Byzantine coins - where to start

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by catadc, Jun 29, 2019.

  1. catadc

    catadc Well-Known Member

    I am currently studying the possibility to expand & replace the LRB cleaning hobby into / by collecting byzantine coins. By studying I mean getting the book of David Sear for the respective period, getting some coins (pictures below) to test the feeling of handling them and starting reading the info on Wikipedia.

    I could really use your help with some links and references to relevant information on the matter.

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  3. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

  4. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    I think you'll enjoy getting into Byzantines. The earlier types are chunky, heavy, and pleasing in hand compared to the miserable AE4's struck under the late empire. The fact that they were still striking 40-nummi pieces, introduced by Anastasius, almost 350 years after his time is impressive. Here is a coin of Michael II and Theophilus (circa 829 A.D.)


  5. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    I started in on Byzantines in 2013 and I thought it would be real difficult - to be sure there are challenges, but there is a lot of information out there, and once you get a little familiar you can figure most things out. Another great thing: many of them are very inexpensive.

    As for books, I love Philip D. Whitting's Byzantine Coins - it is from the 1970s, but it gives a great overview of types, with some history. My local library has it, so I don't own a copy - I see there are lots of copies for sale on eBay and elsewhere (though not cheap).

    Good luck!

    Here's a not so special Justinian I follis - but even the cruddy ones have their charm:

    Byzantine - Justinian Follis Jan 18 (0).jpg
  6. Suarez

    Suarez Well-Known Member

    I might not get all of this right (seeing this from a cell phone at a grocery store!). From top to bottom: Maurice Tiberius half follis, Justinian I follis, Basil I follis, Maurice Tiberius follis and another Maurice Tiberius half follis.

    The most widely used reference book is Sear's Byzantine Coins and their Values. You can probably find a used copy for pretty cheap on ebay. For a decent, if aging, online database this one's probably the easiest to use for a beginner:

  7. catadc

    catadc Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for the information.

    @Severus Alexander - good opportunity to practice my French. It was actually my first foreign language, but got rusty meanwhile. English was the second. I regret not showing any talent for German. Second site - love it.

    @Suarez - thank you for the link, great work there. First coin has XXG on reverse, so I believe Justinian I rather than Maurice?
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  8. AussieCollector

    AussieCollector Moderator Moderator

    I can't give you references over and above what has already been recommended, but I would say - you can't really go wrong. As far as ancients/medievals go, they are so accessible and affordable, you can do whatever you like!
  9. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    catadc, An inexpensive book I'd highly recommend is is ANCIENT COIN COLLECTING V, The Romaion / Byzantine Culture, by Wayne Sayles. His book helped me understand a coinage I thought was just crude & ugly. I gained a clearer vision after going through his book.
  10. Milesofwho

    Milesofwho Omnivorous collector

    Maurice only reigned twenty years, so yes, it is Justinian I. For recommendations, Everything else has already been said.
  11. Herberto

    Herberto Well-Known Member

  12. BenSi

    BenSi Supporter! Supporter

    DOC is the most complete info , the real trick is asking yourself what to collect. The Byzantine /Easter Roman coinage is vast , the empire does not fall until 1453 , if you separate the coinage from the Roman Imperial coinage ending roughly 400 AD you have 1000 years of coins to deal with.

    I left Roman Imperial coins ( For the most part) almost 20 years ago. I found one Byzantine coin that really attracted me to collecting all of the coins of that denomination, a tetarteron, since then I have completed the worlds first privately owned complete set of tetartera from Alexius I to Alexius III ( I am missing one coin from Alexius III)
    Deciding what to collect will sharpen your knowledge of that denomination or ruler.

    I agree with
    This Book by Wayne Sayles will easily put the 1000 years of coins in to perspective and give you an idea of where to go with your collection. Btw , many people separate the empire of Rome and Byzantine for various reasons, I do not, nor did the people who lived in the Byzantine Empire, they called themselves Roman until the end.

    Here is a link to my tetartera collection.

    I am now completing the rulers with their trachea and Hyperpyrons, hopefully someday I will complete the Comnenus family.
  13. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Impressive collection!!
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  14. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    BenSi, I agree with TIF, your collection of tetartera is outstanding :jawdrop: & a valuable reference source for Byzantine enthusiasts :). The presentation is informative & the photos of the highest quality. Thanks for sharing ;).
    Severus Alexander and BenSi like this.
  15. catadc

    catadc Well-Known Member

    Meanwhile I have noted that there are detailed Excel files for the common types here:
    And at the end of the Excel files there is a sheet called "Links" with more sources of information. I believe I have enough reading for a few months. :)
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