Same type, different size

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Valentinian, Jun 16, 2021.

  1. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Coin photographs on the web often do not give an impression of the size of the coin. If you recognize the coin as, say, a denarius, then you know about how big it is. However, there are many types that have virtually the same design for different denominations, e.g. Roman sestertii and asses. Even more dramatic are coins from some Greek cities that have the same design on tetradrachms, drachms, hemidrachms, and obols. If the image of the coin fills the space allotted, they can look very similar. Another very common example is Alexander the Great tetradrachms and drachms. They look pretty similar in images. I wonder how many collectors have wanted a large tetradrachm of Alexander and bought on-line a smaller drachm by accident?

    My examples are a little different. My image emphasizes coins which are the same denomination and type, but, nevertheless, different sizes. They are a type where it is helpful to have the maximum diameter stated in mm.

    Here are two Byzantine anonymous folles of Class A2, attributed to Basil II and Constantine VIII, 976-1025. The one on the left is 35 mm and 19.76 grams. The one on the right is 28-26 mm and 11.28 grams. The one on the right has higher grade, but a 35 mm coin is very impressive in hand and in that way is better than the one on the right. If you saw them in individual photos like dealers use, their sizes would not be evident.

    Since the time span for this one type was 50 years, you can imagine that inflation might require making a smaller coin for the same nominal denomination. I think the one on the left is from earlier in that time period than the one on the right.

    Show us some examples where the size of the coin might not be clear from a photo.
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. Insider

    Insider Talent on loan from...



    I'd like to see coins whose size was reduced over time as the one you posted.
  4. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Same Byzantine coins overhere, small and large:

    Jezus Christus Byzantium 8,7 gr Basil II Constantine VIII.jpg
    Jezus Christus Byzantium 13,3 Basil II Constantine VIII (2).jpg
  5. Only a Poor Old Man

    Only a Poor Old Man Well-Known Member

    Here is a typical example. Both are half-follis from the reign of Anastasius. The first one (the larger) is from the second coin-reform of 512, while the smaller one is from the original reform of 498.


    Apparently the first reform wasn't met with enthusiasm as people believed that the coins were too small for the denomination they were supposed to represent. So in 512 they were all enlarged significantly. The large coin in this example is about 12mms larger than its predecessor.

    Funnily enough, a very similar thing almost happened to me today in a major auction. Luckily I paid attention to the description before it was too late :banghead:
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2021
  6. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Hard to beat Chinese coins on this:
    The Republic 1912, 1 cash, H24.7 - 17mm

    Song- Hui Zong (1101-1125) 24.5mm.jpg
    Song: Hui Zong (1101-1125), 1 cash - 24.5mm

    Tang- Su Zong (756-762) 35mm.jpg
    Tang: Su Zong (1101-1125) 50 cash - 35mm

    Song- Hui Zong (1101-1125) 41mm.jpg
    Song: Hui Zong (1101-1125) 10 cash - 41mm

    Xian Feng (1851-1861) 60mm.jpg
    Qing: Xian Feng (1851-1861) 100 cash - 60mm

    Are you sure the measurement on this is correct? With that amount of space between the dotted border and the edge, it doesn't seem possible for it to be only 22mm... amazing example if that's right!
  7. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    This one seems big. In fact it is even bigger/thicker in hand than on the web.



    Ptolemy IV 221-205 BC AE Drachma. (75.52g, 41mm, 12h)

    Obverse: Bust of Zeus Ammon right

    Reverse: ΠΤΟΛΕΜΑΙΟΥ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ, Eagle standing left on thunderbolt, cornucopiae in front, ΛΙ between legs

    Reference: SNG Cop 199.


