Two late Nicaean stamena with a common theme

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by seth77, Oct 30, 2021.

  1. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Saint Tryphon was a Phrygian saint from the 3rd century, martyred during the Decian persecutions of 250-1. He is celebrated by both Eastern and Western churches, but, as expected, his profile is higher in the Orthodox Church.

    Although revered by both churches and highly revered during the heyday of the Eastern Roman Empire as one of the great distinctly Asian saints, his image is rather scarce in numismatic terms, reserved -- because he was an Asian saint -- to the mint(s) in Asia Minor.

    Theodore II Komnenos-Laskaris (1254-1258) minted a stamena in his honor at Magnesia in 1255-6 (perhaps around the time the Thessalonika mint was closed):

    S. 2142 AE26mm 3.13g

    And the iconography was likely revived, to the two fleur-de-lys flanking his figure on the obverse, by Michael VIII Palaiologos, as Nicaean Emperor (1259-1261). In fact the presence of Saint Tryphon on a Michael VIII stamenon/trachy helps in attributing this very rare issue of Michael to Magnesia and to the period prior to the recapture of Constantinople in 1261.

    S. 2271 AE20 1.55g

    Being a rather rare type, the attribution of S. 2271 is still disputed, with Constantinople being also proposed, but the obverse iconography with Saint Tryphon and the finds from Asia Minor -- Pergamon and Magnesia proper (R. Glanfield discusses the finds here) -- are good indication of an issue early in Michael's reign as Nicaean Emperor.

    In DOC IV-2 M. F. Hendy sticks to his 1969 attribution and places this type (Type A #26 p. 533) to this period of 1259-1261, although with a degree of uncertainty as normal for a period of volatile intermezzo, in both political and financial terms. P. Grierson in DOC V-1 confirms Hendy's attribution in his overview of the Bergama Hoard (p. 119).

    With Michael, the standard of the base metal coinage starts to be variable to some point -- with coins ranging from the normal size and weight during the reign of Theodore II (around 3g) to smaller ca. 20mm and 1.5g modules like the coin presented here. Again a sign of the degree of instability that preceded the recapturing of Constantinople.

    I know there's not much love here for these late Byzantines, but these interesting and historical issues, with the rare presence of S. 2271 are rather worthy.
    sand, Johndakerftw, catadc and 8 others like this.
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    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    "I know there's not much love here for these late Byzantines, but these interesting and historical issues, with the rare presence of S. 2271 are rather worthy."
    @seth77, I for one am needing this irreplaceably arcane stuff you come up with. From here, you'd be cordially welcome to explicate the legends on the first one.
    As they might say in the British army, 'Carry on' ...and, 'Don't let the b-----ds win.'
    seth77 likes this.
  4. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter

    Apparently Tryphon was an animal-whisperer - a St. Francis of the East if you will. Does any of his numismatic iconography portray him as such? i can clearly see the two fleur-de-lys, but what is he holding? And what's above his shoulder at 11 o'clock?
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  5. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Perhaps I should have added the legends, but being in Byzantine Greek and rather variable I thought I'd leave them out not to bore readers (even more).

    The reading of the obverse legend on the Theodore II S. 2142 accounts for the 11 o'clock device -- it's the OA monogrammed abbreviation of the OAΓIOS (Saint) followed by TP (monogrammed) / V / Φ ω/ in columns flanking the image of the saint. The reverse legend is quite well recorded and preserved and names the emperor: ΘEO/[ΔωPOC ΔECΠO]THC/ DOV/KAS/ O ΛA/CKA/PI/C (Theodore Despot Doukas-Laskaris) in two columns flanking the emperor.

    The saint is holding a cross in his right hand.

    S. 2271 is less epigraphic -- the obverse legend seems to keep the name of the saint in the same manner as S. 2142, perhaps with the adagio of an I after the OA monogram (at 11 o'clock) -- so OAI / [TP / V] / Φ ω. The reverse keeps just enough to name the emperor M / X [Δ/ Π /TH...] MP - ϴV.
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
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