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S.2315 of Michael VIII &  
 S.2486 of Andronicus III.

Something odd has happened in the last few years - a new version of Sear 2486 has apparently appeared. This type is the same as the standard S.2486, except for an extra star right and left on the reverse. There was an example of this type in the CNG Sale 67 (Lot 1914), and there were a number in various Berk's sales, offered under various designations. For example, BBS117-516 and 136-361 were offered as variants of S.2486, while BBS117-522 was listed as a straight S.2486.
As well, more than a dozen examples of the type from some recent finds of Palaeologan types were offered on Ebay in 2004-6, usually as issues of Andronicus III (see Note
"Some Palaeologan Finds".)

But, as astute readers will have no doubt noticed, this new type is apparently identical with S.2315, a coin assigned to Michael VIII in Bendall and Donald's "The Billon Trachea Michael VIII Palaeologos" (and in DOC V, although no example of the type is shown). So is the starred type just a variant of S.2486, and if not, who issued it - Michael VIII, Andronicus II or Andronicus III?

Well, to start with, this type is most unlikely to be an issue of Andronicus III. The coins of this emperor are essentially defined by Longuet's "Salonika" hoard, which dates from c. 1340 and consists largely of Andronicus III types (see LPC, or Bendall's analysis of the hoard in American Numismatic Society Museum Notes 29, 1984). Now, of the 11 examples of S.2486 in that hoard, none show any stars, so the starred type must predate the regular S.2486's by some time. (There is a starred type in Plate 25 of ANSMN 29, but the coin shown is not actually from the hoard). In fact, given that the hoard probably includes most issues of the 1320's as well as the 1330's, it is likely that this type predates c.1325 at the latest.

On the other hand, it is also unlikely that the starred type is an issue of Michael VIII, as almost all of the examples of the type that have been offered recently have come from finds consisting mainly of later Andronicus II types.

Thus, the two examples in BBS117 came from Bendall's reconstructed hoard of 2000* - a hoard consisting mainly of Andronicus II types (although it did include apparently some early to mid reign issues of Andronicus III, including a few normal S.2486's - see Note "Bendall's Hoard of 2000"). Another example of the starred type, sold by Berk's as BBS128-688, was presumably also part of this hoard (curiously, this coin was listed as S.2315 rather than as an S.2486 variety), and BBS136-361 may also have come the same hoard.  

Similarly, the recent Ebay examples come from the find (or finds) mentioned earlier of several hundred Palaeologan types, the great bulk of which were issues of Andronicus II (with only two or three mid period Andronicus III's, which may or may not be part of the find proper).  

Finally, the CNG example in Sale 67 is one of a small group of Andronicus II, and Andronicus II & Michael IX types, apparently dating from c.1320 at the latest.

All the above evidence suggests that S.2315 is an issue of Andronicus II, and in any case in Oct. 2006 I acquired an example of S.2315 overstruck by S.2387, which is undoubtedly a later issue of Andronicus II, and which clearly confirms S.2315 as an issue of that emperor (see Data page "Overstrikes and Mules").

So why was S.2315 attributed to Michael VIII in Bendall & Donald? Well, presumably because the exemplar for this type was found at "St Achillee" (Aghios Achilleios) in north-western (Greek) Macedonia, a site where no Byzantine coins later than Michael VIII have turned up (or had turned up in 1974). Now this is certainly a strong argument, but it is not necessarily conclusive, and as we have seen, all the recent examples of this type come from finds of mainly late Andronicus II's types.

Perhaps, then, there were two issues of S.2315, one by Michael VIII and one by Andronicus II? It's not impossible, but seems unlikely - as pointed out above, the style (with no legend) and weight of the type is typically later Andronicus II, and in any case the St Achillee coin weighed 1.81g, consistent with the weights of the other examples. 

Overall then, I think we can safely conclude that there was only one issue of the starred type, and this was by Andronicus II.

In fact, we can narrow down the date of S.2315. As stated above, we now have an example of this type overstruck by S.2387, so that it must date from some time before 1320. On the other hand the fact that the type has no legend suggests that it is unlikely to be much earlier than 1310, and hence we might conclude that S.2315 most likely dates from the 1310's.

However, two points need to be taken into consideration -  firstly, the lack of legend on this type may be the result of the its rather full design, and secondly, this type is usually struck from noticeably curved dies, whereas most later Andronicus II (and early Andronicus III) types are struck from flattish dies on (more or less) scyphate flans. This trait (the curved dies) is also exhibited by a small number of other types, including, notably, S.2458, S.2482 and S.2372, which probably date from around 1310, or maybe a little earlier (see Article "Sequencing the Thessalonican Trachea" ), which suggests that S.2315 may also date from the same period.

Finally, we note that there are also (unstarred) versions of S.2486 struck, like S.2315, with curved dies on curved flans. These clearly scyphate types were not found in Longuet's hoard, but several were included in the recent finds of mainly Andronicus II types - it is therefore quite likely that these types are variants of S.2315, rather than issues of Andronicus III.

* This hoard is now referred to in the literature as Thessalonica (VII) 2001.

Ross Glanfield

December 2004

 P.S:  I have also in my possession an example of S.2315 overstruck on (or less likely, muled with) a type with a large six-leaved star on the obverse. (The coin is also overstruck on another unidentified type). Statistically, the undertype would most likely be S.2393 or S.2457, which probably date from the later 1310's. However, the scarcer, but probably earlier, type S.2392 is also possible, and would fit with the scyphate flan types. 

 

Latest revisions:

      6 May '06  (Dating revised).
    12 Oct. '06  (Overstrike by S.2387 noted and discussion updated accordingly). 
    30 June '08  (Scyphate versions of S.2486 noted).

 

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