The Coins of John Comnenus-Ducas

The problem.

The bronze issues of John Comnenus-Ducas have always been an oddity amongst the coins of the Latin period, posing a number of problems for numismatists. To begin with, these types come in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from the larger module "Series I" and "Series II" types to the small (and very small) "Series III" types. But the most obvious difficulty is the fact that there are more than a dozen Series I and II types altogether, and more than two dozen different Series III issues, to fit into the 5-6 years of John's reign (or at most 9-10 years, if we include the periods of John and Demetrius C-D as depots).

Hendy's theory on the three Series.

For some time the standard theory, as first proposed by Michael Hendy in his book "Coinage and Money in the Byzantine Empire, 1081-1261" (1969), was that the two larger module series are both official issues of Thessalonica, and that they were issued in parallel, i.e, the Series I types were struck, on essentially a one issue per year basis, through the reign of John C-D as emperor, while the somewhat smaller Series II types were issued in parallel with the Series I types over the same period, and beyond. It should be noticed incidentally (pace Bendall - see Appendix) that these two series generally don't duplicate each other - i.e, the designs of the Series II types (as originally defined), are different from those of Series I.

As to why there were two parallel series, Hendy puts forward the ingenious idea that the mint issued large module coins (in return for bullion or old coins) to the administration on one weight scale, and to the public on a somewhat lower scale. However, there is no separate evidence to support this theory, and why the supposed practice manifests itself only in John's reign is not explained*. There seems to be little point in Hendy's scheme anyway - after all, why not just issue one series of coins at different exchange rates? And how were the two only slightly different series supposed to be exchanged in the market? The more we think about it the less convincing Hendy's idea appears, and hence I will consider an alternative approach to the problem below.

The small Series III types divide into into two categories, the "imitative" types, which copy the designs of both the Series I and Series II types, and the "novel" types, for which there are, at least at the present time, no known larger module prototypes**.

Hendy's theory on the Series III issues, as now expounded in DOC IV, is that these types (and for that matter virtually all of the small module versions of the coins of the Greek empire of Thessalonica, including those of both Theodore and Manuel C-D), were issued not by the Greeks in Thessalonica, but by the Venetians (somewhere), for use in trade (in, presumably, Bulgaria ). He proposes a complicated scenario, according to which, if I understand him properly, the dozen or so "imitative" Series III types were issued, like their larger prototypes, during John C-D's reign as emperor, while the remaining, and supposedly cruder and/or more imaginative, "novel" types were issued after the demotion of John to despot in 1242, or his death in 1244, and also that the series extended well into the 1250's. (Hendy doesn't actually say where the Venetians produced these types - clearly he wants to say Thessalonica, but realises that this is unlikely, especially after 1246, and obviously can't come up with a better idea).

*  Actually, Hendy also proposes the same idea for the Thessalonican issues of John III Vatatzes, where it is even less convincing.

** Note that in Marchev and Wachter's new (2011) bookc "Catalogue of the late Byzantine Coins", Series III is divided into two groups, "Module 3" and "Module 4", with the smaller "Module 4" group, which is normally (but not always) characterised by brockage (or blank) obverses, essentially becoming a new Series IV. More of this later.

Analysis of  Hendy's theories.

Hendy's theories have some superficial appeal, but, as we have already seen, on closer examination problems soon appear, so that we very possibly may need to modify some of his ideas.

At first sight the Series I types seem to constitute a reasonably homogeneous group, with average weights of around 2.3 gms, and with figures 18 to 20 mm high, while the Series II types, as originally defined by Hendy, are somewhat more compact, weighing maybe 1.8-1.9 gms on average, with figures 17-18 mm high. (With all the Latin period coins, the best indicator of the true module size is the height of the figures, or, as Jordanova prefers, the size of the dies, which are perhaps a mm or two larger than the figures. Both of these factors vary much less than the weight and size of the flan, and in any case the larger module types are usually found clipped. (In this regard it is important to note that Bulgarian numismatists have in the past used "Series II" to mean something quite different to Hendy, namely larger examples of the Series III types; this is further discussed in the Appendix below).

