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S.2464 & the Asian Trachies
 of Andronicus II

The excavations at Pergamuma produced no less than 46 copper trachies of Michael VIII. Mostly these were issues of Constantinople, but they included some types evidently deriving from mints in Asia Minor, most likely Magnesia and Philadelphia. No Thessalonican issues of Michael were found.

On the other hand there were only 10* examples of the copper coins of Andronicus II at Pergamum, all trachies. Seven different types were represented, featuring, with one exception, Andronicus as sole ruler. Currently these types are assigned to the mint of Constantinople, or, as we shall see, mints in Asia Minor. As with the coins of Michael VIII, there were no issues of Thessalonica present.

It is very noticeable that there were no assaria of Constantinople at Pergamum at all. Given that these types were by far the commonest issues of the period by Constantinople, it is clear that very few coins from the capital reached Pergamum after c.1290**. In fact it's not unlikely, as Bendall suggested in PCPCb, that Constantinople supplied few coins to Asia Minor from the 1270's onward (there is little direct evidence for this idea, but we know, as noted elsewhere, that local production of coins seems to have resumed in Asia in the later years of Michael VIII's reign - cf. Article "The Magnesian Trachies of Michael VIII" for more details). Given this lack of coinage, and the fact that the trachies of Andronicus II found at Pergamum are mostly scarce or rare types, it seems likely that these coins, or at least some of them, could be local issues of Asia Minor, rather than of Constantinople.

This conclusion is reinforced, as Bendall pointed out in PCPC, by the fact that in some cases the coins in question are often struck from the same dies, suggesting that we are dealing with small issues here, consistent with a local origin.

* Including coin No. K1008A, which is evidently an example of PCPC 147/379. There was also a basilikon of Andronikos II & Michael IX, the only coin of the period found at Pergamum which is clearly attributable to Constantinople.

** I note also that no assaria were offered on Ebay by the "Asian source" referred to in the Article "The Magnesian Trachies of Michael VIII", a seller on Ebay in the mid 2000's of later Byzantine coins apparently sourced (ultimately) mainly from south-western Turkey.

Sear 2464.

Of particular interest is the fact that there were two examples of the two ruler type S.2464 of Andronicus II at Pergamum. The presence of two examples of this quite rare type at Pergamum is surprising, particularly given the small number of coins of Andronicus II found at Pergamum overall, and the fact that, apart from the basilikon mentioned above, this is the only joint rule type of the period appearing at Pergamum.

Also, S.2464 rarely appears in the market, and one of the only two recent examples that I am aware of was offered some years ago on Ebay by the "Asian source" referred to above. This coin had the desert patina typical of coins from western Asia Minor, and in fact was stated to have been found at Balat (near Miletus) in south-west Turkey.*

Taking all these facts together, it is reasonable to consider the possibility that S.2464 could be in fact an issue of Magnesia, or at least of a mint in Asia Minor.

Now it will be objected that S.2464 is supposed to be an issue of Andronicus II and Andronicus III, since the figures on the coin are allegedly both named in the legend as Andronicus. But if so, then how do we account for the presence of this type at Pergamum, which fell to the Turks in 1302, and more generally, how could S.2464 have circulated in Anatolia in the first place, given that this region was almost entirely under the control of the Turks by the 1320's?

One explanation might be that the standard attribution is not reliable, and that S.2464 is a relatively early issue of Andronicus II and Michael IX. In actual fact the legend starts out, reading clockwise from the top "Andronik...", but after that, on all the examples that I have seen, it is garbled and meaningless, so that we don't actually have the name of the second figure, who therefore could quite easily be Michael IX. This was realised incidentally by the Pergamum excavators, as the second figure is recorded as "Michael IX?" by Voegtli.

However, it is still possible to argue that this type is in fact an issue of Andronicus II and III after all. Bendall has recently suggested (N. Circ. Apr.'08, p.61-2) that the two figures on S.2464 are wearing rather odd semi-domed crowns, of a type also found on two recently discovered hyperpyra. As Bendall suggests, these peculiar hyperpyra (one, supposedly, an issue of Andronicus II and III from Thessalonica) may date from the fluid period between the death of Michael IX in 1320 and the final acceptance of Andronicus III by his grandfather in 1325, although another possibility might be 1316 (or 1315?) when Michael IX crowned Andronicus III in Thessalonica.

If so, then perhaps S.2464 also dates from one of these periods, and the garbled legend could then be deliberate, reflecting perhaps the shifting allegiances of the times. Personally, I'm not convinced Bendall is right about the crowns on S.2464, and as well my impression is that the junior ruler (on the left here) is beardless, consistent with him being Michael IX. But whichever rulers are depicted here, where was this type minted? As we have seen, Constantinople seems an unlikely source, but so does Thessalonica, since even the commonest issues of Thessalonica of the Nicaean and Palaeologan periods do not appear at Pergamum. For the moment then it would still seem that Magnesia, or maybe Philadelphia, is the most likely source of this type.

Note that, even if we accept that this type is an issue of Asia Minor, it could still be objected that it is generally cut and struck in a reasonably fine style as compared with some of the other putative local Asian types (see next section). This is a valid point, but as conditions in Asia deteriorated, it is quite possible that more than one city struck its own coins, with the better types being struck in, say, Magnesia or Philadelphia (like the local issues of Michael VIII), while the cruder issues, some perhaps copies of official types, derived from minor towns.

*  Two examples of S.2464 were also found during excavations at Anaia (Kusadasi) on the west coast of Asia Minor, along with a small number of other (mostly) common late bronze types of Michael VIII and of Andronicus II.

