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Hrefn Top Ten 2023


Hrefn

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Top Ten 2023 plus a couple of honorable mentions, presented in no particular order.   I bought about 23 coins this year, similar to the number I purchased last year.   Use of any third party photographs is for non-commercial educational purposes only.  

1.  Solidus of Gratian.

Gratian 367-83 AD.  4.41 grams.   Trier mint. 

Rev:  two emperors enthroned holding globus, Victory above them.  I believe Gratian is the larger figure and senior emperor, and his young half-brother Valentinian II is on the viewer’s right.  

Purchased 7/2023 at Bay State coin show from Nick Economopoulos.

 

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2. Denarius of the Eravisci, from Numismatic Naumann auction 128 #23

EASTERN EUROPE. Imitations of Roman Republican. Eravisci (Mid-late 1st century BC). Denarius. Imitating C. Postumius (73 BC).

Obv: Draped bust of Diana right, bow and quiver on shoulder.  

 Rev: C POSTVMI / TA.   Hound springing right; below, spear right.

Freeman pl. 29, 24; cf. Crawford 394/1a (for prototype).

Condition:  Extremely fine.   Weight: 3.61 g.   Diameter: 21 mm.

578C0855-3635-4957-A707-3026C1E1DD97.jpeg.c043d67d79d83c587ac26c5bd7ab8a6f.jpeg14A8527D-66FC-4A74-BACE-55BEDC62E082.jpeg.1cd427c4d45196ae08c250d21b844842.jpeg

3. Denier, Charles the Bald  ex Davvissons 13.192;  ex. eBay private purchase 1/2023

Denier, Charles the Bald, St-Denis, AD 864-877

OBV:  GRATIA D-I REX, KAROLUS monogram in center, no chevron,  four pellets between R and E of REX

REV:  +SCI DIONUSII M, pellet over the M, cross in center

 

The pellet over the M is uncommon, the cluster of 4 pellets in REX is otherwise lacking in ACS search.  The elaborate M and pellet likely stand for moneta, with the rest of the inscription being SANCTI DIONYSII, grammatically correct genitive case meaning mint “of Saint Dionysius.”  

9873B4F7-F9F9-4BCB-82E8-D3A9B4CBC90C.jpeg.bc5444170ff6905a48fe09f13afe265f.jpeg9B4307D8-2CD4-4F92-8939-5F22718E3F2B.jpeg.4f39cbd3d7cad0c856144e9e33e782b1.jpeg

4. Denier, Charles the Bald

denier of Charles the Bald, Palace mint.   Circa 864-75 AD

OBV:  KAROLUS monogram,  + CRTIA D-I RIEX

Rev:    Cross patée in circle, + PALATINA MoNE    Old ticket ~170 F 

From CGB.fr  1/2023.

 

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5. Denier, Charles the Bald

Charles the Bald, Paris.   From Patrick Guillard.  This is a coin of Charles the Bald, AKA Charles le Chauve, minted between AD 840-864.   Paris was once the home of the Parisii, a Celtic tribe, and the city is indicated by CIVITAS PARISII.   Depeyrot 762.   MEC 1 (843). 38 examples known to him.  1.83 grams.  From Patrick Guillard auction E-5 lot 42, October 2023. 

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6. Solidus of Phocas

The less common crown for this emperor.  Asta Aurora, 3/2023

 

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7.  Justinian, solidus.

Solidus of Justinian I, AD 527-565

The emperor’s name is misspelled DINVSTINIANVS.  

A place-holder bid to watch the coin ended up winning.  I only noticed the misspelling after receiving it.  The engraver of the portrait was not without talent.      From N+N London, auction 15 lot #704

 

image.jpeg.18b6e9dd53693041b96df8f12efeaf53.jpeg

8.  Phocas, solidus

I liked the strike and centering of this coin.  Purchased at the Bay State Coin Show.  

image.jpeg.25dda6b3f2d79a338766d3038989e39d.jpegimage.jpeg.c28c6d9a8b32a7a8050b4bd5a7c1f8ee.jpeg

9. Tremissis, Justinian

Purchased 9/23 from CGB

This tremissis was sold as a Constantinople mint product, but it was struck in an Italian mint.  It may be Ostrogothic.  The dotted hair above the diadem on the obverse is distinct, the star on the reverse is six-pointed whereas Constantinople usually shows eight points.  The CONOB or COMOD in the exergue is hesitantly and strangely engraved.  Victoria is quite odd.  

