Byzantine anonymous folles

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Valentinian, Aug 30, 2018.

  1. KParsons

    KParsons Member

    That's a great point. I'm interested in this information so I know what's really scarce versus just what I'm seeing in the market today, so I gathered this more so I'm an informed buyer.

    I will say that it's certainly possible that comprehensive evidence of relative rarity can influence prices - as long as it becomes common knowledge in the hobby. That seems to be tough these days.

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  3. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    When I started this thread my page had a frequency table from seven published collections. Then @KParsons pointed out a recent article with data from Turkish museums and excavations. I have redone the table:

    to include columns for that data. In general the new data confirm the general impression given by the old data. The one odd thing is that he did not include Class J coins from anywhere because the Bolo Museum did not have any Class J pieces. That is unfortunate for our purpose.
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  4. AussieCollector

    AussieCollector Moderator Moderator

    Here's my Basil II & Constantine VIII:

    10.0g and 27.0mm
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  5. BenSi

    BenSi Supporter! Supporter

    It has been, and in a DOC work. I just ran into this. Most will find this to be an easier read.

    This was referenced in 2002 , It is strange on how the coin world and the academic do not update at the same time. @Valentinian great website and good thread. I truly cannot defend the concept of an A3 class follis but I really doubt if we can erase it easily or soon.
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  6. KParsons

    KParsons Member

    I agree that the A2/A3 distinction isn't meaningful at this time. While there are clearly larger coins and smaller coins (and pretty much everything in between) - and the style/feel of the coins seem different - there doesn't appear (yet) to be a hard line that you can draw based on weight, size, or variety such that what's an A2 and what's an A3 is apparent. I agree with David, who said in an earlier post:

    That, to me, is the key. Get crystal clear on the major varieties (and the minor variations of these varieties), redo the classification (hopefully chronologically), and then see if any natural divisions emerge (such as A2/A3) that are clear to understand and explain.

    And here are my tables of numbers. There are 3 tables here - excavation/hoard/stray finds, museums/major collections, and the Mardin "hoard" (which has way different ratios than the others, so I kept it separate as an outlier). I kept these separate because I think valid conclusions that can be drawn from each table are different.

    Anon Folles Excavation-Hoard-Stray Finds.jpg

    Anon Folles Museums-Collections.jpg

    Anon Folles Mardin Hoard.jpg
  7. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Great info, just not sure I agree, especially concerning the E versus F ratio. Me, and many dealers I have always spoken to who specialize in these, have always found the E much easier to find, especially in nice condition, than the F.
  8. BenSi

    BenSi Supporter! Supporter

    Well this thread was expensive for me, it rekindled my interest in the series and I did add a few new ones that I have already shared. Here is my newest..

    Class F 26.88mm and 7.38gm. r5.jpg
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  9. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Very nice Class F. For those reading, the Class F frequently is very corroded or overstruck badly. This is a well above average specimen.
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  10. KParsons

    KParsons Member

    I agree with you - F is very tough to find in the market - especially in good condition. I would put J in a similar category. F and J are also frequently overstruck, making a clear impression of the design even rarer. In contrast, Class E coins are rarely overstruck (a fact that begs the question of why), so the combination of higher grades and rare overstrikes makes E way more available in nice, high grades.

    Market trends (perception of rarity) and absolute rarity aren't always the same. Conditional rarity is another thing entirely. I believe that when a coin type has conditional rarity (rare in higher grades), it also drives up the perception of absolute rarity in all grades. The result is more collectors 'hoarding' these coins in all grades, which further drives market rarity.

    One of my purposes in gathering this data was to get a sense of absolute rarity, which I believe the excavation table provides. It isn't intended to reflect market rarity. The market seems to value J (all grades), F (all grades), H, G, I, and high grade A2/3's the most.
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  11. KParsons

    KParsons Member

    I agree! BenSi, your Class F is very nice. Nice pickup!
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  12. BenSi

    BenSi Supporter! Supporter

    I bought it from a dealer that I have worked with for decades, he misattributed it as a D and I told him in advance he was incorrect, he agreed and reattributed it but sold it at the same price, so I got a good deal. I cannot find any traces of it being overstruck so that was a big plus. Thanks for the compliments.
  13. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    I started this thread by announcing a web site on Byzantine anonymous folles.

    Almost all the site is unchanged since then, but the tables of the frequencies of the types have been improved and extended.

    One thing collectors want to know is how common or rare various types are, so I included a table with that type of data that I extracted from several major sources. Then, in a post above our member @KParsons cited some additional sources and contributed some tables of additional data about frequencies of the various types. In cooperation with him I have added a supplemental page of frequency data to the site:

    If you don't care about anonymous folles, that won't matter to you. However, if you care a lot about them you might find the data interesting. It tables over 25,000 extant anonymous folles! Imagine the vast numbers that must have been issued.
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  14. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Great posts and information overall sir. What is puzzling to me is the E class. I have never had a problem buying pretty nice ones. Sure, it seemed scarcer than A-D, but always findable. Maybe because it looks so much like other types there is not much demand for it.

