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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Byzantine Coins| ▸ |Unofficial & Imitative||View Options:  |  |  |   

Unofficial and Imitative Byzantine Coins

Unofficial and imitative Byzantine coins include counterfeits as well as imitative types struck by the Vandals, Goths, Lombards, Sassanian Persians, Crusaders, Arabs, Bulgarians and other ancient and medieval cultures.


Tremissis of Byzantine Empire, Maurice Tiberius minted by the Lombards, 583-602 A.D.

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The Lombards did not mint coins in the name of their king until the reign of Cunincpert, 688-700 A.D. Grierson notes examples of this tremissis type may be Lombard imitations, stating, "There is no firm line between such imitations and the imperial originals." The large thin flan and style of this coin are strong evidence this example is a Lombardic imitation.
SH06195. Gold tremissis, Hahn MIB 50, DOC I 287, Wroth BMC 277-280, Tolstoi 57-58, Ratto 1029, SBCV 592, FDC, weight 1.46 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 180o, Ravenna mint, 583 - 602 A.D.; obverse D N mAVRC Tib PP AVC, diademed bust right wearing cuirass and paludamentum; reverse VICTORIA AVGVSTORVN (the victory of the Emperor), angel standing facing, head left, wreath in right hand, globus cruciger in left hand, Christogram lower right, CONOB in exergue; from the Woolslayer Collection, ex Harlan J. Berk; SOLD


Sasanian Empire, Levantine Occupation, 610 - 629 A.D., Imitative of Heraclius with Heraclius Constantine

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In 604, Khusro II personnally led the siege of Dara, Mesopotamia. Because they resisted, the inhabitants were slaughtered and everything of value was carried off to Persia. This warning was somewhat sufficient; other cities including Antioch (610), Emesa (611), and Damascus (613) surrendered under terms and opened their gates. When Jerusalem was taken in May 614, tens of thousands were massacred and the True cross was taken. In 619 when Alexandria surrendered after a long siege, the young men and monks were massacred. Evidence suggests, however, that Persians allowed the local adminstrations to resume control of these cities after the initial slaughter and looting. This type was likely struck by civic authorities for local use in one of the Levantine cities during the Sasanian Occupation.
BZ65350. Bronze follis, Imitative of Heraclius with Heraclius Constantine; Pottier p. 140, 4, pl. XVI, AA3-4; CNG e-auction 217, 461, aVF, crude barbaric style, weight 13.560 g, maximum diameter 32.3 mm, die axis 135o, 610 - 629 A.D.; obverse NOCVΛ-PTCNC (or similar, blundered), two imperial figures standing facing in very crude style, each holding cruciform scepter in right, cross above center; reverse large M (40 nummi), ANN left, G/II right, ONIX in exergue (all N's reversed); unusual and rare; SOLD


Kingdom of Gepidia, c. 493 - 518 A.D., In the Name of Anastasius

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Long attributed to the Ostrogoths, Metlich corrected attribution of this type to Gepidia. The Gepids were an East Germanic tribe, closely related to the Goths, first recorded in the 6th-century as having been allied with Goths invading Dacia in c. 260. In the 4th century, they were under the hegemony of the Hunnic Empire. Under King Ardaric, the Gepids united with other Germanic tribes and defeated the Huns at the Battle of Nedao in 454. The Gepids then founded the Kingdom of Gepidia, which reached its zenith of power after 537, settling around Singidunum (today's Belgrade). For a short time, Sirmium (today's Sremska Mitrovica) was the center of the Gepid State. In 552 the Gepids suffered a disastrous defeat to Alboin, king of the Lombards, after which Alboin had a drinking cup made from the skull of the Gepid King Cunimund. Remnants of the Gepids were conquered by the Avars later in the 6th century. Erythrai_amphitheater
BZ86482. Silver quarter siliqua, Hahn MIB I 46 (Theoderic), Kraus 63 - 64 (Theoderic), BMC Vandals ?, MEC I ?, Metlich ?, VF, well centered and struck on a broad flan, toned, light marks, small edge crack, weight 0.885 g, maximum diameter 13.8 mm, die axis 180o, Sirmium (Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia) mint, c. 493 - 518 A.D.; obverse D N ANASTASIVS P P AVC, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Anastasius (Byzantine Emperor, 11 Apr 491 - 1 Jul 518) right; reverse INVIT-A ROMA D M, (monogram of Ostrogothic King Theoderic, 454 - 30 Aug 526), cross above and star below, both dividing legend; SOLD


