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New Maurice Tiberius

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New from the recent Frank Robinson auction of January 23rd.

Maurice Tiberius, 582-602 C.E.

AE Follis 31mm 11.7 grams

Antioch as Theopolis


Crowned and mantled bust facing, trefoil pattern on crown, holding mappa and eagle tipped scepter. 

ANNO to left, cross above, regnal year to right, mintmark THEUP

Reference: SB 532 MIB 95





Please share any coins of Maurice, the man who wrote, or caused to be written, the famed Strategikon military treatise.

Edited by Ancient Coin Hunter
Garbled legend
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Nice addition @Ancient Coin Hunter!

I have a single Maurice Tiberius coin: a decanummium from Theoupolis/Antioch. Don't bother trying to read the "blundered" legend. 😄

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

Edited by ewomack
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Nice big Byzantine bronze! I'm a big fan of the 6th & 7th century Follis. Always great coins to behold! Well done.

I still get confused about the Byzantine Tiberii with similar names ... but I think these two are correctly IDed as Maurice Tiberius, rather than Tiberius II (predecessor & father-in-law of M.T.).

But please pardon (and lemme know!) if I mixed em up here...



Edited by Curtis JJ
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OH! These comments just reminded me of two things:

  • I do have a Theupolis Maurice Follis (but need better photo, as you can see), and
  • the increasingly garbled legends were the subject of a memorable series of comments (excerpted below) in Rasiel Suarez's ERIC II (2010, Encyclopedia of Roman Imperial Coins, 2nd ed.).

The "degradation" of legends does seem to begin with Maurice, in particular, and especially at the Theupolis mint.

6 hours ago, ewomack said:

Maurice Tiberius coin: a decanummium from Theoupolis/Antioch. Don't bother trying to read the "blundered" legend. 😄

3 hours ago, Ancient Coin Hunter said:

As @ewomack says, I believe the legend is blundered, possibly because the mint workers at Antioch had a weak knowledge of Latin.


In his introduction to Maurice Tiberius' coinage, Suarez writes in ERIC II (p. 1278):

"From here on forward the legends become too erratic to catalog. As time goes on the lettering becomes increasingly fragmentary and careless and often completely illegible."

Here's how I transcribed the obverse legend above (the right half is easier to see in hand):

Obv: [Left] ΠITNOC~ [Right] ~AVPANPPIV [?].


Several reigns and about 85 years later, writing about Constantine IV (p. 1315), Ras concludes that:

"...while the artistry in rendering the bust of the emperor is competent, and briefly spectacular for the era, the border lettering has quickly eroded into the nonsense strings of crude letters that only vaguely resemble the old arrangement of names and titles. For this reason, I've stopped listing even the intended legends since apparently no single coin ever gets it right."
[I just love that quote!!]

Below is an example, illustrating the point from ERIC II, using a coin formerly in the author's collection, his photo (used for the book).

My transcription (giving the engraver the most generous portion I can conceive of "benefit of the doubt"!):

Obv: DNCO●  T(N)  A  NЧ(S)PP [or similarly devolved]
Rev: [VICTOA flat] (Z) ~YЧ I [for AVGVS] / CONOB

Since acquiring it a few years ago, it's been one of my favorite coins (tied for favorite with perhaps 1 or 2 of my very first purchases which I still have from childhood):



Well, I figured, what if we were to take the legends off the coin and try to line them up on their own?

Surely they would be easier to read then, wouldn't they?

Oh, indeed: Clear as ... mud!

(In fact, I genuinely wonder if this can even be the work of only 1 or 2 engravers. It really looks more like at least 2 different engravers per side! Is that even plausible, though -- two different engravers inscribing different "phrases" on the same die?)



My favorite is the "A" on the obverse (1 o'clock) that looks like a "fist bump" pointing left!

Edited by Curtis JJ
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8 hours ago, Curtis JJ said:


The "degradation" of legends does seem to begin with Maurice, in particular, and especially at the Theupolis mint.


Late Justinian follis and early Justin II follis (facing bust) from Antioch also had garbled / absurd legends. May be the Antioch mint administrators decided literacy wasn't a priority. Those legends are attributed to unskilled workers but it never got that bad at the other mints.

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Here is a Maurice from Antioch:


22 mm. 5.84 grams.
∂NMAU - CNBAV  [blundered legend]
Bust facing, crown with trefoil ornament, holding mappa and eagle-tipped scepter
ANNO down left of large K (for "20"), XIII (year 13 = 595/6) to right, cross above
rho-like mintmark for "polis" [Theopolis/Antioch] below.

Sear 535


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Solidi of Maurice Tiberius from Constantinople.  Some attribute the broad-faced portraits to Antioch, but aside from the larger portrait, the style and lettering look identical to me.  Both from Harlan Berk, 3/1992 left and 6/1990 on the right.  


Solidi from Carthage.  The Obverse legend ends in the indiction year.

On the left, Sear-548, DO 220.  Purchased from CNG sale XXII, lot #778, 9/2/1992

On the right,  from A H Baldwin and Sons at the NY International at the Waldorf-Astoria 1/2004



The coin on the right is very similar to the very rare solidus of Maurice’s son Theodosius (not, sadly, part of the Hrefn Collection.)


Next is a light weight solidus distinguished from the regular issue by the star in the obverse field.   The strike is off center but I thought the portrait was exceptional.  Roma Numismatics, 11/2022.  E-Sale 102 lot #1396


Lastly, a tremissis.  Ex: Hermann Mosberg collection, 1946.  Purchased from Arnie Saslow, 8/1989 








Edited by Hrefn
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