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What are the most common Crusader coins?


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The History of Byzantium podcast created an urge to get a few crusader coins.  While I've collected Byzantine off and on for 25 years I know little about Crusader coins, save for the 1204 occupation.

Tancred was perfect for the initial coin; it has a portrait, is fairly plentiful, is close to the first crusade, etc.  I picked out what I thought to be the nicest one on vcoins and ordered it. I'll post it when it arrives.

Of coins minted by the crusaders in the Levant, which ones are the most common?  I understand that they also used a lot of European coinage.

Was Antioch the most prosperous of the crusader states?  Antioch seems to have the most commonly available coinage on vcoins.

I'm more interested in the ones of 1097-1187, the earlier the better.

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Posted (edited)

Probably the most numerous and with the best bang for the buck would be one of these helmet deniers of the Bohemonds et al. of Antioch:

image.jpeg.46ad1d3f4a282546ba019b7f4ec3f595.jpeg

Mine was issued by Bohemond III (1163-1201), and it's very common and well made, plus the earliest of this kind of denier.  (I paid a premium for this example because it's from the Nobel Prize winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann's collection, which I thought was super cool.)  Later rulers of Antioch also produced them, and there are guides to the varieties.  For Crusader coins, a nice online resource is David Ruckser's Coins of the Crusaders, a downloadable pdf.  Zeno also has a helpful category on the Christian East, including a Crusader category.

Some of the auction companies on biddr that sell lots of barely identified coins have these regularly.  You could definitely pick one up cheaply in such a venue... certainly for less than on VCoins.  They also carry some of the earlier copper coinage besides the Tancred you already have... check out the Ruckser book to be able to identify them.

Edited by Severus Alexander
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Hi, just get the book by Malloy et al, it is usually available and it is perfect for someone who is beginning his foray into Crusader coinage. Despite that, it is still a standard catalog reference, so you'd be landing two birds with one stone.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Nerosmyfavorite68 said:

The History of Byzantium podcast created an urge to get a few crusader coins.  While I've collected Byzantine off and on for 25 years I know little about Crusader coins, save for the 1204 occupation.

Tancred was perfect for the initial coin; it has a portrait, is fairly plentiful, is close to the first crusade, etc.  I picked out what I thought to be the nicest one on vcoins and ordered it. I'll post it when it arrives.

Of coins minted by the crusaders in the Levant, which ones are the most common?  I understand that they also used a lot of European coinage.

Was Antioch the most prosperous of the crusader states?  Antioch seems to have the most commonly available coinage on vcoins.

I'm more interested in the ones of 1097-1187, the earlier the better.

The coin @Severus Alexander posted is the most iconic and very available, although it's hard to get one without a lot of ghosting of the reverse cross on the obverse. I've found the definition of a 'crusader coin' to be quite loose. Anyone from Western Europe who settled further east is a 'crusader', as are all their descendants. Most of the early crusader coins were imitations of local Arabic coins (which are also very available, but lacking portraits) or brought from Europe.

Raymond Roupen Denier, 1216-1219image.png.e5c7a49eeba3c546f69218de4846fe63.pngAntioch. Billion, 18mm, 0.98g. Bust to left, wearing helmet with chin guard and chain mail armour; crescent to left, star to right; RVPINVS. Cross pattée, inward facing crescent in upper right quadrant; AITIOCHIA (cf Metcalf, Crusades 1995, class L).

Edited by John Conduitt
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Imitation Dirham in the name of al-Salih Isma'il, Ayyubid ruler of Damascus, posthumous coinage, AH641 (AD1244)image.png.9535b7977a1d219d1393ccb9ce009828.pngKingdom of Jerusalem. Silver, 16.5mm, 0.80g. al-malik al-Salih / 'Imad al-Dunya wa al-Din / Isma'il bin Abu Bakr. al-imam / al-Mustansir / billah Abu Ja'far / al-Mansur amir al-mu'minin (Metcalf, Crusades 238-9).

