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Uncertain Ruler, Coin (Uncertain Value), Uncertain Mint, circa 1300-circa 1399

 
 

Obverse

Here obscure, but likely frontal portrait of St. Demetrios as on other specimens.

Reverse

Two figures standing.

Symbol

Stars in field between figures. 

Obverse

Here obscure, but likely frontal portrait of St. Demetrios as on other specimens.

Reverse

Two figures standing.

Symbol

Stars in field between figures. 

Accession number BZC.1960.88.4991
Ruler Uncertain Ruler
Denomination Coin (Uncertain Value)
Mint Uncertain Mint
Date circa 1300circa 1399
Diameter 12.0 mm
Weight 2.5 g
Relation of Dies 12:00
Shape Flat

Commentary

S. Bendall (“An Enigmatic Fourteenth-Century Coin”) was the first to draw attention to this series, which Longuet (“Die unedierten byzantinischen Münzen des Wiener Kabinettes”) considered as Palaiologan tokens. He published ten specimens, most of Bulgarian origin.

E. Georganteli (“A Palaiologan Trachion from the Dioikitiriou Square Excavation”) attributed a similar coin found in the excavations of the Diokitiriou square in Thessalonike to John V and Anna of Savoy. This did not convince Bendall (“The Dioikitirion Square Trachion Reconsidered”) who proposed to identify the rulers as John and Alexis Asen, the brothers who controlled Thrace and Thasos after 1356.

Later, Bendall (“A Further Note on the ‘Dioikitirion Square’ Trachy”) commented upon hoards and stray finds of Ionian origin which contained this and other mid-fourteenth-century Balkan issues.

On examining the Dumbarton Oaks specimens, C. Morrisson (“The Emperor, the Saint, and the City: Coinage and Money in Thessalonike from the Thirteenth to the Fifteenth Century,” 182–83) confirmed the identification of the saint on the obverse as St. Demetrios within the walls of the city. The curious “Venetian style” of the rulers’ headdresses seems to exclude a proper Byzantine attribution and the coins remain enigmatic in that respect.

Another specimen, now back in the Harvard Art Museums, is in the Whittemore collection (1.57 g). The three coins at DO (see also BZC.1960.88.4989 and BZC.1960.88.4990) all have a 12h axis, unusual for coins, which could point to their being tokens or amulets.

Acquisition History

From Bertelé