This all sounds quite neat and tidy, but it should be remembered that examples of the Series I and II types are actually quite rare, and in fact for most types only one or two unclipped examples are known (many of the published examples were originally collected in the Balkans by Bertele, and are now in the Dumbarton Oaks collection, and a few more are scattered through national and private collections). Therefore in reality the mean weights of the various Series I and Series II types are not well established, and, although there does seem to be a significant variation in the weights of the various types, there is certainly no valid statistical basis for the splitting them into two separate but self contained series, as Hendy does. In fact, the unreality of his two series is evidenced by the confusion in the literature as to which of the Series some of the larger types should be consigned, and also by the fact that some types seem to straddle both series. All of this can be seen by plotting the known weights and figure (or die) sizes of the various types in decreasing order, which produces graphs which can easily be read as showing a single group with a steady decrease in the average coin sizes, rather than as two groups of coins on essentially different weight scales.

Given this, and also the fact, as noted earlier, that the two (nominal) larger series don't seem to duplicate each other, i.e, the designs of the Series II types are different from those of Series I, it is reasonable to conclude that we are actually dealing with one combined series here, made up of coins of varying (mean) weights, rather than two separate series on distinct weight scales. As well, we note that there are also a number of types with (maximum) module sizes less than Series II and closer to Series III - such as the labarum head/canopy type S.2221 - which have a mean weight of 1.6-1.7 gm and figures 15-16 mm high, only a little larger, it should be noted, than the later Latin SM types, and the largest Series III types. For the sake of discussion, I will call these latter types "Series IIb" issues here*.

The Series IIb types evidently belong with Series II rather than Series III, since they seem to have separate and smaller, if sometimes scarcer, Series III analogs. It may be suggested that these Series IIb's are just the larger end of the Series III weight range, but it does seem that we are dealing with a distinct weight scale here, and we actually have somewhat better statistics to go on here than with the Series I and II types. Moreover, given that in some cases the known examples of Series IIb types outnumber their Series III analogs, it may be that in the end they largely superseded the very small types. The rare wing with sword type S.2226, which seems to be known mostly at the upper end of the Series III range (which we can denote by III* for discussion purposes) could well be the last of the larger module types.

Overall, by my count there are now at least 18 different larger module types known, including two or three Type IIb's, and that's being very conservative, as I might well have added several more. (The Appendix below gives a complete listing of these larger types, with references to the actual evidence in the case of the newer, i.e, post Hendy, types).

To sum up, as far as the larger types are concerned, on the basis of the actual data it seems reasonable to assume that we are dealing with a single series of larger module types, although one with a wide and dropping range of weights. If so, this would mean of course that early in his reign John must have greatly increased the rate of issue of the larger types, to around one every four months or so. Why he did this is not immediately clear, but at least this idea makes as much sense as the parallel issues theory, which in any case says nothing about the Series IIb types.

But if we are dealing with only one series, how should we now arrange the various types, i.e, can we say anything about their order of issue?

*  Note that, on the definitions used here, the "Series II" types actually pictured in Sear would seem to be closer to Series III than true Series II; in fact, in view of their relatively light weights (cf. Lianta), and given that there are also significantly larger module versions of the types in question, these particular coins should probably be seen as odd mintings at the upper end of the Series III range (i.e, Series III*). In CLBC Hendy's Series I and II types are covered by the "Module 1" format, while "Module 2" covers both the Series IIb and Series III* types, i.e, the smallest examples of the large module series, and the largest mintings of the small module types.

The order of the types.

The most obvious way to order the larger types is by size, since we might reasonably assume that the range in size of the types was due to a decrease in their mean size over time. Hence, adopting for convenience the usual formal classification into Series I and II types, this would mean that the earliest issues were the Series I types, followed by the Series II and finally, the Series IIb issues. These types could then all be assigned to the period 1237-42, averaging about three issues a year, along with the corresponding "imitative" Series III types. Possibly the "novel" Series III types could then be assigned to 1242 and later, more or less as Hendy proposed, although once again there is very little hard evidence to support this last idea (more about the Series III types later).

