Featured Sensible Recycling? Byzantine Overstrikes

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Caesar_Augustus, Jun 4, 2018.

  1. Caesar_Augustus

    Caesar_Augustus Well-Known Member

    Hello Friends from CoinTalk! :)

    This is my very first thread here, and, although I have been posting here on and off for the past year (it's been 1 year since I signed up), I haven't made much of a presence. So, just like you all share something with each other of numismatic interest, I would also like to share something with you, the Ancients Community. :)

    I started collecting ancients almost 2 years ago when I did a quick Google search to study Roman Denarii, and found links to actual coins on eBay. This year, I became very interested in Byzantine coins and have been focusing mainly on them.

    There are several interesting Byzantine coins I acquired that were over stuck on previous issues. Doug Smith has an excellent write-up here: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/dougsmith/feac70byz.html

    Here's a part from Doug's write-up about the basics on overstrikes.
    This is especially the case, with regards to the undertype being as clear as the newly struck design, for the coin I would like to share with you, but at the end. Firstly, here are some of my first Byzantine overstrikes, both Heraklios designs overstruck on those of Focas.

    Heraclius, AE Follis
    612 - 613 A.D., Cyzicus Mint, 2nd Officina
    10.92g, 29.0mm, 6H
    Obverse: [DN hRACLI] PЄRP AVG,
    Helmeted and cuirassed facing bust, holding globus cruciger and shield

    Reverse: -,
    Large M between A/N/N/O and III (R.Y. 3), cross above, B below
    Exergue: KYZ

    Reference: SBCV 839

    Overstruck on follis of Phocas, minted in Nikomedia

    Heraclius, AE Follis

    617 - 618 A.D., Thessaloniki Mint, 2nd Officina
    9.69g, 33.0mm, 6H

    Crowned and draped facing busts of Heraclius and Heraclius Constantine, each holding globus cruciger, cross between
    Reverse: -,
    Large M between A/N/N/O and ЧI/II (R.Y. 8), cross above, B below
    Exergue: ΘЄC

    Reference: SBCV 824

    Overstruck on follis of Phocas, mint unsure.

    About 450 years later, the following coin showing the Roman Emperor Constantine X Ducas & the Empress Eudocia was overstruck on a Class B Anonymous Follis, which was struck over 30 years earlier. Apologies in advance, I noticed the obverse & reverse are reversed in the pictures. :) The obverse of the undertype is under the reverse of the "overtype".

    Constantine X Ducas, AE Follis
    1059 - 1067 A.D., Constantinople Mint, null Officina
    11.10g, 29.8mm, 6H
    Obverse: [+ЄMMANOVHΛ/IC - XC],
    Christ standing facing on footstool, wearing nimbus and holding Gospels
    Reverse: [+KWNT ΔK] ЄV[ΔK AVΓO],
    Eudocia on left, wearing loros with kite-shaped lower panel and crown with cross and pendilia, Constantine on right, wearing loros and crown with cross and pendilia, both standing facing, holding labarum with cross-piece on shaft between them, standing on base and three steps, each places one hand on heart

    What makes this coin very interesting is that both designs appear to be equally prominent. With little information, it would be hard to know which was overstruck on which. With no undertype, the coin should look like this (Taken from the Labarum database).


    Here's the coin rotated so that you can clearly see the Class B undertype.


    The undertype should look like this; my example of the Class B Anonymous follis.
    Anonymous, AE Follis
    1028 - 1034 A.D., Constantinople Mint, null Officina
    13.91g, 31.98mm, 6H
    Obverse: +ЄMMANOVHΛ/IC - XC,
    Nimbate bust of Christ facing, square in each limb of cross; wearing pallium and collobium and holding book of Gospels
    Reverse: IS XS/bASILЄ/bASILЄ,
    Legend in three lines divided by limbs of cross with dot at each extremity on three-stepped base
    Class: B

    In a few years after the overstruck coin was minted, coinage gets much worse as the Roman Empire faces its next several challenges. Out of the dust, Emperor Alexius I Komnenos rises up and enacts coinage reforms introducing BI Aspron Trachys. I have yet to see an overstrike on one of those.

