Featured In circulation over 700 years later

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Valentinian, Jul 28, 2018.

  1. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    The Mardin Hoard: Islamic Countermarks on Byzantine Coins, a 1977 79-page paperback, discusses a hoard found in southern Anatolia of c. 13,500 copper coins of which roughly 2,200 had Arabic countermarks. The hoard was bought by Baldwin and Sons of London in 1972 and they allowed it to be studied before is was disbursed. I bought two coins in 1977 that may well have come from that hoard, although I didn't know that at the time. They are interesting because the same countermark is on two coins that were issued many years apart.

    The coins have been oriented so the countermark is at 12:00. Each countermark is a "w"-shaped symbol, possibly "Lillah" (for "Allah"). The coin on the left is very worn half-follis (with a large "K" for 20-nummia) of Anastasius. It is 27 mm. It is Sear 43, MIBE 52, attributed to 512-518 AD. The coin on the right is Sear 1836, 29 mm, an anonymous Class D follis attributed to Constantine IX, 1042-1055. Even the coin on the right is very worn.

    Countermarks were generally applied over a short period of time, so we deduce both coins were available to countermark at the same time, so the Anastasius must have been available to countermark after 1042. These two coins alone show the Anastasius was over 500 years old when it was countermarked. But there is more evidence.

    On page 41 the book notes that other evidence tells us this is one of the latest countermarks among the types found in the hoard and must be attributed to "after 1160 A.D." The Anastasius was minted in 518 at the latest. We cannot claim it was in continuous circulation all the time until it was countermarked, but it was available after 1160. 1160-518 = 642. That is a minimum of 640 years! No wonder it is not in good shape!

    The authors tell us the coins were almost all very worn and evidence suggests the hoard was from the second half of the thirteenth century. They posit that the countermarked coins were officially acceptable to the Arab authorities for payments of tax, while the others remained current without countermarks [p. 16]. If the hoard is from the second half of the 13th century (after 1250), even the anonymous bronze was already 200 years old (which explains its very worn condition). That makes the Anastasius still currency at least 730 years after it was minted! (1250-518 = 732).

    This proves that some Byzantine coins of the right size were useable as money for hundreds of years after they were issued. Sometimes, even extremely worn coins can tell a good story.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2018
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  3. Victor_Clark


    Here are more examples of ancient coins still in circulation long after they were minted. Of course, there is no way to know how long they circulated or if they were perhaps just recently re-introduced.

    From the article by Arthur E. Robinson, “False and Imitation Roman Coins,” The Journal of Antiquarian Association of the British Isles 2, no. 3 (1931) : 102.

    In 1916, Robinson was in the Sudan, and his "Nubian" servant brought him some small coins which still circulated west of the Nile. An assortment of the coins consisted of--

    Ptolemaic (2 specimens), BM cat. 106, 32-5; Svoronos 1426.
    Hadrian (Alex.) BM cat. 346, 21; Dattari 6299.
    Probus (Alex.) BM cat. 315, 2435; Svoronos 5557.
    Diocletian, BM cat. 324, 2510; Dattari 5693.
    Constantine I, not in BM cat.; Dattari 6054.
    Turkish, Early Othmanli circ. A.D. 1000 (clipped).

    "Coins struck under Constantine the Great (323-337AD) were still in circulation in remote places of southern France during Napoleon III. (1852-1870).”
    (Friedensburg, Die Münze in der Kulturgeschichte, pg. 3)

    In 1636, a bronze coin of Domitian (81-96AD) was countermarked during the monetary reform of Philip IV, ruler of Spain.
    (Blanchet, Sur la chronologie établie par les contremarques 1907)

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  4. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES! Supporter


    I'm into Conder tokens and related emergency type small change from the 18th and 19th century, and found this related comment a the SOHO mint website.


    They are discussing the need of small value copper currency at the time in France...

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  5. Chinese coins were the same way. I bought a hoard of Wu Zhus that was lost in the Nanjing River in the 500’s. In it I found a Ban Liang minted before 120 BC. In another Ming Dynasty hoard buried sometime during/after the reign of YongLe (1402-1424), I found many Kai Yuan Tong Baos from the Tang Dynasty, which were in use for 500-800 years by the time they were buried. I saw a picture onf a South Song shipwreck hoard from 1180 or so, and there were Wu Zhus, which had been circulating for 600-1300 years by the time the coins were lost.

    Here is a picture of a hoard excavated in Java. The coins in red circles are from the Tang Dynasty, and the ones in green are from the Ming Dynasty.

    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
  6. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Very interesting OP and topic! I have this Umayyad AE fals minted in Tabariya (Tiberias) in the early 700s AD that is over struck on an AE3 Late Roman Bronze of the 4th century AD. You can see part of the original Roman legend at about 2-3 o'clock on the obverse:
    Umayyad fals Tabariya.jpg
  7. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    A very, very interesting post. Thank you all for sharing such interesting examples of centuries-long coin circulation.

