Manuel I Komnenus clipped billion aspron trachy SB1966
Obverse: IC-XC (bar above) in field, Christ bearded and nimbate, wearing tunic and colobion, seated upon throne without back; holds gospels in left hand.
Reverse: MAN(monogram)HA AECIIOT or var, MP OV bar above in upper right field, Full-length figure of emperor, bearded on left, crowned by Virgin nimbate. Emperor wears stemma, divitision, collar-peice, and jewelled loros of simplified type; holds in right hand labarum-headed scepter, and in left globus cruciger. Virgin wears tunic and maphorion.
four main varieties:
Sear 1966 Var d, Fourth coinage; H 16.14,15; 17.1-4
rev: Jewel within circle on loros waist
As discussed in the Byzantine forumThese are the "neatly clipped" trachies.
During the reign of Manuel I the silver content of the trachy was dropped from c.6% to c.3%, but later types were sometimes issued with the higher silver content.
In Alexius III's time these high silver types were clipped down to half size, probably officially, presumably so as to match the lower silver content of the later issues.
Of course this would only have worked as long as the populace accepted the idea that the clipped coins were all high silver versions to start with. Once smarties started clipping ordinary coins these types would soon have have fallen out of favour and been withdrawn.
During the reign of Alexius III were reused coins of previous releases, clipping its border in a very regular mode and thus reducing to half their weight. Regularity of shearing and the fact that they were found to stock uniforms, suggesting that this clipping is a formal issuance of mint. Based on the stocks found in Constantinople , some of which consist only of clipped coins, it may safely be dated between 1195 and 1203.
Hendy and Grierson believe that this shearing was a consequence of the devaluation of trachy mixture during the reign of Isaac II and Alexius III. They reduced by half the already low silver content of this coin: shearing coins of previous emperors, still widely in circulation, made their trachy consistent with the intrinsic value of current emissions. Of course, this does not justify the clipping of coins already degraded of Isaac II and Alexius III. Therefore, reason for their declassification is not understood. I think that reason of Ross is right!
The structure of their dispersion in hoards indicates that, however, were made after the other emissions. Clipped trachys appear in small amounts along with regular trachy in hoards, represents a rarity. Were clipped trachys of Manuel I, Andronicus I, Isaac II and Alexius III, and perhaps of John II; those of Manuel are less scarce. In principle, we must believe that all trachys after Manuel I have been clipped, although many have not yet appeared.