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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Byzantine Coins ▸ Byzantine RaritiesView Options:  |  |  |   

Rare Byzantine Coins

Byzantine Empire, Leontius, 695 - 698 A.D.

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Leontius' success as a general forced the Arab Caliph Abd al-Malik to make concessions and pay tribute to Emperor Justinian II; but when war was renewed, Leontius was defeated. Furious over the loss, Justinian imprisoned him for two years. When he was freed, Leontius and his former prison comrades organized a revolt, and he took the throne. Justinian was deposed, his nose and tongue were slit and he was exiled to a monastery. After the Arabs took Carthage, the fleet Leontius sent to retake the city failed. Rather than report defeat to the emperor, the army overthrew their admiral and named Apsimar, a Germanic sailor, as their leader. Apsimar changed his name to Tiberius, returned to Constantinople, seized the thrown, cut off Leontius' nose and ears and exiled him to a monastery. In 705, Justinian II returned to Constantinople with an army of Bulgars and Slavs. Both Leontius and Tiberius were dragged through the streets in chains and beheaded.
SH83907. Gold tremissis, DOC II 4, SBCV 1333, Hahn MIB III 5, Sommer 15.3, Ratto 1731, Berk Gold 191, Morrisson BnF - (p. 417), VF, uneven strike, tight flan, graffiti obverse right field, weight 1.330 g, maximum diameter 14.4 mm, die axis 180o, Constantinople mint, 695 - 698 A.D.; obverse D LEO-N PE AV, bearded facing bust, wearing loros and crown with cross, globus cruciger in right hand; reverse VICTORIA AVSY S, cross potent on base, CONOB in exergue; from the Robert Watcher Collection, ex Heritage auction 3002 (Long Beach, Sep 2008), lot 2013 (sold for $747.50 plus fees); rare; $720.00 (€612.00)
 


Byzantine Empire, Theophilus, 12 May 821 - 20 January 842 A.D.

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Most references date this type to the joint reign of Michael II and his son Theophilus II (12 May 821 - 2 Oct 829 A.D.) Anastasi identified it as Theophilus' first issue after Michael's death (2 Oct 829 - 830 A.D.).

Theophilus was an accomplished scholar and highly cultured. Although he admired Arab art and civilization, he was obliged to expend much effort defending his eastern frontier against Mutasim, the Caliph of Baghdad. He died of dysentery.
SH83908. Gold solidus, DOC III, part 1, 15a; Anastasi 515c; Wroth BMC 11; Tolstoi 13; SBCV 1646; Sommer 30.6; Morrisson BnF -; Ratto -, VF, slightly irregular tight flan, weight 3.794 g, maximum diameter 13.4 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 829 - 830 A.D.; obverse MI-XAHL bA, bearded facing bust of Michael, wearing chlamys and crown with cross, globus cruciger in right hand; reverse ΘE-OFILO bA, beardless facing bust of Theophilus, wearing loros and crown with cross, cross potent in right hand; from the Robert Watcher Collection; very rare; $640.00 (€544.00)
 


Byzantine Empire, Michael II and Theophilus, 12 May 821 - 2 October 829 A.D.

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Michael II started his career as a humble soldier. Leo V's assassination while trying to impose iconoclasm probably taught Michael a lesson, as he chose to remain religiously neutral. With Bulgarian help, he defeated the usurper Thomas, who with his Arab allies even besieged Constantinople for one year. Even after the rebellion was crushed, the Arabs still occupied Crete and initiated an invasion of Sicily.
SH83906. Gold tremissis, Morrisson BnF 31/Cp/AV/2 corr. (solidi); Anastasi 511; DOC III 18 (not in collection, refs BnF); SBCV 1650; BMC -; Sommer -; Tolstoi -; Ratto -, EF, tight flan, weight 1.275 g, maximum diameter 12.8 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 821 - 829 A.D.; obverse MI-XAHL bA, bearded facing bust of Michael, wearing chlamys and crown with cross, globus cruciger in right hand; reverse ΘE-OFILO b, bearded facing bust of Theophilus, wearing chlamys and crown with cross, cross potent in right hand, cross in right field; from the Robert Watcher Collection, ex Savoca Numismatik; very rare; $570.00 (€484.50)
 


Byzantine Empire, Leontius, 695 - 698 A.D.

