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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Byzantine Coins (Moderators: vercingetorix, wileyc, Paleologos)  |  Topic: Money in the 12th Century Eastern Roman Empire. 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Money in the 12th Century Eastern Roman Empire.  (Read 877 times)
Simon
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« on: February 10, 2019, 01:03:49 pm »

I thought this would make an interesting collage to share, this is coinage of the Alexius Reform of Eastern Roman coinage in 1092. It remained consstant through the 12th century and for  part of the 13th century.

 The highest to the lowest denomination of the time. All are coins from John II Comnenus. All of the coins are in pecking order.

This is the current thought,
1.   Hyperpyron SBCV-1938
2.   Aspron Electrum Trachy SBCV-1941 3 of these are worth 1 Hyperpyron
3.   Billion Aspron Trachy SBCV-1944 16 of these for one Aspron Electrum Trachy (48 to Hyperpyron)
4.    Tetarteron Billion SBCV-1945  6 of these for one Billion Aspron Trachy(288 to Hyperpyron)
5.   Tetarteron  SBCV-1953  3 of these for one Metropolitan tetarteron (864 to Hyperpron)
6.   Half tetarteron  SBCV-1955   2 of these to make one tetarteron (1728 to Hyperpyron)

I do not totally agree on the lower end , too much issue with weights but this was the most logical order that was presented by Michael Hendy in Dumberton Oakes Catalog IV  1999 AD.
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http://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=5633 My main collection of Tetartera. Post reform coinage.
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« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2019, 10:42:19 pm »

 Nice presentation!

tk
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Simon
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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2019, 07:15:02 am »

Thank You, in retrospect I should have kept everything in scale. My pics of the tetartera are larger for detail and out of scale. Well, next time.
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2019, 08:41:39 am »

Nice visual tray... Thumbs Up

Regards

Q.
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Simon
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2019, 02:04:52 pm »

Thanks Q, Just thought it would be interesting to see all the coins together, versus groups of pictures in catalogs.
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http://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=5633 My main collection of Tetartera. Post reform coinage.
*Alex
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« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2019, 06:31:02 am »

Great presentation. Oddly enough I personally find the low value denominations more attractive than the high value ones.

Alex
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Simon
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« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2019, 07:25:48 am »

To answer that one Alex , I just started a collection of the denominations other than the tetartera, my collection of tetartera is the best of what I was able to find and acquire in the last twenty years. Many of those were purse coins that never saw circulation.

My Hyperpyron is not the best but I loved the fact it came with a dealers packet from an Amsterdam dealer pre WWII. They donated their notes on  sold coins to one of the Numismatic  associations and I can actually look the coin up , sale date and other info I expect.

The Electrum aspron trachea I have again were in collectable condition, I have no doubt they circulated. Most excellent examples of coins did  not circulate being sealed in purses. The purses were officially sealed bags by the money changers, normally larger amounts and one of the main reasons a particular denomination from the same die will be found in great condition from a hoard. That hoard more than likely was a purse that rotted away.

Gold did not really circulate long, people had to pay their taxes in gold and gave change in billion trachy and tetartera. Those coins remained in circulation being used for many generations. The government was not interested in getting them back so they basically ran the day by day economy.

I plan on finishing John II Comnenus coinage hopefully this year. I have the last electrum  Aspron trachy  on its way to me and I have another Hyperpyron in my sights. My biggest hurdle will be how to acquire the Thessalonica issues for John IIs hyperpyron. John III decided to copy them exactly, and from what I have read the only difference is 20 carat ( John II ) or 17 carat ( John III)  . Most dealers call the coin John III when they easily could be John II. Well the hard part for the rulers of the 12th century is done, I have all of the tetartera types now.
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« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2019, 08:30:19 am »

Hi Simon,

I think you misunderstood me. When I said "value" I was referring to the face value of the coins at the time they were struck, not their market value now. I just like the artistic appearance of the bronze coins over the silver and gold coins - it is purely a personal thing.  Grin

Alex
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« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2019, 01:39:00 pm »

 This is really informative thank you

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otlichnik
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« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2019, 02:50:12 pm »

Nice coins.

But I find the denominational attribution of the last two coins to be a bit problematic as well.

Look at it from the user's perspective.  The bottom two coins are made of the same metal and have an almost identical design on both sides.  While the last one appears to be a bit smaller it also appears to be clipped.

If you are standing in a dimly lit market haggling for goods how do the seller and buyer know which denomination is which???

What are the diameters of the pearl/die rings of the last two coins?  If they are very similar then an alternative explanation may be that the penultimate coin is the coin as minted and the final one is the same denomination but clipped at a later date to reduce its size.

Maybe the pearl/die ring diameters are different though??

SC


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SC
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Simon
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2019, 04:17:10 pm »

Nice coins.

But I find the denominational attribution of the last two coins to be a bit problematic as well.

Look at it from the user's perspective.  The bottom two coins are made of the same metal and have an almost identical design on both sides.  While the last one appears to be a bit smaller it also appears to be clipped.

