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Author Topic: Strange Sear 1823: Abnormally small module follis or halfollis?  (Read 484 times)

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Offline Byzantofil

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Strange Sear 1823: Abnormally small module follis or halfollis?

Recently I came across a very strange specimen of a very common type of Byzantine anonymous  follis, the so-called Class B (Sear 1823).
I was surprised by its small size. The first thing that came to mind was this can be a contemporary imitation. But after examining the coin more closely, I doubted that it was an imitation at all. The portrait of Christ is too good for imitations and completely identical to those on the imperial coin. The entire system of inscriptions, both IC XC and + EMMANOYHЛ — everything is applied neatly, competently and in the same right places. The small diameter of the dies is evidenced by the partially preserved linear border on both sides.

The photo shows the two main types of folles class B designs and a life size small size follis for comparison. The ruler is indicated real size.

Offline Byzantofil

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Re: Strange Sear 1823: Abnormally small module follis or halfollis?
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2021, 04:14:59 am »
Of course, there are two main types among the folles of this class. One type is larger in size, the letters on the obverse are brutal, the cross is large. The second type is more diminutive and the letters on the reverse are smoller and have a different outline. As a whole, this type has a much smaller size than the first. But all of these folles are significantly larger or heavier in weight than the weird follis we're reviewing. There are no coins of such a small diameter and, mainly, weight among such follies in the DO Collection (of course, if DO coin is not clipped). It is worth noting that the coin was not clipped off at the edges, as is often happened among the late Byzantine copper of the XIth-XIIth centuries. On the contrary, the coin was minted on a new, rather neatly made flan, and does not bear traces of over-minting. It is also unlikely that normal-sized follis died were used to mint this coin, although I do not exclude this possibility, at least in the case of the obverse with the image of Christ. I must say that we know the existence of half-weight denominations, repeating the design of the main denomination. Such coins are known from Theophilus (Sear 1668) or Michael VII (Sear 1880A).

The coin has one specific feature: the base of the cross has only two steps  and in the last line on the reverse, in the word BAS-ILE is absent (due to the lack of space?), the “I” letter. It seems that this letter is replaced by the vertical line of the cross. Of course, this is suspicious, but it is quite logical.


Offline Simon

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Re: Strange Sear 1823: Abnormally small module follis or halfollis?
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2021, 01:34:04 pm »
I would say Half follis, it would be a replacement for a Class A 1 . That is just a guess, but as in the past and the future for Byzantine coins fractional denominations would be required.
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=5633 My main collection of Tetartera. Post reform coinage.

Offline Byzantofil

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Re: Strange Sear 1823: Abnormally small module follis or halfollis?
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2021, 07:05:14 am »
Yes, and this denomination firstly became old and new folles, heavily chopped off at the edges, and then copper tetarterons.  I do not insist that this coin is a half-follis, but this is just interesting, isn't it?  By the way, I looked at the coin again, and it looks like the cross has a third bigger step, wery close to the border line.

Offline cmcdon0923

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Re: Strange Sear 1823: Abnormally small module follis or halfollis?
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2021, 11:22:44 am »
Could the edges of the coin have been hammered all around, which merged the rims with the bottom step? 

The edge-on pic you posted seems to possibly indicate such treatment as it appears to be very thick.

What does it weigh?


Craig

Offline Byzantofil

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Re: Strange Sear 1823: Abnormally small module follis or halfollis?
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2021, 01:01:48 pm »
Edges nor hammered, nor clipped. Weight look above on picture.

Offline cmcdon0923

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Re: Strange Sear 1823: Abnormally small module follis or halfollis?
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2021, 03:21:00 pm »
Sorry, I missed seeing the weight on the photo.

I went through my gallery and found a similar class B follis weighing only 5.34 grams:   https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?&pos=-28850

It appears to have only two steps under the cross.  There may be some traces of undertype on the reverse, but it's tough to determine for sure.

I also have two others just barely over 6 grams each....one of which is overstruck on a class A follis.  The other is pretty obviously cut down and contains a "Mardin" style counterstamp.



Craig


Offline Byzantofil

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Re: Strange Sear 1823: Abnormally small module follis or halfollis?
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2021, 05:44:55 pm »
Yes, indeed, in the DO catalog there are such light samples on the thin flans, but they are all larger in diameter. Here is your follis, although light, but has a diameter 28.44 mm., while the small folliswe are discussing has diameter is average of 23 mm. only.

Offline Kevin P

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Re: Strange Sear 1823: Abnormally small module follis or halfollis?
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2021, 06:01:41 pm »
I realize I am coming in late to the party, so to speak.

First, thank you so much for posting this coin - it is very interesting indeed.  I am in the middle of research on many aspects of the bronze coins from the "Anonymous Era" (all the folles and fractions minted from the reign of John I to Alexius I monetary reform in 1092) - and this is a good 'outlier' to note.

I think you are right in mentioning that the notable feature of this coin is the diameter, not so much the weight.  It seems that the mint didn't have a lot of control over the the size of the objects they were striking on (blank planchets or struck coins) - just look at the huge ranges of sizes within the same Class A2 variety.  What the mint did have control over was the size and style of the dies.  As such, I have taken to measuring the obv and rev die sizes (where the borders can be seen).  In the case of your Class B coin, if the die diameter is significantly smaller than other known coins, then I would agree this is a possible half follis (perhaps a trial strike that never went into full production).  Of course, the challenge is that nobody measures the die diameters - yet.

As an extreme example of this, I'll share about a couple coins in my collection, both are Class A2, Variety 3 style and ornamentation:
Coin #1:   24.3gm, 36.6mm.  The obverse die diameter is 25mm and the reverse is also 25mm.
Coin #2:     8.6gm, 30.0mm.  The obverse die diameter is 25mm and the reverse is also 25mm.

There is remarkable similarity in the obv and rev die sizes within a given variety, even when the size/weight of the coins are all over the map.  The same may turn out to be true for the two major types of Class B that you mentioned.

Thank you for sharing.
Kevin

Offline Joe Sermarini

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Re: Strange Sear 1823: Abnormally small module follis or halfollis?
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2021, 08:28:37 pm »
On the Anonymous Follis page in NumisWiki there are a few imitative specimens, most of which are smaller and lighter.  A number of varieties are found in Italy. They are mostly unpublished but are believe to have been struck by the Normans.
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Offline Byzantofil

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Re: Strange Sear 1823: Abnormally small module follis or halfollis?
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2021, 02:08:03 am »
Thank you both for your attention.  I think that the comparison with the follaro is not entirely correct here.  Yes, indeed, such small-module imitations are exist, but as a rule, the size of the images on the dies of these coins is always larger than the coin flan.  The portrait of Christ is more primitive, and on the nimbus there are patterns of five dots.  However, the specified class B folles imitations attributed to Normans are a separate topic for research.

 

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