Featured A nice golden iridescent patina on a Crusader denier

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by seth77, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Something interesting that I cannot remember seeing on medieval billon deniers outside of the Holy Land - a very nice iridescent golden glow:

    v.JPG

    This is a denier of Bohemond V (cf. Malloy 126, Metcalf Class O, Allen Type 6), one of the last billon coins of the Principality of Antioch.

    AE16mm, 0.49g, billon denier, minted in the Citadel of Antioch or at a secondary location in the Principality(?), cca. 1235/1240 and later.

    + BOAMVNDVS; helmeted bust l., mail composed of crescents, crescent and star flanking the bust l and r.
    + ANTIOCHIA; cross, inverted crescent in second quarter.


    The type is called "Late Style" and is recognizable by the smaller flan and low weight. These late issues are of very fine craftsmanship, have complete legends and correct spelling with clean and fine lettering. The type was probably minted well into the 1240s and even later, but its terminus post quem of cca. 1235 is based on the analysis of the al-Mina hoard (Malloy p.191, 426, D.F. Allen "Coins of Antioch... from al-Mina, NC, XVII 1937).

    A theory has formed, based on the particularities of this "new type": that it was minted somewhere else rather than in the Citadel of Antioch, but there is no proof of that yet (Malloy p.191).

    Furthermore, the iridization is something that I have not seen on earlier deniers, minted prior to the 1230s. I have seen it on the demi-grosi and grosi of Bohemond VI and VII of Tripoli, from previous auctions (for instance here and here) and in the Israel Museum's section dedicated to the Crusader period (of which I unfortunately have no pictures at this moment). The grosi of Tripoli are thought to have started soon after Louis IX and Charles I d'Anjou minted their own large silver coinages, around 1266-1267. Louis IX's coinage is at a title of 958/1000 and likely Charles minted at a similar title in Avignon. But I have yet to see one of their coins with such a golden patina, although many of them have been discovered in the Holy Land.

    Which leads to some preliminary questions:

    1. Were the "Late Style" deniers of Antioch minted from the same alloy or from metal coming from the same source as the even later grosi and half grosi of around 1268/70-80 of Bohemond VI and VII? If so was this cache such a sizeable source as to account for at least 40 years of coin minting? Or should the minting of some of these small deniers be pushed further to the reign of Bohemond VI insted of around 1235-40?

    2. Considering the loss of Antioch in 1268 -- giving a mandatory terminus ante quem for the deniers of Antioch at about the same time Bohemond VI starts minting his large silver denomination in Tripoli -- is there a chronology for minting different denominations at (at least) two different locations (Antioch and Tripoli) from alloy of the same composition/coming from the same source? Or is it possible that the Antioch deniers were continued at Tripoli after 1268, thus marking that secondary location mentioned by Metcalf and Malloy et al?

    3. What kind of alloy was used? Is the low weight and small diameter an adaptation based on high quality metal to standardize the coinage of Antioch, Tripoli and seignorial Latin Kingdom (see this post for the coinage at Sidon under Balian Grenier) after cca. 1235? Could this alloy also contain some noticeable proportion of gold, which is where the color comes from?

    A metal analysis of these late Crusader coins might answer all these questions and put some order in what we know about the coinage of the era, but I know of no such study, if it even exists.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    That is nice, bet it looks better in hand.
     
  4. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES! Supporter

    Oh neat, that's pretty!
     
  5. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Considering the period: the aftermath of the Sixth Crusade, the involvement of Bohemond in the War of the Lombards and the rise of the Mamluk threat, these last issues of the denier for Antioch seem so unlikely. But viewing them in the context of the billon coinages of Jerusalem -- both the royal immobilized and the baronial -- and Tripoli, they have are very likely and necessary.

    If this small diameter and low weight series was minted around and even after the loss of the City of Antioch, to circulate alongside the denier of Tripoli at a parity with it, it would make so much sense for the monetary history of the Crusader states during their final decades.
     
    Pellinore likes this.
  6. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    Very nice color and an interesting coin. Perhaps this coin has a high enough silver content to tone?
     
  7. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    The Antioch deniers are likely to have a rather high title silver in the alloy. But you don't see many 12th century deniers with this patina, nor other billon coinage from the Holy Land prior to around mid 13th century. On the other hand it is a patina that you can see on later grosi of Tripoli (after 1268) although not on grosi of Louis IX or Charles I d'Anjou (1266-1270), even if they were found in the Holy Land. There is, I think, a difference in the billon that makes for this iridescent glare .
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
  8. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    I love the type in general and have been looking to get another like this some day. Had one once, with the typical greyish toning.

    The toning/patina on this one is indeed unusual and appealing.
     
  9. Loong Siew

    Loong Siew Well-Known Member

    Beautiful toning..
     
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