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A rare (?) follis of Justinian


CaveBear2

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Hello everyone,

While wandering through eBay I saw that weird follis of Justinian and I can't find any information about it in the usual reference books. I couldn't find similar dies in acsearch & sixbid-coin-archive either.

The style looks unique to me and it doesn't look like a production from the mint of Constantinople (a few things remind me of some half-follis minted in Salona and that's it).

s-l1600.jpg.8259c59ee20d0f6d4a3ec82530b5bb3a.jpg

s-l1600(1).jpg.d3db8427779d7a678546f76e988e7e3a.jpg

 

If anyone know something about such a coin, I'd be glad to hear about it.

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The photos match the description of Sear 162, which references a crescent on the reverse. If that's what it actually is, then it was minted in Constantinople and it's probably not excessively common but also not excessively rare, either. It also displays a known officina type as well. As for being the imitation, I'm not sure. It could be. It looks like a decent example of either type, in any case.

Edited by ewomack
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That's helpful @ewomack. Here's the Sear Byz 162 page on labarum.info with several photos of the type

The engraving does seem more sophisticated and higher fidelity than a stereotypical "barbarous" imitation. But my opinion should mean little here, since I'm not at all familiar with the imitations of Byzantine AEs ca. 6th cent. on. (I would love to be.)

This coin does strike me as pretty unusual for the Constantinople mint -- specifically the reverse. That "M" looks more like the ones at Antioch/Theoupolis during this period.

Constantinople always did the stocky blocky burly M's -- this one seems wrong for mint. I could be mistaken there, but that's my hunch.

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Very cool. I must say though the portrait, especially star on the shoulder, isn't Byzantine in style. I've seen a tremissis immitation with similiar wonderful portrait details.

Looking on Wildwinds, a very similiar coin is represented with the following:

Justinian I. AE Follis 35.50 mm, 15.89 g, Constantinople mint (if official) or Ravenna (if Vandals), AD 527-565. 

DN IVSTINIANVS PP AVG, pearl diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right.
Large M; six-pointed star to left, cross above, upright 
crescent (closed to resemble a retrograde D) to right, 
officina letter Gamma below. 

Mintmark CON. 

cf SB 162; MIB 88; DOC type 32.

Note; This could possibly be an ancient Vandals imitation, 
as the crescent in the right field has been closed to 
resemble a retrograde D.

With permission of TimeLine Auctions 
(www.timelineauctions.com), Apr, 2016
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Very nice coin. I think these coins were produced by local authorities in the East to alleviate shortages of coins of low value denominations. Some auction house attribute them to Germanic peoples like the Gepids, but that is certaintly wrong.

Here are two examples from my collection:

 

 

goths.PNG

Edited by Tejas
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Thanks everyone for your answers.

@ewomack @Curtis JJ I took a (long) look at Sear 162MIB 88, DOC type 32 and those coins are exclusively from the 5th officina (Є). May be the production of the 3rd officina (Γ) for that type is so rare the officina is unlisted.  The question of the "style" remain.

@ela126 Nice find, happy to see there is another specimen out there! I went through the "Catalogue of the Coins of the Vandals, Ostrogoths and Lombards and of the empires of Thessalonica, Nicaea and Trebizond in the British Museum" to learn about germanic coinnage, it's true many coins have similar style/portrait. It's also interesting the people at TimeLine Auctions couldn't decide if it was from Constantinople or Ravenna, Greek or Germanic.

@Tejas Imo the engraving looks too meticulous to fall in the category you mentioned (but it's still a possiblity).

 

I'm even more confused now 😅

PS: Sorry for my english

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1 hour ago, CaveBear2 said:

Thanks everyone for your answers.

@ewomack @Curtis JJ I took a (long) look at Sear 162MIB 88, DOC type 32 and those coins are exclusively from the 5th officina (Є). May be the production of the 3rd officina (Γ) for that type is so rare the officina is unlisted.  The question of the "style" remain.

I'm even more confused now 😅

PS: Sorry for my english

To make it more confusing, Sear lists a 162 and a 162a. The "only Є" relates only to 162a. For 162, Sear says "both  Γ and Є have been noted."