If you are standing in a dimly lit market haggling for goods how do the seller and buyer know which denomination is which???

What are the diameters of the pearl/die rings of the last two coins?  If they are very similar then an alternative explanation may be that the penultimate coin is the coin as minted and the final one is the same denomination but clipped at a later date to reduce its size.

Maybe the pearl/die ring diameters are different though??

SC




I agree it can be confusing  and Hendy wrote in his first book he thought the tetarteron was possible multiple denomination, he broke them into two coins by average weight. Thus we have the tetarteron and half.  The coins posted above are out of scale, that was my fault. I own all these coins , put them together and managed to put the last two coins way out of scale.

The coins are noted for that design, they are not clipped.

The tetarteron SBCV-1953  is 4.1gm  , this coin is obviously well circulated. Its actual size at its widest is 22mm.

The Half tetarteron SBCV- 1955 is 2.2 gm and 16mm

The die sizes are  for all tetartera from Alexius and John II are uniform within their denomination.  I have been measuring since the publishing of  CLBC. However, weights seem to be across the board , in some cases from 1.5gm to 6gm .

Most believe the coins had an involuntary value, I do not.

The biggest problems with the coin is that they were imitated in the 13th century , in most cases with much lower weights, this information did not come to light until after the publishing of DOC IV , most of the weights are skewed because some imitation coins were included in his original findings.

If you click on my gallery you will see my best examples but I also included in the notes the amount of coins and weights and sizes  listed in  DOC IV.

Now Manuel, Andronicus, Isaac II is a different story, it is easier to prove they used three different die sizes for the same coins, I am uncertain yet if that will prove fractional usage but not conclusive yet.
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« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2019, 07:51:43 am »

Simon,

When you say 22mm and 16mm, do you mean for the coin, or for the circular pearl ring that surrounds the design?

That is the measurement I am interested in.

SC
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SC
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Simon
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« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2019, 09:35:23 am »

Hi SC,

The diameters I gave you were the coins size not die size. The die sizes for Alexius and John II coinage  are uniform, the weights are the issue.

Die Size 17mm SBCV 1953

Die Size 14.5 mm SBCV 1955 ( This one is tougher to be sure.)

This theory on die sizes was originally presented in CLBC by Val Marchev and Robert Wachter, it has been proven correct for Alexius and John II, however later rulers made the same coins in three sizes. They missed this in the catalog.

Simon
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http://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=5633 My main collection of Tetartera. Post reform coinage.
Simon
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« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2019, 04:12:56 pm »

The tetarteron and its half side by side. My picture above was a collage of photos done for detail. My photo equipment is currently packed while i get the office redone. Here is a phone pic of the two lower denominations side by side.
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« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2019, 08:46:19 am »

Very informative, great presentation. Thanks.
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« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2019, 09:35:36 am »

I may sound like a heretic, but I still see coins with effectively the same design and the same pearl ring diameter (which usually equates to die diameter).

All that differs is that they were either made on different sized flans, or were trimmed differently after being struck.

I would also assume that if took a hundred of these, some would begin to blur into one another in terms of size.

How do you use these in real life if they represent different denominations in use at the same time???

SC
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SC
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Simon
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« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2019, 08:03:59 pm »



I would also assume that if took a hundred of these, some would begin to blur into one another in terms of size.

How do you use these in real life if they represent different denominations in use at the same time???

SC

No you don't sound like a heretic but many believe the coin had involuntary value but still split the denomination As a tetarteron and its half. So it the value was involuntary what is the point of a half version?

I can tell the difference in hand between the denominations , I have had literally 1,0000s of them in my hands.  At the FUN  coin show I got paid for the first time for attributing a handful of both denominations for a dealer, he had about 50 tetartera and I got $20.00 for 10 min of work. I have worked with this denomination for so long that I was even able to give Sear numbers for them. Most of the coins in my collection are the very best I have ever seen, not the normal over circulated ones that are commonly found.

So to follow the modern history of the denomination it was first divided in Hendy's book Coinage and Money printed in 1969, in it he takes the tetarteron and another coin he calls its half, however he states that he felt there were  different fractions of the denomination. The book was a huge undertaking and simply split them by large and small. Average weight vs average weight. Certain examples were classified as tetarteron and others half tetarteron ( Today some papers refer to them as semi tetarteron.) I am traveling so I do not have my books here but I believe the tetarteron was 4.4gm and the half just over two. In 1999 DOC IV he still leaves the tetarteron and its half but adds a 3rd tetarteron that was exclusively minted in Constantinople, it contained silver depending on the ruler between 2-4% does not sound like much but a billion trachy averaged 8%.

Then came the CLBC work it skipped most of DOC's finding but brought forth a theory that the die sizes were consistent for the denomination and again grouped them by die sizes and weight. I tried to prove the theory for tetartera but ran into a few problems, the coin dies for each type remained true for the first two rulers after the coin reform but the weights did not. I found multiple coins that had weights from 1gm to 6gm but the same die size.