    What I always found from the marketplace is F, H, and J scarce, but when you find an H its usually pretty nice. The F and J usually come cruddy, (corroded, overstruck, or other issues), so I always told people to focus on a nice one of those most. Most Es might not be terrific, but corroded or overstruck ones not a major limitation like the other 2.
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  15. KParsons

    KParsons Member

    I think you nailed the reason - it just doesn't look different enough from Class A coins to generate a lot of demand, which results in it being more available in the marketplace. Since they are rarely overstruck, that also helps find nicer ones where the design is clear. It's tough to argue the relative rarity, though, with the overwhelming amount of data that is extremely consistent for Class E % across the board.

    I'll also agree with you regarding your observations of F, H, and J. They are hard to find in almost any condition, but nice F and J coins are particularly rare.

    Thank you, Valentinian, for pulling all this together. It has been a pleasure working with you on this.
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  16. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing Supporter

    Recently got this Class H & Class I...


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  17. BenSi

    BenSi Supporter! Supporter

    Just to add to Jason's newest here is mine. Class A2 29mm 12.45gm , cant get the photograph right but you can still see its beauty. The reverse is one of the best I have seen.
  18. Quant.Geek

    Quant.Geek Well-Known Member

    I was finally able to pick up two class F folles this past week. One came in a cheap ebay lot and isn't the best looking coin, but its far cheaper than the ones listed by HighRating_LowPrice. The total cost including shipping came out to $3.00! The other one is in a really nice condition, but I still like @BenSi's non-overstruck coin :p

    Byzantine Empire: Æ Anonymous Class F Follis, Constantinople (Sear 1856; DOC III.2-F.3) - Attributed to Constantine X (1059-1067)

    Obv: IC-XC in field; Christ seated facing on throne without back, wearing nimbus cruciger, pallium and colobium, raising right in benediction; gospels in left hand
    Rev: IS XS / ЬASILЄ / ЬASIL in three lines; - + - above and beneath

    Overstruck on an Anonymous Class E Follis


    Overstruck on an Anonymous Class C Follis

    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
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  19. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Has there been a list published of A2 coins by weight and decorations. If we accept the 50+ decoration types as a basis, do the heavy ones tend to just a few decorations? What evidence is there on the relationships between weight and date? Much is learned from overstrikes in the other letters but I am asking here only about the A's.
  20. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    I believe it was MArgaret Thompson's work on overstrikes that established the order Doug. I am with you that they may have been struck in that order, but are really all one "type" that varied weights over time.
  21. KParsons

    KParsons Member

    Great question, Doug! I also started wondering that about a year ago (just the A2 coins) and began reading the research - and doing a bit of my own. Margaret Thompson's overstrike research helped establish the order of the classes (A to K), but David Metcalf spent the most time studying the A2 series decorations, primarily in the 1960s and 1970s. Metcalf, Grierson, and other researchers all agreed that the Class A2 table needed to be re-written, but none of them made an attempt. I am working on that now.

    To answer your specific questions - most of the 50+ decorations on the table are actually of the 'large module' type and yes, the evidence points to the 'large module' types being earlier and the 'small module' types being later. 'Large module' and 'small module' are indications of both weight and diameter - and since we know that bronze coins weren't weighed in that day, that helps us understand the wide variation in weights. However, the die was created for a certain size coin, so that might be a better indication of the intended size by the mint workers. But it isn't an exact science - not by a long shot - this is why the A2 versus A3 distinction is meaningless. Nearly every ornamentation type can be classified as "usually small module" or "usually large module" but there are a lot of exceptions - and we know for sure that we can't order the varieties chronologically by weight except to say that "usually large" is earlier than "usually small." But I do believe they can be ordered chronologically.

    I have identified more than 20 new combinations of ornaments that aren't on any tables (including the Forum table, which I believe is the most current). I own most of these so I can study them. However, I don't believe that all varieties should be treated equally (there shouldn't be 70+ varieties!). Many "varieties" have just a handful (or 1) known and are merely one dot or minor design element different than another variety where there are hundreds known. In this case, I would call the ones with very few known as "minor variations" versus the "major varieties." One example of this is Variety 14 and 14a. I have documented the varieties of more than 4000 Class A2 coins - and there is only 1 variety 14a I am aware of - in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection. It is a mere one dot from variety 14 (which has dozens of confirmed examples). Given how imperfect these coins are made - there is no reason to believe that this should be it's own type. It's merely an extra dot likely put on a single die by a careless worker. Looking at the numbers, it would be safe to say that there are around 30-35 major varieties, with at least that many minor variations. I believe we first need to establish the major varieties from the minor variations and then we'll be better prepared to order them chronologically.

    I did discover a very interesting thing recently that will help us unlock the order/chronology of the A2 varieties. This is the first time I have shared this publicly - and I'm sharing it because I could use your help. There is clear evidence of A2 varieties being struck on top of other A2 varieties, but it is very rare to have all 3 design elements of both varieties visible for a clear identification. I have only read one paper where this was discussed (1965, David Metcalf - "Bronze Coinage and City Life in Central Greece circa AD 1000"). When documenting a hoard of coins found at Corinth, he identifies many of them as being overstruck, but none of them is clear enough for a positive identification. Tomorrow, I'll post photos of the first one of these I found that is very clear (a variety 32 struck over a variety 24).

    It would be awesome if everyone could look at your A2 coins and see how many clear overstrike varieties we can find ("crowdsourcing" at it's finest!) - and we'll solve this riddle together!

    BTW - that's an AWESOME Class F you posted, Quant.Geek!
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