Featured The coin formally known as class N

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by David@PCC, May 16, 2018.

  1. David@PCC

    David@PCC Well-Known Member

    This would have been better to post on Prince's birthday next month but why wait now that the coin is in hand.
    Anyone that collects anonymous Byzantine Folles knows they come in categories or classes ranging from A to K, and the rare hardly seen L, M, N also. These classes were established by margret Thompson a century ago when excavating the Athenian agora which can be read about here. The classifications have evolved some since then as well. They are bronze coins that were minted over a period of two centuries and labeled anonymous due to the lack of inscription of under whose authority they were minted, or at least I presume. However they are now associated to various rulers during that period. It's actually kind of confusing and probably an outdated system, but it's what we have to work with.

    Every one of them has an image of Christ on the obverse, and most with the Greek inscription IC XC. It is derived from the first and last letters of ΙΗΣΟΥΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ (Jesus Christ), leaving ΙΣ ΧΣ. And depending on which version of sigma is used gives IC XC. If this is incorrect, a better explanation would be appreciated. It is often hard to make out the obverse image of Christ, so here is an image that is used on most of them including many other Byzantine coins.

    The other half of the anonymous issues have other forms of Christ ranging from full length, sitting, ect.
    Now getting back to class N. As far as I know only 2 examples were know in the early 1970's when these were being studied for publication. At the time those 2 examples did not have readable obverse inscriptions, so they were added to a new anonymous class "N". Fast forward 20 years and more examples came to light, and those had a name on the obverse. His name was Nicephorus Basilacius. He was a rebel general who held the city of Thessalonica during the summer of 1078, revolting against the legitimate emperor Nicephorus III, Botaniates. He was defeated by Alexius Comnenus and blinded afterwards.
    So until recently class N folles were truly anonymous, however they are still often referred to as 'class N'. Since he was not in control at the time, he used existing coins and overstruck them with his own design.

    I never expected to have one of these last 3 classes which Sear lists as 'extremely rare', but jumped on this one where the seller had just a vague description. Certainly only the underbidder and I knew what it was.
    Nicephorus Basilacius
    Thessalonica mint
    Formally class N
    Usurper, 1078
    Obvs: Facing bust of Christ Pantokrator; barred IC XC across fields.
    Revs: Patriarchal cross on base; barred IC XC / NI KA across fields.
    Æ Follis, 26x29mm, 8.93g
    Ref: DOC, p. 706, N.1; P. Grierson, "Nicephorus Bryennius or Nicephorus Basilacius?" NumCirc LXXXIV.1 (January 1976), type a; R. Bland, "A Follis of Nicephorus Basilacius?" NC 1992, pl. 36, B; SB 1903A.
    Note: Over struck on class D, E, or F.

    I can make out 2 or 3 characters on the obverse, but am unsure if they belong to Basilacius or the undertype?

    Pile on your anonymous folles.
    BenSi, galba68, Carausius and 27 others like this.
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  3. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Holy smokes, what an awesome score!!!

    Here are the common Class A, B, C, D, and I, this last having been struck by Nicephorus III against whom Basilacius revolted.
    Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 11.06.31 AM.jpg
    Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 11.06.58 AM.jpg
    BenSi, galba68, Quant.Geek and 15 others like this.
  4. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

    Darn. The I. I like the best. A+b are nice also
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  5. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing

    Nice(phorus) coin! Here's mine (a lil rough):

    Nicephorus III
    : 3/4 length figure of Christ facing, nimbate, holding Book of Gospels.
    Reverse: cross with pellets in each extremity, center has 8 point star in circle, C - Φ / N - Δ in the angles.
    Sear Byzantine 1888
    BenSi, Quant.Geek, Curtisimo and 8 others like this.
  6. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    Cool find
    Justin Lee likes this.
  7. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

    Nice find. My class A:
    20170618_122850.jpg 20170618_122837.jpg
  8. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Too bad the underbidder paid attention. It sounds like you were prepared to offer a high bid and, unfortunately, forced to. All varieties of bidding results can happen, including winning for far less than one was prepared to pay, or bidding high and turning out to be the underbidder anyway with no one else even close.

