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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 would 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.

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

Anastasius I (AD 491-518).

AV solidus (21mm, 4.50 gm, 6h). . Constantinople, 10th officina. D N ANASTA-SIVS PP AVG, helmeted, cuirassed bust of Anastasius I facing, head slightly right, spear in right hand over shoulder, shield decorated with horseman motif in left / VICTORI-A AVGGG I, Victory standing facing, head left, long staff surmounted by reversed staurogram in right hand; star in left field, CONOB in exergue. Sear 5.

Strongly struck from fresh dies on prooflike flan. a lovely example.

NGC Choice MS 5/5 - 5/5.......$4400

NGC 6055565-007

Justin I (518-527)

AV Solidus, AD 518-519, 4.50g Constantinopolis, D N IVSTINVS P P AVC, helmeted and cuirassed bust facing slightly right, holding spear and decorated shield, rev. VICTORI-A AVCCC S, Victory standing facing, holding long cross and globus cruciger, star before, CONOB in exergue, , 6h (MIBE 2; DOC 1e; Sear 55),

Strongly struck from fresh dies on prooflike flan. a lovely example

NGC CH MS strk 5/5 surf 4/5...$4400

NGC 6157871-005

Heraclius (AD 610-641), with Heraclius Constantine and Heraclonas.

AV solidus (20mm, 4.46 gm). Constantinople, 4th officina, dated Indictional Year 12 (AD 638/9). Heraclius (in center), wearing long beard and mustache, Heraclius Constantine (on right), beardless, and Heraclonas (on left), beardless, each crowned and standing facing, wearing chlamys, globus cruciger in right hand / VICTORIA-AVϚЧ Δ, cross potent with base on three steps; monogram in left field, BI (Indiction 12) monogram in right field, CONOB below. Sear 767.

An absolute wonder coin with mirror like reflective surfaces and a fully struck up obverse with exquisite detail on all three figures. Thought to have been inspired by the three Kings of the New Testament who visit Jesus in the manger.

NGC CH MS strk 5/5 surf 4/5
........................................$4500

NGC 6055922-002

Heraclius (AD 610-641), with Heraclius Constantine.

AV solidus (20mm, 4.48 gm, 7h). . Constantinople, 1st officina, AD 629-631. dd NN hЄRACLIЧS tЄ hЄRA CONST PP A, facing busts of Heraclius (on left) wearing long mustache and beard, and Heraclius Constantine (on right) wearing short mustache and beard, both wearing simple crown and chlamys; cross above between them / VICTORIA-AVϚЧ A, cross potent with base on three steps; CONOB below. Sear 749.

Quite near to what I would consider a fine style coin. Certainly two remarkable portraits for this period of generally cartoonish engraving. And extremely rare in choice mint state

NGC Choice MS 5/5 - 5/5..... $5500

NGC 5872675-023

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, first reign (AD 685-695).

AV solidus (20mm, 4.48 gm, 7h). . Constantinople, 6th officina, AD 686-687. IЧStINIA-NЧS PЄ AV, bust of Justinian II facing, with slight beard indicated by row of dots around face, wearing crown topped by cross and circlet, chlamys pinned at right shoulder, globus cruciger in right hand / VICTORIA-AVϚЧ S, cross potent with base on three steps; CONOB below. Sear 1245.

An attractive portrait for this normaly crude type, with brilliant surfaces. Exremely rare grade for this die.

NGC Choice MS strk 5/5, surf 5/5
...............................................$5500

NGC 4938331-042

Justinian II, first reign (AD 685-695).

AV Solidus. First reign. Constantinople, AD 692-695. IҺS CRISƮOS RЄX RЄϚNANƮIЧM, facing bust of Christ Pantokrator / D IЧSƮINIANЧS SЄRЧ CҺRISƮI (officina off flan), Justinian standing facing, wearing crown and loros, holding cross potent on two steps in right hand, akakia in left; CONOP in exergue. MIB 8a-b; DOC 7; Sear 1248

The First Image of Christ on Coinage. And the prototype for how Christ has been and is still portrayed in Western Art up to the present day - one of the most influential images ever created.

A spectacular coin. Perfectly struck and centered obverse with a fine style portrait of Christ. Pristine lusterous fields. A touch of the reverse legend is off the flan, but the images are perfectly centered, amongst the finest extant.

NGC CH MS Strk 4/5 surf 5/5.
.............................................$18,000

NGC 4938331-156

JUSTINIAN II, SECOND REIGN, 705-711.

AV Solidus (4.48 gms), Constantinople Mint. Facing bust of Christ Pantokrator, wearing pallium and colobium, holding Gospels and raising hand in Benediction; Reverse: Crowned facing bust of Justinian II holding cross potent on three steps in right hand, globus cruciger inscribed "PAX" in left hand. .S-1413.

Not rare to find in mint state, but nearly impossible to find perfectly centered with images and legends perfectly struck on both sides. Proof like fields. A superb rendering the the Semitic Christ, thought to have been taken from an Icont dating to the New Testament period.