MEC 1:123 attributed to Athalaric 526-534 AD and Rome mint by Grierson in Medieval European Coinage I.  @Rand (whom I respect) says Ravenna based on the style of the drapery and the long points on the star.  He comments that it may even be an official Imperial issue from the time of the reconquest.  It is also possible it is from Milan or Pavia.   

The Wikipedia article on Totila (Baduila) is illustrated with a near identical coin.  This would imply a bit later minting, as he reigned from 541-552 AD.  Totila recovered almost all the territory in Italy which had fallen to Justinian.  Once he fell in battle, the king Tejas succeeded him, but reigned only for a few months.   @Tejas, if I am not mistaken, has two tremisses of Ticinum in the name of Justinian attributed to Totila which have identical treatment of the hair. 

In any case the coin is late in the Ostrogothic sequence and Justinian reconquest;  rare and historic as such.  If definitely attributable to Totila, it would be that much more interesting.  

******* Henzen on m a shops has a tremissis of Anastasius attributed to Baduila (Totila) for nearly $4,000.  It has the same dotted treatment of the hair on the OBV and the spiky reverse star. 

image.png.1f2134bc2b5dd7a13b63faf8b8d970d1.png

10.  Histamenon nomisma, AV. Michael VII Ducas.  1071-78 AD.  from Roma e-sale 110 lot #1716. 03 August 2023.  A nice example of a relatively common coin which my collection of Byzantine emperors lacked.  

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Honorable Mention.  Armenia Takvorin of Levon III 1301-07 AD.  I purchased this because I loved the depiction of the lion.

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Honorable Mention.   

Another emperor whose coins are relatively common, yet my collection lacked.

Great portrayal of Constantine X Doukas, AD 1059-67.  Successor of Isaac I Comnenos, he undid many of the reforms of this emperor which may have contributed to loss of territory in Italy and Asia Minor.  First husband of Eudokia Makrembolitissa.  From savoca coins, 1/2023. 

image.jpeg.24ddf81edcf266fc0d9931a10a7416b9.jpegimage.jpeg.aaef18931a2cadb53bf584a140afed45.jpeg

 

If you have read this far, I wish you and all Forum members a happy and healthy new year.  God grant that we all grow in knowledge, charity, and wisdom.  And if a few numismatics treasures come our way, may we be appropriately grateful to the source of all good.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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@Hrefn

I love each of these coins.


I particularly like the Denier of Charles the Bald. This year, I was reading more about this period of Europe and was excited by the intensity of the events, the charming simplicity of the coins, the variety of the places that left their names on the coins and their rarity. Anglo-Saxon pennies and Carolingian deniers are particularly fascinating series but seem too expensive for a 'second' interest. So, I have to admire the coins (and stories) of others for now.

Happy New Year!

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On 12/31/2023 at 3:38 AM, Hrefn said:

Purchased 9/23 from CGB

This tremissis was sold as a Constantinople mint product, but it was struck in an Italian mint.  It may be Ostrogothic.  The dotted hair above the diadem on the obverse is distinct, the star on the reverse is six-pointed whereas Constantinople usually shows eight points.  The CONOB or COMOD in the exergue is hesitantly and strangely engraved.  Victoria is quite odd.  

MEC 1:123 attributed to Athalaric 526-534 AD and Rome mint by Grierson in Medieval European Coinage I.  @Rand (whom I respect) says Ravenna based on the style of the drapery and the long points on the star.  He comments that it may even be an official Imperial issue from the time of the reconquest.  It is also possible it is from Milan or Pavia.   