I agree that stylistically, the "M" looks more like Theopolis or Antioch. I looked through a few books and did not see a standard type or an Ostrogothic type that had "CON" on reverse bottom but was minted elsewhere.

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1 hour ago, ewomack said:

I agree that stylistically, the "M" looks more like Theopolis or Antioch. I looked through a few books and did not see a standard type or an Ostrogothic type that had "CON" on reverse bottom but was minted elsewhere.

So this is a longshot.. There are coins minted in Constantine in Numidia, that do have the mint mark of "CON" for Justinian, however the only Follis mentioned is a facing bust. However Carthage, which is only 100 miles or so away, has a right facing bust (prior to 539). So Constnatine in Numidia may possibly have right busts for a follis, much like the Decanummia (sb 286)

 

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32 minutes ago, ela126 said:

So this is a longshot.. There are coins minted in Constantine in Numidia, that do have the mint mark of "CON" for Justinian, however the only Follis mentioned is a facing bust. However Carthage, which is only 100 miles or so away, has a right facing bust (prior to 539). So Constnatine in Numidia may possibly have right busts for a follis, much like the Decanummia (sb 286)

 

Yes, the books I looked through also included Numidia. I saw the facing bust type that you mentioned. The reverse "M" on it looked closer to the posted coin's "M," but there wasn't a crescent variation mentioned and, again, no profile bust. I did a double take when I first saw it.

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These types (SB162) are quite scarce and tough to find in good condition. Here's one of mine that is pretty rough (never cleaned), but with a style very consistent with other folles of Constantinople. Also the size is very similar to other folles issued there at 29mm, 14.9gms.

Justinian162.jpg.9f401c90cafbca44ff7c2597f8b762c1.jpg

 

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17 hours ago, CaveBear2 said:

Thanks everyone for your answers.

@ewomack @Curtis JJ I took a (long) look at Sear 162MIB 88, DOC type 32 and those coins are exclusively from the 5th officina (Є). May be the production of the 3rd officina (Γ) for that type is so rare the officina is unlisted.  The question of the "style" remain.

@ela126 Nice find, happy to see there is another specimen out there! I went through the "Catalogue of the Coins of the Vandals, Ostrogoths and Lombards and of the empires of Thessalonica, Nicaea and Trebizond in the British Museum" to learn about germanic coinnage, it's true many coins have similar style/portrait. It's also interesting the people at TimeLine Auctions couldn't decide if it was from Constantinople or Ravenna, Greek or Germanic.

@Tejas Imo the engraving looks too meticulous to fall in the category you mentioned (but it's still a possiblity).

 

I'm even more confused now 😅

PS: Sorry for my english

I think the attribution of these coins to barbarians or uncertain Germanic tribes is a red herring. Barbarians outside the borders of the Empire typically had no economic organisation that would require bronze coins. These coins are associated with urban centers. There was a constant shortage of official bronze coins, especially since Justinian tried to fit bronze coins into the metal standard by issuing large coins of some intrinsic value. This removed the seignorage and official mints were reluctant to produce these coins beyond what was necessary for circulation in the largest urban centers.  Smaller towns had to produce their own coins to make up for the shortage. Also, I would give next to no weight to TimelineOriginals’ attribution of these coins. The Vandals minted municipal and royal copper coins with their own designs and had no need to imitate East Roman bronzes.

Edited by Tejas
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  • 3 weeks later...

I was about to buy that coin but before that I asked some questions to the seller about its provenance. All I got for answer was a red flag : "I don't remember, all i can say is that it came from Germany". 

So I did a little bit of extra research and I found the coin in the "Fake Ancient Coin Report" at Forum Ancient Coins. Bummer. "Guaranteed genuine!" *sigh*

Sorry everyone 😔

 

 

 

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@CaveBear2 Good check with the selller and acknowledgment of the red flag. Anyone who comes across ultra rarities isn't doing this by accident. If it's truly interesting, someone put in effort to get it and very unlikely to forget.

i had a thought it might fake be but didnt think to look here. I have noticed this save background, possibly from the same seller on Ebay. A lot of odd styled coins, maybe best to steer away completely.

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