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The Latin Type I                             
Another Coin for Andronicus I Gidon?

The unique Latin Imitative Type "I" trachy (Sear 2029) is unusual in that it is the only "Latin" type, except perhaps for Type Q, which has not turned up in any hoards or stray finds of the Latin period in the Balkans. Several features of this type suggest that it may not be a Latin type at all, but an issue of a quite different region. So let us explore the various options.

Type I and Andronicus I Gidon.

At first sight the Type I appears to share both obverse and reverse types with other Latin issues. Thus the obverse shows the Virgin "Hagiosoritissa", i.e, standing, orans to the right (her left), which is the same as on the Latin Types S and T, while the reverse is very similar to that on the Latin Type H, with Christ blessing the ruler.

However, there are a couple of problems here - to start with, we note that on the Type I, as opposed to all other Latin types, including the Type H, the ruler's beard is long and forked, and in fact it closely resembles the long forked beard on the billon trachy of Andronicus I Comnenus, the apparent prototype for the reverses of both Types H and I. Secondly, while the reverse legend on Type H copies that of the Comnenus original ("Andronikoc Decpothc"), on the Type I the legend seems to be "ANΔ-TOKO" (or "TOKM").

These discrepancies lead us to consider another interesting possibility. Thus we note the obverse of Type I is the same as on the anonymous silver trachy Sear 2148* which, according to Simon Bendall, is possibly an issue of Andronicus I Gidon of Trebizond (1222-35). As well, we see that the reverse design of Type I is virtually the same as that on the copper trachies S.2597-8, types which are also currently attributed to Gidon, and which even have essentially the same legend as the Type I, i.e, "ΛNΔ-TWK" (if Bendall's readings are correct**). (We remember here that Gidon had married into the Comnenus family and liked to call himself Andronicus Comnenus). We also note that on S.2597-8 the ruler usually has a forked beard, and finally that the only known example of Type I is quite heavy (5.75 gm), like many of the examples of S.2597-8.

Thus we see that the obverse and reverse designs of the Latin Type I are both very similar to those found on various types attributed (at least for the present) to Andronicus I Gidon. Hence, given the difficulty with placing this type, it is certainly tempting to assume that it too could be an issue of Trebizond rather than the Latin Empire.

However, having said all this, I must also admit that there are difficulties with these arguments, to which we now turn our attention.

*  On Type I, and Types S and T, there is a manus dei above right, as on what are presumably the earliest examples of S.2148 (Bendall's Variety 1). And note that on Type I and S.2148, but not apparently on the Latin types, the Virgin stands on a dais (although this doesn't show very clearly in the line drawing of Type I in "Coins of the Crusader States").

** We have to rely here on Bendall's reading of this legend - on some examples the TOKM is replaced by Δ C Π.

Difficulties with the Gidon theory.

For a start, given that the Virgin "Hagiosoritissa" is a very common Orthodox icon, the fact that it appears on various coins doesn't necessarily imply a connection.

Secondly, I am not yet entirely convinced that Bendall's assignment of the "Christ Chalkites" types to Andronicus I Gidon is correct, plausible as it may be. And if this is in fact the case, then of course Type I can't be linked to Gidon through the Chalkites types.

But irrespective of the situation with the Chalkites issues, could Type I still be connected to Gidon through its similarity to the S.2597-8 types? Perhaps - particularly as the legend seems to be the same on both types. In this case, however, there are still difficulties - the ruler's beard on Type I is much longer than is usual on S.2597-8, and the commonplace style of the latter types is quite different from that of Type I, so as before it would seem difficult to establish a direct connection between these types. In any case, even if we ignore the differences between Type I and S.2597-8, there is still another problem - namely the attribution of S.2597-8 to Gidon in the first place, and as with S.2148 there are perhaps doubts about this assignment.

Finally, we note that on the only coin which can be definitely attributed to Gidon (the very rare type S.2599) it is not clear that the ruler (if that's who the obverse figure is) has a forked beard like that evident on both Type I and, to a lesser extant, on S.2597-8, so that, irrespective of all other considerations, this has to cast at least some doubt on the attribution of both the Type I and S.2597-8 to Gidon. (Note that the latter types have in the past been assumed to be simply variants of the generally similar Latin Type H. In fact they might plausibly be attributed to the crusaders in north-west Asia Minor in the 1220's, provided we don't mind the ruler's forked beard, and the different legend on some examples).

Other options for the Type I.

So if the attribution of Type I to Gidon is in doubt, could it then be a Latin issue after all? This seems unlikely, given its non-appearance in the numerous Balkan hoards, and, as we have said, the long bearded ruler is obviously different from the bland generic figure found on all other Latin types (including the Latin Type V, which directly copies a John Vatatzes reverse where the emperor has his typical long beard).

In fact the long beard on the Type I is surely the key to this type. One possible, if unlikely, idea that the beard, and the reverse design in general, suggests is that the Type I might be an aborted (or perhaps a pattern) 12th cent. issue of Andronicus I Comnenus at Constantinople - but this seems unlikely, and in any case there is the problem of the legend, which is clearly different from the standard legend of all regular Andronicus Comnenus types as noted above.

Could it perhaps then be a 12th century issue of Andronicus I Comnenus in Asia? Maybe, since we know that folles were issued in the name of Alexius I at Trebizond, as were trachies of Manuel I and Isaac II. However this idea seems to be rather unlikely given that the style of the Type I doesn't seem to match that of these last two Comnenan types (which are struck on polygonal flans cut from sheet).

One thing that can be said is that the legend means that the Type I is not an issue (actual or aborted) of some Nicaean mint.

Conclusion.

Overall, it seems none of the assignments of the Type I considered above are without difficulties of one sort or another, although the attribution to Gidon seems the most promising, if only on the basis of who else?#

But in any case, whether or not we have a completely satisfactory answer to the problem of this type, we can certainly say that our investigations have taken us to a number of very interesting fields, all of which clearly need further investigation.

 

Ross Glanfield

August 2007.

#  P.S. I have just now (July '09) noticed that Bendall has considered this type along similar lines to mine, and he concluded, perhaps not surprisingly, that it is probably an issue of Andronicus I Gidon.

Latest revisions:

      2 Jan. '08:  Doubts on Chalkites types etc. added.
    12 July '09  Completely rewritten and reorganised.
    22 July '09  Bendall's attribution to Gidon noted. 
    11 Aug. '09  Revised again.

     

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