Featured The Coinage Reform of Anastasius

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by ancient coin hunter, Feb 17, 2020.

  1. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander find me at NumisForums Supporter


    These even have substantially the same monogram as the Anastasius type, but the legends on your examples make it clear that they are issued under Justin. For the second one, possibly even Justinian? (What the heck does the monogram stand for then?)

    This suggests to me that, without a legend, it's virtually impossible to tell whether a particular piece is Anastasius or Justin. Would you agree?

    I knew there were some "nummi" issued under Justinian in the west, but I didn't take the denomination that seriously. Now I will. And it seems the denomination lasted in the east a lot longer than I realized.
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  3. Black Friar

    Black Friar Well-Known Member

    One day I hope to start a thread..

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  4. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander find me at NumisForums Supporter

    I would strongly recommend inserting the full images into your posts - that way many more people will see them. Once you've uploaded your images, some buttons appear enabling you to do this. Either click on "Full Image" after "Insert every image as a..."; or you can pick and choose from the list of images below. They'll be inserted wherever your cursor is.

    Fantastic coins! And yet another star-on-shoulder Anastasius.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
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  5. Brian Bucklan

    Brian Bucklan Well-Known Member

    The Anastasius monogram types are pretty common (although the ones I am seeing here are really high quality examples), but this one is just a little bit different:
    Anastasius Monogram Cross 3.jpg
  6. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Maurice (582-602) also issued nummi. Here is one:


    8-6 mm.
    Bust left/monogram of Maurice
    Sear 572, Carthage. DOC --, BMC --, Ratto --, MIBEC (Hahn) 135
  7. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    I posted the obverse of this coin on facebook and somebody remarked that Anastasius had one blue eye and one black eye, which I had never heard of.
  8. EWC3

    EWC3 (mood: stubborn)

    Thanks – I suspect you are right. There is a translation of the Priscian Panegyric in this:


    For economic matters see the translation of line 193 following (its on page 65 in the text, but 73 of the PDF). Its consistent with what we are told, but thin on detail.

    Probably there is better stuff in Procopius – and there is a great deal of his stuff on Justinian on line (Secret History, Buildings etc) but his panegyric on Anastasius is hardly even mentioned as far as I can see, and I could not get any translation of it on line.

    Rob T
  9. EWC3

    EWC3 (mood: stubborn)

    Further to my last – I note that most coin people date the start of the Byzantine period to Anastasius, following Grierson, Sear etc. Grierson mentions this practice went back to Wroth in 1908. Grierson also says he chose it himself exactly because of the “decisive change” in the creation of the “Byzantine follis” by Anastasius. Its kind of disappointing that, if the start of the Byzantine period itself can be credited to a monetary reform, we still do not have easy access to the primary documents explaining why it happened. But actually, the situation in the online world is very much worse than that.

    Wikipedia includes a page devoted to “Byzantine Economics” which runs to about 5,000 words. It avoids mentioning the fact that Anastasius ever reformed the currency! That dire situation is not untypical of the level of coverage monetary and coinage history gets on line in general, in my experience. To be honest, I find it puzzling that few others speak up on the matter.

    More than 150 years ago Dickens wrote these lines, which I judge can be adopted today to describe many modern attempts to explain important aspect of monetary history:

    The Circumlocution Office

    This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country, was first distinctly revealed to statesmen. It had been foremost to study that bright revelation and to carry its shining influence through the whole of the official proceedings. Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving — HOW NOT TO DO IT.

    Rob T
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  10. EWC3

    EWC3 (mood: stubborn)

    I just noticed that a fair amount of text is available on line on google books from Hendy’s “Studies in the Byzantine Monetary Economy c. 300-1450”

    I recall borrowed a copy back when it first came out in 1985, and became thoroughly irritated by it after a few pages. But its so long since I can hardly remember why. So I thought, now I have rather more grey hairs – to give it another go.

    From the online text I make two negative point and a positive one:

    Hendy discusses the Fisher equation (page 3) , which was a hot topic back then, but goes on to imply that the Byzantines would not even have a grasp of the basic elements of the quantity theory of money. That still seems bunk to me today. Surely Julius Caesar etc introduced laws against hoarding specifically to boost the velocity of circulation? An entire ancient Chinese Confucian theory of taxation was built around the quantity theory of money (Guanzi/Kuan Tzu). Such arguments - that the ancients were so incredibly stupid seem aimed at boosting the egos of college kids today, rather than rationally dealing with the past.

    Hendy rejects the dating of the start Byzantine period to Anastasius, prefering Diocletian (p. 16). Seems weird to me – Diocletian famously had a failed economic policy, Anastasius a very successful one. Hendy thinks the dating to Anastasius is “arbitrary” since Anastasius made few structural changes to the monetary system. That seems controversial, in itself, but also it seems to me misses the main point. Anastasius was responsible for restarting the cash/market economy. Adam Smith got called “the Father of Economics” for merely explaining the basis of that idea. Anastasius not only had the idea – he also put it into practice…..

    Now to a positive point

    Hendy (in 1985) stated that numismatics should be a means to an end – the end of understanding past civilizations (p. 10). He states that divisions between numismatists and historian had been “little short of disastrous” for our understanding of Byzantine Economics, and that the position of numismatists in this regard was “inexcusable”.

