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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Byzantine Coins| ▸ |Byzantine Countermarked||View Options:  |  |  | 

Countermarked Byzantine Coins

A countermark is a stamped or punched impression adding elements of design to a coin after it was originally struck. The practice of countermarking coins was widespread throughout antiquity. It was particularly common in the provinces of the Roman Empire. Countermarks were applied to coins for many reasons, including revalidation, revaluation, devaluation, and propaganda. Exactly when and why any individual countermark was applied is often uncertain.

Byzantine Empire, Maurice Tiberius, 13 August 582 - 22 November 602 A.D.; Palestina Prima Countermark

|Maurice| |Tiberius|, |Byzantine| |Empire,| |Maurice| |Tiberius,| |13| |August| |582| |-| |22| |November| |602| |A.D.;| |Palestina| |Prima| |Countermark||follis|
Due to new finds around Caesarea Maritima, Wolfgang Schulze re-attributed this countermark from Egypt to Palestina Prima. David Woods proposes that "Nicetas, the cousin of the future emperor Heraclius, ordered the countermarking of these coins as he advanced from Egypt into Palestine during the summer of 610 in order to signal the change of government from Phocas to the Heraclii." Another possible date is after the recovery of Syria from the Persians in 628. Schulze dates it to the Arab siege of 637 - 640 A.D., to which Caesarea succumbed. This is only the third example known of this eagle countermark applied to a coin of Maurice Tiberius. Woods identified the other examples, as "a careless accident."
SH77069. Bronze follis, Hahn MIB II 65b, DOC I 22 var. (no 4th officina), SBCV 494; for countermark see Schulze INR 2009, and Woods (Heraclius, Palestina Prima), countermark: VF, coin: aF, areas of corrosion, weight 11.287 g, maximum diameter 31.5 mm, die axis 180o, 4th officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, coin c. 583 - 584, countermark c. 610 - 637; obverse DN mAV - RC P P AV, crowned bust facing, crown with cross and pendilia, globus cruciger in right hand, shield on left shoulder; reverse large M (40 nummi) between ANNO and II (regnal year 2), Δ (4th officina) below, CON in exergue; countermark: in exergue, eagle standing facing, head right, wings raised, in a round punch; from The Jimi Berlin Caesarea Collection (found at Caesarea, Israel); very rare countermark; SOLD


Byzantine Empire, Heraclius, 5 October 610 - 11 January 641 A.D., Palestina Prima Heraclian Countermark

|Heraclius|, |Byzantine| |Empire,| |Heraclius,| |5| |October| |610| |-| |11| |January| |641| |A.D.,| |Palestina| |Prima| |Heraclian| |Countermark||cut| |follis|
"Heraclian countermarks on Byzantine copper coins in seventh-century Syria" by Wolfgang Schulze, Ingrid Schulze and Wolfgang Leimenstoll discusses finds near Caesarea Maritima, where this example was found, and concludes, "During the military conflict between the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim Arabs in Syria in the years 633-36 Byzantine coins were countermarked by the Byzantine military with a Heraclius monogram. Countermarking most probably was exercised predominantly in Palestine I and was carried out to revalue the few circulating copper coins in order to remedy the general supply gap and disastrous shortage of cash."
CM77067. Bronze cut follis, countermark: Schulze HCM type 1b; on uncertain Heraclian follis (SBCV 810, year 20 or 21?) overstruck on Phocas follis, coin Fair, c/m VF; 5.186g, 31.9x23mm, coin c. 629 - 631, countermark c. 633 - 636 A.D.; obverse ...HERCL..., probably standing figures of Heraclius and Heraclius Constantine (legend and type obscured by cutting and countermarking); reverse countermark: Heraclius' HRC cruciform monogram ; large M (40 nummi), cross above, AN.. left (date and mintmark off flan but most with this countermark are year 20 or 21); undertype remnant: XXXX (40 nummi, Phocas follis); from The Jimi Berlin Caesarea Collection (found at Caesarea, Israel); SOLD


Byzantine Empire, Heraclius, 5 October 610 - 11 January 641 A.D.; Justinian I Undertype

|Heraclius|, |Byzantine| |Empire,| |Heraclius,| |5| |October| |610| |-| |11| |January| |641| |A.D.;| |Justinian| |I| |Undertype||follis|
These Heraclius countermark/overstrikes were used on early, large folles of Anastasius to Justinian. The purpose is uncertain. Later, c. 631 and 638 A.D., of Heraclius and Heraclius Constantine folles were countermarked, possibly in conjunction with clipping even before the coins entered circulation.
BZ82573. Bronze follis, DOC II-1 241b; Anastasi 37a; SBCV 882; undertype: SBCV 161 (Justinian I), VF, weight 13.892 g, maximum diameter 30.4 mm, die axis 225o, countermark: Syracuse mint, c. 610 - 624 A.D.; obverse [D N IVLI]-ANVS P P AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust of Justinian I right; countermark: facing bust of Heraclius and his monogram SCLS in oval punch; SOLD







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REFERENCES

Anastasi, M. Monete Bizantine di Sicilia. (2009).
Bellinger, A. & P. Grierson, eds. Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection. (Washington D.C., 1966 - 1999).
Bendall, S. "An 'Eagle' Countermark on Sixth-century Byzantine Coins" in NC 136 (1976), p. 230.
Berk, H. Eastern Roman Successors of the Sestertius. (Chicago, 1987).
Evans, J. "Heraclian Countermarks on Coins Found in Caesarea" in AJN 5 (1993), pp. 97 - 104, and AJN 6 (1994), pp. 102 - 104.
Goehring, J. "Two New Examples of the Byzantine 'Eagle' Countermark" in NC 143 (1983), pp. 218 - 220.
Lampinen, P. "Countermarked Byzantine| Folles and the Identification of a New Imperial Family Member" in Caesarea| Papers 2. (Portsmouth, 1999), pp. 399-404.
Lowick, N., S. Bendall, & P. Whitting. The Mardin Hoard, Islamic Countermarks on Byzantine Folles. (London, 1977).
Morrisson, C. Catalogue des Monnaies Byzantines de la Bibliothque Nationale. (Paris, 1970).
Schulze|, W. "The Byzantine 'Eagle' Countermark - Re-attributed from Egypt to Palestine" in INR volume 4 (2009), pp. 113 - 120.
Schulze|, W. & T. Goodwin|. Countermarking in Seventh Century Syria|. (Supplement to ONS Newsletter, 183). (2005).
Schulze|, W., I. Schulze|, & W. Leimenstoll. "Heraclian countermarks on Byzantine| copper coins in seventh century Syria" in Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Vol. 30, No. 1 (2006), pp. 1-27.
Sear, D. Byzantine Coins and Their Values. (London, 1987).
Sommer, A. Die Mnzen des Byzantinischen Reiches 491-1453. Mit einem Anhang: Die Mnzen des Kaiserreichs von Trapezunt. (Regenstauf, 2010).
Tolstoi, I. Monnaies byzantines. (St. Petersburg, 1913 - 14).
Woods, D. "The Byzantine Eagle Countermark: Creating a Pseudo-Consular Coinage under the Heraclii" in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 55 (2015), pp. 927 - 945.
Wroth, W. Catalogue of the Imperial Byzantine Coins in the British Museum. (London, 1908).

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