This all seems fairly satisfactory, but one obvious problem with the arrangement is that we can't be sure that current "novel" types are really novel, since they can be instantly converted into an imitative type by the discovery of a single new larger module prototype. This is certainly something that we might well expect, particularly in the case of the commoner types of novel issues (such as the Cherub type S.2210, for example, which is in fact the second commonest Series III issue).

This arrangement may in fact finally give us a clue to the reason for the increase in the rate of issue of the LM types, as the rapid turnover of types, and the decrease in module size to something close to the standard Latin SM size may possibly be the result of an attempt by Thessalonica to accommodate itself to the clipping of the LM types, which had become endemic in Bulgaria by the 1230's, by progressively reducing the weight of the large module coins. In this regard we note that John's Series I types are clearly lighter as a whole than Manuel's large module types to start with.

The Series III types.

The great bulk of the coins actually issued in John C-D's name are of course "Series III" types, a category which covers a considerable number of small types in various sizes.

As noted earlier, Hendy wants to assign the Series III types to the Venetians, and to extend them into the 1250's, mainly because of, firstly, the supposedly cruder and/or more imaginative style of some of the types, and secondly, the large number of types overall.

There is some force in this argument, but there are problems with this part of Hendy's theory as well. Firstly, most of the imitative Series III types are stylistically accurate copies of the LM originals, and hence are unlikely to have been produced by the Venetians, or anybody else, outside Thessalonica. Secondly, several of the more "imaginative" types appear in larger module form, (including some not noted in DOC IV, such as the B. Virg./Winged emp. type, and the Large Star/Virgin orans type - see Appendix for references to examples of these last types), and hence, on Hendy's theory, these types would have to belong to the period of John's reign as emperor, i.e, before 1242.

Furthermore, why would the Venetians suddenly produce an ever changing galaxy of Series III types for use in trade anyway, when they were quite possibly still producing the small module later Latin Types T-W for precisely the same purpose? (see Article "The Bulgarian and Latin Imitative Types"). It  might possibly be argued that the new small types were meant to replace the small Latin types, but even if so why would they (the Venetians) suddenly reduce the weight of their very successful small module Latin types to Series III size?

In any case, whoever struck the Series III types, it seems clear from the hoard evidence that the series did not extend much, if at all, into the 1250's, as the Petrich hoard from southern Bulgaria, which was very likely laid down during the campaigns of John III in 1246-9 at the latest, includes almost all the known Series III issues, including the anonymous types. (And note also that the clearly later Dolna Kabda hoard contains no extra John C-D types - even the Lis/Pat. Cr. type had appeared in the earlier Serres (1960?) hoard, although this is not noted in the summary of the latter hoard in Jordanov).

Overall, in the end it seems to me that there is no hard evidence to support Hendy's ideas on the Series III types, and hence that there are no compelling reasons for not assuming that these types were all issued, like the Series I and II types, in Thessalonica during the reign of John C-D as emperor. However, having said that, it's not impossible that some of the "novel" types belong to the  periods of John and perhaps Demetrius Comnenus-Ducas as despots, i.e, 1242-46.

Note that quite a number of Series III types are now known which are not included in DOC IV. The most notable of these are firstly CLBC 14.4.3, a version of the Series I(?) Type D (S.2190), the only larger module type for which a small version was not previously known; secondly CLBC 14.36.3, a smaller version of the Latin SM Type A with the inscription "IwanicD" - a relatively common type at Petrich which has no doubt often been misidentified in finds and elsewhere as the small Latin A (and which may be the precursor of the similar type S.2214); and finally CLBC 14.32.4, the anonymous Lis/Pat. Cr. type mentioned earlier**. This last is a simple, lightweight "makeshift" type, and given that it is anonymous, it is very possibly a post 1242 (or 1244) issue, as is indicated by the fact that the only hoards in which it is specifically reported are Serres and Petrich. (Note that there is an example of this last type in Jordanov (incorrectly called type T - cf. p.87 and Pl. 37-15) - unfortunately the origin of this particular coin is unspecified, but it does not seem to have come from a reported Bulgarian hoard).