The Wikipedia article on Totila (Baduila) is illustrated with a near identical coin.  This would imply a bit later minting, as he reigned from 541-552 AD.  Totila recovered almost all the territory in Italy which had fallen to Justinian.  Once he fell in battle, the king Tejas succeeded him, but reigned only for a few months.   @Tejas, if I am not mistaken, has two tremisses of Ticinum in the name of Justinian attributed to Totila which have identical treatment of the hair. 

In any case the coin is late in the Ostrogothic sequence and Justinian reconquest;  rare and historic as such.  If definitely attributable to Totila, it would be that much more interesting.  

******* Henzen on m a shops has a tremissis of Anastasius attributed to Baduila (Totila) for nearly $4,000.  It has the same dotted treatment of the hair on the OBV and the spiky reverse star. 

image.png.1f2134bc2b5dd7a13b63faf8b8d970d1.png

Wonderful coins! I like this Tremissis above a lot and I think that was a great catch. Just a few observations: 

1. If it was minted under Totila/Baduila it would date to 541-547, because in early 547 - after the first conquest of Rome by the Goths and the rejection of Totila/Baduila's peace offer -  the name of Justinian was removed from all Gothic coins (this dating is from Z. Demo (2009) and I think it is convincing).

2. If the coin was minted under Totila/Baduila, it cannot have come from Ravenna. Totila/Baduila never had access to Ravenna during his reign. He only minted at Ticinum and (after the second conquest of Rome 549/50) at Rome. However, this Tremissis is almost certainly not from Rome, because of the style and because all coins of Totila/Baduila from the Rome mint show the name Anastasius. So we can exclude both Rome and Ravanna, and given that there is a consensus that Milan did not mint for Totila/Baduila, we can also exclude this mint as well.

3. I would not put much weight to the argument of a six-pointed star versus an eight-pointed star. I know this distinction is valid for coins minted until 540 or so, but over time the eight-pointed star was also adopted by Italian mints. (I have four Tremisses of Totila/Baduila from Ticinum (and one from Rome) and at least one shows an eight-pointed star.) For other examples see here: 

Collection search | British Museum

(Coins B. 12357, 12351, 12352)

4. I think we can be certain that the coin was made after 540, most likely at an Italian mint. If it was minted under Totila/Baduila, it would belong to an issue from early in his reign, i.e. certainly before 547. However, I think the big, wide and smooth circle or rim (best seen on the Roma coin below) of the dies suggest that this is a much later issue, dating to the 560s or 570s. This date precludes Ravenna, which produced a completely different style. The mint could still be Ticinum. If it was minted before 565 (between 554 and 565), it would be a late imperial issue. If it was minted after 568 it would be an early Langobardic issue.

For a piece from the same dies, which has been attributed to the Langobards see here:

https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=3020782

Regardless of whether this coin was minted during late imperial rule or early Langobardic rule, in my view, this coin belongs to the turbulent years when the Western Roman Empire finally fell to the barbarian onslaught.

Edited by Tejas
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@Tejas, thank you for your comments regarding the Justinian tremissis.  They are persuasive and thought-provoking, as always.  It is fascinating to see how much information (and informed speculation) can be abstracted from a coin like this, by some one like yourself who has devoted serious study to the subject.  I was pleased with myself for realizing the coin was probably Ostrogothic, and not a typical Constantinople mint product,  when I first spotted it in the CGB auction.  How pleasant it is when a true expert like yourself confirms my judgement.  Wherever this count was minted, it was certainly not Constantinople. 

And, thank you for the link to the British Museum collection.  The tremissis has a strong resemblance to coins from Ticinum stuck by Totila/Badiula, and I suspect your first speculation is correct.  There may be even one more reason to support this attribution, if we take a closer look at the exergue on the reverse.

image.jpeg.34b83e78b4a18db4efaf32685d1ef559.jpeg


Something odd is visible here.  Perhaps the engraver began cutting the inscription backwards, then realized his mistake and corrected it more boldly.  Or, he wasn’t sure what he was supposed to be doing.  Is the last letter an “I” or a “T” such as we might see on a coin from Ticinum?   It really doesn’t look like a “B.”  And a gamma or a “D” would be unprecedented.  
 

