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Byzantine Byzantine coinage.

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Old Jul 1, 2009, 06:26 AM   #1
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Light Weight Solidi of x-Siliquae

Hello fellow collectors,

Something I've been wondering about for years and have decided to just start a thread on it. There are some Byzantine light weight solidi of 20, 22 or 23 siliquae. These issues show up sporadically throughout the beginning of the Byzantine empire, but I would love to know what the purpose was for them. For example, here is a Maurice Tiberius 23-siliquae specimen from Antioch:

Maurice Tiberius, AV Light Weight Solidus of 23 Siliquae, 583-601, Constantinople (or Theoupolis/Antioch), Officina 10
Broad draped and cuirass bust of Maurice Tiberius facing, wearing plumed helmet, globus cruciger in right hand, * in right field
Angel standing facing, long staff surmounted by chi-rho in right hand, globus cruciger in left
* in right field
CONOB in exergue
20mm x 21mm, 4.22g
SB 528 (Antioch); MIB 11 (Constantinople); DOC 150d (Antioch)
Note: Authenticated by David Sear on December 13, 2005 and described as "EF and scarce, graffiti in obverse and reverse fields."

In this example, the * designates the lighter weight. Sometimes, however, it is spelled out, as on this example:

Constans II, AV Light Solidus of 23 Siliquae, 651-654, Constantinople, Officina 2
d N CONStAN_tINЧS P P AV (Ч retrograde)
Bust facing, wearing crown and chlamys, long beard, globus cruciger in right hand
Cross potent on three steps
BO GK in exergue (GK ligate)
20mm x 21mm, 4.30g
SB 979; DOC 24; MIB 44
Ex Classical Numismatic Group, Website, June 2009; Ex Khristov Collection; Ex Freeman & Sear, Auction 7, Lot 634, February 2002
Note: The exergual mark on this very interesting and short-lived issue reads BO (normally engraved OB, e.g. CON OB) = Obrysium (gold) and GK = Greek for G (3) and K (20).

or this one (image courtesy Classical Numismatic Group, Triton VIII, Lot 1375)

CONSTANS II. 641-668 AD. AV Light-Weight Solidus of 20 Siliqua (3.74 gm, 6h). Constantinople mint. Struck 651-654 AD.

Estimate $2000 (realized $4,250 plus buyer fees)

CONSTANS II. 641-668 AD. AV Light-Weight Solidus of 20 Siliqua (3.74 gm, 6h). Constantinople mint. Struck 651-654 AD. d N CONSTANTINUS PP AU, facing bust with long beard, wearing crown and chlamys, holding globus cruciger / VICTORIA AVGU, cross potent on three steps; S/BOXX. DOC II -; MIB III -; Berk 159 = SB 981A (this coin pictured). Good VF, slight flan crease. Unique. ($2000)

From the Malcolm W. Heckman Collection. Ex William J. Conte Collection (Sotheby's New York, 2 November 1998), lot 267. Seaby 981A plate coin; Berk 159 plate coin.

"The indicator BOXX for a 20 siliqua solidus appears in the 661-663 AD period (SB 982), as well as on earlier issues of Heraclius, so its appearance on this unique coin does not seem to be a simple error for the normal OBXX signature."

I don't have the Dumbarton Oakes Collection references (wish I did) and am curious if they discuss why these lighter solidi were produced.

Thanks in advance,

--Zach Beasley
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