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A Merovingian (?) pseudo-coin brooch


Roerbakmix
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A few days ago, a friend of mine who recently started his own coinshop, contacted me. He had just bought a pseudo-coin brooch from a metal-detectorist from Zeeland, the Netherlands (south-west, just above Belgium). Knowing my interest in early medieval coinage from the North-sea region, he gave me the opportunity to buy it before putting it online. 

I hesitated a bit, as it was a) not a coin, and b) expensive. But it was just too cool to pass (excellent condition, no damage apart from the broken iron pin, very 'Merovingiany', and the clearly legible characters of a given name(?)): 

image.jpeg.5dbc79635b0716ddc6f8f0aed131bd0d.jpeg

Continental(?) pseudo coin fibula. 600-700 AD unknown maker, unknown workshop, rare, pewter (?)| weight 10,53gr. | Ø 34mm.

This shaky video shows the details and deep dark grey patina: 

image.gif.8d9561be4585a4852fe02bd2edc7ad89.gif

 

When mirrored, the text appears to read "GVDELOVE" though I'm open for alternative interpretations (GVDETOVE?)

image.png.87e4cccc2753660cad46f24a6d13eb6c.png 

 

 

I intend to conduct a specific gravity test to test whether it's silver (SG around 10.3) or pewter (SG around 7.7). 

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Interesting brooch.

Why did you mirror it? Without mirroring it looks like EVOLACVS.

I have no idea if this makes sense, but it sounds good.

Edited by shanxi
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Thanks for the replies. Mirroring the coin was indeed done because of the character I interpreted as a mirrored D - the reading of @Shanxi is convincing as well (EVOLACVS_

Here are both the original and the mirrored again:

image.jpeg.0be966cde5234e87b2ccb88047d0955f.jpeg

image.jpeg.50fed5af1475c134e5b419889ca079e2.jpeg

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Nope, @seth77 nailed it; this is easily museum quality.

Beyond which, the furthest I managed to get was to look at a genealogical table of Merovingian kings. 

Thank you, @Roerbakmix, I have to know that you did this already. 

And as imaginative as I could be, regarding selectively retrograde and non-retrograde lettering, this produced nothing.

...Unless someone can do better than I did! 

 

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@Roerbakmix, this paper with a list of Merovingian (moneyers') names: https://www.persee.fr/doc/bec_0373-6237_1881_num_42_1_447010 could be useful, if only to see what letter combinations were commonly used.

Could the fourth letter, reading clockwise, be a P?  So EVOPADVS or EVOPACVS?

Edited by Severus Alexander
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That is an absolutely beautiful example.  Congrats on the acquisition!

The interpretation is somewhat elusive.  The end looks like DVS when reading clockwise.  Could it be some sort of corruption of Toledo, imitating a Visigothic piece?  "TVOLEDVS"?

I have a pseudo-coin brooch in the name of King Eadred of Wessex, which interestingly was found in the region of Maine-et-Loire.  I'll have to find a picture.  These items are not very common and the literature is somewhat scattered.  A new study of the pseudo-coin brooches is definitely needed!

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Here is my Anglo-Saxon pseudo-coin brooch in the name of King Eadred, 946-955.

43D11BA8-2B82-47BE-AD70-F70B594C42F7.jpeg.c06c5a060702f2f04c56cda350f8c1cc.jpeg

B351515E-B81E-4D47-8DE8-9E2C257F075D.jpeg.1086595466856279b199ef81c96a659e.jpeg

I like to imagine it being worn by someone in King Eadred’s retinue who was on pilgrimage to Rome, but Maine-et-Loire is not on the standard pilgrimage route from England to Italy.  

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Behind the scenes, @Roerbakmixand I have been vigorously discussing this piece! We often discuss new purchases and a couple of weeks ago he showed me this piece, asking me for advice on the price. I’m not an expert on these in any way, shape or form, but had some time to dive into it today: some interesting results! Namely, some mould-identical pieces (?), a different mould of virtually the same design and some research already done into this type by Boukje-Jan Van der Veen!