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The mint mark is certainly odd, but I think the engraver was trying to produce a "B". Have a look at one of my Totila/Baduila half-siliquae below. The reverse legend is rendered as DN DADU ILA REX. A proper B was apparently difficult to engrave and they have sometimes rendered it as a D. Hence, I think the intention was to produce a B even if it didn't come out well, as indeed the other letters look a bid shaky as well. 

Below is a Tremissis of mine, which also shows a very unaccomplished B, which could be mistaken for a D. I think this coin belongs to the same group as yours, i.e. late imperial, early Langobardic from a north Italian mint, probably Ticinum.

Baduila.PNG

lango.PNG

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A very nice coin @Hrefn and very insightful discussion @Tejas.

Of interest, in his 2023 issue of 'Theoderic the Great: King of Goths, Ruler of Romans', Weimer states a later date of abandoning Justinian's name by Totila/Baduila - 550. The text and the citation are below. One may expect Totila to keep Justinian name during the second peace offer - there was too much at stake to insult Justinian at this time. If so, the tremissis could be from Rome and minted between 547 and 550.

Minting tremisses with Anastasius' name in Ravenna can be ruled out as Totila/Baduila has never taken it. However, minting tremisses with Justinian's name in Ravenna under Byzantine authority during or after the Gothic wars is a strong possibility (for example, a Justinian tremissis attributed to Ravenna in Fairhead and W. Hahn, "The Monte Judica Hoard and the Sicilian Moneta Auri under Justinian I and Justin II", Plate 6, no. 75). 

@TejasI would be grateful for pointing out which Totila/Baduila Anastasian tremisses are from Rome and the reasoning for the attribution. The above references for BM records show Ticinum. I do believe Baduila minted some of his Anastasian tremisses (and possibly solidi) in Rome, but I cannot work out how to attribute them.

Thank you again for the information.

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Excellent series of coins. The imitative RR denarius, Chrales the bald (the three of them), Justinian tremissis, Michael VII Ducas histamenon nomisma are the ones that stand out to me, meaning almost the whole selection 🙂 

Q

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1 hour ago, Rand said:

Of interest, in his 2023 issue of 'Theoderic the Great: King of Goths, Ruler of Romans', Weimer states a later date of abandoning Justinian's name by Totila/Baduila - 550. The text and the citation are below. One may expect Totila to keep Justinian name during the second peace offer - there was too much at stake to insult Justinian at this time. If so, the tremissis could be from Rome and minted between 547 and 550.

As I said, the dating is from Z. Demo (2009). I think it is more plausible than the later date (549/550), because most of Totila/Baduila's surviving coins are in the name of Anastasius, suggesting that coins in the name of that emperor were issued for a longer time than just under 2 years. Demo ("Invictissimus Avtor - an unusual series ...") presents a very detailed analysis of the legends and their abbreviations to support his dating. Also, historically I think it is plausible that the break between Totila and Justinian happened already in 547, when Justinian rejected the first offer of peace. At the time Totila issued an address to the Roman Senate reminding them that they owed loyalty to the Goths and reminding them of the prosperous times under Theoderic (the invictissimus auctor), i.e. the most invincible founder.

Also, I'm almost certain that the coin is not from Rome on stylistic grounds. The treatment of the hair on the bust is typical for Ticinum, but not for Rome. Indeed, no coins were minted for Totila at Rome during the few months in which he held Rome in 547. According to Hahn also no coins were issued at Rome after it had fallen back to the East Romans. Minting only resumed in Rome from about 550 when Totila took the city for the second time and decided to keep it. 

For comparison, this is a rare Rome issue for Totila, dating to 550-552. Note the Roman sigle COMOB (instead of COMOT or COMOI for Ticinum) and the hair style of the bust, which is exactly the same as on the Roman half-siliquae of that time.

 

 

Totila.PNG

Edited by Tejas
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@Rand, I am reading that very book!  But I am only on page 80.  Here it is this morning with the results of my first attempt to bake croissants.  I am enjoying both the book and the baking.  