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This half-follis of Leontius was first identified and published by S. J. Mansfield, in "A New Coin of the Byzantine Emperor Leontius" in Numismatic Circular, Nov 1999. It is otherwise unpublished and this is the second known specimen.
BZ73337. Bronze half follis, Mansfield, S. J., A New Coin of the Byzantine Emperor Leontius in Num. Circ., Nov 1999; DOC II part 2 -; Anastasi -, SBCV -, Hahn MIB III -, et al. -, F, rough green patina, weight 2.806 g, maximum diameter 16.1 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 695 - 696 A.D.; obverse half length bust facing with short beard, wearing crown with cross and loros with pelleted lozenge pattern, akakia in right, globus cruciger in left; reverse large K (40 nummi), cruciform Leontius monogram (Anastasi monogram 5) above, cross left, I (year 1) right, SCL in exergue; great rarity, 2nd known; $480.00 (€408.00)
 


Constantine IV Pogonatus, 15 July 668 - 10 July 685 A.D.

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Constantine IV Pogonatus should be credited with saving Europe from Muslim conquest. Beginning in 674, the great siege of Constantinople, by the caliph Muawiyah I, lasted four years. The newly invented famous "Greek Fire" made the city impregnable and the Arabs were forced to retreat. In 681 he deposed his two brothers. He was succeeded by his 16-year-old son Justinian II.
BZ84239. Bronze half follis, Anastasi 245, DOC II 67, Spahr 186, Hahn MIB III 112, SBCV 1214, Berk -, VF, green patina, rough, weight 2.566 g, maximum diameter 17.6 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 679 - 681 A.D.; obverse helmeted and cuirassed bust facing slightly right, holding spear over shoulder; reverse large K, cross above, +AN-NO ∆ (year 4) flanking left and right; very rare; $400.00 (€340.00)
 


Byzantine Empire, Heraclius & Heraclius Constantine, 23 January 613 - 11 January 641 A.D.

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This coin is unusual and possibly unique because it was struck with small dies on a larger older coin, resulting in an appearance similar to countermarking. Other coins were struck in Sicily for Heraclius with countermark-like dies, but not with these types. This coin may have been struck under Constans II vice Heraclius.
SH68126. Bronze half follis, for Heraclius and Heraclius Constantine: cf. DOC II, part 1, 124; for Constans II and Constantine IV: cf. DOC II, part 2, 94, F, overstruck, obverse off-center, weight 3.329 g, maximum diameter 23.1 mm, die axis 180o, 1st officina, Syracuse (or Constantinopolis?) mint, obverse Heraclius (or Constans II?), on left, wearing military dress, long cross in right and akakia in left; Heraclius Constantine (or Constantine IV), on right (mostly off flan), wearing chlamys, globus cruciger in right; reverse large K (20 nummi), ANNO left, X[?] right, A below; unique(?); $180.00 (€153.00)
 


Byzantine Empire, Maurice Tiberius, 13 August 582 - 22 November 602 A.D.

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Maurice Tiberius achieved peace with Persia and stemmed losses in Italy and Africa, but lost much of the Balkans. When Focas, a junior officer, revolted Maurice and his son Theodosius were murdered.
BZ79566. Bronze half follis, Wroth BMC 231, DOC I 244 (not in the collection, refs. Wroth), Hahn MIB 118B, SBCV 559, Sommer 7.77, Morrisson BnF -, Tolstoi -, Ratto -, aVF, uneven strike left side of obverse weak, weight 12.083 g, maximum diameter 23.9 mm, die axis 180o, Carthage mint, c. 582 - 583 A.D.; obverse D N TIb mAVRIC P P AVC, helmeted and cuirassed facing bust, globus cruciger in right hand, shield on left shoulder ornamented with a horseman riding right; reverse round shield containing star, surmounted by cross; K/R-T/G (Carthage) flanking, XX between NM (20 nummi) in exergue; ex CGB; very rare; $120.00 (€102.00)
 


Byzantine Empire, Justin I and Justinian I, 4 April - 1 August 527 A.D.