    Ha! And Hendy thought things were bad in 1985……..

    Rob T
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  11. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    Very nice!!!
  12. Voulgaroktonou

    Voulgaroktonou Well-Known Member

    It's not always easy deciphering the monograms on these tiny coins, especially when the differences between them are subtle, as with these 2 reigns. And add to that the often careless striking...But you're right, in that given the often abscence of an obverse inscription, the monogram is often all we have to go on. I'm currently studying a group of several hundred 5th c. nummi from Theodosius II to Basiliscus, and some of them that exist in many varieties such as those of Leo I, are wearing out my eyes! The monogram of Anastasius on the left is built around the initial letters AN in a block formation, with the right upright stroke of the N doing double service as a lunate sigma. An omicron sits at the apex of the A, while a "v" shaped upsilon tops the sigma, whose top horizontal line also represents T. So the name in the genitive case ANACTACIOV is more or less spelled out. Whew...(I had to work on Byzantine seals years ago, and while I admit they are invaluable to the historical record, I also find their monograms challenging.) On the 2nd and 3rd. coins of Justin, the monogram is similar in form to that of Anastasius, but the abscence of the A is significant. The N forms the center of it, with again, an omicron at the upper left, and the right upright stroke serves multiple use as I, T, Sigma, and upsilon: IOVCTINOV. Although I lack an example, Hahn also notes another Antiochene nummus (NN67). Its monogram is cruciform and I think is a little easier to decipher. I hope all this makes sense. While I have been trying to write this, my 3 dogs have been going off every few minutes with barking fits alerting me to the horrible dangers of people strolling past our house!

    Monograms, Anastasius and Justin I.jpg

  13. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander find me at NumisForums Supporter

    Absolutely, thank you! I will look for the absence of that crossbar, and the quaduple-duty upright. (And actually I envy you getting to plow through all those nummy nummi! :joyful:)
  14. Voulgaroktonou

    Voulgaroktonou Well-Known Member

    Severus Alexander, you are most welcome! It's so nice to be able to meet fellow enthusiasts through CT. When my interest in ancient coins began in the early 1960s one had the impression of living in isolation! Fortunately, early on, I was introduced to an older collector. He became my mentor and developed into a lifelong friend!
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  15. Brian Bucklan

    Brian Bucklan Well-Known Member

    @Voulgaroktonou : I've been following your discussions and as a long time collector of these little monogram types I've learned some things I didn't know previously. I was hoping you could take a sec and look at this one, a nummus cruciform monogram of Justin II (I think):
    Justin II Monogram.jpg
    I have others of Justin II and they do not have the crossbar under the top "V", which this one obviously does. Is this just a variation of that type or am I missing something?
  16. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Thanks for all of the discussion of the tiny nummus. A coin I knew little about.
  17. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    I have one:

    9 mm. 0.80 grams.
    It is not in Sear, but Hahn, MIBE has it as Justin I, NN67, plate 10, dated to 522-527. I numbered mine Sear 111A
  18. Brian Bucklan

    Brian Bucklan Well-Known Member

    @Valentinian :

    I had a feeling that this may be Hahn NN67 but I don't have that particular reference book, and it didn't turn up any example on a google search.

    Hard to believe that the addition or subtraction of a single crossbar leads to the conclusion that one is Justin I and the other Justin II, to me it's more likely just a variation of the same coin. For that matter, do these pieces belong to Justin I or Justin II? Not sure, although Justin II makes a tad bit more sense as it follows the cruciform examples of Justinian (or maybe Justin I started this, and Justinian followed along).
  19. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    I agree. We cannot say the quality control was high and every difference was intentional.

    There is a "Justin" AE4, Hahn's MIBE 34, plate 7, that looks a great deal like an Anastasius AE4, missing only the V-like crossbar which would complete the "A". Is it really Justin, or just a defective Anastasius?

    There are some other doubtful Byzantine-coin attributions. On my site about coins of Byzantine Cherson
    I discuss some attributions that are still controversial.

    For example, many sellers and even books like MIBE have adopted attributions of the Cherson "H" denomination from Anokhin. But when you read Anokhin (in translation in the BAR series) you can see his arguments for attributing some to Justin II are extremely weak. I can say the same for his arguments about the dating of the city "Eleutheria" types. (See the site.)
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  20. Voulgaroktonou

    Voulgaroktonou Well-Known Member

    Brian, W. Hahn gives your coin to Justin I in his 2000 first ed. of Money of the Incipient Byzantine Empire as NN67, which is what I thought earlier. Your monogram is the same, a cruciform shape spelling out the name IOVCTINOC . But your coin is nicer than that pictured MIBE - congratulations on a fine example. Hahn had earlier placed the coin in the reign of Justin II in his earlier German edition Moneta Imperii Byzantini, but he notes in the 2000 English edition that more recent hoard evidence led him to move it back to the reign of Justin I. I would love to see photos of your others if that's possible.
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  21. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

    Can anyone help me with attribution. You obviously have better experience with this little AE4. Which emperor is at obverse? Arcadius, Theodosius, Honorius?
    And this one with victoria
    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2020
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