Featured Manuel the Great, spender of the treasury

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Pavlos, Mar 30, 2021.

  1. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Manuel I Komnenos, the last Byzantine ruler to dominate the politics in the Mediterranean world, eager to restore his empire to its past glories as the superpower.

    [​IMG]

    He ruled nearly 40 years, from 1143 to 1180 which makes his coinage quite abundant and complex. Manuel started his reign with his father's very considerable treasury, which he effectively exhausted in 1156 during his failed expedition to Italy fighting the Normands. He had spent an enormous sum of 2,100,000 hyperpyra on this expedition (we are talking here about around 9 tons of pure gold).
    The denominations in his reign, which were created in the monetary reform by his grandfather, were the AV Hyperpyron, EL Aspron trachy, worth 1/3 of the Hyperpyron, BI Trachy, worth 1/48 of the hyperpyron and the AE Tetarteron including it's half (and also the Metropolitan issues, which had a couple of percent of silver added to them).

    The EL Aspron trachea were minted in 5 types, with the precise sequence not known precisely. The third type (type C), also most likely the third coinage, shows the emperor standing with St. Theodore on the reverse. Type C issues were subjected to specific gravity measurements and this showed it had a gold carat amount of 5.5 (23% gold). The Type C is characteristic for it's thin and deeply concave fabric struck using small dies.

    Hereby my new EL Aspron addition of this cool type:
    upload_2021-3-30_22-11-28.png
    Manuel I Comnenus (1143-1180). Electrum Aspron Trachy. Constantinople mint, Type C, ca. 1160-1164.
    Obverse:
    ΙC - ΧC Christ Pantocrator, standing facing, nimbate and enrobed, raising right hand in benediction and holding book of Gospels with his left; in field to left and right, star.
    Reverse: MA-NVHΛ - O/ ΘЄ/O/Δ/ω/PO/C Manuel and St. Theodore standing facing, both holding a sword in their outer hand, and holding a long patriarchal cross set on a globe between them.
    Reference: DOC 4c; Sear 1959.
    4.63g; 33mm

    My coin really is 'Aspron' (White), as the color of gold is clearly lacking.

    The Billon Aspron Trachy contained around 6-7% of silver, with a silver wash, tariffing 1/48 to the hyperyron. However, later on it debased and was worth around 1/120 to the hyperpyron.

    I received this BI trachy recently as well, with a stunningly sharp obverse:
    upload_2021-3-30_22-15-31.png
    Manuel I Comnenus (1143-1180). Billon Aspron Trachy. Constantinople mint.
    Obverse:
    Christ seated facing on throne with back, wearing pallium and colobium, raising his right hand in benediction and holding book of Gospels in his left; in fields, XC - IC.
    Reverse: ΜΑΝU[...] ΔЄCΠ / ΜΡ-ΦV Manuel I standing facing on the left, wearing divitision and chlamys, holding labarum in his right and globus cruciger in his left, crowned by the Virgin Mary, standing facing on the right.
    Reference: DOC IV 13F.1, Sear 1966.

    This coin is missing it's silver wash (most trachea on the market are lacking the thin silver wash), however, I was glad to own a while ago one with almost all of it's silver wash available (eventhough the coin is quite poorly struck, especially on the obverse).

    upload_2021-3-30_22-17-23.png
    Manuel I Comnenus (1143-1180). Billon Aspron Trachy. Constantinople mint.
    Obverse:
    Christ seated facing on throne with back, wearing pallium and colobium, raising his right hand in benediction and holding book of Gospels in his left; in fields, XC - IC.
    Reverse: ΜΑΝU[...] ΔЄCΠ / ΜΡ-ΦV Manuel I standing facing on the left, wearing divitision and chlamys, holding labarum in his right and globus cruciger in his left, crowned by the Virgin Mary, standing facing on the right.
    Reference: Sear 1966.
    4.33g; 31mm

    Please post your coins of Manuel I, and also share your Electrum trachea of various rulers!
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2021
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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Great coins, my only one.

    manuel_k.jpeg
    Manuel I, (1143-1180 A.D.)
    Billon Trachy
    O.: Christ, bearded, seated facing on throne without back, wearing nimbus cruciger, pallium, colobium, Gospels in left; no stars; in field / IC – XC
    R.: MANYHΛ ∆ECΠ; the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) standing facing at right, crowning the emperor standing at left, holding labarum and globus cruciger; M above Mary's outstretched hand.
    Constantinople mint, 1167 - 1183 A.D.
    28mm
    4.1g
    SB 1966
     
  4. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Basileus Megalos

    Very interesting coins @Pavlos. I read the Journey of Louis VII to the East. (de Profectione Ludovici VII in Orientem) by the cleric Odo of Deuil who characterized Manuel as a "fiend" for making the Crusaders swear an oath of fealty and then supposedly refusing to supply them. That was always the bugaboo of the Crusades: how to get supplied by the Byzantines once they reached Asia Minor.

