My first two Byzantine Follis coins

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by DiomedesofArgos, Jan 23, 2021.

  1. DiomedesofArgos

    DiomedesofArgos Well-Known Member

    Technically, not the first I won, but Savoca, demonstrating the efficiency that the Germans are know for, got me my coins ridiculously fast and beat the other coins I ordered a month ago. I've come to enjoy the charm of the really ugly, poorly struck, misshapen Byzantine coins, however, I want to try to collect some really nice examples as well. Would be nice to have "ideal" versions of coins to go along with their funky siblings.

    First off is a coin that I think I like more than most of my gold Byzantine coins. Justinian's head is just massive and dominates the coin. I haven't seen another quite like it, though admittedly I haven't spent a lot of time searching. The lettering is mostly clear and the coin itself has a nice, glossy look to it. Truly, a coin worthy of such an important figure:

    Justinian I AD 527-565. Dated RY 13=AD 539-540. Nikomedia. 2nd officina
    Follis or 40 Nummi Æ

    35 mm, 15,08 g

    D N IVSTINIANVS P P AVC, helmeted and cuirassed bust of Justinian facing, holding globus cruciger in his right hand and shield with his left, in field to right, cross / ANNO XIII NIK, Large M, above, cross, below, B
    DOC 117b; MIB 114; Sear 201.

    Next up is Justinian's nephew, Justin II and his wife Sophia. This coin is rougher, which I believe means the patina has been removed? In any case, this coin actually looks nicer in person, although I think it still looks pretty good in the picture. Again, the lettering is clear for the most part, as are the figures.

    Justin II and Sophia AD 565-578. Nikomedia
    Follis or 40 Nummi Æ

    30 mm, 14,54 g

    D N IVSTI-NVS P P, Justin and Sophia, both nimbate, enthroned facing, Justin holding globus cruciger and Sophia holding cruciform scepter / Large M, cross above, ANNO II-II across fields, A below, NIKO in exergue.

    DOC 98a; Sear 369.

    Post your first or your favorite Byzantine Follis coins.
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  3. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Enrich the soldiers...ignore all others

    Anastasius Dicorus, 491-518 A.D.

    Type: Large AE Follis, 39 mm 19 grams

    Obverse: DN ANASTASIVS PP AVG, Diademed draped and Cuirassed bust right, star on right shoulder (rare)

    Reverse: Large M, Epsilon below. Cross above M, star in left field, Mintmark CON



    He was called Dicorus because he had one blue eye and one brown eye
  4. Only a Poor Old Man

    Only a Poor Old Man Well-Known Member

    @DiomedesofArgos congratulations on two very nice examples. They are looking really good and have excellent level of detail. I am on the hunt for a nice example of Justin & Sophia and I would be happy if I come across one as nice as yours. My first Byzantine follis was a Justinian one as well:


    Notice that it is same officina, same year, same mint as yours! :shame:
    But the big size difference is very interesting.

    As for my favorite follis, it is difficult to tell as it changes all the time. Today I feel that I really like this one:

  5. DiomedesofArgos

    DiomedesofArgos Well-Known Member

    Very fun coincidence! :D I'm not sure if it's known how many engravers would work in a single officina, but it's really interesting how different two coins can look that come from the same place and time. In theory, the two people who engraved the dies for our coins were peers who would see each other's work. Heck, the same guy could have engraved the dies for both of our coins.
  6. Only a Poor Old Man

    Only a Poor Old Man Well-Known Member

    Styling differences I understand. But the size? Maybe mine was struck on the last remaining bits of a batch of metal that was big, but not big enough for two coins. Actually, another thing to remember is that Justinian's plague was just starting to make its appearance, so maybe the mint had to make many HR changes that year... (RIP poor engravers)
    +VGO.DVCKS and DiomedesofArgos like this.
  7. DiomedesofArgos

    DiomedesofArgos Well-Known Member

    Good point. As I am searching, the size of your coin is much more typical. Sear does list this coin as having larger and smaller versions, although I'm not clear if there can be larger and smaller examples in a single year.
  8. Fugio1

    Fugio1 Supporter! Supporter

    Alas I have no Byzantine coins to share but I did win one lot from the Savoca silver sale last Sunday, Sent a Transferwise payment on Monday and was amazed that the coin arrived here in Colorado on Wednesday. The Transferwise transaction didn't even hit my bank account until Wednesday!
    DiomedesofArgos likes this.
  9. DiomedesofArgos

    DiomedesofArgos Well-Known Member

    DOC's smallest diameter for this year is 39 and the lowest weight is 17.48 (not the same coin).

