For once I don’t feel the need to apologise for the lapse in posting here: moving house (including buying a house), starting a new job, learning my way around a new university and city, attending many many meetings, doing the essential form-filling that initiates one into a complex organisation and working up reading lists with very little lead time all seem like decent reasons to be off-air for a bit, plus which the internet only arrived in the new home a week after I did and is still rather slow. But there was also great pressure upon me, largely placed there by me but still, to finish a number of things at the Barber Institute before I demitted my charge of the coin collection there. Not the smallest of those jobs was actually counting all the coins—15,905, since you ask, plus 35 tokens, 22 medals, 165 seals, 42 weights and 10 other objects of paranumismatica, and 70 coins belonging to the Joint Committee of the Greek and Roman Societies and 275 coins in the so-called ‘Heathrow Hoard’, about which I will some day get round to writing.1 But in that frantic last week we also managed to push one final upload of coins to the web, so my first post from Leeds is about something I did at Birmingham. But that’s OK too: I did quite a lot there, after all, which is one of the reasons I was able to move on. So!
I say “we also managed” because really, the bulk of the work here was done by Maria Vrij and my contribution was basically to proof-read and press the ‘upload’ button. This means that the last upload completed one of the earlier ones, which was all very fitting, by putting online first of all the remainder of the Barber’s coins of Nikephoros I and his son Stavrakios, and then following them with those of Michael I and his son Theophylact, Leo V and his son Constantine, and Michael II and his son Theophilos. Let me just illustrate what that means in terms of checking identifications. You may remember that we already have quite a few Leos in the bag, but at least we’re used to that now…
Not so, however, Michael I and II. I don’t blame Michael I here, of course. He had enough to cope with what with the rumbling disputes over images, the fact that his predecessor had been killed in a losing battle against the Bulgarians and then his maimed but crowned son had hung around for a few months nearly being emperor, and the bothersome raising of a new and, heaven forfend, Frankish emperor in the West a few years previously who kept trying to get in touch about Venice; but mainly for our current purposes, he was the first emperor of his name, which ought to make his coins really easy to identify, especially given his son was called Theophylact. Thus, as numismatist, I feel personally affronted rather by Michael II, who could have just called his son Theophilos something else, dammit. As a result, Maria spent quite a lot of time trying to work out whether various heavily abbreviated coin inscriptions read ‘….FYL…’ or ‘FIL…’, because there’s almost no other way to be sure which Michael’s coin it is.
Michael II of course dealt with at least some of his problems differently, not least by recognising that Frank, none other of course than Charlemagne, as emperor and ‘brother’, which may well have prompted Charlemagne to issue a much more conservative-looking (but silver) imperial coinage of his own.2 But that is a story for a different collection, as such a piece is not among the 15,905. These are, however, and now you can see them online!
- The web search system from which I can offer you links doesn’t let me distinguish the stuff of Nikephoros that we uploaded this time from that we did last time, but as it happens all the new stuff was bronze follesof Constantinople and we hadn’t done any others of those, so:
- here they all are;
- gold (a single solidus);
- silver (two miliaresia);
- and bronze (four uncertain folles);
- Constantinople (we have nothing from anywhere else for this reign, alas);
- gold (again a single solidus);
- silver (three miliaresia, one pierced);
- and bronze (sixteen folles or 40-nummi coins);
- and Constantinople;
- and Syracuse;
- gold (three solidi and a tremissis);
- silver (two miliaresia);
- and bronze (twenty-five coins);
- and Constantinople;
- and Syracuse.
then here are Michael I and Theophylact, broken down by metal:
and by mint:
and then the same for Leo V:
and lastly for Michael II and Theophilos:
I hope this won’t be the last such upload there is, it would be something of an indictment of my work to document the process if it were, but I’m glad there was one more to go out with. Enjoy!
1. No, seriously, this is apparently something that none of the collection’s previous curators had ever managed… Obviously I went into a bit more detail than just total count but you don’t need that here, right?
2. See Simon Coupland, “Charlemagne’s Coinage: ideology and economy” in Joanna Story (ed.), Charlemagne: Empire and Society (Manchester 2005), pp. 211-229, repr. in Coupland, Carolingian Coinage and the Vikings: studies on power and trade in the 9th century, Variorum Collected Studies 847 (Aldershot 2006), I.