Gallery

Parting Shots: two Michaels and a Leo

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!

A bronze 40-nummi coin of Emperors Nikephoros I and Stavrakios struck at Constantinople between 803 and 811, Barber Institute of Fine Arts B4643

A bronze 40-nummi coin of Emperors Nikephoros I and Stavrakios struck at Constantinople between 803 and 811, Barber Institute of Fine Arts B4643

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…

Gold solidus of Emperor Leo V and his son Constantine struck at Constantinople between 813 and 820, Barber Institute of Fine Arts B4633

Gold solidus of Emperor Leo V and his son Constantine struck at Constantinople between 813 and 820, Barber Institute of Fine Arts B4633

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.

Silver miliaresion of Emperors Michael I and Theophylact struck in Constantinople between 811 and 813, Barber Institute of Fine Arts B4625

Silver miliaresion of Emperors Michael I and Theophylact struck in Constantinople between 811 and 813, Barber Institute of Fine Arts B4625

Silver miliaresion of Emperors Michael II and Theophilus struck in Constantinople between 821 and 829, Barber Institute of Fine Arts B4661

Silver miliaresion of Emperors Michael II and Theophilus struck in Constantinople between 821 and 829, Barber Institute of Fine Arts B4661

Bronze forty-nummi coin of Michael I or II and their respective son, struck at Constantinople in either 811-813 or 821-829, Barber Institute of Fine Arts B4629

Bronze forty-nummi coin of, well, who can tell? Michael I or II and their respective son, struck at Constantinople in either 811-813 or 821-829, Barber Institute of Fine Arts B4629

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!

Gold tremissis of Emperors Michael II and Theophilos struck in Syracuse between 821 and 829, Barber Institute of Fine Arts B4670

Gold tremissis of Emperors Michael II and Theophilos struck in Syracuse between 821 and 829, Barber Institute of Fine Arts B4670

    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;
  • then here are Michael I and Theophylact, broken down by metal:

  • gold (a single solidus);
  • silver (two miliaresia);
  • and bronze (four uncertain folles);
  • and by mint:

  • Constantinople (we have nothing from anywhere else for this reign, alas);
  • and then the same for Leo V:

  • gold (again a single solidus);
  • silver (three miliaresia, one pierced);
  • and bronze (sixteen folles or 40-nummi coins);
  • and Constantinople;
  • and Syracuse;
  • and lastly for Michael II and Theophilos:

  • gold (three solidi and a tremissis);
  • silver (two miliaresia);
  • and bronze (twenty-five coins);
  • and Constantinople;
  • and Syracuse.

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.

Advertisements

5 responses to “Parting Shots: two Michaels and a Leo

  1. Just to let you know I’m blogging again!

    • I observed! But I didn’t know whether it was yet ready for public announcement! I need to have a proper sort through of my links and start trying to keep up with them again but I’m glad that you’ll be among them when I do. Welcome back!

  2. So then did you know about this, even though I am assuming you did not get to go? I am green with envy of those who did.

    http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/first-performance-in-1000-years-lost-songs-from-the-middle-ages-are-brought-back-to-life-0

  3. Pingback: Busy-day links | A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s