Featured The Coinage Reform of Anastasius

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

  1. sand

    sand Well-Known Member

    Hello @BenSi
    Here is some information, which I gathered, and which I posted previously, in a different thread. I'm not an expert on this subject. Comments, corrections, and additional information are welcome.
    The short answer :
    I think that, your smaller Anastasius folles, were minted before your large Anastasius follis was minted.
    The long answer, regarding the size of Byzantine 40 nummi folles, in general :
    The average "nummus" bronze coin declined from 10 grams in weight and 30 mm in diameter with 5% silver during the time of the Tetrarchy including Diocletian in 294 AD, to approximately 1 gram in weight and 10 mm in diameter with no silver by the time of Anastasius I in 498 AD. Then, in 498 AD, Anastasius I created a 40 nummi bronze coin, called a "follis" by present day numismatists, which was supposed to be worth 40 of the old small nummus coins (therefore it had the Greek numeral for 40, the letter "M", on the reverse). However, the first version of the 40 nummi coin weighed only 3 grams to 10 grams, and had a diameter of 20 mm to 25 mm. Ordinary citizens were unhappy with it, because its weight was nowhere close to the weight of 40 of the old small nummus coins. Therefore, in 512 AD, Anastasius I created a larger version of the 40 nummi coin, which weighed between 15 grams and 20 grams, and had a diameter of 31 mm to 40 mm. This coin still did not weigh as much as 40 of the old small nummus coins, but it was large enough and impressive enough that ordinary citizens accepted it. The 40 nummi coin represented further inflation, because it weighed way less than 40 of the old small nummus coins. But at least the average bronze coin was large again, and therefore more useful as coinage, along with new 20 nummi coins, 10 nummi coins, and 5 nummi coins. After reaching a maximum diameter of up to 45 mm in 540 AD under Justinian I, the 40 nummi coin gradually shrank to 14 mm to 18 mm in diameter by the end of the 8th century AD, and lost the letter "M" on the reverse, as the Byzantine Empire lost northern Africa including Egypt, most of Italy, and the Holy Land. The 40 nummi follis coin grew larger again in the 9th century AD (Why? I don't know), growing to a diameter of 25 mm to 30 mm. In 1092, the 40 nummi follis coin was replaced by small tetarteron bronze coins (16 mm to 21 mm diameter) and larger, thin, cup shaped trachy bronze coins (initially 30 mm or so, initially with 6% or 7% silver, but eventually having almost no silver, and then shrinking during the 14th century AD). Toward the bitter end of the Byzantine Empire, in the 14th century AD and 15th century AD, there were other, mostly small, bronze coins, called "assarion" (small), "follaro" (small), "stamenon" (sometimes larger), and "tornese" (small).
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2021
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  3. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    They went from small to big in successive reforms of 498 and 512, as discussed on this page:


    under "copper coins" here

    The tiny pre-reform nummus was succeeded by the "small module" "M" follis which was still too small and replaced by the "large module" "M" follis.
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  4. BenSi

    BenSi Supporter! Supporter

    As you were typing I was reading some of the final chapters od DM Metcalf "The Origins of the Anastasian Currency reform. The book was published in 1969.

    He states it is debatable but the consensus was small module first then the larger one, this was continued by Justin I.
    He also mentions the smaller ones continued to circulate with the large ones but only given half the value of their markings. The only proof towards this is a scarcity of the large half follis.

    I always take D.M. Metcalf with a grain of salt because he might have changed his mind as his years progressed as he did on many subjects.
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  5. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    I promise I mistyped...
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  6. BenSi

    BenSi Supporter! Supporter

    Thank You, what is your source on the info? Was it found documented?

    Yes true BUT if you look at the later class of the Anonymous follis the dropped to around 5gm. So the tetarteron was almost it equal but defiantly small change . The billion tetarteron ( Only minted in Constantinople and contained 2-4% silver) was thought to be the equivalent in value to the follis, it is rarely mentioned because it is not in Sear or any other catalog besides DOC IV.

    Thank You , I will have some more reading to do.

    I appreciate your replies.
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  7. sand

    sand Well-Known Member

    I don't seem to remember, the sources of that info. I'll let you know, if I find them. Some of the information, seems to be in Grierson's book "Byzantine Coins" on pages 59 and 60. Other parts of the information, seem to be in the @Valentinian page http://augustuscoins.com/ed/Byz/#copper
    Thank you for the information, regarding the Anonymous folles decreasing in size. I didn't know that. I'll definitely try to read more about that, in the near future.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2021
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  8. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    There is a thin book by D. M. Metcalf, The Origins of the Anastasian Currency Reform, published in 1969, which has more than most of us want to know about this.
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  9. Andrew McMenamin

    Andrew McMenamin Nerva You Mind

    Beautiful coin!
  10. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter



    Yes, it is MIBE 24 = Sear 17. Metcalf, Anastasian Currency Reform 91-94.
    This example is 23 mm and 12.05 grams (remarkably heavy for the "small module" coins). These are all from officina Є.
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  11. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    And an anepigraphic minimus/nummus -- where these anepigraphic pieces earlier or later in the reign of Anastasius?

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  12. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    That is a very nice nummus with a better bust than most.

    The ones with "A" (for "1" nummus) are attributed to the reign of Justinian (527-565) at Carthage. Sear 280, 281, and 282:

    8 mm. 0.44 grams. Sear 281. DOC I 308. Bijovsky INR 6/2001 "533/4-539".
    Struck at Carthage.


    Another. 8 mm. 0.50 grams. Sear 281. DOC I 308.


    A different-shaped "A". 8 mm. 0.72 grams. Sear 282. DOC I 310. "548-565"
    Bijovsky INR 6/2001 "552-565."

    The Bijovsky article is "From Carthage to the Holy Land: The ‘Palm Tree’ Nummus" which has a table with dates of many types of nummi from Carthage including Vandal and Byzantine types. I got my pdf copy from Academia.edu.
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  13. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    I don't think it's an A on the reverse (or better said, not just the A that is on the specimens @Valentinian provided), but rather one of the monograms assigned to Anastasius. I think it's DOC 15.6.
  14. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Ah! My bad! I see it now as a monogram, weak on the right side. Sorry!
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