    In Manuel's case diplomacy was critical, how could he balance the pressure of the crusading armies of illiterate "Franks" as the Byzantines called them on the one hand and the Seljuk Turks incursions on the other? Manuel managed pretty well but spending 9 tons of gold probably exhausted the treasury for the last time, as the dwindling lands in the Byzantines' possession could not provide the necessary tax base to refresh the Empire's coffers.
     
  5. philologus_1

    philologus_1 Supporter! Supporter

    @Pavlos Your Sear_1959 is nothing short of gorgeous!

    I have no electrum coins yet. :-( But here is my best Manuel I:
    upload_2021-3-30_17-32-40.png
    Thessalonica. AE Tetarteron.
    Obv.: Bust of St. George facing, beardless, wearing nimbus, tunic, cuirass/sagion, and holding spear.
    Rev.: Bust of Manuel facing, wearing crown and loros, holding labarum & globe-cross.
    Diam.: 20 mm. Weight: 4.22 gr.
    Attrib.: Sear 1975.

    p.s.: 2.1 million Hyperpyra is a supra-amazing sum indeed!
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2021
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  6. Hrefn

    Hrefn Member

    My coin of Manuel with a few other scyphate byzantines. upload_2021-3-30_18-27-58.jpeg upload_2021-3-30_18-28-47.jpeg
     
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  7. Hrefn

    Hrefn Member

    The pose of Manuel and St. Theodore reminds me of Aurelian’s nickname, Manu ad Ferrum, which I suppose we could translate as Hand on Hilt or Hand on Iron. Certainly a belligerent pose for an Byzantine emperor.
     
  8. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    No electrum here, either.

    This is a dark trachy that came by way of a group lot of Byzantine bronzes, mostly folles.

    Byzantine Empire, 1143-1180
    Manuel Comnenus,
    Billion Aspron Trachy
    Christ Pantocrator enthroned facing. / Manuel standing facing, holding labarum and globus cruciger, being crowned by the Virgin Mary to right.
    SBCV-1966 DOC IV -13c

    4.1 grams

    D-Camera Byzantine trachy 2 4.1 grams 3-21-21.jpg
     
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  9. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Since your guy exhausted the treasury, how about the guy who filled the coffers to the tune of 23 million solidi?

    upload_2021-3-30_16-26-37.png
    A widdle tiny 9mm nummus of your frugal boy Ana.
     
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  10. BenSi

    BenSi Supporter! Supporter

    a3.jpg

    One of my latest Manuel's, I am waiting for a few coins from Leu, its taking forever.
    Nice coin @Pavlos
     
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  11. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

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  12. BenSi

    BenSi Supporter! Supporter

    Here is a group shot of Manuel Metropolitan Tetartera. Each one had a small silver content 2-4% making them worth more than the regional issues. I also believe they originally had a silver wash to them to make them easy to differentiate.

    The trachea of the time were 6% -8% silver.

    Here are Sear -1967-1968-1969-1970 ( I believe the scale is a bit off on the individual photos )

    ManMetrotet.jpg
     
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  13. Only a Poor Old Man

    Only a Poor Old Man Well-Known Member

    No Manuel from me, but I do have a trachy with St Theodore on it :cat:

    theo_combo2.jpg
     
  14. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Very well said, thanks for sharing!

    Lovely tetarteron

    Very nice pieces, I really enjoy the syphate coinage.

    Nice example, I think one of the most common types of all the trachea.

    I still want a nummus, but I think only from Anastasius I they are common.

    Looking forward to your additions! A really nice EL trachy there as well.

    Very nice tetartera, I really need some more of those.

    Here is my 1968, yours is much nicer.
    upload_2021-4-1_21-30-20.png

    Great one form Theodore!
     
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