Sasanian Empire, Levantine Occupation, 610 - 629 A.D., Imitative of Heraclius with Heraclius Constantine

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In 604, Khusro II personnally led the siege of Dara, Mesopotamia. Because they resisted, the inhabitants were slaughtered and everything of value was carried off to Persia. This warning was somewhat sufficient; other cities including Antioch (610), Emesa (611), and Damascus (613) surrendered under terms and opened their gates. When Jerusalem was taken in May 614, tens of thousands were massacred and the True cross was taken. In 619 when Alexandria surrendered after a long siege, the young men and monks were massacred. Evidence suggests, however, that Persians allowed the local adminstrations to resume control of these cities after the initial slaughter and looting. This type was likely struck by civic authorities for local use in one of the Levantine cities during the Sasanian Occupation.
BZ65330. Bronze follis, Imitative of Heraclius with Heraclius Constantine; CNG e-auction 217, 460 (same obverse die); cf. Pottier p. 140, 4, pl. XVII, Pottier AA3-6, VF, nice desert patina, weight 11.641 g, maximum diameter 27.6 mm, die axis 315o, 610 - 629 A.D.; obverse two imperial figures standing facing in very crude style, each holding cruciform scepter in right, cross above center; reverse large M (40 nummi), cross above, A below, blundered legend and mintmark; unusual and rare; SOLD


Byzantine Empire, Tiberius III Apsimar, Late 698 - Summer 705 A.D., Ancient Counterfeit

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BZ42385. Fouree gold plated semissis, cf. SBCV 1362 (official, solid gold, Syracuse mint), VF, most plating intact, weight 1.974 g, maximum diameter 16.8 mm, die axis 0o, obverse d CBERA-TVS AV (sic), diademed and draped bust with body facing and head right; reverse VCTROIA - AVG (sic), cross potent on globus, A right; perhaps unique; SOLD


Bulgars in Byzantine Bulgaria(?), Anonymous Follis of Christ, Imitative of Class A3, c. 1023 - 1040 A.D.

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This imitative was most likely struck by an unofficial mint in unruly Byzantine Bulgaria. In 1018, the Byzantine emperor Basil II conquered the First Bulgarian Empire. The Bulgarian aristocracy were given Byzantine titles and moved to Asia. The existing tax system, laws, and the role of low-ranking nobility remained, at first, unchanged. As the Byzantine Empire declined under Basil's successors, Pecheneg invasions and rising taxes led to discontent and major uprisings. Bulgaria remained under Byzantine rule until the brothers Asen and Peter liberated the country in 1185, establishing the Second Bulgarian Empire.
BZ86796. Bronze anonymous follis, See Lampinen Imitative, p. 54, for a similar Class A imitative; prototype: Basil II & Constantine VIII, 1023-1028, SBCV 1818, VF, somewhat weak strike, other than the small flan and retrograde reverse inscription the style is similar to the official prototype, weight 7.975 g, maximum diameter 27.2 mm, die axis 180o, unofficial (Bulgarian?) mint, c. 1023 - 1040 A.D.; obverse facing nimbate bust of Christ, pallium and colobium, Gospels in both hands, no legend or inscription; reverse retrograde Greek inscription: + IhSuS / XRISTuS / bASILEu / bASILE (Greek: Jesus Christ King of Kings); SOLD


Vandal Kingdom, North Africa, c. 429 - 534 A.D., Imitative of Valentinian III

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In spring 429, the Vandals invaded North Africa. Under the influence of his rival general Aëtius, Valentinian III's mother, Galla Placidia, had the Roman governor and general Bonifacius convicted of treason. Rather than surrender for execution, Bonifacius revolted and sought support from Vandal mercenaries in Hispania. Bonifacius made peace with Galla Placidia, but it was too late. King Genseric and the entire Vandal kingdom migrated en masse into Africa and took it with a force of 80,000 men. The Vandals would rule North Africa until the Eastern Romans (Byzantines) recaptured it in 534.
ME79994. Bronze nummus, cf. BMC Vandals p. 27, 80 & pl. iii, 38, VF, crowded flan typical for the type, weight 1.460 g, maximum diameter 11.8 mm, die axis 180o, North African mint, c. 429 - 534 A.D.; obverse diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust of Valentinian III right, blundered legend; reverse camp gate with two turrets, star between turrets, blundered legend; ex Forum (2016); rare; SOLD


Islamic, Zangids of Aleppo, Syria, Nurettin Mahmud bin Zengi, 541 - 569 H, 1146 - 15 May 1174 A.D.

