Featured Throwback to the Time of King Arthur or at least the Time of Jerry Seinfeld

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by OutsiderSubtype, Sep 30, 2020.

  1. OutsiderSubtype

    OutsiderSubtype Well-Known Member

    I acquired this heavily clipped siliqua of Valens in CNG eAuction 477:

    It arrived today, and it is very nice in hand, very pleasing silver color and some light toning as their description said.


    Valens. Circa 367-375 CE. Silver Siliqua. 15mm, 1.2g. Trier mint. Obverse: DN VALENS PF AVG, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Valens right. Reverse: VRBS ROMA, figure of Roma seated left, holding Victory on globe and a scepter. RIC IX 27e.1.

    Heavily clipped in post-Roman Britain.

    From CNG Electronic Auction 477. Ex Todd Hansen Collection. Ex Classical Numismatic Review XX.2 (Summer 1995), SP2125 (listed as “Time of King Arthur”).

    Seeing that CNG had previously sold this coin through their Summer 1995 print catalog, I also acquired the Summer 1995 Classical Numismatic Review for a small amount from an online bookseller.

    1995 was the year when Prodigy and AOL made the internet accessible to the general public, which of course would have great affects on coin collecting along with just about everything else in the world.

    I thought I would post a few snippets from the Review as a throwback to that year.

    Here is what the entry for SP2125 says:

    Silver currency of post-Roman Britain. After the final withdrawal of Roman troops from Britain at the beginning of the fifth century AD, the Romanized Celtic population was left to fend for itself against Germanic (Saxon) invasions. Arthur, probably a powerful warlord in early Britain, was one of these defenders. Without the Roman presence, local commerce was left without a continuing supply of new coinage, and no official British coinage was struck for another 200 years. Roman silver siliquae continued to circulate but were routinely clipped to remove silver from the edges. It is still a mystery to modern scholars whether clipping was carried out officially to a particular standard or whether the clipping was simply the private removal of silver for profiteering. We have acquired a group of these clipped siliquae, all struck in the fourth century AD in the reigns of Constantius II, Julian the Apostate, Theodosius I, Honorius, Arcadius, et al. While most no longer have the obverse legend, some can still be attributed to reign by portrait, reverse type, or partial legends. An interesting illustration of how coinage circulated in the declining Roman world, the time of Arthur.

    Interestingly, CNG had this entry as part of a chronological listing of British coins. They were trying to sell to collectors who wanted an example of a Romano-British coin as part of a larger British collection. It's a good idea, and I wish more sellers today would consider organizing their offerings by geography and theme rather than just chronology.

    Other contents of the review that I have read so far include an article on Electrum Sixths and the Treaty of Mytilene and a press release announcing the appointment of Wayne G. Sayles as Director of Marketing and Public Affairs for CNG.

    There are several humorous Letters to the Editor.

    One is salivating over a solidus of Galla Placidia (I can relate).

    One is a song, meant to be sung to the tune of Sixteen Tons, a sample of which:

    A registered letter, and what do you get -
    Another stavraton, and deeper in debt;
    St. Harlan, don't you call me, 'cause I can't buy -
    I owe my soul to the CNG store!

    One is a rather nice cartoon and letter from a Canadian:

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  3. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    very fine one OSt...:)
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  4. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    Enjoy the article about the Treaty of Mytilene. I learned a lot writing it.
    Screen Shot 2020-09-30 at 11.07.29 PM.png
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  5. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Interesting post - and an attractive coin with a great backstory. I suppose hoard evidence would be the ultimate provenance for something like this.

    By coincidence, to go from the interesting to the ridiculous, I just got in an eBay lot today and to my surprise, it came with a "King Arthur Period" coin - slabbed and "INB CERTIFIED" as well as "MUSEUM QUALITY" (whatever that means):

    Theodosius II - Victory K Arthur lot Sep 2020 (0slab).jpg

    I have since broken it out of its slab - not permanently, since the slab was not in any way sealed, it popped open with my thumbnail. I'll put the coin back in so as to preserve its $$$$ value. :woot:

    From what I can tell - and I have about made myself blind staring at this tiny, wretched thing - is that it is a late Roman bronze of Theodosius I or II, Victory dragging a captive, c. 370s-390s A.D.

    But for sure, King Arthur or Merlin or Sir Galahad spent this on some ale down at Ye Olde Grogge Shoppe c. 500 A.D. This has to be true - the slab guarantees it, sort of! :jawdrop:

    Theodosius II - Victory K Arthur lot Sep 2020 (0).jpg
  6. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    "The Annales Cambriae also mention Arthur’s victory at Mons Badonicus (516) and record the Battle of Camlann (537), “in which Arthur and Medraut fell.” ... Gildas’s De excidio et conquestu Britanniae (mid-6th century) implies that Mons Badonicus was fought in about 500 but does not connect it with Arthur." --

    So, any coin associated with Britain before 537 would qualify, as it can be argued that such a coin might have been in Arthur's treasury. That said, though, to be "from the time of Arthur" a coin would have to have been struck in Britain, and I would say between 477 and 537.
    DonnaML, Marsyas Mike and +VGO.DVCKS like this.
  7. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    Based on archaeological evidence, it seems that coins fell out of use entirely during the British Dark Age. Copper was pretty well finished by the Roman pullout. Silver continued in use until about 430. Some continental gold continued to reach the island as bullion as late as 475. From the mid-5th century until about 600, there was very little going on in Britain in terms of an exchange economy. Villages were self-suffient. Taxes were paid in kind. Donatives were gifted in kind. Continental gold coins came back into use in England after 600, as evidenced by the contents of the Sutton Hoo purse. By 625, the Saxons in England were beginning to experiment with minting though full monetization was a decades-long process.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2020
  8. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks, @dltsrq (Grumpy). It seemst that there is no such thing as "a coin from the time of King Arthur" - certainly not from the time and place. (I mean, it doesn't count as "King Arthur" to have a Chinese cash from 516 AD.)

