Byzantine Coinage

Byzantine Coinage

As promised in last week’s article – I’m going to share some information and identification tips for Byzantine Coinage.

Byzantine coinage is very interesting and a definite departure from their Roman past.

Gone are the detailed images of Emperors, replaced now by an “abstract” style of imagery.

The Emperors are typically represented as “spiritual” beings, notice the emphasis on the eyes (the Eyes being the “Windows” of the soul).Maurice tiberius

Byzantine Coinage also transitions into religious imagery as the principle coin subject.  Jesus Christ being depicted on the “anonymous series” of coinage, that is coinage where the Emperor is not depicted at all.

Byzantine Coinage

Pay particular attention to the new denominations

On the reverse you may find Denominations marks. Such as:

M = 40 nummia

K = 20 nummia

I = 10 nummia

Ancient Coins and Collectibles Anastatius Reverse

The Byzantine period also brought into use the “cup-shaped” coins known as a Scyphate.

Byzantine Coinage

These are fascinating in themselves as there is yet to be a complete consensus as to why they were struck like this. Some scholars have opined that it was for stacking purposes.

You may find a strange combination of Upper and Lower Case Greek letters used.

One thing to be aware of is that neighboring kingdoms and regions may have also produced imitative Byzantine coinage that may look similar.

Finally, here is something that may seem counterintuitive – Gold Byzantine coins are quite common, but Silver Byzantine coins are rare.

I’d recommend considering purchasing silver byzantine coins if the opportunity presented itself.

Obviously this is just a quick overview on Byzantine Coinage and it just barely scratches the surface.

Perhaps with enough time I will write about the history of Byzantine coins.

Enjoy your week!

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