NGC graded MS strk 5/5, surf 4/5
..............................................sold

LEO III 717-7140

Leo III, the Isaurian (AD 717-740). AV solidus (20mm, 4.47 gm,). Constantinople, 9th officina, AD 717-720. d N D LЄO-N PA MЧL •, crowned facing bust of Leo III, wearing chlamys pinned at right shoulder, globus cruciger in right hand and akakia in left / VICTORIA-AVΣЧ Θ, cross potent set on three steps; CONOB below. Sear 1502.

Rare in this condition One of only two graded to this level with one higher.

NGC Choice MS 5/5 - 5/5......$6800

NGC 6323480-001

Basil the Macedonian, 27 September 867 – 29 August 886, with colleagues from 870

Solidus 868-879, AV ( 4.43 g. )+IhS XPS REX – REGNANTIЧM* Christ, nimbate, seated facing on lyre-backed throne, wearing tunic and himation, raising r. hand in blessing and holding Book of Gospels in l. Rev. BASILIOS ET COnStAntAЧGGb' Facing busts of Basil on l., bearded, wearing crown and loros and Constantine on r., beardless, wearing crown and chlamys; both holding patriarchal cross between them. DO 2. Sear 1704.

A perfect FDC (According to NAC)

NGC MS 5/5, 4/5....................$3800

NGC 6556068-005

NICEPHORUS II 963-969

Nicephorus II with Basil II. AV Histomenon Nomisma (4.42 gm) Constantinople, AD 963-964. + IhS XIS RЄX RЄϚNANTIhM, bust of Christ facing, wearing nimbus cruciger with three pellets in each arm, pallium and colobium, right hand raised in benediction, book of Gospels in left / + hIKHΦOP' KAI ЬASIL' AЧΓ R' P', crowned facing busts of Nicephorus II (on left), bearded and wearing loros, and Basil II (on right), beardless, wearing chlamys pinned at right shoulder, jointly holding long patriarchal cross between. Sear 1777.

A Rare Byzantine coin in this condition with only 8 graded to this level and 2 in mint state. Lovely clean strike and surfaces.

NGC CH AU 5/5 4/5............$3800

NGC 6556068-006

Constantine VIII (AD 1025-1028).

AV histamenon nomisma (26mm, 4.43 gm,). Constantinople. + IhS XIS RЄX RЄϚhANTIhM, bust of Christ facing, wearing nimbus cruciger with annulets in upper quadrants, pallium and colobium, raising right hand in benediction, Gospels cradled in left arm; triple border / +CwN-ANtIh-bASILЄЧS ROm, bust of Constantine VIII facing, wearing crown with pendilia and square pattern loros with jeweled collar, labarum in right hand, akakia in left; triple border. Sear 1815. 

An excellent example with fine late Byzantine style portraits of Christ and the Emperor in his most impressive Loros (bejewelled jacket of spun gold)

NGC MS Stk 5/5 surf 4/5.........sold

Manuel I Comnenus (AD 1143-1180).

EL aspron trachy (32mm, 4.34 gm,). Constantinople, AD 1160-1164. IC-XC (barred), Christ standing facing on dais, bearded, wearing nimbus cruciger with five pellets in limbs, pallium and colobium, raising right hand in benediction, book of Gospels in left; eight-pointed star to either side / M-AN-ΩHΛ-O / ΘЄ/Ο/Δ/Ω/Ρ/OC, Manuel I, bearded (on left) and St. Theodore, bearded and nimbate (on right) both standing facing, jointly holding patriarchal cross with three small pellets on shaft and large globus on base between them, emperor wearing crown, divitision and loros, right hand on pommel of sheathed sword on hip, saint wearing military attire with left hand on pommel of sheathed sword at hip. Sear 1959.

Out of 250 graded only three have graded CH MS, none higher. And even rarer: perfectly struck both sides.

NGC CH MS 5/5 4/5..............$4500

NGC 6323251-161

Isaac II Angelus (AD 1185-1195).

EL aspron trachy (30mm, 3.91 gm,).  Constantinople. Virgin, nimbate, enthroned facing, holding nimbate head of infant Christ on lap; barred MHP (ligate)-ΘV across fields / ICAAKIOC, Isaac II (on left), standing facing, wearing crown with pendilia, divitision, and jeweled chlamys, cruciform scepter in right hand, akakia in left, and Archangel Michael (on right), standing facing in military attire, nimbate, reaching up to crown Isaac with right hand, jeweled scepter in left; O in middle field between heads, X/AB/XM in right field. Sear 2002.

Perfectly struck and centered, and one of only five examples certified as Gem mint. It would take a collector who has been searching for years for well struck examples in decent condition to understand the difficulty of finding such a scyphate coin.

NGC Gem MS 5/5 5/5..........$7500

NGC 6323251-057

 

 

 


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