    Just asking, do you have some citations for the archaeological evidence you refered to?
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  9. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    @kaparthy Here is an article I looked through before writing my post: https://brewminate.com/coinage-and-...ta-to-understanding-the-end-of-roman-britain/

    My own interest in the topic began when I was collecting barbarous radiates some years ago. At one time it was believed that the radiate minimi constituted a British Dark Age coinage. In the 1940s Philip Hill went so far as to describe them as the the coins of "Hengist and Horsa with their Jutes". This notion was eventually overturned by a hoard of radiate minimi found at the Verulamium Roman Theatre in 1937, sealed below a pediment laid before the year 300. With some of the smallest and crudest radiate minimi proved to have been roughly contemporary with their prototypes, the onus fell on those who advocated for a Dark Age coinage. By the 1970s a consensus was reached. George Boon ("Counterfeit coins in Roman Britain" in Coins and the Archaeologist, 2nd ed., Seaby, 1988) sums it up eloquently, "Gone are the days when numismatists argued for an extremely late fifth, indeed sixth century - persistence of 'barbarous radiates' and 'falling horsemen'... A Dark Age coinage will not delay us here, for there was none." Boon's article is some 86 pages with extensive references and well worth a read. He also addresses the end of coinage in Britain, including clipped siliquae. It is out of print but often available through the usual sources. A Google search including "coins" and "sub-Roman Britain" will bring up much more. A search for "Patching Hoard" may also prove fruitful.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2020
  10. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Wow, @dltsrq, this was Total News. While not thinking the barbarbarous radiates were as late as the 6th century, I never guessed they were so nearly contemporaneous. ...Hmm. You have to wonder how the ones imitating 4th-century issues compare. But back to the radiates, merely on the basis of what you just reported, it's easy to postulate that the ones found on the Continent, especially imitating the Gallic issues, would be in a comparable chronological range.
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  11. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    @+VGO.DVCKS Yes, Aurelian's reform pretty well ended the barbarous radiates on the continent. The 4th century saw a similar pattern of waves of contemporary imitations ended by reforms of the official coinage. See Pierre Bastien, "Imitations of Roman Bronze Coins, A.D. 318-363", ANS Museum Notes 30 (1985), pp. 143-177.
    +VGO.DVCKS and kaparthy like this.
  12. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Very interesting indeed.

    Late Roman Bronze coins did circulate in the East for much longer, apparently. An earthquake (or Persian invasion?) in Sardis c. 617 A.D. wiped out a bunch of shops, including money in the till, which included a lot of Byzantine folles, of course, but also a lot of Roman bronzes. In fact 50% of the coins found were pre-491 A.D. Roman.

    A while back I posted my source for this, J. Stephens Crawford's book The Byzantine Shops are Sardis:

  13. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    @dltsrq, I had no idea about any of this. Gotta see if the article is findable online. Very, very illuminating.
  14. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

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  15. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Yowie, @dltsrq, it worked!!! I've never stumbled onto this website before. (...I cordially despise Google searches; the algorhythm always wants to sell you garbage first.) It looks Absolutely Brilliant, potentially for all kinds of stuff. ...Academic articles, in full view, for free. What can you not like? This is what the internet was Supposed to look like, as of 30 years ago. Massive thanks for the link.
  16. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    @+VGO.DVCKS I might also add that jstor.org now offers free accounts to individuals, allowing a limited number of "read online" articles per month. Due to COVID-19, the normal limit of 6 per month has been temporarily increased to 100 per month through 12/31/20.
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  17. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    @dltsrq, YOWIE! KA-ZAM! ZOCKO ROBOT! THANK you for that! I, for one, would never have known.
  18. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    @Marsyas Mike, the whole question of how long coins circulated, where and when, is inherently fascinating. I've never done diddly with it, in any given context, but any time you run into even fleeting mentions of the subject, however randomly, it kind of lights up the synapses. The elements of social and economic history are inescapable.
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  19. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    I believe that it was in Francoise Velde's Big Problem of Small Change, but I remember reading that Roman bronze circulated in some places in medieval Spain. And, for that matter, as an aside, I think that in an ANS Coinage of the America's paper, I read that counterfeit British coppers circulated in Applachia into the 1830s.
    Marsyas Mike and +VGO.DVCKS like this.
  20. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    ...Along similar if less reliable lines, I can remember, as a kid (when I was collecting cheap Roman), something, maybe a Bible commentary of a certain theological persuasion, remarking that in the in Middle East of the 1st c. CE, it was common for coins to circulate for several centuries at a time. ...If even fragmentarily true, this would already evoke a case of demand exceeding supply. In any context, particularly in reference to yours of medieval Spain, the next question could be, which of the two criteria (supply, or demand) do you use first, in making any evaluation of the level of 'advancement' of the operant demographic?
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2020
  21. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    I'm sorry but I do not understand the question.

    What is "the level of 'advancement' of the operant demographic"? What is the "operant demographic"?

    Do you mean why would a community continue to use old coins rather than make new ones of their own? Because their demand for coinage is so low that they cannot support a mint of their own? Or because the supply is so scarce that any coin will pass in trade, hence the demand is met?

    I think that it would depend on the actual conditions of the time and place. In the first case - no support for a mint - I would look to Appalachia. OTOH for that I would offer Canadian "blacksmith" tokens as a counter-example. Because any metals technology could be put to use making money, if it were demanded.
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
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