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Author Topic: " Call me Ishmael." a Great white Whale. The half tetarteron of Isaac II  (Read 323 times)

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Offline Simon

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This is the smallest tetarteron described in the catalogs.

The coin is a half tetarteron of Isaac II Angelus, It is a coin I have sought after, to the point, I questioned if it existed as an official issue.

The coin is described Sear Byzantine coins and their Values and in CLBC, also Doc, each gave it a different description, but one thing was in common, the coin was very small. In CLBC they listed the die diameter at 11mm.

The only main difference in SBCV and CLBC is description of the Archangels inscription. In CLBC it is AP on R and M on left. In Sears catalog he says it is identical the full tetarteron O/X/AP on l. and X/MI on r.

Now for other examples, there is only one example on the internet. That example is in Forums Ancient Coins prior sales, it is in better condition but of a cruder imagery than mine and the die sizes do not appear to be uniform, but it seems to match the example in DOC except for the legend.

The coin was produced under the rule of Isaac II, 1185-1195 CE, his family lead to the destruction of the empire at the hands of the crusaders.

He was a follower of the Cult of the Archangel Michael, the tetartera from Thessalonica was of two types, a full tetarteron and a coin called its half, both depicted the Archangel as an obverse

His full tetarteron was sized at around 20mm (die size 18mm) but the half listed in Sear and CLBC only at 15mm or less down to 11mm.  the size in Morrison is 11mm and Grierson does not include the coin in his catalog nor does Sommer.

The weight listed in CLBC says from 1.17 to 1.8 gm.

My hunt for an example stretches over twenty years, I missed out on the Forum offering, I did not see it until it was already sold.In my years of searching I did acquire what I believed to be an example that was overstruck on a Manuel St George half tetarteron but that never felt satisfying because I was not certain, it had more elements of Manuel than of Isaac II.

This example was recently purchased as a misattributed coin,listed as a John II. The seller gave weight but not size, I reconfirmed the weight with the seller and took a chance that is was perhaps the unicorn I was looking for. The weight is 1.7gm, the size with the unstruck portion of the flan looked right.

Well coin in hand now, It is 15.5 mm and the weight is at 1.7gm.  The die on the obverse is clearly the small size I have been looking for, 11mm , It differes from the example shown in DOC , that seems to resemble the same coin Forum sold , my example matches the brief description noted in SBCV, very simple saying it is the same as the larger version. In my example you can see an excellent portrait of the Archangel Michael and the legends tightly running in the small field.  The reverse is is mangled but you can still see Isaac II with partial name showing on the left.

The description in SBCV was either very basic or it was based on dealer observations, the catalog was written before DOC was published. Michael Hendy did not have it listed in his 1969 work Coinage and Money.

So now I have added a very satisfying example of a rare tetarteron, my white whale.

Bellow is a close up of my new example and then a comparison of the full tetarteron and its baby brother.  (Both coins are in scale to each other) My main collection of Tetartera. Post reform coinage.


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