The artistic beauty of Byzantium coins

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by oldfinecollector, Feb 23, 2020.


Do you collect Byzantium coins ?

  1. Yes

    9 vote(s)
  2. No

    9 vote(s)
  3. I think to have some Byzantium coins in the future

    1 vote(s)
  1. oldfinecollector

    oldfinecollector Well-Known Member

    Before collecting coins I was found of art history particularly Byzantium art and Roman art among other subjects, even I was following the art history courses at The Louvre museum in Paris and now retired early of business I follow courses about Celtic arts history and comparative art.

    when I decided to began a small selective collection of Byzantine coinage I focus it on the best quality I can afford to enjoy the artistic value of Byzantium coinage.

    It very difficult to find about XF or XF Byzantium coins as you know so it is a pretty small collection with some coins from famous old collection like the Lemenstoll collection. I hope to add each year 2 to 3 coins of high end grade if possible.

    so first for the gold section one tremissis of Theodore II that to my opinion is the beginning of Byzantium art in Roman coinage

    Theodore II tremissis RIC 213 / 269

    FD7DB14E-DC8B-4020-800F-2F74A8A27F77.jpeg 87965DFC-A0D0-4319-A937-2728F1DD0E09.jpeg

    From Elsen and sons
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2020
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  3. oldfinecollector

    oldfinecollector Well-Known Member

    Constant II sear 956 Solidus

    8F53AAB5-DCB2-4C38-9D84-80D8D0938699.jpeg 6AC320F6-08B7-4DC5-972E-B52C4EEA1A87.jpeg

    From Elsen & sons
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2020
  4. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Gold coins are almost always better than silver or base coins, but personally, I do not care for the "artistry" of Byzantine era coins. The portraiture seem to be cartoonish as compared to Greek or early Roman coinage. Just my opinion. Everyone has one (opinion) just as we all have certain body orifices. :eek:
    TIF, Johndakerftw, DonnaML and 6 others like this.
  5. oldfinecollector

    oldfinecollector Well-Known Member

    You are not alone to find too childish the art of Byzantium coinage, this is certainly less collectors are willing to buy them.
    Tony1982 and Roman Collector like this.
  6. Caesar_Augustus

    Caesar_Augustus Well-Known Member

    I like Byzantine Coins because they tell the story of a life or death struggle that the Romans eventually lost and are now almost gone as a people. I find the story starts much sooner at the time of Diocletian's reforms. So I collect from Diocletian to the fall of the Empire exclusively.
  7. ominus1

    ominus1 Be seeing you!.. Supporter

    ..i've got a few, but not really into those coins per say...
  8. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I like to read about Byzantine history and I am an admirer of the Byzantine people who were able to defend themselves, more or less, from every two bit conqueror to constant waves of barbarian hordes. For much of history the Empire fielded the best trained and equipped troops (and navy) of any existing people. I visited Constantinople (OK, Istanbul) and very much grew to appreciate their architecture and their artistry in mosaics is breathtaking, but that said, I could never warm up to their coinage. From frozen solemnity to illegible, metallic mud pies, the best I can say for their coinage is, there was a lot of it.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2020
  9. oldfinecollector

    oldfinecollector Well-Known Member

    Now for silver in fact it is billon, a great Trachy I bought from a French reliable coin dealer friend Bnumis

    Alexis I Sear 1918 aspron Trachy

    Last edited: Feb 23, 2020
  10. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I think all of us have a few of these raggedy-flan big M folles:

    Justin and Sophia follis Nicomedia.jpg Phocas and Leontia follis Constantinople.jpg
  11. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Exactly as Bing said. I am put off by the residual empire's economy, labyrthine politics, lost glory and achievement, artistry (cartoonish and garish). In my view, a sad decline of Human Achievement.

    BZ Justinian I 527-565 CE AE30 Folles 12.2g 40 Nummi M monogram.jpg
    BZ Justinian I 527-565 CE AE Folles 30mm 17g 40 Nummi M monogram.jpg
    BZ Anastasius I 491-518 AE Post Reform Folles M monogram.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2020
  12. oldfinecollector

    oldfinecollector Well-Known Member

    From Bnumis too a half tetarteron from Cyprus Sear 1934 , Sear and Philip Grearson considered it as extremely rare. I will say that from resent studies it level of rarity is R4 at least some will say R5.