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During Justin's reign (518–527), Justinian was the emperor's close confidant and was probably acting as a regent long before Justin made him co-emperor on 1 April 527. Justinian was appointed consul in 521 and later commander of the army of the east. As Justin became senile near the end of his reign, Justinian became the de facto ruler. Upon Justin's death on 1 August 527, Justinian became the sole sovereign.
BZ83458. Bronze follis, DOC I 10b, Morrisson BnF 3/Cp/AE/1, Berk 112, SBCV 125, Hahn MIB I 4, Sommer 3.5, Wroth BMC 7 var. (P vice PP), Tolstoi 144 var. (same), Ratto -, F, irregular flan, large flan crack/flaw, weight 14.590 g, maximum diameter 34.4 mm, die axis 180o, 2nd officina, Constantinople mint, 4 Apr - 1 Aug 527 A.D.; obverse D N IVSTIN ET IVSTINIAN P P AVΓ, diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Justin right; reverse large M (40 nummi), cross above, six-pointed star left, cross right, B (2nd officina) below, CON (Constantinope) in exergue; rare; $110.00 (€93.50)
 


Byzantine Empire, Alexius I and John II, Autumn 1092 - 15 August 1118 A.D., John II Coronation Issue

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Issued for celebrations throughout the Empire to honor the coronation of John II as co-emperor in 1092. This scarce type and two rare types issued for the coronation, are traditionally identified as the earliest tetarteron. They may actually be sphragidia that were distributed only to a select group of people who participated in the celebrations, or for charitable purposes.
BZ53332. Lead tetarteron, DOC IV, part 1, 42.2 ff.; Grierson 1046 (Constantinople, half tetarteron), SBCV -, aF, weight 4.317 g, maximum diameter 16.3 mm, die axis 180o, uncertain mint, c. 1092 - 1093 A.D.; obverse IC - XC, bust of Christ facing, nimbate, bearded, wearing tunic and colobium, open Gospels in left; reverse AΛCE ∆EC, bust of Alexius facing, wearing stemma, divitision, and jeweled loros, cruciform scepter in right, globus cruciger in left; ex Alex G. Malloy; scarce; $60.00 (€51.00)
 


Byzantine Empire, Leo V the Armenian and Constantine, 25 December 813 - 25 December 820 A.D.

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In 815, Leo concluded a 30-year peace treaty with Khan Omurtag of Bulgaria. The treaty was honored by both sides and renewed after the accession of Michael II in 820. In 821, Thomas the Slav rebelled and laid siege to Constantinople to seize the Imperial throne. Omurtag sent an army to help Michael II put down the rebellion. Byzantine accounts report that Thomas' army was routed at the Battle of Kedouktos (winter 822 or spring 823), however, modern scholars consider the battle a victory, albeit costly, for the rebel.
BZ67004. Bronze follis, Anastasi 493; DOC III, part 1, 18; Wroth BMC 35; Morrisson BnF 30/Sy/AE/10; Ratto 1808; SBCV 1637; Sommer 29.9; Tolstoi -, VF, weight 2.387 g, maximum diameter 20.8 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 815 - 817 A.D.; obverse Λ-EOh, facing bust of Leo with short beard, wearing crown and loros, Λ right; reverse COhST, facing bust of Constantine, beardless, wearing crown and chlamys, globus cruciger in right, K left, cross right; scarce; $50.00 (€42.50)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Monday, December 11, 2017.
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Byzantine Rarities