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Byzantine Gold Coins
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Byzantine Gold Coins

Constantine moved the capital of Rome to Byzantium which he renamed Constantinople (Constantine's city) in 324.

Though the official fall of Rome is set at 476 AD, I will use Jovian (364) as the first Byzantine Emperor because his rule re-established Christianity as the official religion of the Empire after a brief return to paganism under his predecessor Julian. From his reign onward through the 15th century Christianity remained the dominant religio-politcal force of the Eastern and Western Empire.

The symbolism of Jovian's solidus pictured above and below provides a wonderful microcosm of religious and political dominance: The emperor-general holding the Standard of Christ while a bound pagan captive cowers at his feet.

Despite the tremendous violent upheaval of this period the Byzantine Emperors managed to maintain a consistent purity to their gold coinage of .95 to .98 fineness - perhaps the greatest tribute to the power of Constantinople.

This changed after the rule of Basil II Bulgarocthonos (killer of Bulgars), 976-1025. From this time onward the coins assumed different shapes in varying degrees of debasement, representing the demise of the Byzantine empire.

click on the coin to see the image enlarged

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There is tremendous controversy about what constitutes genuine Visigothic coinage, as these coins have been counterfeited since their inception, through the middle ages and on into modern times. Early forgeries would have been intended to be used as currency, later forgeries were intended to fool collectors. Here below are two wonderful types, both identified by Alois Heiss in 1872 as genuine, and both later called into question by Vico and Cores in 2006.

Visigothic Spain Saint Hermenegild (579-585) AV Tremisis type 3 Ermenegildi, bust right with cross/ Regi * deo * Vita Victory hodling crown. Heiss 87/3, pl2 fig2.
Heremengild was ther first Western European sainted martyr.
Provenance: none, of unverifiable authenticity.

EF....................................POR

VISIGOTHIC SPAIN - ERVIGIO (680-687) AV tremissis - Salamantica mint - I D N M N ERVIG Bust of christ? /Salamantic Ervigio bust King? inside edifice. Ervigio was held hostage by the clergy - perhaps as depicted on this coin. Heiss plate 190, fig 10.
Provenance: none - of unverifiable authenticity.

Nice VF............................POR

Justinian II and the first portraits of Christ on coinage:

The portraits of Christ on the coins of Justinian II mark a new development in Christian iconography. At the Trullan Synod, called by Justinian in 692 AD in an attempt to reconcile the growing religious rift between Constantinople and Rome, the issue of how Christ was to be portrayed was debated. The council's subsequent ruling (Canon 82) decreed that henceforth Christ should be seen in human form, rather than the symbolic representations which had prevailed during Christianity's earlier period.

This resulted in two distinct portraits, a Westernized Flowing Hair portrait that later became the definitive portrait used in Western Iconography. And this below: the Semitic Christ, supposedly based on an ancient icon found in the Holy Land, and the only numismatic portrayal of Christ of its type. If Christ was Judean, he surely would have looked more like this.

Justinian II, with Tiberius. Second reign, 705-711.

AV Solidus (20mm, 4.45 g, 6h). Constantinople mint. Facing bust of Christ Pantokrator / Crowned and draped facing busts of Justinian and Tiberius, holding between them a cross potent set on two steps DOC 2b; MIB 2b; SB 1415.

The only image of a SEMITIC CHRIST occurs in the coinage of the second reighn of Justinian II. Supposedly from an ancient icon. If Christ was indeed Judaean, he would have looked like this.

an unusually well struck example on both sides.

NGC graded MS strk 5/5, surf 4/5
$5500

 

 

 

 

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For info, comments, purchase requests contact: Jeff Kahn at Jkahn21@nyc.rr.com
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