Top 10 of 2020 (From FitzNigel)

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by FitzNigel, Dec 9, 2020.

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  1. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

    I am shocked to say that this has been a very good year for my collection. I did not have much enthusiasm for my collection when the year began, and when COVID hit, I was concerned about my employment. It turns out the pandemic was actually beneficial for my work (private school willing to meet in person and virtually attracted more students than usual), and so my concerns about staying employed went away. Staying at home and not traveling also added some unexpected extra cash, which allowed me to pick up some pieces I wouldn’t normally. Toning down my purchases next year is going to be tough! Okay, unlike many others this year, I have tortured myself to try to actually rank them, so starting with #10:

    10. Boy Bishop Token
    Med-09d-Eng-1485-temp Henry VII-Tok-BBG-Bury-4228.jpg
    England
    temp. Henry VII-Henry VIII (c. 1485-1530)
    Bury St. Edmunds ‘Boy Bishop’ PB Token, 26.28mm x 4.40 grams
    Obv.: +SANCTE NICHOLAE ORA PRO NO. Bust of St. Nicholas right, wearing mitre and holding crozier
    Rev.: AVE | REX | GEN | TIS inside, ECCE | NOVA | FACIO | OMNIA outside, around a long cross with three pellets in each angle
    Ref.: De Wit 4228


    While not my first token, this is my first Medieval Token! I was aware of the existence of the tokens of the Boy Bishop, but never really considered owning one. As I was browsing eBay, I saw this one pop up from a reputable seller, so I nabbed it! A small write-up I posted on St. Nicholas’ day can be found here.

    9. Normandy PAX Denier
    Med-05a-FNor-1075-William II-D-XX-23var.jpg
    Feudal France - Normandy
    William II-William Clito/Henry I, r. 1035-1135 (1075-1130)
    AR Denier, 19.02 mm x 1.0 grams
    Obv.: +NORMANNIA. Patriarchal Cross with two pellets below. Legend begins at 3h
    Rev.: Church pediment, containing pellet, surmounted by cross, the letters P A X within semicircles on each side
    Ref.: Dumas XX-23 variety
    Ex. Richard A. Jourdan Collection
    Note: Dumas group C et D according to Moesgaard


    I’ve been trying to focus a bit on the coins of the Normans, particularly those minted in Normandy. The later coins (after Richard the Fearless) tend to be quite rough, however. There is a surprisingly wide variety of designs that came out of Normandy, and this one is not particularly rare, but it is a nicer example. We can’t date these precisely, but the inclusion of ‘PAX’ on this issue might be a mirror of William the Conqueror’s issue from England, which has prompted speculation that this may have been issued by him in Normandy.

    8. Laudislaus II of Bohemia Denar
    Med-15-Boh-1140-Ladislaus II-D-B-16-2.jpg
    Bohemia
    Ladislaus II, r. 1140-1172 (1140-1158)
    AR Denar, 17.23 mm x 1.0 grams
    Obv.: +DVX VVLADIZLAVS. Saint anointing a standing figure
    Rev.: +SCS WENCEZLAVS. Sitting figure on left, Standing figure to right, standard between
    Ref.: Frynas B.16.2
    Note: Issued as Duke of Bohemia, before being crowned King in 1158


    This was one of the first coins I bought this year, and I never got around to doing a full write-up! This is an issue by Laudislaus II as Duke of Bohemia before he was crowned King in 1158 with Frederick Barbarossa’s approval. Exactly what the imagery on the coin is meant to convey is a bit of a mystery, but I loved the artistry of the issue. It is apparently also a very rare issue according to Frynas (neither the De Wit Collection, nor the Marquis von Hohenkubin Collection contain an example). I need to retake the photo though!

    7. Andrea Dandolo of Venice Mezzanino
    Med-12-IVen-1346-Andrea Dandolo-MezN-M-12-1131.jpg
    Italy - Venice
    Andrea Dandolo, r. 1343-1354 (1346-1353)
    AR Mezzanino Nuovo, 15.52 mm x 0.9 grams
    Obv.: ANDADVL ·SMVENE DVX. Saint Mark left receiving candle from Doge right. Or in field (unknown mintmaster)
    Rev.: ·XPS·RES VRESIT·. Christ emerging from sepulchre
    Ref.: MEC 12-1131; CNI VII, 30-3 (pg. 73); cf. De Wit 3640


    These are one of the more visually unique coins issued in the middle ages, with the depiction of Christ rising from his tomb. I missed an opportunity to buy a gorgeous example a couple years ago, and I happened to stumble upon this one on MA-Shops for a reasonable price. Full write-up can be found here.