  13. oldfinecollector

    oldfinecollector Well-Known Member

    Now some more common bought to Elsen & sons

    311E59D4-CC8C-490F-B32A-F2694C946F72.jpeg 6847D732-8EDF-49C4-BF90-D3A05CB04EF2.jpeg 71209BFB-7525-4DFB-8B7B-5D61562B742C.jpeg 84A5BBA8-8CE3-4AE6-B541-C605B934BAE9.jpeg FBF3F543-EA15-4496-9742-ED21B1997DDD.jpeg 1C82FC65-F944-4D70-A01E-F8BF36B983C3.jpeg
  14. oldfinecollector

    oldfinecollector Well-Known Member

    It is a pretty small collection that should growth over time to include rare coins and gold ones.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  15. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    I'd agree Byzantine coins are an acquired taste - an perhaps too an acquired taste to appreciate the Byzantine political/cultural achievement. But I've found it rewarding to poke around the coins and the history in an amateur way.

    At the very least, you can get your fill of gruesome: I was surprised to find a couple years back that Wikipedia has an article entitled: "Political mutilation in Byzantine culture." Since it is wrong for Christians to kill, even your political rival, it became a custom to blind, cut off noses, etc.

    Wilkipedia provides a nice chart - somebody ought to put together a "Mutilation Collection" of Byzantine coins.

    Speaking of mutilation, here is my latest Byzantine. This is one of those giant forward-facing bust folles of Justinian I. They are not exactly hard to find, but they are very popular and therefore very expensive. Thanks to some non-political mutilation (the hole, I mean) I got it on the cheap.

    Byz - Justinian I Follis Const Feb 2020 (0).jpg

    Justinian I Æ Follis
    Year 20 (546-547 A.D.)
    Nicomedia Mint

    DN IVSTINIANVS PP AVG, helmeted, cuirassed bust facing, holding cross/globe and shield, cross right / Large M, ANNO left, cross above, XX right, B below, NIKO in exergue.
    SB 201; DOC 117b.
    (18.00 grams / 32 mm)
  16. oldfinecollector

    oldfinecollector Well-Known Member

    I think that in the XIX centuries history studies fall on Roman Empire like Gibbons culture considered this time as a Dark Age , it was in fact the continuation of the Roman Empire oriental part. I understand that many collector that focus on classical aesthetics Greek and Roman need to know more on this important part of Art history,
    Theodosius and Marsyas Mike like this.
  17. Suarez

    Suarez Well-Known Member

    I don't think you need to be so apologetic. Nobody is going to deny that almost the entire run of Byzantine coinage is in the toilet, artistically speaking. However, the part that you might not have considered is that the degraded art is in itself appealing to collectors. Have you seen early British coinage? Merovingian? Hell, pretty much all European coinage didn't have competent engravers until the Renaissance and despite this there's no shortage of collectors.

    Possibly the ugliest coins ever made are those of Constantine XI and I'd just about trade a kidney for one :-D

  18. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    I've tried to appreciate Byzantine coins, but they just don't appeal to me. I suppose I should be grateful there are those out there that prefer Byzantine coins to earlier coins. Less competition = lower prices (maybe).
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2020
    Ryro likes this.
  19. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    I like Byzantine coins and the schismatic history that goes along with them. You read about the fiendish Justinian in Procopius, the panegyric of Anna Comnena in the "Alexiad" about Alexius Comnenus, and the great contortions of the state and society whether you are talking about the blues and green factions in the hippodrome or the battles between the iconoclasts and the iconodules over the nature of religious artistic expression. We go from cartoonish coins (probably Constans II folles are the worst) to sublime portraits of Christ with the gospels in the anonymous coins. We witness a society's transformation over the course of more than 1,000 years of continuous existence. Heck, our society in the U.S. since the time of the Constitution has changed dramatically, who knows if we will still be minting coins and issuing bills in 740 years, or even if we will last that long as a nation. That said, I primarily focus on Roman Imperials.


  20. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    As a whole they don't really appeal to me, although I have dabbled a bit. I can appreciate a nice Byzantine after looking at the wretched European medievals (cross with a legend around it? Yawn!) But I do prefer earlier Roman and Greek coins. That said...
    Zeno solidus victory cross.jpg
    Anastasius tremissis victoria avgvstorvm.jpg Justin follis thessalonica.jpg Justinian Solidus VICTORIA AVGGG.jpg
    Arab Byzantine three caliphs.jpg
    Byzantine anonymous follis class B.jpg
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