@Tejas I agree it would be overly ambitious to rely on the morphology of a single letter as definitive in pinpointing the origin of my tremissis.  The mintmark could be CONOB or COMOB with a blundered B, or any of the other possibilities I voiced above.     I am curious as well, and echo Rand’s query, if you would be so kind as to say how to differentiate late Ostrogothic tremisses from Ticinum from those of Rome under Ostrogothic control, if that could conveniently be done.  

Addendum:  I see you have preempted my question.  

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2 hours ago, Rand said:

Minting tremisses with Anastasius' name in Ravenna can be ruled out as Totila/Baduila has never taken it. However, minting tremisses with Justinian's name in Ravenna under Byzantine authority during or after the Gothic wars is a strong possibility (for example, a Justinian tremissis attributed to Ravenna in Fairhead and W. Hahn, "The Monte Judica Hoard and the Sicilian Moneta Auri under Justinian I and Justin II", Plate 6, no. 75). 

I agree, this is a possibility, but it is at odds with the style of the coin, which, in my view points to Ticinum. Also, according to Hahn ("Zur Münzprägung des frühbyzantinischen Reiches") it is unclear whether the Romans minted gold coins at Ravenna right after its fall in 540. They had already establshed a moneta aurum at Rome and the Goths may have removed the mint from Ravenna to Ticinum, making the resumption of minting at Ravenna logistically difficult.

Edited by Tejas
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24 minutes ago, Hrefn said:

I am curious as well, and echo Rand’s query, if you would be so kind as to say how to differentiate late Ostrogothic tremisses from Ticinum from those of Rome under Ostrogothic control, if that could conveniently be done.  

I only saw your's and @Rand's request now. My attribution is of course not 100% proven. However, these are my arguments for identifying a Roman issue as opposed to Ticinum: 

1. A Tremissis from Rome should show the mintmark COMOB instead of COMOT or COMOI. 

2. A Tremissis from Rome has to be in the name of Anastasius, since Totila removed Justinian's name from all coins in 547 (in Demo's and my view) or in 549/50 at the latest.

3. A Tremissis from Rome should show a bust style that is similar to that of the very rare Roman half-siliquae, but differ from the known styles from Ticinum (cf my Tremissis below and a Roman half-siliqua from the BM collection).

4. The lettering of Roman coins of the 530s has always been small, neat and usually with un-barred letter "A". I would regard such features as supporting evidence.

I think at least the first 3 features have to be present to consider a Tremissis to be from the mint of Rome rather than Ticinum.

11.PNG

Edited by Tejas
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3 minutes ago, Rand said:

Thank you, @Tejas. The reasoning is sound - I have put 'Rome' to this rare series in my database. Below is my coins from the series.

image.jpeg.33cff137747277769af5ff48ec0567c4.jpeg

Yes, I know this coin and I would aggree that it is a rare issue from Rome, dating to the time just after the second conquest of the city by Totila in about 550. Note also, how similar it is to my Tremissis. The dies may have been cut by the same hands.

Edited by Tejas
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30 minutes ago, Hrefn said:

@Rand, I am reading that very book!

I took advange of the book being also on Audible. The recording recording is really good and the book is excellent.

From a numismatics perspective the book has a weakness of mostly relying on 2004 Metlich book, which is good but is now 20 years old. There has been a lot of new data since (not even mentioning a known to us publication on Gepids coins).

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What would be your thoughts about this coin (also mine)? It was found in the UK, Mersham 2018. https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/908451

image.png.faf4ef0d423cd0bbb336870e06dfa0d3.png

 

It is die-linked to this cast from the estate Friedrich Stefan - at the Institute of Numismatics and Monetary History.