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Thanks to everyone for the good suggestions and references.

Is there a good search term for Crusader coins, which would bring up a lot of results?  For example, Syd* brings up a lot of Roman Republican coins.

Did the imitation Dihrams begin early?  I think I'd like one of them.

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Study of Crusader coins, like the study of the Crusades themselves, is a bit like going down a rabbit hole.  You can branch off in any number of directions.  There are the coins the Crusaders brought from The West.  There are the coins the Crusaders struck in the Kingdom and associated states.  There are coins struck in imitation of those of nearby Muslim states.  There are coins of other territories conquered in association with the Crusades, such as Cyprus, and the Frankish empire and territories in Achaea.  Then there are coins of Crusader leaders, but struck elsewhere.   Shouldn’t any Crusader coin collection have a denier of Richard the Lionheart?   How about a denier of Thibault III le Comte de Champagne, whose premature death plunged the 4th Crusade into chaos and led to the fall of Constantinople?   Saint Louis, the great Crusader king of France?   And coins of the relevant Byzantine emperors, starting with Alexius I Comnenus.  Coins of the Reconquista in the Iberian peninsula, of the Norman recovery of Sicily from the Muslims, and what about coins of the Teutonic Knights?   I don’t know of any Templar coins, but the Knights of Saint John of the Hospital were striking coins until the Napoleonic conquest.  Surely, Jean de Vallette was a Crusader.  And surely, some coins of the Crusaders’ opponents should be included as well. 

Here are some Crusader opponents. image.jpeg.b629baf718e3801e05290f441036f03e.jpegimage.jpeg.2530987b0900229e146ae325d44d10a8.jpegimage.jpeg.cf045e065aab57abf186b88b32f48648.jpegimage.jpeg.b3666d7c2ef71404b638736dc59c65da.jpeg

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Posted (edited)

@Nerosmyfavorite68, the imitative dirhams are very cool; the obvious 'tell' is that their AH dates are posthumous relative to the Ayyubids they're imitating. 

They're in two main phases.  The ones featuring a hexagram are earlier.  They imitate issues of al-Zahir Ghazi, son and heir of Saladin (598 to 613 AH (/1201-1216 CE), from Aleppo.  According to Malloy (127 ff.), the imitations range from 613-630 AH (1216-c. 1233), with a repeat dated 638 /1240-1.  @John Conduitt's example is from the later phase, imitating coins of Damascus, dated 641 AH (1243) to 648 (1250).  This is a cool interval, too, from the final fall of Frankish Jerusalem in 1244 to Louis IX's first crusade, in Egypt and Palestine.

Here's my example of the first issue --a favorite, posted recently, but deserving a repost here.  It was dated by the grad student who sold it to me as 1217 CE, making it contemporaneous to the brief reign of Jean de Brienne (father of my avatar) in Acre.

image.jpeg.bcb4311e746447cc1d0d47a37e16c980.jpeg

 

And deniers of the two commonest reigns of the Kingdom of Jerusalem aren't too steep.  These are of Baldwin III (1143-1166) and his brother, Aumary /Amalric (1163-1174).  Here's a lot I fell into not too long ago; two of Baldwin, with a rendering of the Tower of David, and one of Aumary, with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, partly commemorating Aumary's extensive rebuilding (I guess by way of giving the existing, Byzantine structure a makeover).  ...Dealer's pics, which are all I'm good for for the foreseeable future.  The legends are pretty straightforward; "BALdVINUS [/] AMALRICVS REX;" d[/]DE IERVSALEM."

 

image.jpeg.ec18df95cad7b5fe4e925a8444c1ce4d.jpeg

image.jpeg.828461cf750269c8a025e79ac9213586.jpeg

@seth77 was dead on about finding a copy of Malloy.  I only have the first, 1994 edition, but between the listings and interpretive matter, it's effectively as comprehensive as I'll ever need.

Edited by JeandAcre
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