    Hope you guys enjoyed my very first thread on CoinTalk and the interesting overstrike that I am lucky to have acquired from Warren a few months ago. I'd love to see all your overstrikes! :)
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  3. Milesofwho

    Milesofwho Omnivorous collector

    I don’t like overstrikes, except on modern coinage. In fact, I disliked them so much, I bought a hexagram of Heraclius instead of a follis. 808614BE-3D2F-4D83-9090-7D93E4CFA48D.jpeg CD5BB621-AC69-4C57-878F-1CB2428B0594.jpeg I can handle double strikes though. 40809081-8623-41F6-8DEE-88CAC1D391F1.jpeg 35A6D34B-AA4B-4372-A732-4DC1859BC206.jpeg 9F75B261-588D-4A93-8A7A-7EA8D567C4DC.jpeg A4C0F764-B6CA-49D1-A2A0-DBF494CFD6B8.jpeg

    RAGNAROK Naebody chaws me wi impunity

    Very nice 2xCoins and write-up thread!
  5. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Great write-up and nice overstrikes, Caesar_Augustus. Keep up the good work.
    Caesar_Augustus likes this.
  6. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    @Caesar_Augustus , that is a wonderful first thread! I hope you don't think you must wait a year before you start another thread!

    Sometimes it can be hard to identify the over- and undertypes of a garbled Byzantine coin. But it is fun. I will walk you through hours of effort to decipher a coin that few people would care about unless they owned it. If you want to play this game, here is one useful fact: Early Byzantine coins almost always have 6:00 die axis, so you can use that fact to flip them over and look for the other side in its correct orientation.

    It helps a lot to have a large number of photos of Byzantine coins of the era, such as the Dumbarton Oaks catalogs, or Hahn's MIB series, so you can search for matching types.

    Here is an overstruck Byzantine coin in one orientation: two figures opposite a large M.

    In this orientation you can see on the obverse, slightly to the right of center, a figure holding a cross on globe (globus cruciger) and a cross to his upper right. I don't see the second figure. On the reverse, we see a thin large M wth an I to the right and a clear ANNO down the left, E officina below the middle point of the M, with a "C" below the left leg of the M and bigger letters(?). The other mints did not have 5 officina, so officina E puts it at Constantinople, as does the "C" from "CON".

    Now the overtype (first photo) is likely to be Heraclius and son, which is commonly overstruck on earlier coins. That cross to the upper right of the figure on the first obverse orientation and the line of tiny letters just to its left tell us the coin was struck badly off center to the right. The son is off the flan at 3:00--that cross in the upper right should be between Heraclius and his son. Look to the left of Heraclius to see a curve of tiny letters (common on coins of Heraclius) which should be at the edge.

    This is not the exact overtype, but it gives you the idea.
    Heraclius at Constantinople
    Sear 810. Sear 809 has a globus cruciger on the left, whereas this one has a long cross.

    Let's try the other side. Remember to use the 6:00 die-axis trick.

    In this orientation we can see a standing figure with a halo on the right and a + to the upper left of the head, as is common between two standing figures. Do you see his companion to his left? Neither do I.

    Use the die-axis flip trick and look at the reverse. Now we can see a large uncial
    m, but not with the sharp corners of an M, rather the rounded top on an m, with ANNO down the left and "KY" to the right of the "O". The rounded m narrows it down a lot. "KY" makes it Kyzicus, and under Phocas he has a type for Cyzicus (Kyzicus) with an obverse and reverse like that where the mint mark continues KYZB where the B is higher in the line. That checks. Dumbarton Oaks Phocas 69 (Sear 664) fits the undertype.

    I happen to have an example of Sear 664:

    The undertype (I think). It has minor differences, such as the position of the officina "B" which is higher on the DO specimen.
    Phocas (602-610)
    Phocas and Leontia
    Sear 664, DO 69.

    I see more parts I can't explain, such as what looks like large letters below the M and to the right of the C in the first orientation. I would not rule out the possibility it is a triple strike.

    If you made it this far you have the makings of a Byzantine coin collector!

    Last edited: Jun 5, 2018
  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I've always been interested in overstrikes but have shown mine here so many times I wonder if they would be new to anyone. For years my favorite was this very confusing follis. I believe I see Heraclius over Focas over either Maurice Tiberius or Tiberius Constantine but I do not have a certain reading. The reverse shows two Constantinople marks and one each M and XXXX.