Casoli A. Ein unpublizierter tremissis im namen des Anastasius I.: Probleme der Zuweisung TOYTO APECH TH XWPA : Festschrift für Wolfgang Hahn zum 70 Geburtstag / hrsg von  Wolfgang Szaivert … [et al] - Wien : Österreichische Forschungsgesellschaft für Numismatik, (Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Numismatik und Geldgeschichte ; Bd 15); 2015: 77-85.

image.jpeg.c4628cf7d81062b46cd7b209765a9f73.jpeg

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Metlich's book is not only 20 years old, it also contains errors which could have been known at the time. Indeed, I tried to convince Metlich that large parts of the Sirmium series is Ostrogothic. However, he argued that all the coins are Gepidic and that the Gepids started minting in around 530, first in the name of Anastasius, then Justin I to finally catch up to the current emperor Justinian. This made absolutely no sense, but admitting that a part of the Sirmium series was Ostrogothic would have completely upset his doctoral thesis on which his book is based. Hence, he decided to ignore the argument and go ahead with the publication. He also wrongly dismissed the INVICTISSIMVS AVTOR quarter siliqua, which Demo had presented in 1994 as a fake, despite the fact, that a second piece from different dies had come to light in around 2000 in Split, Croatia.

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7 minutes ago, Rand said:

What would be your thoughts about this coin (also mine)? It was found in the UK, Mersham 2018. https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/908451

image.png.faf4ef0d423cd0bbb336870e06dfa0d3.png

 

It is die-linked to this cast from the estate Friedrich Stefan - at the Institute of Numismatics and Monetary History.

Casoli A. Ein unpublizierter tremissis im namen des Anastasius I.: Probleme der Zuweisung TOYTO APECH TH XWPA : Festschrift für Wolfgang Hahn zum 70 Geburtstag / hrsg von  Wolfgang Szaivert … [et al] - Wien : Österreichische Forschungsgesellschaft für Numismatik, (Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Numismatik und Geldgeschichte ; Bd 15); 2015: 77-85.

image.jpeg.c4628cf7d81062b46cd7b209765a9f73.jpeg

If I had to make a guess, and it is not much more than this, I would argue that this is a Frankish imitation of an Ostrogothic coin, i.e. something leading up to the "boucle perdue" series of Merovingian coins. The "boucle" is already detached and has morphed into a separate feature, which the die sinker probably didn't understand. I would date the coin to around the 570s to 580s.

Edited by Tejas
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23 minutes ago, Rand said:

 

The feature that stands out to me is the P(gamma)AVC on the obverse.  I have a similar spelling on an Ostrogothic tremissis.  Of course, this is Justinian.image.png.06eba31a600b1e4bd2232db8198a4f17.pngimage.png.3c4a7b68b38c2ca829b76d3350ccb668.png

 

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Apologies for keeping asking questions, @Tejas

After your previous feedback, I accepted another series of VGC tremisses as non-Gepidic. However, I am still curious if Gepids could have minted gold coins (why could they not). A growing number of VGC series are not imperial and outside Ostrogothic Rome/Ravenna/Milan. Demo attributes a couple of tremisses to Siscia/Sisak, but the only justification I can see is that they were found in the region.

Ostrogoths had strong reasons to return Anastasius's name to the coins, but this does not mean this was widely followed by others after Anastasius's death (I can cite two examples, though).

Thuringians and Frisians were likelier to mint VPW type if they minted coins during Anastasius' time. Allemani, Heruli, Langobards, Rugi and Gepids could have VCG tremisses (with different degrees of possibility). 

In your paper, you link the silver coins of the Gepids to Ostrogothic coins from Milan as a prototype, which is convincing.

What about this tremissis (still in post), which, from my view, is based on tremisses from Milan? I add my example from Milan below for comparison. Obviously, we have no certainty about attributing Gepids, but are there any arguments why it cannot be?

image.png.b9f1818e158fa450f2f2f226a9daff3b.png

 

image.jpeg.483833bf9a7a2eb9d513515f3840e3e2.jpeg

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8 minutes ago, Hrefn said:

P(gamma)AVC on the obverse

A nice coin. I would be more comfortable attributing these to Atalaricus, Rome mint. Another way of reading the legend could be PF followed by ligatured AV and C. This way, it would be consistent with the series?

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