Not the best pictures, but they get the point across. Same basic design and inscription, different mould:

 

jpg1.jpg.aae5a5779618cc821cd933c66741c879.jpg

jpg2.jpg.d8bd097eaeb5526b0f38120ec824a8e1.jpg

jpg3.png.d9f92527b84ce108084e2ca2f6060fe1.png

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Same mould (?)

5.png.b5323afa9d4ac612f4321140c2cd2c12.png

66.png.59d032ea41fe6f4269275805dee954ef.png

 

Credits to Bouke-Jan van der Veen for largely compiling these!

These other examples shed some light on Roerbakmix’s piece (which has to be said, is of remarkable quality, especially when compared to these):

1. The findspot in Zeeland was not a fluke; most of these were found in Zeeland, meaning a production centre producing these fibulae somewhere in Zeeland is relatively certain!

2. The brooch is definitely not Merovingian, but based on the reverse of the other-mould-examples, is instead derived from a Carolingian Solidus of the MVNVS DIVINVM type, placing the dating to the 9th or 10th century. The last piece above, of identical moulds (?) as @Roerbakmix's fibula, was found in Middelburg around 1965; in its publication in the JMP, they argued it was derived from a coin of Chlotar II. Including the inscription, which would be a blundered form of his name. Given the other mould with a later Carolingian reverse, I however am not really convinced of this.

3. The inscription seems to not be meaningless, since it appears in almost similar forms on at least two moulds. If it was an analphabetic craftsman producing these with a nonsensical inscription, a blundered legend would likely not appear twice in the almost exact same form. So at least some sort of thought went into writing it. It’s very appealing to call it the name of the craftsmen casting these, although that is not necessarily so. A local chieftain/high-ranking member should also not be discarded as a possibility, although again, it is unlikely we will ever be certain about the identity behind the name. Still, many of the inscriptions on these Pseudo-Nummular brooches are also what we call ‘Pseudo’ inscriptions. It’s remarkable that these so closely match, yet that the inscription might just be nonsensical after all should also not be discounted just yet.

4. As for the reading itself, the other mould sheds some light: the first three letters are definitely ‘EVO’ and the last three either ‘DVS’ with retrograde ‘D’ or ‘CVS’. It’s the 4th and 5th letter that remain enigmatic.

By comparing the two moulds and other examples, it becomes clear that the 5th letter is not an E (as I personally first thought, given the similar blocky appearance to the first letter), but rather has a distinct crossbar. N seems most likely imho, although H or A are also possible. Based on the (percieved) open top on the other mould, I’d argue for either of the first two.

The 4th letter is the most difficult. Interpretations of ‘R’,  ‘P’ and ‘L’ become tricky when looking at the other mould. Yet, what is it? Perhaps a C, turned down on the other mould? G? A sort of Lombardic N, which would make reading the 4th letter as a N difficult? An Omega? Something nonsensical? Any Ideas?

All this is underpinned by the assumption that these inscriptions show the exact same letters, a fact which is not even that certain!

It remains an absolutely fascinating piece of history and happy it has a direct wider context in which it can be put. Maybe Bouke-Jan has some more theories!

It only rests me to say: I think you got an absolute steal on this gorgeous piece....

Edited by AnYangMan
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On 8/3/2022 at 7:14 AM, Nap said:

Here is my Anglo-Saxon pseudo-coin brooch in the name of King Eadred, 946-955.

43D11BA8-2B82-47BE-AD70-F70B594C42F7.jpeg.c06c5a060702f2f04c56cda350f8c1cc.jpeg

B351515E-B81E-4D47-8DE8-9E2C257F075D.jpeg.1086595466856279b199ef81c96a659e.jpeg

I like to imagine it being worn by someone in King Eadred’s retinue who was on pilgrimage to Rome, but Maine-et-Loire is not on the standard pilgrimage route from England to Italy.  

Simply amazing!!!!! I had no idea these broaches even existed, let alone regal connections 

This is my favorite thread in a while! Keep on sharing!

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