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Interesting transitional issue derived from a Byzantine follis of Constantine X, struck at Constantinople, 1059 - 1067 (DOC III 8, SBCV 1853).
IS09094. Bronze dirhem, Spengler-Sayles 73, Album 1850, Mitchiner WOI 1132, Hennequin 603, VF, obv and rev off-center, weight 5.34 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 180o, Aleppo (Halab) mint, obverse two byzantine emperors facing, wearing long gown, holding together labarum, between them two line kufic legend, corrupted Greek legend on border; reverse nimbate Christ facing, wearing long gown, two lines kufic legend in field, corrupted Greek legend on border; SOLD


Ostrogoths, Athalaric, 31 August 526 - 2 October 534, In the Name of Byzantine Empire, Justinian I

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BZ40599. Bronze AE 4, BMC Vandals p. 67, 52, gF, weight 1.048 g, maximum diameter 9.7 mm, die axis 180o, Ravenna mint, obverse JVST-INIANII (blundered), diademed and cuirassed bust of Justinian I right; reverse monogram of Athalaric in wreath; SOLD


Sasanian Empire, Levantine Occupation, 610 - 629 A.D., Imitative of Constans II

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The obverse of this type recalls the 12 nummi struck during the Persian occupation of Alexandria. It does not fit neatly into other imitative series. We have tentatively attributed it to the Persian occupation of the Levant.

This coin was published in "Identification, Please?" in Numismatics International Bulletin, Vol. 11, 2, September 1976 (p. 324) by the Rev. Paul E. Syster. It was incorrectly attributed as an official issue of Justinian II from the Sardinia mint.

On the closely related specimen in the Bibliothèque Nationale the M is flanked by A/N/-A/X. That specimen, of similar fabric, carries the marks of the first officina of Constantinople. Morrisson did not attempt attribution beyond imitative of Constans II.

Another example, CNG e-auction 225, lot 631, has the crescent and star on the obverse reversed and a crescent mintmark. CNG attributed the type as a "local imitation" without specifying the location.

BZ65895. Bronze follis, Imitative of Constans II; NI Bulletin, vol. 11, no. 2, p. 57 corr. (this coin); cf. Morrisson BnF 3/X/AE/O1; CNG e-auction 225, lot 631, VF, overstruck on cut down earlier follis, weight 6.009 g, maximum diameter 29.0 mm, die axis 0o, Levantine mint, 610 - 630 A.D.; obverse Byzantine imperial bust facing wearing crown with cross, globus cruciger in right, star upper left, crescent upper right, S right; reverse large M (40 nummi), cross above, A/N-N/N flanking, Γ (3rd officina) below; extremely rare; SOLD




  




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REFERENCES

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Album, S. & T. Goodwin. Sylloge of Islamic Coins in the Ashmolean Museum, Volume 1, The Pre-Reform Coinage of the Early Islamic Period. (Oxford, 2002).
Bellinger, A.R. & P. Grierson, eds. Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection. (Washington D.C., 1966 - 1999).
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Hendy, M. Coinage and Money in the Byzantine Empire 1081-1261. (Washington D.C., 1969).
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Metcalf, D.M. Coinage of the Crusaders and the Latin East in the Ashmolean Museum Oxford. (London, 1995).
Mitchiner, M. Oriental Coins and Their Values Volume One : The World of Islam. (London, 1977).
Sear, D. R. Byzantine Coins and Their Values. (London, 1987).
Spengler, W.F. & W.G. Sayles. Turkoman Figural Bronze Coins and Their Iconography. (Lodi, 1992).
Ratto, R. Monnaies Byzantines et d'autre Pays contemporaines à l'époque byzantine. (Lugano, 1930).
Tolstoi, I. Monnaies byzantines. (St. Petersburg, 1913 - 14).
Walker, J. A Catalogue of the Muhammadan Coins in The British Museum. Volume 2: A Catalogue of the Arab-Byzantine and Post-Reform Umaiyad Coins. (London, 1956).
Wroth, W. Catalogue of the Imperial Byzantine Coins in the British Museum. (London, 1908).
Wroth, W. Catalogue of the Coins of the Vandals, Ostrogoths, Lombards and of the Empires of Thessalonica, Nicaea, and Trebizond in the British Museum. (London, 1911).

Catalog current as of Sunday, October 13, 2019.
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Unofficial and Imitative Byzantine Coins