  8. Heliodromus

    Heliodromus Well-Known Member

    Here's three denominations of Constantine's MEMORIA FELIX type, honoring his father, all issued from Trier at the same time.


    nummus = 26mm (RIC 789)
    1/2 nummus = 20mm (RIC 790)
    1/4 nummus = 17mm (unlisted, but actually not that rare)
  9. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark standing on the shoulders of giants Dealer

    You probably already know; but it's listed in Zschuke-- Die Bronze--Teilstuck-Pragungen der Romischen Munzstatte Trier; who also references Cohen and Strauss.
    Heliodromus likes this.
  10. Heliodromus

    Heliodromus Well-Known Member

    I actually have the book (and a couple of the plate coins), but due to being German-impaired have never read the text! :D
    Victor_Clark likes this.
  11. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    You are right, its 41 mm and 15 gram , without checking, I copied the sellers infoo_O
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  12. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Wow, 41mm is HUGE! And I thought Warren's and mine were big at 35mm!
  13. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I'm not very sharp today, here's the coin with the new description

    Jezus Christus Byzantium15 gr Basil II Constantine VIII.jpg
  14. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Surprised nobody's brought up the Fallen Horseman series yet!

    Full sized AE2, about 24mm or so
    Constantius ii FTR alexandria.jpg

    A reduced AE3, about 19mm
    Constantius FTR sirmium.jpg

    A convincing enough barbarous FTR - except that it's only 13mm!
    Barb FTR horseman.jpg

    And now we're just getting silly - this one is about 6-7mm
  15. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    My largest FH is this Trier Constantius Gallus at 25mm and 5.85g. FH coins with a full circle of dots on both sides are not common. The coin is later than when the series was full size but I suspect this may have been struck on a flan made by flattening another coin.

    Not long after was this 17mm, 1.42g from Rome. It is my smallest official FH.
  16. Heliodromus

    Heliodromus Well-Known Member

    Yes, the whole FEL TEMP series seems to have been almost as confusing back when issued as it is today!

    It started off with three denominations of different sizes (with the galley reverse being issued in two different sizes/denominations). Even with left facing busts being used to distinguish the middle denomination, the western mints apparently still saw enough room for confusion that for a while they added "A" and "N" field marks to distinguish the largest and middle types.

    Not surprising that this mess only lasted a few years before the other types were dropped and all that was left was the ever-shrinking fallen horseman.

    I'd like to have added a group shot of the various sizes, but unfortunately I'm in middle of reorganizing my collection and nothing is easily accessible.
  17. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Previous posts have proven the point that internet photographs do a poor job of giving an impression of size. Most of us put up individual photos. Then two coins, whether large or small, look the same. I took this photo of two Byzantine anonymous folles together:

    Both are anonymous folles of Class B. The one on the left was overstruck on a large Class A2 and is 36-34 mm and 14.00 grams. The one on the right is 30-27 mm and 11.04 grams. If you ordered the one on the left (It is not for sale) and you expected to receive a typical 30 mm coin I think you would be very pleased to get a 36 mm piece instead.

    This thread is to warn you to pay attention to sizes when it comes to ordering or bidding on coins.
  18. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    These are from Thessalonike copied from my website page on FH. If I did it again, I would include a penny for scale.
  19. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Here is another example of two Byzantine anonymous folles of the same class (Class I) but much different sizes:

    Nicephorus III, 1078-1081, Class I
    Left: 30-28 mm. 8.61 grams. Heavier than all of the 64 examples in DOC.
    Right: 23-21 mm. 3.87 grams. (The coins were put alongside one another and photographed. The relative sizes in the image are exact.)
    Sear 1889.
    DOC 3.2 "Class I" p. 697.
    I suspect the one on the left was overstruck on a previous type from when coins were broader and heavier, but I have not identified an undertype.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2021
    Johndakerftw likes this.
  20. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    The smallest official FTR I have is this minuscule 15mm, 2.5g Antioch issue of Julian II.
    I don't think we can get much smaller without going barbarous.
    Johndakerftw and Bing like this.
  21. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    @dougsmit noted some FEL TEMP REPARATIO coins of different sizes. Here are four photographed together.


    Constantius II (324-337-361), as Augustus after the coin reform of 348. The largest is 25-23 mm and the smallest 17 mm. They are all pretty nice. However, if you wanted a 24 mm piece like the one on the left and didn't pay attention to sizes and ordered the one on the right from a picture of it alone, you would be very disappointed.

    Pay attention to sizes!
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page