    6. Manius Aquillius Roman Republican Denier
    Anc-08-R1-jfe-Manius Aquillius Mn f Mn n-D-Rome-401-1.jpg
    Republican Rome
    Manius Aquillius Mn. f. Mn. n., 65 B.C.
    Rome Mint AR Serrate Denarius, 18.19 mm x 4.01 grams
    Obv.: VIRTVS right, III VIR left, helmeted and draped bust of Virtus right
    Rev.: MN AQVIL right, MN.F.MN N left, Manius Aquillius standing right, holding shield and raising up kneeling figure of Sicily
    Ex. Robert Couet


    Each year I let my students choose two special topics that we spend a week delving into greater detail through primary source research. The group this year chose Spartacus and the Slave Wars for one of them. As I was doing preparatory reading, I learned about the existance of some related coins. One was issued by the slave ‘king’ of the First Servile War, Eunus (which I have searched for, and best I can tell the only known example is held in the British Museum), but another coin was issued by a descendent of Manius Aquillius commemorating his success in the Second Servile War. I don’t have any of the in-depth texts and catalogues on Roman Republican coins (I only have Sear which does not list this coin), so I opted not to do a write-up on this particular coin as I’m sure I would miss something. But I loved the imagery and its connection to history - the fact that it was issued around the time of the Spartacus Rebellion is another great nod to its historical context (and the same reverse design would be issued again under Augustus).

    5. Přemysl Ottokar I of Bohemia Denar from the De Wit Collection
    Med-15-Boh-1198-Přemysl Ottokar I-D-B-22-6.jpg
    Bohemia
    Přemysl Ottokar I, r. 1192-3, 1197-1230 (1198-1230)
    AR Denar, 18.70 mm x 1.1 grams
    Obv.: + VSCES[…]VM. Winged figure/angel r. holding lance fighting a dragon
    Rev.: +SCS NSN. Bust of Ottokar facing with raised hands between two towers of a stylized building
    Ref.: Frynas B.22.6 (This coin depicted), De Wit 2764 (this coin), Lanz Graz XIII, 465 (this Coin), (Cach 659, Šmerda 296)
    Ex. Richard A. Jourdan Collection, Ex. Prof. G.W. De Wit Collection, Ex. Marquis von Hohenkubin Collection
    Note: Issued as King of Bohemia, beginning the hereditary line of Bohemian kings


    This is the second Bohemian issue I’ve purchased. I started the year delving into these quite a bit, as they are interesting artistically. This coin in particular was appealing mostly because of the provenance, and it being the plate coin to Frynas’ catalogue. The whole story is here.

    4. A Carolingian Imitation
    Med-01-Car-900-Anon-D-XX.jpg
    Early Medieval - Carolingian Imitation
    Viking / East Francia?, 10th c. (900-920s)
    AR Denier, 20.92 mm x 0.9 grams
    Obv.: Blundered legends surrounding Degenerate CAROLVS monogram
    Rev.: Nonsense legend surrounding cross pattee. Perhaps imitating an issue of Curtisasonien
    Ref.: Moesgaard, ‘A Survey of Coin Production and Currency in Normandy,’ 99-109
    Ex. Todd Hansen Collection, purchased from Superior Stamp and Coin
    Note: Imitating a GDR (Gratia Dei Rex) denier of Charles the Bald (but likely an immobilized issue of Charles the Simple)


    I found a couple of very interesting issues related to my focus on Normandy. This is potentially related: an enigmatic imitation of a Carolingian issue. This was potentially created by the early Normans, but there is no way to really prove that. As high ranking as this coin is on my list, it was an addendum to another purchase this year, but I gave it a short write-up in another thread.

