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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; $1120.00 (€996.80)
 


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; $990.00 (€881.10)
 


Byzantine Empire, Justinian II, 10 July 685 - Late 695 and Summer 705 - 4 November 711 A.D.

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The only other example of this variant known to Forum is CNG auction 88, lot 1695 (misdescribed as an ordinary SBCV 1270). All other examples have the K below the H on the left, vice below the Λ on the right. Even the "normal" SBCV 1270 type is missing from the Dumbarton Oaks collection (DOC II 33 refs the Tolstoi coin) and described by Grierson as an extreme rarity.

The obverse monograms can probably be read to mean, "God-bearer [the Virgin Mary] help Justinian."
SH73338. Bronze follis, CNG auction 88, lot 1695 (described as SBCV 1270); cf. SBCV 1270, Tolstoi 81, DOC II 33, Morrisson BnF 15/Ct/AE/03, Hahn MIB 56 (all K below H left), gVF, weight 3.187 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 180o, Carthage mint, 1st reign, c. 694 - 695 A.D.(?); obverse no legend, Justinian standing facing, wearing crown with cross and chlamys, globus cruciger in right, akakia in left, cruciform monogram (ΘEOTOKE BOHΘEI?) left, cruciform Justinian monogram right; reverse no legend, large M (40 nummi), monogram above, H (year 8?) left, Λ over K right, KΓω in exergue; extreme rarity, 2nd known; $940.00 (€836.60)
 


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; $810.00 (€720.90)
 


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; $630.00 (€560.70)
 


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; $450.00 (€400.50)
 


Byzantine Empire, John V Palaeologus, 15 June 1341 - 16 February 1391 A.D.

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John V was made emperor three days short of his ninth birthday. Anna of Savoy was appointed regent for her son. After Anna was defeated in a civil war, John V was made junior emperor to his former advisor John VI Kantakouzenos and he married John VI's daughter. John VI ignored his young colleague and in time even replaced him with his own son Matthew. John V Palaeologus obtained Genoese help, overthrew his rivals, took sole rule and banished John Kantakouzenos to a monastery. John V converted to Catholicism in an attempt to obtain aid from the West against the Turks, but even this failed. Without allies, the Byzantine state was forced to become a vassal of the Ottoman Empire, permitted to exist only by the grace of the mighty Sultan.
BZ84652. Bronze stamenon, Lianta 887; Bendall PCPC 317; B-D LPC p. 238, 8; SBCV 2525 (assarion); DOC V -; Sommer -; Grierson -, aVF, full flan, edge cracks, excellent for the type, weight 0.956 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, die axis 180o, Thessalonica mint, 1365 - 1369 A.D.; obverse Saint Demetrius standing facing, nimbate, wearing tunic, breastplate, and sagion, inverted spear vertical in right hand, resting left hand on grounded shield at side, flanked on each side by a long cross with three bars, anepigraphic; reverse emperor standing facing, wearing crown with pendilia, stemma, divitision, collar-piece and loros, staff topped with a cross in circle in right hand, model of city in left hand, Manus Dei (the hand of God) above, star in lower right field; very rare; $300.00 (€267.00)
 


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(?); $260.00 (€231.40)
 


Byzantine Empire, Justinian I, 4 April 527 - 14 November 565 A.D.

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The war with the Vandalic Kingdom of Carthage in 533 - 534 was the first of Justinian I's wars of reconquest of the lost Western Roman Empire. The Vandals had occupied Roman North Africa in the early 5th century and established an independent kingdom. The Byzantine expeditionary force landed on the African coast in early September 533. The Vandal king Gelimer met the Byzantine army at the Battle of Ad Decimum, near Carthage, on 13 September. His elaborate plan to encircle and destroy the Byzantines came close to success, but Belisarius forced a Vandal retreat and occupied Carthage. Gelimer withdrew, gathered his remaining strength, and in December advanced towards Carthage and met the Romans at the Battle of Tricamarum. Gelimer was defeated and fled to a remote mountain fortress, where he was blockaded until he surrendered in the spring. Belisarius returned to Constantinople with the Vandals' royal treasure and the captive Gelimer to enjoy a triumph. Africa was formally restored to imperial rule as the praetorian prefecture of Africa. The new province faced war with the Moors and military rebellions, and it was not until 548 that peace was restored and Roman government firmly established.The Vandalic War in 533-534

SL84527. Silver siliqua, SBCV 254, Sommer 4.119, Hahn MIB 53, Morrisson BnF 8, Tolsotoi 575, BMC p. 81, 4 (Ostrogothic), DOC I -, Ratto -, ANACS VF20 (4625611), Carthage (near Tunis, Tunisia) mint, 537 - 552 A.D.; obverse D N IVSTINIANVS P P AC, diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right, from the front; reverse monogram , cross above, S below (unstruck), all within linear border surrounded by wreath; from the Dr. Sam Mansourati Collection, certified (slabbed) by ANACS; scarce; $160.00 (€142.40)
 


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; $140.00 (€124.60)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Wednesday, April 26, 2017.
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Byzantine Rarities