    To show a coin, here is a nice Class D:

    30-26 mm. 12.38 grams.
    Sear 1836
  9. David@PCC

    David@PCC Well-Known Member

    It was one of those I hope no one else notices auctions for me. The starting bid was a hilariously low $15 and no one bid until maybe 30 minutes till close. Out of the 3 bidders I assume the first thought it was a common follis? The only reason I can think the underbidder bid as high as they did, because they knew what it was. But I was still able to get it for maybe 1/10 or even 1/20 of what one would go for at a major auction house. I did put in a bid much higher than the winning one however.
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
    Quant.Geek, Theodosius and Justin Lee like this.
  10. Caesar_Augustus

    Caesar_Augustus Well-Known Member

    That's an incredible find, David! Congratulations! :D

    Here's my Class A2 & Class B:
    BenSi, RAGNAROK, Quant.Geek and 9 others like this.
  11. Theodosius

    Theodosius Unrepentant Fine Style Freak! Supporter

    That is a great find, good work!

    I recently picked up one of Nicephorus III, Botaniates from @Blake Davis from his MORTOWN eBay store.
    Nicephorus Follis 1a.jpg
    Nicephorus III, Botaniates. (1078-1081 AD). AE Follis. 4.90grams, 23mm Constantinople. [IC-XC] to left and right of three-quarter length figure of Christ standing facing, wearing nimbus cross, holding book of gospels and raising right hand, large star to left and right / C-F-N-D in the four corners of a cross with a large dot at the ends of each arm, circle in center containing large star of eight rays. DO 9; Sear 1888.

    This seems like a pretty unusual coin to me. Does anyone know the significance of the reverse design? What do C - F - N - D represent?

    Still have not dug out my real camera setup from the moving boxes.

  12. David@PCC

    David@PCC Well-Known Member

    CΦNΔ = Σταυρέ Φύλαττε Νικήφορον Δεπότη
    which may translate to O Cross, protect Nikephoros Emperor/despotate
  13. Theodosius

    Theodosius Unrepentant Fine Style Freak! Supporter

    Um, wow, how did you know that ?

    My references are all still in boxes and the simple Internet sources had no explanation.

    Caesar_Augustus likes this.
  14. David@PCC

    David@PCC Well-Known Member

    Dumbarton Oaks claims to have found the inscriptions on lead seals. I don't know ancient Greek, so I did some searching on various sites to get the translation. That's why I said the translation might be that, because I had to follow the bread crumbs. And I was curious myself as I have 2 of those coins.
    Theodosius likes this.
  15. Theodosius

    Theodosius Unrepentant Fine Style Freak! Supporter

    Cool, I need to download Dumbarton Oaks while it is available.

  16. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

    Oh nice D
  17. Quant.Geek

    Quant.Geek Well-Known Member

    Oh man! You lucky dog! A difficult and expensive coin to purchase. Here is a recent purchase that somewhat follows the thread:

    Bulgaria, Second Empire: Anonymous (ca. 11th-12th Century CE) Æ Follis (Raduchev & Zhekov 1.0.6; Youroukova & Penchev 152)

    Obv: Facing bust of Christ Pantokrator
    Rev: Latin cross with central X and globus and two pellets at the end of each extremity; crescents to upper left and right, floral scroll below
    Dim: 21mm, 2.43 g, 6h

  18. Blake Davis

    Blake Davis Well-Known Member

    John - I think Wildwinds has the answer - give me a minute - Blake
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  19. Blake Davis

    Blake Davis Well-Known Member

    Was not able to find - out someone out there has to know - I'll check my Byzantine books tonight - Blake
    Theodosius likes this.
  20. Blake Davis

    Blake Davis Well-Known Member

    No luck - nice coin though!! good price too...
  21. BenSi

    BenSi Supporter! Supporter

    Here is a gem from my collection , Class G, I wish I could get the green of Christ face. It is stable but it takes from the coin. i4.jpg

    Here is another couple of favorites. j4.jpg

    And this one, the Christ portrait, rough but a bit haunting. h4.jpg
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