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GUIDE TO RECOGNITION OF SYRACUSIAN FOLLES

by Alberto Trivero

This Guide is an annex of the Catalogue of Sicilian Folles written by the author. It provides a simple scheme to recognize quickly and with reasonable certainty a coinage which is not free of difficulty. Note: This text is in Italian, translated to English using google translator. Excuse me for mistakes!

Trivero, Alberto. La monetazione di rame della Sicilia bizantina (testo e archivio fotografico allegato). (Achao, 2006).

TYPE 1: IMPERIAL BUST / M

The key to distinguishing the follis of type 1 is the monogram, always present in the types of the 7th and 8th century, and from the legend at the obverse for two follis of 9th century. The bust of Constant II usually (but not always) has a very impressive long beard and mustache. Another element of difference is dress.

Syracuse <a href='view.asp?key=follis'>Follis</a> <a href='view.asp?key=Type'>Type</a> 1

TYPE 2: IMPERIAL BUST / M FLANKED BY TWO FULL-LENGTH FIGURES STANDING FACING

The recognition is immediate, since there is only one follis Syracuse of this kind, issued by Constantine IV.

Syracuse <a href='view.asp?key=follis'>Follis</a> <a href='view.asp?key=Type'>Type</a> 2

TYPE 3: IMPERIAL BUST / LOWER CASE OR GOTHIC "m"

Again, the recognition is immediate, since there is only follis of Justinian II. The most similar type, struck by Leontius, can most easily be distinguished by a full-length figure of the emperor standing facing with a globus cruciger in his left hand.

Syracuse <a href='view.asp?key=follis'>Follis</a> <a href='view.asp?key=Type'>Type</a> 3

TYPE 4: IMPERIAL BUST / IMPERIAL BUST

Follis Syracuse of the 4th kind, one of the most frequent, often can only be identified with certainty when the obverse or the reverse the legend is legible. Unfortunately, in most cases the legend is present only in small part, as the coins were often smaller than the dies (and thus often much of the legend was outside the perimeter of flan, and was unstruck). Dress, which may be the loros or chlamys, is important for identification. Generally, the portrait with a loros is designated the obverse, but for the types, designation of the obverse and reverse often seems to be arbitrary. When the portraits on the both the obverse and reverse wear a chlamys, the coin may be attributed to Nichephorus (however, this attribution is controversial). The appearance of the obverse portrait is also useful. Nicephorus became emperor when he was over fifty, his portrait is bearded and mature, with a squared face. Michael and Leo are younger with thinner faces.

Syracuse <a href='view.asp?key=follis'>Follis</a> <a href='view.asp?key=Type'>Type</a> 4

TYPE 5: IMPERIAL BUST / IMPERIAL BUST WITH M IN EX

This type with an "M" in the exergue under the reverse bust is easily recognizable and attributed only to Leo III.

Syracuse <a href='view.asp?key=follis'>Follis</a> <a href='view.asp?key=Type'>Type</a> 5

TYPE 6: FULL-LENGTH FIGURE OF EMPEROR STANDING FACING / M

Type 6 is distinguished by the full-length figure of the emperor standing facing, instead of only the bust. Attribution of type 6 focuses on reading the monogram above the M on the reverse.

Syracuse <a href='view.asp?key=follis'>Follis</a> <a href='view.asp?key=Type'>Type</a> 6

TYPE 7: FULL-LENGTH FIGURE OF EMPEROR STANDING FACING / LOWER CASE OR GOTHIC "m"

This follis type can immediate recognized, as the full-length figure of the emperor standing facing on the obverse with a lower case "m on the reverse, was struck only by Leontius. The most similar coin, struck by Justinian II, has only the bust on the obverse, and the emperor holds the globus cruciger in his right hand. Auctions sometimes mistakenly attribute the much more common coins of Leo III to Leontius, whose emissions are relatively rare.

Syracuse <a href='view.asp?key=follis'>Follis</a> <a href='view.asp?key=Type'>Type</a> 7

TYPE 8: FULL-LENGTH FIGURE OF EMPEROR STANDING FACING / M FLANKED BY TWO FULL-LENGTH FIGURES STANDING FACING

Again, the recognition is easy, and the type unique, coined only by Constantine IV.

Syracuse <a href='view.asp?key=follis'>Follis</a> <a href='view.asp?key=Type'>Type</a> 8

TYPE 9: FIGURE OF EMPEROR STANDING FACING / FIGURE STANDING FACING

Although there are only two emperors who coined such follis - Leo III and his son, Constantine V - identification is often difficult and uncertain. The identification is most easily made by observing the face accompanied by the legend KWNS: if the figure is without beard, the follis was struck by Leo III, if bearded it was struck by Constantine V. In addition to confusing the attribution of types between Leo III and Constantine V, catalogues and auction listings sometimes erroneously attribute coins of Leo III to Leontius, and vice versa.

Syracuse <a href='view.asp?key=follis'>Follis</a> <a href='view.asp?key=Type'>Type</a> 9

TYPE 10: TWO IMPERIAL BUSTS / M

Three emperors struck this type. The difference between them ensure recognition is usually not difficult, even when the legend is hardly legible.

Syracuse <a href='view.asp?key=follis'>Follis</a> <a href='view.asp?key=Type'>Type</a> 10

TYPE 11: TWO IMPERIAL BUSTS / LK

This type of follis is represented only by one issue struck by Leo V and Constantine as co-emperors.

Syracuse <a href='view.asp?key=follis'>Follis</a> <a href='view.asp?key=Type'>Type</a> 11

TYPE 12: TWO IMPERIAL BUSTS / ONE IMPERIAL BUST (OR VICE VERSA)

There are two issues of this type, usually easily distinguishable by the legends, but also by different dress and the different styles.

Syracuse <a href='view.asp?key=follis'>Follis</a> <a href='view.asp?key=Type'>Type</a> 12

TYPE 13: TWO FULL-LENGTH FIGURES OF EMPERORS STANDING FACING / M

The two folles of this type are easily distinguishable by the portraits and monograms, but poorly struck or preserved examples can easily be confused.

Syracuse <a href='view.asp?key=follis'>Follis</a> <a href='view.asp?key=Type'>Type</a> 13

TYPE 14: TWO FULL-LENGTH FIGURES OF EMPERORS STANDING FACING / M FLANKED BY TWO FULL-LENGTH FIGURES STANDING FACING

A unique type, struck only by Constantine II.

Syracuse <a href='view.asp?key=follis'>Follis</a> <a href='view.asp?key=Type'>Type</a> 14

TYPE 15: TWO IMPERIAL BUSTS / TWO IMPERIAL BUSTS

A unique type, struck only by Constantine IV.

Syracuse <a href='view.asp?key=follis'>Follis</a> <a href='view.asp?key=Type'>Type</a> 15