The Constantinople issues did not vary much, they remained consistent but the other mint coins became the issue.

Now the tetarteron was the most used coin in Greece during the 12th century but is rarely found in Asia Minor, the trachy is found commonly there but not in Greece.  The only place in the 12th century they comingled was in Constantinople, not only the tetartera issues there but the less valuable other mint coins.  

Both the tetarteron and the trachy were created for everyday transactions , they were also used as change from tax payments that had to be made in gold, In the early years of the 1092 coin reform it must have been extremely confusing paying taxes in the old money and getting the new currency's as change, perhaps that is a reason for the weight variation.

By the time you get to Manuel, Andronicus and Isaac II you still have weight variations but you have three dies sizes  perhaps that was the fractional currency Hendy thought existed. .

BTW the purchasing power of the coins cane to light on two different translated letters, the copper tetarteron could buy a small loaf of bread, the Constantinople version could buy 12 mackerels. Both letters were written in the late 12th century.  

Sadly, it is no longer helpful using the weights provided by DOC because shortly after its publication imitation tetartera were identified from the 13th century, after the fall of the city the coin was recreated because the population was so use to dealing with them, the imitation issues are of Alexius and Manuel coins with the simplest designs, the are normally underweight and have basic errors in legends and attire. The result is all data is from earlier publications and coin auction data is not helpfully because they might be an imitation.

Trying to figure this out with coins alone is beyond difficult. Its like someone trying to figure out USA coinage 800 years from now, Very little is written, rarely do major receipts contain change amounts. Just look at The USA dollar coin variations in the last 70 years, or the half dollar or a dime versus a nickel. At least we put a denomination amount of those

In the world of coin collecting this is not that important unless of course you have been collecting them so long you want to figure this mess out or see if the evidence proves they were just involuntary value, tokens without value.

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« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2019, 08:59:03 am »

Simon,

Thanks for engaging in this conversation.  And sharing your extensive knowledge.  I am learning heaps.  (I was away a few days or would have replied earlier.)

So, if I understand correctly, for Alexius and John II the die sizes were the same, people believe that there were two denominations (at c. 4.4 g and 2.2 g) but distribution is spread over 1 to 6 g.

After Manuel the die sizes do change.

SC

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Simon
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« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2019, 09:58:48 am »

Hi SC,

I too am traveling. On the West coast today.

Yes, the  dies sizes for Alexius coinage and for John II coinage remain consistent for each issue but the weight of those issue have large variations in weight.

A catalog written Coinage in Late Byzantine Empire broke down denominations by die sizes, it actually worked but they missed some  die sizes from Manuel's  rule and later.

The tetarteron SBCV-1953 in  DOC list 9 examples with weights ranging from 2.63gm to 4.19gm and sizes ranging from 19mm to 24mm , I have nothing smaller but I do have heavier examples at 6gm

The half tetarteron SBCV SBCV-1955  in DOC lists 13 examples with weights from 1.05gm to 2.92gm and sizes from 15mm to 18mm

In both cases their die sizes do not vary, only the weights.

When you get to Manuel, Andronicus, Isaac II that changes , three die sizes appear for multiple issues, in the case of Manuel his St George coin SBCV -1975 appears in 18mm, 15mm and 12mm, that coin is listed at tetarteron and the two smaller sizes as the 1/2 ( The catalogs do not note a 12mm die)  The Same for  Andronicus SBCV 1987 has three die sizes 18mm, 15mm and 12mm ( catalogs confusingly list 15mm or 12mm as the half but no catalog mentions all three) and Isaac II SBCV -2005 Also three die sizes 18mm 15mm and 12mm ( No catalog mentions the 15mm)

All of these issues are from Thessalonica , the Constantinople issue remains with consistency.

Hendy in his original catalog that put the coins of the reform into order mentions he believed the tetartera were in fractions but he could only prove the half by average weights and coin size , I do not believe he discussed die sizes in it but I will recheck when I am home.

The other problem with DOC weights is the coins were imitated in the 13th century, but only the very simple issues. The coins remained in circulation throughout Greece and after the fall of Constantinople people imitated them because they were still circulating. ( No imitations of John II, mostly Alexius and Manuel.)

Additional note, I do not know what the average weight of a tetarteron  should be, I said 4.2 but depending on the time it was 3.6 , no documents tell us what the weight should be but I have read weights differed from the City to the country. I am uncertain how they got away with this but it was based on a find of two coin Weight sets found in different locations of the empire and were off. The city versions being heavier.) Documents of the time discuss tetarteron , follis (no longer made but thought the metropolitan issues held the same value) and obols. However most writings are after the time period of circulation.

Here is a poor shot of a well worn coin that was issued with mis matched dies, it is a Manuel St George with a 15mm die and a 12mm die. No imitations of this coin are listed.)
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http://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=5633 My main collection of Tetartera. Post reform coinage.
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