pretty sure you're referring to this Podcast? https://thehistoryofbyzantium.com/  If so, I've heard at least one episode, but you're right, I need to hear more. Thanks for the recommendation!

12 hours ago, Ancient Coin Hunter said:

It appears that for a brief time there was a significant improvement in style and fabric, when compared with earlier and later issues. It may have had something to do with the contemporaneous artistic revival and increasing wealth and power of the empire as the Abbasids in Baghdad started to fade a bit.

That is an interesting observation. The eighth century in particular didn't seem to produce many beautifully struck coins. I'm thinking especially of some of the amorphous blobs from the era of Justinian II, Leo III, and others. I don't yet have any coins from that century, partially because most look ragged and partially because they can cost exorbitant amounts. A coin of Irene remains on my radar, but I know that I'll have to shell out more than I'm usually willing to to obtain a decent example.

Pardon me some self-indulgence, but I also posted threads for all of those coins previously on this forum. Some led to interesting discussions, great coin examples from other members, and some participation from people who have either left or just haven't posted in a while. One interesting moment in the bunch was when @Curtis JJ realized that a small envelope that came with one of my Theophilus coins matched those from Phil Peck's collection. Mostly for me, but for anyone else interested, here are links to all of those previous discussions and the original post date.

Anastasius I (10/23/23), Justin I (3/17/23), Justinian I (8/13/22), Justin II (6/7/23), Tiberius II Constantine (11/18/23), Maurice Tiberius (8/18/23), Phocas (11/23/22), Constans II (2/9/23), Constantine IV (6/26/23), Leo V (1) (8/13/22), Leo V (2) (9/22/22), Michael II (10/5/22), Theophilus (1) (8/27/22), Theophilus (2) (4/5/23), Leo VI (1) (10/19/22), Leo VI (2) (8/4/23), Romanus I (11/24/23), Anonymous, Class B (12/26/23), Anonymous, Class G (9/20/23) , Manuel I Comenenus (5/26/23)

Edited by ewomack
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On 12/26/2023 at 2:44 PM, ewomack said:

A year and a half later, I have accumulated 20 Byzantine coins in all.

I started 50 years before you, but I appreciate what you have assembled. It is a very attractive group. 

My web site on Byzantine coins begins here:
http://augustuscoins.com/ed/Byz/

and has many linked pages. Perhaps of greatest interest is this one:
http://augustuscoins.com/ed/Byz/legends.html

on how to read the legends.

  I also have pages on 
All the "anonymous follis" types:
http://augustuscoins.com/ed/ByzAnon/

All the types from the mint of Cherson:
http://augustuscoins.com/ed/Cherson/

The varied mintmarks on coins of Justinian from Antioch:
http://augustuscoins.com/ed/interesting/Justinian.html

Here is one:

JustinianD6368.jpg.dc14a9d531f85281926c2b66edf3d255.jpgJustinianD6369.jpg.6bcf826566ed4cb4328dddcf64695937.jpg

Sear 218B.
  Follis. 39 mm, 20.77 grams.
  Mintmark: θVΠO   (for "Theopolis", the new name of Antioch after the devastating earthquakes. See the page for the story.)
  on a large follis of year 13.

The reform which yielded this new, larger, coin started in year 12 at Constantinople but did not begin at Antioch until year 13 (with this type) and no coins of Antioch were issued in years 14 or 15 (probably due to the invasion of Khusru). The mintmark switched to Latin in year 16 (see the next coin). (There were no coins at Antioch in years 17, 18, or 19 either).  So, this short-version mintmark was used only in year 13 making this a one-year type.

There are many other pages on that site, some devoted to particular emperors. Again, it is:
http://augustuscoins.com/ed/Byz/





 

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On 12/28/2023 at 8:40 PM, Valentinian said:

I started 50 years before you, but I appreciate what you have assembled. It is a very attractive group.

Wow. That is quite a head start. I will never catch up. I've heard "legends" from decades past that pretty much all Byzantines used to sell for almost nothing (with the usual "some exceptions"). That no longer appears true. Thanks for your kind comments. Also, I was definitely aware of your website and have used it over the past 1.5 years or so, but thank you for posting it again so others can be aware of it and get to know it.

On 12/28/2023 at 7:00 PM, ela126 said:

Correct on the podcast. Robin’s voice is quite good too so no pain listening.

Thanks for the confirmation. I need to start listening again.

On 12/29/2023 at 11:15 AM, Gordon Grant said:

Amazing coins,you have great taste 👍

Thank you! I really appreciate your nice comments. One often hopes that they are putting together something "decent," but only others can really confirm whether that's true beyond one's own self and opinions. Also, my wife would probably laugh at someone telling me I have "great taste." 😁 But if I told her, "they were just referring to my coins," then she would probably say "ah, okay. Never mind, then."

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