    3. An Irregular issue from the time of the English ‘Anarchy’
    Med-09a-Eng-1138-Irregular Issue-D-Local Varient-Lincoln-Godwine-897.jpg
    England
    Irregular Issue (1138-1153)
    Lincoln Mint, AR Local Issue Penny, 20.01mm x 1.02 grams
    Obv.: [STIEFNE R] Bust facing crowned and diademed
    Rev.: +[?GODWIN]E : ON : L[INC], lozenge with incurved sides, star at center, trefoil at each end, annulet in each corner
    Ref.: North 897, SCBC 1301
    Note: Worn obverse die


    Here’s another one for which I neglected to do a write-up! During the English anarchy (which I did write about some time ago in this post), many of the mints were cautious about showing a particular allegiance to either Stephen or Matilda but still issued coins independently. This is one of those ‘irregular’ issues - and while it looks terribly worn on the obverse, this was intentionally done to obscure the mint’s allegiance.

    2. An English Imitation from Scandinavia
    Med-10-S-1000-English Imitation-D-XX.jpg
    Scandinavia (?)
    English Imitation, 11th c.
    AR Penny, 17.53 mm x 1.7 grams
    Obv.: Bust right, scepter right, imitating Æthelred II ‘Crux’ type
    Rev.: Short cross pattée, imitating Æthelred II Short Cross type


    I have been after a Scandinavian imitation of an English penny for some time. There are many varieties which have a clear English influence, were made by English engravers, or even come from English dies! This one is a little more enigmatic, and about 2/3 of it is damaged. But, the bust is still clear enough for my tastes, and the price was good for what it is. A full write-up was posted here.

    1. A Louis the Pious Imitation
    Med-01-Car-920-Anon-D-XX.jpg
    Early Medieval - Carolingian Normandy
    Anonymous (Viking/Rollo-William Longsword), 10th c. (920s)
    AR Denier, 16mm x 0.57 grams
    Obv.: Counterclockwise legend +DOVVICVSIMP around small cross
    Rev.: Clockwise legend XRISTIANA REL around temple
    Note: Imitation of a Louis the Pious denier


    I did not even know this type existed until this year. As soon as I read Jens Christian Moesgaard’s article “A Survey of Coin Production and Currency in Normandy, 864-945,” I was intrigued by his theory that these Louis the Pious imitative issues may have been an early Norman Issue - perhaps by Rollo, or more likely William Longsword. I was even more surprised to find one for sale! It was expensive, but was the type which had the most distinguishing features from the original (with the legend moving counterclockwise on the obverse). A write-up for this coin can be found here.

    This has probably been my best year since 2017 - and clearly I need to tone down the purchases! I have one more bid I am waiting on, and while that coin won’t make my top 10, it might make it into my top 20.
     
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  3. Robidoux Pass

    Robidoux Pass Well-Known Member

    Thanks for sharing. It's quite an eclectic list and a joy to examine. I appreciate your commentary on each piece.
     
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  4. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    I really like your Manius Aquillius MN. AQUILLIUS.jpg
     
  5. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    I really like the Anarchy and the Scandinavian imitation piece.
     
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  6. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    All very nice coins/token and diverse in their origin, but absolutely love your Andrea Dandolo, Venice, fantastic coin. Congrats on a great year.
     
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  7. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Very eclectic selection. The ones I like the most are the Venice and the Bohemia ones

    Glad 2020 has been a positive year for you in the end

    Q
     
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  8. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Fitz, I'm happy to hear the pandemic didn't hurt your employment :happy:. I'm happy to be retired :smuggrin:. My favorite of your group is #5, the Bohemian denar from the De Wit collection. The coin is worthy of the outstanding article you wrote about it :D. My 2nd favorite is the Laudislaus II denar, #8. It's amazing the impression on the coin is so strong considering the paper-thin flan it was struck on ;).
     
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  9. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

    Thank you all for the kind words!
     
  10. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks very much for posting the splendid list. I have to say that I'm somewhat surprised to see that a Roman joined your medieval party!

    All coins are excellent, but the two Bohemian ones are my personal favorites. The Scandinavian imitation is a very close contender, though.
     
