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Matthew Asen Kantakouzenos, Silver, Half Basilikon, Uncertain Mint, 1353-1357

 
 

Obverse

Half-length figure of St. Michael holding scepter and sword, above city walls on left, blessed by standing figure of John Prodromos to right. John Prodromos wears robes and holds the Gospels in his left hand and extends his right hand in blessing. Ligatured T| between two figures.

Reverse

Matthew Asen Kantakouzenos standing and holding scepter cruciger in right hand. CN in right field, CTK in left field, and star above.

Obverse

Half-length figure of St. Michael holding scepter and sword, above city walls on left, blessed by standing figure of John Prodromos to right. John Prodromos wears robes and holds the Gospels in his left hand and extends his right hand in blessing. Ligatured T| between two figures.

Reverse

Matthew Asen Kantakouzenos standing and holding scepter cruciger in right hand. CN in right field, CTK in left field, and star above.

Accession number BZC.2006.17
Ruler Matthew Asen Kantakouzenos
Date of Reign 1353–1357
Metal Silver
Denomination Half Basilikon
Mint Uncertain Mint
Date 13531357
Diameter 16.0 mm
Weight 0.49 g
Relation of Dies 11:00
Shape Flat

Commentary

This coin is the third known example of this type. See DOC 5.1:19091. See also P. Protonotarios, “Une monnaie de l’empereur Matthieu Asen Cantacuzène (1354–1357),” fig. 2; S. Bendall, “Four Byzantine Notes,” 4; H.-U. Geiger and F. Füeg, “Neues zur Münzprägung der Palaiologenzeit: Michael VIII., Andronikos II., Matthaios, Johannes V. und Anna, F. Gattilusio”; and C. Morrisson, “Le demi-basilikon de Matthieu Cantacuzene de la collection Protonotarios à Dumbarton Oaks.”

Morrisson underlines the now confirmed identification of the religious figures of the obverse (Michael above the walls, as proven by X on the other specimens, and John Prodromos, as deduced from his ascetic’s robe). The Τ| between the two figures is a mystery. It cannot allude to St. Demetrios, nor can it be a moneyer’s mark, considering the limited size of the issue. This unique combination, unknown in other media as well, is what makes the coin itself unique. It was probably struck by Matthew somewhere in Thrace, his appanage according to the treaty of 1355, either in Adrianople, Didymoteikhon, or Empythion on the Hebros, where the Kantakouzenoi kept their treasury.

Acquisition History

LHS sale 97, 10 May 2006, lot 330, from the Protonotarios collection