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John III Doukas Vatatzes, Gold, Nomisma Hyperpyron, Magnesia, 1221-1254

 
 

Obverse

Christ, bearded and nimbate, wearing tunic and kolobion and seated upon backless throne. Right hand raised in benediction, Gospels in left hand. Large cross with pellets in quarters on divitision above the central panel of the loros. Ι̅Σ̅ Χ̅Σ to left and right.

Symbol

Cross in left field.

Reverse

Full-length figure of John III Vatatzes crowned by nimbate Virgin. Emperor wears stemma, divitision, collar-piece, and paneled loros with large cross with dots in angles in the center part. Labarum on long shaft in right hand, akakia in left hand. Virgin wears tunic and maphorion. MP ΘV above and to the right.

Ω|C - |ΠO|P|OO|ΓE|II

Obverse

Christ, bearded and nimbate, wearing tunic and kolobion and seated upon backless throne. Right hand raised in benediction, Gospels in left hand. Large cross with pellets in quarters on divitision above the central panel of the loros. Ι̅Σ̅ Χ̅Σ to left and right.

Symbol

Cross in left field.

Reverse

Full-length figure of John III Vatatzes crowned by nimbate Virgin. Emperor wears stemma, divitision, collar-piece, and paneled loros with large cross with dots in angles in the center part. Labarum on long shaft in right hand, akakia in left hand. Virgin wears tunic and maphorion. MP ΘV above and to the right.

Ω|C - |ΠO|P|OO|ΓE|II

Accession number BZC.2005.24
Ruler John III Doukas Vatatzes
Date of Reign 1221–1254
Metal Gold
Denomination Nomisma Hyperpyron
Mint Magnesia
Date 12211254
Diameter 29.0 mm
Weight 4.33 g
Relation of Dies 6:00
Shape Cup
Metal Composition 81.5% Au; 13.8% Ag; 4.6% Cu (analyzed by Bernard Gratuze in CNRS Orleans by ICP laser ablation LA-ICP-MS)

Commentary

When he offered this coin to Dumbarton Oaks because he felt that “it should go to a better home than a private collector since it probably needs metal analysis to identify it” (letter, 10 March 2005), Bendall pointed out the cross in the left field on the obverse and to the peculiar cross of the same shape that was re-engraved on the usual five-pellets central panel of the emperor’s loros on the reverse. Analysis results show the coin’s fineness (81.5%) to be higher than the maximum recorded one for John III (79.4%, per X-ray fluorescence or 76.85% per proton activation). On the other hand, the presence of a siglon (cross in obverse field) is characteristic of John III’s issues. All things equal, considering also its rather fine style, Cécile Morrisson provisionally assigns this coin to John III.

Acquisition History

From Simon Bendall