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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Byzantine Coins ▸ Byzantine CountermarkedView Options:  |  |  | 

Countermarked Byzantine Coins

A countermark is a stamped or punched impression adding elements of design to a coin after it was originally struck. The practice of countermarking coins was widespread throughout antiquity. It was particularly common in the provinces of the Roman Empire. Countermarks were applied to coins for many reasons, including revalidation, revaluation, devaluation, and propaganda. Exactly when and why any individual countermark was applied is often uncertain.


Byzantine Empire, Heraclius & Heraclius Constantine, 23 January 613 - 11 January 641 A.D.

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Heraclius came to power through revolt against the tyrannical Focas. He defeated the Sassanid Persians, but this only facilitated Arab conquest of Persia and the eastern Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines lost Syria and Palestine before Heraclius died and Egypt fell soon after.
BZ68100. Bronze follis, DOC II, part 1, 243; Anastasi 66; Wroth BMC 398; Tolstoi 315; Ratto 1450; Morrisson BnF 10/Sy/AE/35; SBCV 884; Sommer 11.115, F, overstruck, weight 5.875 g, maximum diameter 25.5 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 632 - 11 Jan 641 A.D.; obverse facing busts of long-bearded Heraclius and his son Heraclius Constantine, wearing short beard, cross above, all within large round countermark; traces of undertype; reverse Heraclian monogram and SCs within large round countermark; traces of undertype; $50.00 (44.50)


Byzantine Anonymous Follis of Christ, Class C, Michael IV, 12 April 1034 - 10 December 1041 A.D.

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The obverse countermark is attributed in Mardin Hoard to Izz al-din Abu Bakr al Dubaysi (541-551 A.H. / 1146 - 1156 A.D.), al-Jazirah mint.

The reverse countermark is a common formula which means "just" or "equitable" and was used on Islamic coins from an early date to indicate they are of an approved weight standard or fineness. It is attributed with doubt as perhaps Artuqid, a mint somewhere in the province of Diyar Bakr.

BZ36226. Bronze anonymous follis, Anonymous follis of Christ, class C; SBCV 1825; obverse c/m Mardin Hoard 13; reverse c/m Mardin Hoard 10?, Fair, weight 5.241 g, maximum diameter 28.1 mm, die axis 180o, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 1034 - 1041 A.D.; obverse + EMMANOVHΛ, three-quarter length figure of Christ standing facing, wearing nimbus cruciger, pallium, and colobium, raising right in benediction, Gospels in left, IC-XC; al-Jazirah countermark; reverse Jeweled cross with pellet at each extremity, in the angles IC - XC / NI-KA (Jesus Christ Conquers); Artuqid? countermark; ex Mardin Hoard; SOLD


Byzantine Empire, Heraclius, 5 October 610 - 11 January 641 A.D.

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This Heraclius countermark was used on early, large folles of Anastasius to Justinian. The purpose is uncertain. Later, c. 631 and 638 A.D., of Heraclius and Heraclius Constantine folles were countermarked, possibly in conjuction with clipping even before the coins entered circulation.
BZ49311. Bronze follis, Anastasi 33b; DOC II part 1, 241; SBCV 882; Sommer 11.113; Justinian I follis undertype (SBCV 160 or similar), coin: Fair; countermarks: VF, weight 14.504 g, maximum diameter 32.4 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, c. 616 - 622 A.D.; obverse facing bust of short-bearded Heraclius, his monogram to the right, all within large round countermark; traces of undertype legend (...IVSTI...) and bust; reverse SCLs within large oval countermark, struck on mint mark; undertype: large M (40 nummi), star left; SOLD







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REFERENCES

Anastasi, M. Monete Bizantine di Sicilia. (2009).
Bellinger, A.R. & P. Grierson, eds. Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection. (Washington D.C., 1966 - 1999).
Bendall, S. "An 'Eagle' Countermark on Sixth-century Byzantine Coins" in NC 136 (1976), p. 230.
Berk, H.J. Eastern Roman Successors of the Sestertius. (Chicago, 1987).
Evans, J.D. "Heraclian Countermarks on Coins Found in Caesarea" in AJN 5 (1993), pp. 97 - 104, and AJN 6 (1994), pp. 102 - 104.
Goehring, J.E. "Two New Examples of the Byzantine 'Eagle' Countermark" in NC 143 (1983), pp. 218 - 220.
Lampinen, P. "Countermarked Byzantine Folles and the Identification of a New Imperial Family Member" in Caesarea Papers 2. (Portsmouth, 1999), pp. 399-404.
Lowick, N.M., S. Bendall, & P.D. Whitting. The Mardin Hoard. (London, 1977).
Morrisson, C. Catalogue des Monnaies Byzantines de la Bibliothque Nationale. (Paris, 1970).
Schulze, W. "The Byzantine 'Eagle' Countermark - Re-attributed from Egypt to Palestine" in INR volume 4 (2009), pp. 113 - 120.
Schulze, W. & T. Goodwin. Countermarking in Seventh Century Syria. (Supplement to ONS Newsletter, 183). (2005).
Schulze, W., I. Schulze, & W. Leimenstoll. "Heraclian countermarks on Byzantine copper coins in seventh century Syria" in Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Vol. 30, No. 1 (2006), pp. 1-27.
Sear, D.R. Byzantine Coins and Their Values. (London, 1987).
Sommer, A.U. Die Mnzen des Byzantinischen Reiches 491-1453. Mit einem Anhang: Die Mnzen des Kaiserreichs von Trapezunt. (Regenstauf, 2010).
Tolstoi, I. Monnaies byzantines. (St. Petersburg, 1913 - 14).
Woods, D. "The Byzantine Eagle Countermark: Creating a Pseudo-Consular Coinage under the Heraclii" in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 55 (2015), pp. 927 - 945.
Wroth, W. Catalogue of the Imperial Byzantine Coins in the British Museum. (London, 1908).

Catalog current as of Tuesday, July 25, 2017.
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Byzantine Countermarked