    It was supplanted by my new favorite Anonymous A3 over Gordian III as.
  8. Aidan_()

    Aidan_() Numismatic Contributor

    Those are FANtastic! Don't have any, you'd think after taking a class on byzy coins I'd have some eh? :D
    Caesar_Augustus likes this.
  9. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    That Byzantine-over-GIII is such a jaw dropper!
  10. 7Calbrey

    7Calbrey Well-Known Member

    Definitely an overstrike.. Justinian.

    JustinianrOv    FollisCon.jpg Justinianr R    overstruck.jpg
  11. Caesar_Augustus

    Caesar_Augustus Well-Known Member

    Thank you, @Valentinian! :) Now that I got my first thread out of the way, I'm already thinking of what else I'd like to share with you all. That is a very interesting overstrike you have.

    It made me wonder, because of the different mint marks, how the undertype coin got to the point where it was taken in to be "re-minted"? Cyzikus to Constantinople isn't that big of a distance, but that might mean the coins circulated into Constantinople where it was eventually collected by the government for re-processing. It would be interesting to see overstrikes minted in, say Antioch with an undertype originally from, say Constantinople.

    That Anonymous over Gordian is just awe-inspiring. When I see it, I always wonder what the mint-worker, or finder, was thinking when they found it. Did they understand the significance? Maybe he or she was sharp-minded and hit the history books to figure out who "GORDIANVS" was. Then again, if he or she did that, they would likely have smuggled the coin out of the mint before being struck over. Very cool!

    I haven't seen any overstrikes of earlier Byzantine coins like that one. Very nice @7Calbrey.

    Thanks all for posting your comments & coins! :)
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  12. Caesar_Augustus

    Caesar_Augustus Well-Known Member

    Double strikes are very common in Trachys. I read it is because the bronze-ish coins needed two strikes to deliver the image. I think this was described in Wayne G. Sayles' book? Really like that fact about Trachys. Mainly because something that seems like a mint error was being used, deliberately, by mint workers to complete their work. Having an incomplete design on a coin could also be seen as a mint error. So the question is: which mint "error" is worse? Incomplete design, or shifted double-strike? Seems like the answer was usually missing elements of the design.

    Then there are the trachys that you can't make anything out on them. :)
  13. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Fantastic first thread, I look forward to many more!! (Isn't Doug's just the king of overstrikes? So awesome. :cool:)

    Here's my newest overstrike, recently obtained from @Valentinian (his photo):
    Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 7.53.22 PM.jpg
    Constantine IV (SB1182) over Constans II (SB 1014): Crisp, clear, and hilariously off-centre. I had to have it. :) Also nice to have an example with such a dramatic difference in denomination (follis to decanummium).

    My other favourite Byzantine overstrike is Tiberius III (SB 1366) on Leontius (SB 1334), scarce on scarcer:
    Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 7.52.14 PM.jpg
  14. BenSi

    BenSi Supporter! Supporter

    You will find early Alexius I tetartera overstruck over anonymous follis types, that is because of the shortage of copper and the need to get the new denominations out quickly. However after his rule to the fall of Constantinople to the latins in 1204 You do not see overstruck tetartera, I believe it is because they simply stayed in circulation and were issued by new rulers only when the economy needed them. Several observations back this, to find any tetartera in excellent condition is a huge rarity, they are normally well worn. You also have a ruler like Alexius II produce no known coinage but his fathers coinage Manuel I is some of the most abundant, Also imitation tetartera minted in the 13th century imitates coins of Alexius and Manuel rulers who had left the planet 50 + years earlier. So I think a real change in thinking occurred, coins were not automatically created for a new ruler, they were created when shortages of the denomination occurred

    Here is one of my favorite overstrikes because most likely the same coin appears as two different numbers in Sears catalog.


    OBV Jeweled radiate Cross, decorated at the end of each limb with one large globule and two smaller, all on two steps.

    REV. Bust of emperor wearing stemma, divitision and jeweled loros of traditional type; holds in r. hand scepter cruciger and in l. Globus cruciger.