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  11. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I like them all a great deal, but I have to admit that -- surprise! -- I'm partial to your excellent Manius Aquillia. Here's mine, which I also bought earlier this year:

    Roman Republic, Mn. Aquillius Mn.f. Mn.n. [Manius Aquillius, son of Manius and grandson of Manius], AR Serrate Denarius, 71 BCE [Harlan: 67 BCE], Rome Mint. Obv. Helmeted and draped bust of Virtus right; III VIR downwards behind, VIRTVS upwards in front / Rev. Manius Aquillius [the moneyer’s grandfather, Consul 101 BCE] standing facing, head right, bearing shield on his left side, raising with his right hand a prostrate Sicilia [personification of Sicily], kneeling left at his feet; MN. AQVIL. upwards to right, MN. F. MN. N. [each MN in monogram] downwards to left; SICIL in exergue. Crawford 401/1, RSC I Aquillia 2 (ill.), Sear RCV I 336 (ill.), Sydenham 798, Harlan RRM I Ch. 31, pp. 183-188 [Harlan, Michael, Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins, 81 BCE-64 BCE (2012)]. 18x20 mm., 3.76 g.*

    Mn Aquillius (Virtus-Sicilia) jpg version.jpg

    *See Sear RCV I at p. 135, noting that this coin has the “first appearance on the coinage of the triumviral title of a moneyer (III VIR = tresvir).” This is also one of only two Republican coins to depict Virtus on the obverse. The reverse design on the coin commemorates the moneyer’s grandfather, Manius Aquillius (identified in the legend), and his successful suppression in 101 BCE of a slave revolt in Sicily that had begun in 104 BCE. Sicily is portrayed as an under-nourished, helpless girl shielded and uplifted by Mn Aquillius and the military might of Rome. See Harlan at pp. 183-188. Harlan notes that although the moneyer’s grandfather was awarded an ovation in 100 BCE after his victory (a lesser form of triumph, awarded for defeating slaves, pirates, etc.), he was later charged with having engaged in extortion and bribe-taking in Sicily (although he was acquitted because of his bravery in the war), and ultimately, while serving as ambassador on a mission to Asia, was defeated and captured by Mithridates VI of Pontus, who ordered his execution in 88 BCE by the method of having molten gold poured down his throat. In issuing this coin, the moneyer obviously chose to focus on his grandfather’s earlier successes in Sicily rather than his unfortunate end, perhaps (according to Harlan) trying to equate his grandfather’s successes with the recent suppression of the Spartacus slave revolt -- ironically enough by Crassus, given his supposed execution by the Parthians after Carrhae by exactly the same method.
     
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  12. Alegandron

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

    Excellent top 10, @FitzNigel ! I like the Carolingian imitation. cool.

    I am also a big fan of your Servile War Republican issue! Don't have one, and really like yours! Congrats.
     
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  13. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

    Thank you @DonnaML! And thanks for correcting me on the coin not being in Sear - I remember looking through for the coin and couldn’t find it, but there it is on pg. 135! I currently have a side-focus on the coins of Caracalla of my Roman collection, but I could see myself moving to the Republican coins after wrapping that group up...
     
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  14. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

    I may post #11-20 soon - there’s a bigger surprise in there than a Roman coin!
     
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  15. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    I am glad you had a fantastic year in collecting. Keep it up/ never tone down/ this hobby is too much fun. All your top ten are great, esp. the Medieval era types.
    John
     
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  16. Nap

    Nap Well-Known Member

    Nice coins!

    I particularly like the Normany PAX type and the Norman or Viking imitations of the Carolingian pieces
     
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  17. TheRed

    TheRed Supporter! Supporter

    Congrats @FitzNigel on a great year. You added some wonderful medieval coins. The two Bohemia denars are standouts, as is the Mezzanino Nuovo. That said, my favorite is the penny from the Anarchy. It really illustrates the breakdown during that period.

    I hope your students appreciate how lucky they are to have a passionate historian teaching them. During my time in school I certainly had some horrible history teachers, and teachers in general, that made the subject dull and boring.
     
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  18. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    Oh, the stories that Scandinavian imitation could tell, eh?

    For that matter, the Anarchy piece or any of the rest.
     
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  19. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    I always look forward to your list, and this does not disappoint! I like every single coin here, a lot. Thanks for swelling my want list yet again. :D

    Here's my ratty allegedly William the Conqueror Normandy denier:
    Screen Shot 2020-12-23 at 6.05.01 PM.jpg
     
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  20. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Great list @FitzNigel . Medieval coinage is typically over my head but I really like your Bohemia denar.
     
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