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Bronze die for striking the obverse of a Byzantine coin (half follis?), 6th-7th century

F THIRD KNOWN !
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Lot description Show orginal version
Grade: F
Estimations: 1 145 EUR

Byzantine Empire or followers; half follis or follis; eastern mint (Levant?); 6th-7th centuries (approx. 578-620 AD for the prototype?)

Obv. Bust of the emperor in front, wearing a crown with a cross (?), in armor and a cloak, holding a globe with a cross (?) in his right hand. Legend... - ..Λ....

Bronze 178.92 g. The shape is similar to an octagonal prism with side walls 31-34 mm high, a lower base with a stamp of 28 x 30 mm and an upper base of 26 x 29 mm. According to the XRF analysis, the metal composition is: Cu 76.7-78.9%, Sn 17.9-21.6%, Pb 1.4-1.8%, Fe 1.8%.

cf. Sommer 6.26 – half follis of Tiberius Constantine; Sommer 7.24-28 – half follis of Mauricius. For moneta imitativa militaris – see Hahn, MIB II, pp. 49-51, 58, 74.

The obverse die for unofficial (forgery?) production of Byzantine coins. One should also take into account an improvised military period production - the so-called moneta imitativa militaris, possibly an Arab or Sassanid imitation. Most likely, it’s a die for striking of half follis (20 nummi), but it cannot be ruled out that it was used to produce follis (40 nummi).

The die is made of bronze, the surface with the representation of the obverse shows traces of modern cleaning, which makes it silver in color. The reverse end of the die has a very irregular surface and edges, probably due to cracking during use. Due to heavy wear, many details, such as legends, are distorted and poorly legible. Well visible is the imperial bust in a frontal view, without a beard or with very short stubble. On the head there is most likely a crown with short pendils topped with a cross, but this last element is hardly visible. Another possibility is that the emperor wears a helmet. In his right hand, the ruler holds a globe with a cross. The visible upper part of the body is relatively small and it looks as if the emperor is wearing armor and a cloak, and not, for example, a loros. It's hard to tell if there's a shield on the left arm, most likely not.

The diameter of the coin that was struck using this die (26-28 mm) and the frontal bust suggest that we are dealing with an issue from the last quarter of the 6th century or the first half of the 7th century AD. The most probable issuers include: Tiberius Constantine (e.g. half follis, mint of Theoupolis [Antioch], Sommer 6.26) and Mauricius (e.g. half follis, mint of Constantinople, Sommer 7.24-28) or their successors.

An extremely interesting piece of great rarity! Apparently only the third Byzantine coin die on the market. In general, very few ancient dies have been preserved, and they almost do not appear on antiquarian market. A great treat for experts and lovers of Byzantine numismatics, a piece with great potential for further studies.

See - probably the only known die of Byzantine follis, 2001-2008:

https://www.cngcoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=334726 

https://www.cngcoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=115503

https://www.coinworld.com/news/world-coins/only-known-byzantine-coin-die-returns-to-market.html

See - probably the only known die of Byzantine solidi, 2018:

https://forums.collectors.com/discussion/997548/byzantine-die-up-for-auction

Auction
NUMISION Premium Auction No. 3
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Date
25 November 2023 CET/Warsaw
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Start price
916 EUR
Estimations
1 145 EUR
Grade
F THIRD KNOWN !
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