    Size 25/22mm

    Weight 3.2gm

    DOC lists 25 examples with weights running from1.09gm to 4.22gm and sizes ranging from 17mm to 23mm

    This example is more than likely the coin listed as S-1910 , Sear 1931 struck over a Class I or Class K anonymous follis. Hendys ( S-1910) lists at 2.96gm around 23mm
  15. ancient coin hunter

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

    Great thread. I don't have any overstrikes - simply not "eye-catching" enough for me. But I do like the anonymous folle struck over that as of Gordian III. So here's a question - were coins of Gordian III still circulating during the time of the Byzantine Empire? For that matter, how about other emperors' issues?

    If so, how would one value late roman bronze against the earlier issues, or folles of the tetrarchs to the earlier antoninianus, and the coinage after the reform of Anastasius?

    It seems pretty complex, but I don't recall any edicts stating that "earlier" coins were not legal tender. If so, then there must have been some sort of system to relate all of the weights, denominations, and values to each other, sort of like the function of the money changers in the Temple from the Gospels.
    7Calbrey likes this.
  16. Herberto

    Herberto Well-Known Member

    Heraclius. There is a "X" (marked with pink) which should not be there. It is most likely an "X" from Phocas' coins which tended to have 4 "X" to imply 40 nummi.
    610-641 Heraclius 10 S805.jpg

    Constantine VII overstruck on Romanus:
    913-959 Constantine VII 2 S1761.JPG
    913-959 Constantine VII 2 S1761 - Kopi.JPG

    Romanus. The red marks are from:
    920-944 Romanos I Lecapenus S1760.JPG

    Constantine VII. Then it was overstruck, in which the yellow marks came. David Sear says such coins beneath are often overstruck on Romanus.
    913-959 Constantine VII 21 S1761.JPG
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2018
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  17. Caesar_Augustus

    Caesar_Augustus Well-Known Member

    Thank you @Severus Alexander :)! Those are some beautiful overstrikes on coins of less common Emperors. Very nice and shows how, what would have been, some of the worst periods in the Empire manifested itself in the coinage.

    Very interesting overstrike @BenSi, thank you for sharing. Speaking of Tetrateron, I received my very first one (I think its a half denomination at less than 2g?) today. Perhaps another post is required for this? :)

    That's a very good question. It seems difficult to tell but wouldn't it be realistic that a hoard was just found in a farm, or something, which was used to pay off some of the tax to the authorities. The authorities could then overstrike on those coins just as they overstrike on any other ones? Maybe they never even look at the coin's previous design because of the quantity they process at high rate? Not sure. It's just speculation it seems, but that's so fun! :)

    If there was a weight based systems then wouldn't that devalue the denomination system put in place by the government? The M, K, I, etc... denominations? Would money act as representation of value, or would it be the value itself? Lots to think about. Thanks for sharing those interesting insights and questions @Severus Alexander.

    Seems like the Romans saw overstriking coins as normal well into the late, and even more prosperous, periods of the Byzantine times. Very nice coins @Herberto Here's a Constantine VII Prophyrogenitos that was overstruck on likely a Romanis I Lekapenos follis. It is haard to tell.

    Thanks for sharing your interesting coins, everyone! :) I just noticed my thread got featured? :O So grateful for that! Wow, thank you, guys.
  18. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    Nice coins!
    Caesar_Augustus likes this.
  19. ancient coin hunter

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

    Your thread deserved it - congrats! Now you are a cointalk.com celebrity.
    RAGNAROK and Caesar_Augustus like this.
  20. Caesar_Augustus

    Caesar_Augustus Well-Known Member

    Thank you @ancient coin hunter. :) Also thanks, Randy!

    Got this really cool overstrike in the mail today. Seems to be a Heraclius & Heraclius Constantine from Constantinople overstruck on a Focas from Constantinople. This one is really cool as the details are sharp from both designs in the reverse, sort of like the Constantine X in the OP.

    I'd like to bring your attention to the "ANNO" for both designs on the reverse. They are overlapping each other in a way such that the result looks like "ONNO". How cool is that? :D

  21. Milesofwho

    Milesofwho Omnivorous collector

    And it’s double dated! Phocas year seven (or eight) and Heraclius year three!
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