    They do have a year 12 listed as 34 and 15.30, which is fairly similar to my coin. Who knows? Bad quality control? Is there anything on mine that suggests fake?

    Besides that, I did find another fun giant head Justinian in DOC, this time from Cyzicus :D

    Last edited: Jan 23, 2021
  10. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Nice Byzantines you got there!

    Well, these are far from "ideal" but one of the great things about Byzantine folles is that bottom-feeders on a budget can collect them as well. Here is an array of mine from Justinian I and Justin II, all or most from eBay:

    Justinian I Nicomedia (with a hole):
    Byz - Justinian I NIKO follis Dec 2020 (1).jpg

    Justin II Constantinople
    Byzantine - Justin II Cons July 2018 (0).jpg

    Justin II Nicomedia
    Byz - Justin II Nicomedia Follis Dec 2019 (0).jpg

    Justin II Antioch
    Byz - Justin II Antioch Follis Mar 2020 (0a).jpg

    Justin II Cyzicus
    Byz - Justin II - Cyzicus follis lot Sep 2020 (0).jpg
  11. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    D.M., Nice score on both of your coins :D! Your example of Sear 201 is indeed unusual as P.O.M. pointed out o_O; my example looks very much like his coin.

    Sear 201, obv..jpg Sear 201, rev..jpg
  12. DiomedesofArgos

    DiomedesofArgos Well-Known Member

    Very cool to have a set from the different mints. :D I think the different coloring of the coins really adds to the charm as well
    +VGO.DVCKS and Marsyas Mike like this.
  13. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Weight standards and exact weight discrepancies of individual coins were not as closely controlled as modern collectors might prefer. Mine is a year later and 23.4g. This is nearing, but not yet at, the peak of weight standards.
  14. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Justin II folles varied in weight as well, apparently. At least in Constantinople, with a chi-rho indicating the heavier issue.

    A while back I started a thread on this (I repeat it below):

    A couple years ago when I first started in on Byzantine coins, I read our local library's copy of Byzantine Coins by P.D. Whitting. There I found a reference to a chi-rho variation of the very common Justin II-Sophia follis from Constantinople (Sear 360).

    Here is the quote:

    "The copper follis comes down sharply in weight and size during the reign...with an average weight of 13.5 g. There was, however, at Constantinople from the 5th regnal year onwards, a heavier issue (by a gramme) in parallel, distinguished by a Chi-Rho above the M on the reverse, as against the usual cross."
    (Byzantine Coins (1973), by P. D. Whitting, pp. 111-112)

    In my own small collection, I now have four examples of Sear 360, two with the chi-rho, two the cross. Indeed there is a weight difference, pretty much in accordance with Whitting, but Byzantine coins seem to vary so much in weights I was wondering if a "gramme" difference can really be attributed to a specific symbol within this issue?

    I have not had any luck finding other references to this weight change online. Examples of SB 360 abound, of course, and glancing through Coin Archives I saw some examples that conform to Whitting's information.

    Valentinian's recent post on Anonymous follis variations shows there is an impressive number of Coin Talk Byzantine experts out there - does anybody have any other information on this? Examples?

    Here are mine. Such a small sample is hardly conclusive, not helped by the fact my "chi-rho" examples are quite worn, but again, the heavier weigh for the chi-rho does hold true:

    The top two rows have the standard cross (year 11 and year 5): 12.15 and 13.93 grams

    The bottom two rows have the chi-rho (both year 6): 14.61 and 14.29 grams.