*  A further complication is that Series III weight coins are sometimes struck on thin fabric flans using large module dies. Whether these passed as Series I or Series III coins is hard to say.

** CLBC 14.32.4, not in DOC IV. 

Why the Series III, and why so many types?

In respect of the Series III types several basic questions still remain: - why were the small module Thessalonican types introduced in the first place, why were they struck on such a light weight scale, and why were so many different types issued under John C-D?

The answer to the first question is most likely that the small types were produced in Thessalonica for use in trade in Bulgaria, where the small module Latin types were the dominant coinage. The Thessalonicans were obviously receiving clipped examples of their own larger module coinage back in trade from Bulgaria, so they revalidated them as small module types for use in Bulgaria, particularly under Manuel C-D (it's noticeable that the small type C's of Manuel are often overstruck on clipped examples of the LM version of the same type).

The weight scale of the new types was then most likely determined by the weights of the cut down LM coins used for this purpose. Some of these coins were clipped down to the old Latin SM standard of c.1.5 gm, but most were rather lighter, possibly because by the time of Manuel C-D they were often made by dividing the large module coins into three or four pieces, which after trimming average less than 1.0 gm in weight. These last coins seem to have become the model for the later small coins of Manuel C-D, and by the time of John C-D the very light weight scale was established as the norm for the SM issues in Thessalonica.

Anyway, whatever the original reasons for the new coins, they were evidently a success, at least for a while, as in the 1240's they became an effective replacement to the Venetians' small module Latin type A and its successors, the small versions of types T-W, which for decades had dominated the Bulgarian trade, but which had largely ceased production by 1241. Bronze coinage returns a profit to the mint as seigniorage, so that under John C-D at least the Series III types may well have been issued, not just to facilitate trade, but also in order to capture some of the value of that trade (they seem to be found primarily in Bulgaria). The reason for the multiple small module types under John C-D may then have been, as some writers have suggested, to deliberately distinguish the new series from the old, unchanging Latin type. Or, as I personally like to think, it may simply have been part of an explosion of artistic creativity in the Thessalonican period, as witnessed in the fine style coins of the time - or perhaps it was both.

Note that we now have some interesting mules of Series III types. Since one particular coupling (of the large star obverse of S.2218 with the canopy reverse of S.2221, CLBC 14.27.3) is known from three examples from different dies, it seems possible that different Series III types (at least) were struck simultaneously in the mint, and that the coiners sometimes got the dies mixed up (although I have to admit that in this case we don't see the reverse combination, so this may be a deliberate combination). However, cf. also S. Bendall in N. Circ. '05, pp. 312-4 for an interesting brockage mule with the normal reverse of S.2205 and a brockage reverse of S.2222 on the obverse, and Goldberg Sale 55, Lot 596 for a mule of S.2209 and S.2210.*

One final point is that John III Vatatzes did not issue small module types in his own name after he returned to Thessalonica in 1246 in any quantity, except perhaps for Hendy's "Thessalonican" type K of John III (S.2134), which may have been issued in both Magnesia and Thessalonica (cf. "Sequencing the Latin Types"). As to the reason for this we can conjecture that trade with Bulgaria was no longer important by the late 1240's, since by then the Bulgarian economy had no doubt suffered greatly under the impact of the Mongol invasions. The small types were therefore discontinued by John III, as the Latin types (large and small) had already been.

