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A follis from the later years of Justinian I's reign, with a Chi-rho on the reverse


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Posted (edited)

This is a coin that arrived today, from a seller in the Netherlands.  It is a typically crude and somewhat crusty late reform follis of Justinian I, Constantinople.

Crude might be something of an understatement.  The Byzantine style of portraiture had deteriorated from his early reform folles to the point where he seems to be wearing aviator sun glasses.  But what I find rather unusual is the use of a Chi-rho cross above the M, instead of the traditional configuration.  Could this be a way of commemorating the thirtieth year of his reign?

Justinian I, follis (40 nummi), Constantinople, RY 30 (556/7),  officina A.


18.06 grams



What are your latest regnal dates for Justinian I?

Edited by robinjojo
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My latest, and only, Justinian, shows "ANNO XIIII" - the style of the coins still looked relatively okay back then.

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

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That's a really nice example of his earlier reform folles!  Good strike and excellent centering.

This is a later issue, year 35, Constantinople, also typically crude, but in somewhat better grade than the OP coin.  A RY 37, the last year of his reign, exists for this mint, but it is difficult to locate.  Note the more conventional cross on the reverse.

Justinian I, follis, Constantinople, officina Γ, RY 35 (561/2).

SB 163 (Constantinople)

17.12 grams


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Posted (edited)

That's a nice decanummium!  The patina looks okay to me, and yes, the RY looks like 37, with Theoupolis (Antioch) in the exergue.

RY 37 exists for Antioch and Cyzicus, as well as Constantinople, but these very late date coins are harder to find, especially in halfway decent condition.  The early reform folles of Justinian seem easier to locate.


Edited by robinjojo
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Kind of along the same lines, there is a Chi-Rho type issued for Justin II and Sophia.  I wrote it up a few years ago on CT but nobody replied - I'm assuming there are others out there?  The chi-rho seems to indicate an increase in the weight of the issue - which is interesting, I think, and perhaps applies to the OP issue for Justinian? 

I recently got one of these heavier Justin II chi-rho types in an eBay lot - despite the wear, it is fairly heavy - my third example of the chi-rho:


Justin II & Sophia       Æ Follis Year 8 (572-573 A.D.) Constantinople Mint DN IVS[TI]NVS PP [AVG]  Justin & Sophia facing, seated on double throne / Large M | ANNO left | ς | II right | Chi-Rho above | Δ below | CON in exergue. SB 360; MIB 43. (15.49 grams / 30 x 29 mm) eBay March 2024    Lot @ $8.67

The copper follis comes down sharply in weight and size during the reign...with an average weight of 13.5 g.  There was, however, at Constantinople from the 5th regnal year onwards, a heavier issue (by a gramme) in parallel, distinguished by a Chi-Rho above the M on the reverse, as against the usual cross. Byzantine Coins (1973), by P. D. Whitting, pp. 111-112)


Here's my old CT post with everything I know, and other examples:

Byzantine Follis of Justin II with Chi-Rho above M - "Special" Heavy Issue?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Marsyas Mike, Oct 3, 2018.

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  1. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas MikeWell-Known Member

    A couple years ago when I first started in on Byzantine coins, I read our local library's copy of Byzantine Coins by P.D. Whitting. There I found a reference to a chi-rho variation of the very common Justin II-Sophia follis from Constantinople (Sear 360).
    Here is the quote:

    "The copper follis comes down sharply in weight and size during the reign...with an average weight of 13.5 g. There was, however, at Constantinople from the 5th regnal year onwards, a heavier issue (by a gramme) in parallel, distinguished by a Chi-Rho above the M on the reverse, as against the usual cross."
    (Byzantine Coins (1973), by P. D. Whitting, pp. 111-112)

    In my own small collection, I now have four examples of Sear 360, two with the chi-rho, two the cross. Indeed there is a weight difference, pretty much in accordance with Whitting, but Byzantine coins seem to vary so much in weights I was wondering if a "gramme" difference can really be attributed to a specific symbol within this issue?

    I have not had any luck finding other references to this weight change online. Examples of SB 360 abound, of course, and glancing through Coin Archives I saw some examples that conform to Whitting's information.

    Valentinian's recent post on Anonymous follis variations shows there is an impressive number of Coin Talk Byzantine experts out there - does anybody have any other information on this? Examples?

    Here are mine. Such a small sample is hardly conclusive, not helped by the fact my "chi-rho" examples are quite worn, but again, the heavier weigh for the chi-rho does hold true:

    The top two rows have the standard cross (year 11 and year 5): 12.15 and 13.93 grams

    The bottom two rows have the chi-rho (both year 6): 14.61 and 14.29 grams.

    Byzantine - Justin II follis Oct 18 (0).jpg
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