Other possible Asian Issues.

Apart from S.2464, the Andronicus II types found at Pergamum were S.2332, 2334, 2339 (two examples), 2356 and PCPC 378 and 147/379 (two examples, inc. No. K1008A, both apparently struck from the same dies). Furthermore, of 5 examples of S.2339 noted by me in the market in recent years, two came from the "Asian" source*. Similarly, one of the three recent examples of S.2334, and one of three S.2338's (a type not found at Pergamum) were also offered by the Asian source. Together, then, except perhaps for 2338, these types probably represent the bulk of the types which circulated in Asia Minor in any quantity in the early 1300's. (Bendall also noted PCPC 376 (= S.2337?)** and the Andronicus II and Michael IX "seraph" type PCPC 154 as possible issues of Asia Minor - these didn't appear at Pergamum, but given the scarcity of these types this is not surprising, or maybe they are relatively late, as other Greek cities did not fall to the Turks until sometime after Pergamum).

But were the types found in Asia struck in Asia? - after all, just because a given type is found in Asia doesn't necessarily mean it was minted there. However, if, as appears likely, the supply of coins from Constantinople had largely dried up, then the likelihood that the types under consideration were local products is increased. We note also that none of the above types were found at Turnovo by Dochev, which is also consistent with an Asian origin, although of course most of these types are not common in the first place, so their absence from Turnovo is not necessarily all that significant. (By comparison 16 other types of the Constantinople trachies of Andronicus II alone, and 12 types of trachy of Andronicus II with Michael IX, appeared at Turnovo - together with 14 types of assaria of the joint reign). We also note in passing that examples of the crowning types S.2335 and 2336, which are similar to those under consideration here, did turn up at Turnovo, so these types are unlikely to be Asian issues.

More significant is the fact that some of these types were struck from the same dies, which suggests, as noted earlier, relatively small local issues. This is true, according to Bendall, of the PCPC types 376 (S.2337?), 378 and 147/379, which gives us at least three good candidates for local issues. (Bendall also considered S.2356 an issue of Asia Minor, although he gives no specific reasons). As for the others in our list, for the moment they remain possible, but not yet probable, candidates (although types like S.2339 might seem too common to be Asian issues). One type not present at Pergamum which might worth considering as a Asian issue is S.2331 - this rare type has the same reverse as S.2330, and hence could possibly be an Asian coronation issue, although I am unaware of any find spots for this type. The fact that there are so many "crowning" types for Andronicus II certainly suggests that they are not all issues of the capital.

Another type worth considering as an issue of Andronicus II (or maybe Michael VIII) in Asia is LPC 266,3, a rare type originally assigned to Andronicus II, but later assigned by Bendall to John III at Magnesia as S.2113 (= DOC IV Uncertain Type Pl. LIV,4). Two examples this type were found at Pergamum (coins 935-6), and the reverse B-B and the lack of a clear forked beard on the emperor suggest that this could be a Palaeologan type, although of which ruler is unclear. On the other hand, two heavily clipped possible examples of this type were found in the Latin period hoard of Dolna Kabda (coins 1343-4), which are presumably pre-Palaeologan. This type should not be confused with S.2095, where the Virgin sits on a backed throne, and a group of other similar types of John III from Magnesia, such as the one shown in Dochevc p.278, Pl. 6,8, or Bates' Sardis coins No's 1210-21, all of which lack the reverse B-B of  S.2113. (Note that while Dochev's actual coin, like another example I know of from Asia Minor, shows no "B"s, they are included in his line drawing of the type on p.218 - perhaps he has conflated his coin with LPC 266,3, as the combination of backed throne and reverse "B-B" does not, as far as I know, exist with these types).

*  These "market" figures do not include examples from sales of established collections, such as the "Despot" Sale of 2006, which tend to be biased toward the scarcer issues. This last sale included in fact a number of the types being considered here - the significance of this is unclear, as the provenances of the Despot coins are, unfortunately, unknown.

** PCPC 376 appears to be either the same type as S.2337, or a copy of it (although S.2337 itself seems to be a rather crude type to begin with). The same can be said of PCPC 379 and 147.

The source of these types.

If some or all of the types considered here derive from Anatolia, where and when were they minted, given the Turkish takeover of the region during the reign of Andronicus II? Some of the types found at Pergamum probably predate 1302, before the Turks had overun most of Anatolia, but others (such as PCPC 376/S.2337 & S.2338, as well as S.2464) were possibly produced later at surviving Greek enclaves in Anatolia, such as Magnesia, which didn't fall until 1316, and Philadelphia, which survived until much later.

References:

a: H. Voegtli, "Die Fundmuenzen aus der Stadtgrabung von Pergamon", Berlin 1993.

b: Simon Bendall, "A Private Collection of Palaeologan Coins", 1988, p.76.

c: K. Dochev, "Coins and Coin Usage in Turnovo, XII - XIV C.", 1990.

 

Ross Glanfield

August 2007.

Latest Modifications:

19 Sep. '07:   S.2334 and 2338 added. 
19 Sep. '07:   "Other possible Asian Issues" revised. 
24 Sep. '07:   S.2331 added as another possible Asian type. 
17 Feb. '08:   Dolna Kabda coins 1343-4 noted in discusion of S.2113. 
29 Mar. '10: Semi-domed crowns noted, and argument reworked.
26 Aug. '14: Bendall's semi-domed crowns doubted.
  4 Mar. '16:  Finds of S.2464's at Anaia noted.

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