*  Other semi-composites are Bendall's Type Y (S.2211, DOC IV 25b, Lianta 406), known only from the odd coin No. 499 of Bendall's reconstructed "Thracian" hoard in N. Chron. 1978, and Hendy's Type L (DOC IV Type R, 31b), also apparently known only from one example. The "b's" in the DOC numbers are the give-away here - the scarcity of these types suggests that the obverses were probably produced from simple make-up dies.

Module 3 and Module 4.

As stated earlier the Series III types cover a range of weights. In CLBC these types are effectively divided, on the basis of size, into the Module 3 and Module 4 types. Generally, but not invariably, the obverse on the smaller Module 4 types is a brockage, or simply plain.

What, if anything, is the significance of these two modules?

Now for one of the commonest issues, namely S.2199, the distinction between the two modules, or at least between brockage and non-brockage obverses, seems to be of little moment.  Thus with this particular type, probably the earliest Series III issue, the average weight of the brockage versions is a little more than 0.8g, while the non-brockage versions are only about 25% heavier at c.1.0g. This type is mostly found brockage (in my files at any rate), and the average weight of this type as a whole is around 0.9g, matching the standard weight for the small types of Manuel C-D. Note however that with this type I am working from a sample only 16 coins for this type (and less for most of the other types), and hence the figures may change with a larger sample. (Also I am working from pictures and hence in most cases I don't actually know the actual module sizes, only whether the coins are brockage or not).

For S.2200 we seem at first to find a somewhat similar pattern, with relatively heavy brockage examples, as with S.2199. But the sample is small (with only 4 brockages), so we need more data. My weight figures are taken mostly from market sales, but looking at the data in Penchev's Petrich hoard, we see for S.2199 much the same picture as stated above, but for S.2200 (where Petrich has a good sample of 30 coins) we see a separation by weight into two groups, one averaging around 1.0g and the other around 0.5g. (Note that overall the Petrich hoard weights are on average significantly lighter than those in the market, and were presumably clipped in some cases, but even so there is still a clear difference between the weight pattern of S.2199 and that of S.2200).

For later issues we often see a wider difference in weight between the brockage and non-brockage types. For these issues the non-brockage types generally average c.1.0-1.2g, as before. For most (but not all) of these types we also find that the brockages generally weigh only c.0.6g, resulting in an overall non-brockage to brockage version weight ratio of something around 1.7 (rather less than 2), and an average weight of around 0.9g. For those cases where where brockages don't normally occur (at least in numbers sufficient to show up in my files), the weight of the non-brockage coins still averages around 1.1g or so. The common type S.2210 is a somewhat odd case - there are a few small (mostly non-brockage) Module 4 examples of this type averaging c.0.6g, as usual for this module, but the larger examples average only a little over 0.8g, well below typical figures for Module 3. This seems to be largely a homogeneous type, with little or no real differentiation of the modules.

These figures are very preliminary, and subject to revision with more data, but at first sight they might be taken to show that except for S.2199 (and perhaps one or two other early types) there were two separate series of small types on distinctly different weight scales, with non-brockage (basically, Module 3) types weighing 1.1-1.2g on average, and often, but not always, brockage (mainly Module 4) types averaging c.0.6g. Given these weights, we might then surmise that the heavier series may have been introduced to match the weight of the still circulating Latin SM types, which by that time had been trimmed down to c.1.3g (as Bendall's Thracian hoard shows), while the smaller types may have possibly have passed as halves.

However, another possibility is that these two apparent series are largely artificial constructs, based mainly on  the difference between the brockage and non-brockage obverses, which is simply accidental and probably of no real significance, and that in reality they are more likely parts of a single series based on an average weight of c.0.9g, as in the reign of Manuel Comnenus-Ducas. At present it's not easy to decide between these two options, or even to determine how to decide between them.

If we construct a histogram of all Series III types on the basis of weight, we see that it seems to be more consistent with a single series of small module types rather than two. However, given the high variability of the weights of the available coins (many of which are damaged) this approach is not really discriminatory enough to decide the issue, and what is really needed are histograms of the distribution of die sizes (as opposed to weights) for the various individual types.

