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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

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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), ∆ (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

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"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

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BZ82573. Bronze follis, SBCV 882; for undertype, SBCV Justinian I 161, VF, weight 13.892 g, maximum diameter 30.4 mm, die axis 225o, obverse [...]ANVS P P AVG, laureate bust of Justinian I right; facing bust of Heraclius and his monogram within round countermark; reverse large M (40 nummi) between star and cross, cross above, large round countermark SCLs in exergue; SOLD


Byzantine Empire, Heraclius & Heraclius Constantine, 23 January 613 - 11 January 641 A.D.

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Heraclius came to power through revolt against the tyrannical Focas. He defeated the Sassanid Persians, but this only facilitated Arab conquest of Persia and the eastern Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines lost Syria and Palestine before Heraclius died and Egypt fell soon after.
BZ36645. Bronze follis, DOC II part 1, 243; Anastasi 66; Wroth BMC 398; Tolstoi 315; Ratto 1450; Morrisson BnF 10/Sy/AE/35; SBCV 884; Sommer 11.115, VF, nice green patina, weight 6.871 g, maximum diameter 27.1 mm, Syracuse mint, 632 - 11 Jan 641 A.D.; obverse facing busts of long-bearded Heraclius and his son Heraclius Constantine, wearing short beard, cross above, all within large round countermark; traces of undertype; reverse Heraclian monogram and SCs within large round countermark; traces of undertype; SOLD


Byzantine Empire, Heraclius & Heraclius Constantine, 23 January 613 - 11 January 641 A.D.

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Heraclius came to power through revolt against the tyrannical Focas. He defeated the Sassanid Persians, but this only facilitated Arab conquest of Persia and the eastern Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines lost Syria and Palestine before Heraclius died and Egypt fell soon after.
BZ82564. Bronze follis, DOC II part 1, 243; Anastasi 66; Wroth BMC 398; Tolstoi 315; Ratto 1450; Morrisson BnF 10/Sy/AE/35; SBCV 884; Sommer 11.115, gVF, weight 5.888 g, maximum diameter 21.9 mm, Syracuse mint, 632 - 11 Jan 641 A.D.; obverse facing busts of long-bearded Heraclius and his son Heraclius Constantine, wearing short beard, cross above, all within large round countermark; traces of undertype; reverse Heraclian monogram and SCs within large round countermark; traces of undertype; SOLD


Byzantine Empire, Heraclius & Heraclius Constantine, 23 January 613 - 11 January 641 A.D., Countermarked in Sicily

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Heraclius came to power through revolt against Phocas. He defeated the Sassanids, but this only facilitated the Arab conquests. The Byzantines lost Syria and Palestine before Heraclius died and Egypt fell soon after. Heraclius Constantine was made joint emperor at 8 months old. He was in poor health when his father died and lived only about 100 days as senior emperor.
BZ65617. Bronze follis, Anastasi 65a, DOC II 242, SBCV 883; Sicilian countermarks applied on Heraclius follis, Constantinople, year 21, 630 A.D. (DOC II 106a, SBCV 810), VF, obscure due to undertype effects and the crude nature of the type, weight 10.057 g, maximum diameter 28.6 mm, die axis 180o, uncertain Sicilian mint, 630 - 638 A.D.; obverse SCL within oval punch, over lower part undertype: standing figures on original coin; reverse facing crowned and draped busts of Heraclius (on left) and Heraclius Constantine, cross between their heads all within oval punch; over undertype: large M (40 nummi), ANNO left, XXI right, A (1st officina) below, CON (Constantinople) in exergue; scarce; SOLD


Byzantine Empire, Constantine IV, Heraclius and Tiberius, 2 June 659 - Autumn 681 A.D.

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Sear notes this type is often overstruck on Syracusan folles, and even half folles, of Constans II.
BZ36680. Bronze follis, DOC II part 1, 181; SBCV 1207; Berk 739, F, weight 3.894 g, maximum diameter 23.5 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 659 - 668 A.D.; obverse helmeted and cuirassed bust of Constantine IV facing, beardless, globus cruciger in right; reverse large M flanked by Heraclius and Tiberius standing facing, each wearing crown and chlamys, globus cruciger in right, monogram above, SCL in exergue, monogram in round countermark upper right; SOLD


Byzantine Empire, Heraclius & Heraclius Constantine, 23 January 613 - 11 January 641 A.D.

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Heraclius came to power through revolt against the tyrannical Focas. He defeated the Sassanid Persians, but this only facilitated Arab conquest of Persia and the eastern Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines lost Syria and Palestine before Heraclius died and Egypt fell soon after.
BZ77965. Bronze follis, DOC II part 1, 243; Anastasi 66; Wroth BMC 398; Tolstoi 315; Ratto 1450; Morrisson BnF 10/Sy/AE/35; SBCV 884; Sommer 11.115, countermarks: F, uncertain undertype, weight 5.609 g, maximum diameter 25.9 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 632 - 11 Jan 641 A.D.; obverse facing busts of long-bearded Heraclius and his son Heraclius Constantine, wearing short beard, cross above, all within large round countermark; traces of undertype; reverse Heraclian monogram and SCs within large round countermark; traces of undertype; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren; SOLD


Byzantine Empire, Constans II with Constantine IV, Heraclius and Tiberius (his sons), 2 June 659 - 15 July 668 A.D.

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This type is known for years IΘ (19), XX (20), AX or KA (21), and XXΓ (23).
BZ36672. Bronze follis, SBCV 1011; cf. DOC II part 1, 82a for same type, year 19, with the same countermark, F, overstruck, countermarked, weight 2.002 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 0o, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 659 - 664 A.D.; obverse Constans standing facing, bearded, wearing helmet, long cross in right, left hand on hip, obscure regnal year left, M with cross above and officina number below on right, round countermark with Constans II monogram obliterating officina number; reverse Constantine IV, Heraclius and Tiberius standing facing, each wearing crown and chlamys, holding globus cruciger in right; SOLD


Byzantine Empire, Heraclius & Heraclius Constantine, 23 January 613 - 11 January 641 A.D.

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BZ49317. Bronze follis, Anastasi 66c, DOC II 243, SBCV 884; undertype: DOC II 109b, SBCV 810 (Heraclius, follis, Constantinople mint, year 23, 2nd officina, 632 - 633 A.D.), gVF, weight 6.223 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 630 - 637 A.D.; obverse Facing busts of long-bearded Heraclius and his son Heraclius Constantine, wearing short beard, cross above, all within large round countermark; undertype: Heraclius and Heraclius Constantine standing facing; reverse Heraclian monogram and SCs within large round countermark; undertype: large M (40 nummi), monogram above, ANNO left, X/X/III right, CON (Constantinople) in exergue; SOLD




  




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REFERENCES|

Anastasi, M. Monete Bizantine di Sicilia. (2009).
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).
Bendall, S. "An 'Eagle' Countermark on Sixth-century Byzantine Coins" in NC 136 (1976), p. 230.
Berk, H.J. Eastern Roman Successors of the Sestertius. (Chicago, 1987).
Evans, J.D. "Heraclian Countermarks on Coins Found in Caesarea" in AJN 5 (1993), pp. 97 - 104, and AJN 6 (1994), pp. 102 - 104.
Goehring, J.E. "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.M., S. Bendall, & P.D. Whitting. The Mardin Hoard. (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.R. Byzantine Coins and Their Values. (London, 1987).
Sommer, A.U. 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).

Catalog current as of Friday, October 18, 2019.
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Byzantine Countermarked