  15. AuldFartte

    AuldFartte Supporter! Supporter

    Very nice folles! I have a small (and slowly growing) group of Byzantine folles, but most are pretty low grade. I keep getting outbid on ebay for nicer ones. Mine this far are the anonymous types. One example:

    Follis A1.jpg Follis A2.jpg
  16. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I do not have a Justin II follis with chi-rho but do have a half. Neither have I made an effort to get all mints.
    rz0120bb0329.jpg rz0125bb2767.jpg rz0130bb3058.jpg rz0140bb1757.jpg rz0150bb0653.jpg rz0160bb0550.jpg rz0165fd3293.jpg

    Is it just accident or was officina B used more for AE? Does anyone collect these by workshop?
  17. Mr.Q

    Mr.Q Well-Known Member

    Wow, you guys really know your coins, I can't imagine myself having the patience to do what you do, thanks for the education.
    DiomedesofArgos likes this.
  18. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Officina "special" assignments were made in Byzantine-era Constantinople, so it seems. I know very little about this, but I have a couple of examples from the reign of Anastasius. Officina E seems to have handled the odd-ball cases in bronze:

    Here is a small-module follis with star/cross/blank arrangement, found only with E (what looks like a crescent right is actually incuse - a countermark of some sort):

    Anastasius - Follis small module 2014 (0).jpg

    Anastasius Æ Follis
    (Small Module)
    n.d. (c. 507-512 A.D.)
    Constantinople Mint

    DN ANASTASIVS PP AVG pearl diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right / Large M, star left, cross above, blank right, Officina Є (only) & CON below.
    SB 17; DOC 20a.
    (9.25 grams / 23 mm)​

    Similarly, Officina E was the only one to issue the two-pellets over stars in the last year of Anastasius's reign.

    Byz - Anastasius Con Follis Dec 2020 (0).jpg

    Anastasius Æ Follis
    n.d. (c. Sep. 517-July 518 A.D.)
    Constantinople Mint

    DN ANASTA[SIVS P P AVG], pearl diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right / Large M, dot over star over dot left, cross above, [dot over star over dot right], Є below, CON in ex.
    SB 21; MIB 28b.
    (16.81 grams / 31 mm)

    Notes: "According to Hahn, at the beginning of the last lustrum of Anastasius' reign (September 517), dots were added to all new cut coins. Since Anastasius died 10 months later (July 518), these coins are somewhat scarce."​
    CT - Severus Alexander, Dec. 2017

    "Only the 5th officina is recorded for this type with the M a star with pellet above and below." FORVM

    I'm sure there are other officinal-specific variations.
  19. DiomedesofArgos

    DiomedesofArgos Well-Known Member

    @Marsyas Mike that's some interesting info :D I'll have to keep my eye out for some of those special varieties.
    Marsyas Mike likes this.
  20. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Those are two very nice examples, very well centered and nicely struck. They have a nice style as well, for Byzantine folles.

    I have so many Byzantine coins, it hard to say which one is my favorite, so here are a few from my eclectic collection:

    D-Camera Justinian I follis, Nicomedia, 527-65 AD, DO-117b. Berk, 12-29-20.jpg

    D-Camera Justinian I follis, Antioch gradient, ex Berk, yr 13 539-40 AD, 22.7 g , 12-14-20.jpg

    D-Camera Tiberius II, Cyzicus, 30 nummi, 578-582 AD, CNA XIX, 12.1 g, 11-16 -20.jpg

    D-Camera Maurice Tiberius, follis, 588-589 CE, Sear 494, 11.29 grams eBay NGC 2020 12-3-20.jpg

    D-Camera Heraclian Revolt Follis, Alexandretta Mint, 608-610 AD, Berk  8-11-20.jpg

    D-Camera Heraclius Follis, double struck, CON, officina B, Roma,, 11-30-20.jpg

    D-Camera Constans II, Constantinople, hexagram, 648-652, MIB 144, 5.01 g Roma, 11-14 -20.jpg

    D-Camera Constantine IV Follis, 668-685 AD, 16.41 grams, Berk purchase  6-6-20.jpg

    D-Camera Isaac I, Gold  Histamenon Nomisma,  1057-1059,  6-15-20.jpg

    D-Camera Romanus IV, follis, Virgin Orans, 1068-71, Stephen Huston, 11.1 grms, 10-27-20.jpg
  21. DiomedesofArgos

    DiomedesofArgos Well-Known Member

    Nice collection! That Constantine IV is new to me :woot:
    robinjojo likes this.
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