At present the available data on die sizes is limited, but the data that I have collected shows that the bulk (80%) of the Series III coins were struck from Module 3 size dies ranging from 12 to 16 mm (border size), while 15% came from dies less than 12 mm (Module 4), with a small number coming from dies of 17 mm (Module 2). The average weight of the Module 4 types (brockage or otherwise) is c.0.7g, while that of the Module 3 types (including brockage) is c.1.05 g. On this basis then we still have two distinct series, but the reduced weight difference means that they can hardly have been tariffed on a 2 to 1 basis.

What then is the explanation of the small Module 4 types? It's hard to say, but one possibility, as CLBC suggests, is that the Module 4 types were late reissues of the Series 3 types, dating from the last years of John C-D's reign when the coinage was probably under increasing pressure. Personally I find this idea unconvincing (why would you reissue so many different types?), but in any case, and whatever may have been the reason for the Module 4 types, the weights suggest that they probably had the same value as the Module 3 versions.


In summary we can say that:

   (1) There is no real evidence to support Hendy's theory that the larger types of John Comnenus-Ducas were issued in two parallel series (but see note on S.2337 in the Appendix)*.
   (2) There is no real evidence that the Series III types were struck anywhere except in Thessalonica.  
   (3) There is no real evidence that any Series III types were struck after 1246, and in fact there is good (hoard) evidence that they did not postdate 1246 by much, if at all.

Overall, if we adopt a consistent set of definitions for the various Series, we find that the coins of John Comnenus-Ducas can be largely divided into just two main groups - the generally rare larger types, ranging in size from Series I to IIb, and the relatively common small Series III types, in various sizes, some of which copy (all) the known larger types, and some of which seem to be original issues.

Furthermore, although it seems at first sight that in many cases the Series III types could be divided into two distinct denominations, the weights suggest that the Module 4 types are simply smaller versions of the Series III types, rather than a separate weight and value standard.

*  Remember that Hendy's original Series II types are described as Module 1 in CLBC, and do not generally correspond to the (rather lighter) types labeled "Module 2".

Appendix:    The larger John Comnenus-Ducas types.

In the table below the currently known* larger types are listed in decreasing order of size, which may or may not correspond to the order in time.

For compatibility with common usage I use the standard classification of these types into Series I and Series II, plus my new Series IIb, although as explained earlier I think there is probably only one continuous series here, and it should also be kept in mind that types may be reclassified in future as further and better data on sizes and weights is obtained. Where the Hendy references have changed, the new (DOC IV) one is given first, with the old (1969) tag in brackets, i.e, Dii (I) means new Type D (of Series II), Hendy old Type I. The Sear No's of the corresponding Series III issues are also given, with the DOC IV number in the footnotes. (On my analysis of course the relabeling of the Series II types by Grierson and Hendy is unnecessary and unjustified, and simply adds to the confusion. As well, the relabelling of the Series III types - apparently to match Grierson's ordering, which is followed by Bendall in Sear - is not only unjustified but also most undesirable, given the large number of hoard reports and journal articles which have used the old references. Unfortunately, this very confusing practice also occurs elsewhere in DOC IV).

In his article on the coins of John Comnenus-Ducas in Num. Chron. 2002, Bendall included a large number of new Series I and II types, based mainly on examples included in Dochev's book on the coins found at Turnovob. However, it should be noted that many (but not all) of the coins in Dochev's book are evidently shown up to 20% oversize, so that we have to assess his new Series I and II candidates with care, taking into account weight and reported actual size. Doing this we find that Bendall followed (most likely inadvertently) Dochev's light weight standard for Series II, which is similar to that of Jordanov (see below), but does not conform with Hendy's definitions. I have therefore made my own fairly conservative classification of the types here, and have omitted most of Dochev's Series II candidates (hence the differences between the table below and the similar one of Bendall). Nonetheless, the new table does include some additional Series I and II entries based solely on Dochev's examples; these seem to be valid, but at this stage they should still be treated as provisional.