    Recently I was reading a copy of the UK journal Family & Community History (Vol. 18, 2015) and came across an article "THE FOUNDLING HOSPITAL AND ITS TOKEN SYSTEM." It described how orphans were tracked in the 18th century with a system of tokens of various materials. If a parent wanted to reclaim a child, this token was to be identified.

    Coins were used a lot of the time for these tokens, mostly English of course, often engraved with the name of the child, etc. But as I went through the article, I was astonished to find a really, really attractive antoninianus of Tacitus used as one of the tokens (although it was holed at 12 o'clock). There was also a fairly decent looking Elizabeth I shilling.

    Unfortunately this article is not available online for free. The coin is apparently part of the Foundling Museum collection. A few examples are shown on their site, but not the Tacitus, unfortunately: https://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/collection/whats-on-display/the-tokens/
  8. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Redditor Lucis Aeternae

    Fascinating to think that such coins circulated for so long, even if intermittently!!!
  9. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Very interesting thread! Thanks :)
  10. Theodosius

    Theodosius Unrepentant Fine Style Freak! Supporter

    Imagine getting Roman coins in change!

    MaybeI should stick a cent sized Constantine in a roll of pennies and return it to the bank?

  11. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Do that and we'll be reading newspaper stories about how the Romans inhabited Ohio, they will go viral, and ancient history as we know it will be overturned.
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  12. NOS

    NOS Former Coin Hoarder

    I don't want to be a Debbie Downer with this cool idea but the coin would stand a good chance of just being thrown away or rejected by counting or processing machines (who knows what happens to coins that don't make it through to be re-rolled). All too often I hear of foreign coins being found in trash bins next to Coinstars or thrown away by tellers at banks. Non-collectors, out of lack of interest or plain ignorance, just don't care or see cool, old or interesting coins the same way we do on here.
  13. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

  14. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    Neat thread. This kind of stuff fascinates me.

    This sort of thing might explain how I found a late Roman AE2 of Arcadius, circa 395 AD, in a North American archaeological context, on a colonial site dating from the mid-1700s AD.

    Of course there are many other alternate scenarios, but I have a strong hunch that this coin made its way to Georgia from England, maybe in ship's ballast, and my pet theory is that it was subsequently found and put to use as a "farthing" in someone's colonial pocket change.

    Or maybe it had already been found in England or Europe when it got put back into circulation and carried to America as pocket money.

    Judging from the context in which I found it, and the other artifacts discovered with it, it was likely lost sometime between the 1760s and the mid-1800s, though one can only speculate how it got there.
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  15. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    In the 18th century many people weren’t able to read, and coins from various countries were used together. So - it’s curious, but not unbelievable.
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  16. Chris B

    Chris B Well-Known Member

    Topics like this are why I prefer circulated coins over mint state.
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  17. Multatuli

    Multatuli Homo numismaticus Supporter

    Great topic!
    I believe that the case of continuous circulation of a monetary standard that has really lasted for centuries, is still the chinese coin wu zhu.
    But I don't think it's really unlikely that some coins have lingered any longer. There are accounts of medieval treasures from the 11th-12th century containing Roman denarius in between. The value was more related to silver content than to the prevailing monetary standard, at least in our illiterate medieval Europe.
    I believe that many of the LRBs in circulation still in lost places of the interior of France in the nineteenth century have been more like the role of tokens than as currency itself. Probably found at the time, I don't think they were circulating uninterruptedly for more than 1500 years.
    I 'm aware of a small treasure found in Portugal by a personal friend of LRB in which there were also some asses and dupondii from twelve caesars period. Did they circulate in this Roman province during the time of barbarian invasions, in a period of complete economic and social chaos? What, in fact, would be the official currency?
  18. EWC3

    EWC3 Active Member

    Just had a quick look - and "Coin Collecting in North India" by Rogers (1894) now seems to be available (almost?) in full on Google books. Quite a lot of interesting stuff regarding this topic perhaps - especially on pages 1 to 14
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2018
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  19. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    I have a countermarked coin of the OP type, the mark is Nr. 16 in the Mardin book, although I don't know if my coin is from that hoard. I bought it because it is one of the types issued during the consolidation of Turkish presence in Anatolia, that was possible after the Battle of Manzikert (1074) was lost by the Byzantine Emperor - because of treason by one of his relatives. Very sad, a fatal interlude on the way to 1453. Divide and conquer...

    According to the Mardin book, this coin dates from shortly after 1160 AD, a Byzantine follis (sorry, I don't know which emperor) with the 'lillah' mark. 28 mm, 5.15 gr. I made a picture in the sun this morning to show the c/m clearly.

    Mardin ct.jpg
  20. Milesofwho

    Milesofwho Omnivorous collector

    The follis is one of Constantine X (1059-1067).
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  21. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks, Milesofwho.
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