Note that the heavier versions of S.2217, S.2218 etc. are classed here as Series III* rather than IIb - these are probably just oversize Series III issues (Module 2 in CLBC), but they could also represent the tail-end of the larger module series.

As well, all of Jordanov's own Series II candidates have been omitted, as the illustrated examples (in his book and in the Dolna Kabda hoard report) are all clearly Series III types. Jordanov takes Series II to mean coins struck from dies of 14-15 mm, with weights of 1.1-1.2 gm (Jordanov, p. 88), which are really part of Series III as originally defined and commonly understood. He also limits Series III types to dies of only 10-11 mm, with weights of typically 0.4-0.6 gms, which is far too restrictive in terms of Hendy's definitions. (The latter types are, as noted earlier, defined as a fourth series in CLBC). Note also that the smaller coins in Jordanov's book are mostly shown larger than real size, by varying factors.

On the other hand, notice the heavy weights (2.09 & 2.48 gm) of Lots 193.3-4 in the Despot Sale (LHS Numismatics Sale 97), which are listed there (but not illustrated) as DOC IV 17b, i.e, the (supposed) version of the Series III type S.2202 with full length figures (see CLBC 14.5.3.B for this doubtful type). It is not clear what these heavy coins actually are - perhaps full length figure equivalents of the Series I Type E. (We should also perhaps note here S.2224, DOC IV-13, which is more a trachy of Series III size than a tetarteron).

Finally, the rare wing holding sword type, with a bearded ruler (S.2226) seems to be of roughly Latin SM (Series III*) size, and hence is presumably a late issue of John C-D, and, perhaps, as suggested earlier, the ultimate issue of the larger module series - or just possibly, it is an issue of Demetrius C-D. As noted earlier this type is mainly known in the Series III* version.

To sum all this up, we see that the only regular Series III types of John C-D for which we don't currently have larger module versions of some sort (i.e, Module 1 or 2) are S.2210, 2215, 2222 and the copy of the small Latin Type A. As well there are no larger module versions of the various odd and, in some cases, possibly makeshift types like S.2211, 2212 (if it exists), DOC 31b and DOC 32, and the small and late(?) Lis/Patriarchal Cross type.

For some more possible Series IIb and III size types of an uncertain ruler, see Coins 7-10 in the Article "The Coins of Michael II of Epirus". One of these, the rather odd castle type (Coin 7), seems to be the only issue which really does appear in significant quantities in all three module sizes, or at least in a wide range of sizes.

*  Note that a number of new "Series I" versions of known Series III types have reportedly been unearthed during excavations in Ochrid, but I have not as yet seen a report detailing these new types.


Sear No.

Series I

Ser. II

Ser. IIb

Ser. III*

Ser. III



Module 1

Module 2

Mod. 3,4








Some III*d







Some III*e







Some III*f







(Half length figures)


Dii (I)





Series I type?


Fi (-)

or S.II?




Winged Labarum typeg



or S.II?




Pat. Cross typeh


or S.I?

Cii (H)




Intermediate type?j


or S.I?





Dochev Pl. 7,8 =
Jordanov Pl. 35,4



Aii (F)







Bii (G)








or S.IIb?



Series II/IIb type?n







Odd type with wide range of weightsp




Eii (-)







Fii (-)



Cherub(?)/Lis obverseo







Lab. Hd/Canopy typeq







Winged emp. over wallss







Winged Emp. stdg typet







Lge Star/Virg. rev. typev







Mainly Ser. III*?







Radiate Cross typew







Wing with sword type - mainly Ser. III*?



a:   I. Jordanov, "Coins and Coin Usage in Medieval Bulgaria, 1081-1261", Sofia, 1984.
b:   K. Dochev, "Coins and Coin Usage in Turnovo, XII - XIV C.", 1992. 
c:   V. Marchev and R. Wachter,"Catalogue of the late Byzantine Coins, 1081-1453, Vol. I", Veliko Tarnevo, 2011.
d:   Chron. '02, Pl. 48,5 (Private Collection). 
e:   CLBC 14.2.2 (CNG57-1521 - weight uncertain). 
f:   Petrich Fig. 193.
g:   Note that the S.2192 coin in DOC IV is Series II/IIb - it weighs only 1.71 gm and is not shown to scale (the picture there is copied from the original St Achillee site report where the coins are generally shown oversize). For types closer to Series I see CNG e336-362 (2.15 gm) & CNG 100-2068 (2.11 gm). Another relatively large module example was offered by Lanz Numismatik on Ebay in March 2013; this coin has 18 mm dies, but it was  apparently struck on thin fabric and has a very light weight (1.03g).
For other Series II/IIb versions of this type cf. Petrich Figs. 190-2.
h:   N. Chr. '02, Pl. 48,2 (Private Collection), et al.  The Series III version is DOC IV-27b.
i:   (Reserved).
j:   For a recently found "Series I" (or Series II) example see Bendall, N. Circ. 2005, p.313. (The DOC example flan seems possibly undersized).  
k: (Reserved).
l: The Dochev/Jordanov Ser. I/II coin (20 mm dies) is also shown in N. Chr.'02, Pl. 48,3. For another LM example see the Biblitheque Nationale coin. The Series III version is DOC IV-28. 
m:   Lanz 141-903 weighs 1.43 gm, but is most likely just an ordinary Series III type.
n:   Series I in Hendy and DOC IV, but clearly smaller (a recent new example, Gorny & Mosch 181-2760, weighed 1.32 gm with figures 16-17 mm high). For the unlisted Series III version (w. figs as busts), see Petrich 968,9; Despot Sale LHS97-183.2 (and now CLBC 14.4.3 & 14.4.4).
o: The original obverse of S.2198 appears to have been B. Arch./Cherub, as on the SM version S.2209 (cf. the damaged Series IIb example CNGe378-600). The simple Lis on the D.O. (BNF) Series II/IIb example (CLBC 14.12.2) was possibly from a makeshift replacement die.
p:   Mostly medium weight - e.g, DOC IV 38.2 (smallish module but 1.69g); for similar examples see Despot Sale, LHS97-192 & 193.13 and Princeton 6716; for a quite heavy version (3.02g) of apparently average (Ser. II?) size see Gorny & Mosch 216-3548. For the (scarcer and smaller) ordinary Series III versions, see Petrich 986 or CLBC 14.29.3 & 29.4. 
q:   The classic Series IIb type: cf. CNG 53-1913, Petrich 764, Despot Sale LHS 97-188,189 and Elsen 97-588. The (scarcer?) Series III version is DOC IV-36 - for other Series III examples see also Petrich 976,7, and Lianta 428-9.
r: (Reserved). 
s:   For a (possible) Series II/IIb(?) version see Helios 6-1161 (1.85 gm, size uncertain). 
t:   N. Chr. '02, Pl. 48,4, from Dochev Pl. 7,7 - the original weight of this clipped coin is unknown. The Series III version is DOC IV-34.
v:   A larger size but medium weight type: cf. Dolna Kabda 1624; CNG53-1959 (this last example weighs only 1.44g, but the reverse figure as shown is 19 mm high). Another somewhat corroded version of this type weighed 1.55g with figures 17 mm high. The Series III version is DOC IV-33.
w: See Princeton 6588 for a Series IIb/III* example.

Ross Glanfield

September 2007.

Latest revisions: 

10 Jan.  '11:  Marchev and Wachter's "Catalogue of the Late Byzantine Coins, 1081-1453" noted.
17 Jan.  '11:  Series III* defined. Appendix Table refined.  
22 Apr. '12:   Section on Module 3 and Module 4 types added.  
  4 Sep. '15:    S.2192 reassessed (again) and Series I types noted.
  7 Sep. '15:    Appendix Table revised.
  3 July '16:    Section on Module 3 and Module 4 types revised (again).

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