Saturday, 9 April 2011


A bronze follis of Justinian II (527-565) minted at Constantinople (CON on the exergue of the reverse) in the twelfth year of his reign, i.e. 539/40.  The letter M on the reverse was the way the Greeks to indicated forty: the follis comprised 40 nummi.  This is a huge coin; 40mm across and weighing nearly 23 grammes, one of the largest ever struck for daily use. Justinian virtually recreated the Roman Mediterranean empire.  But it had nothing like the stability of its predecessor and to balance conquests in Italy and Spain he had to pay huge tributes to the Persians and Balkan tribes to avoid war on a number of fronts. This coin would probably have bought a number of loaves of bread or couple of dozen eggs.
Having been on display since September 2010 the exhibition of books and coins linking Drapers with the Anglo-Saxons was closed after the Livery Dinner on 23 March. 

I take the opportunity to illustrate two more coins from the display.

Most of those who saw the display were polite enough to express an interest in it.  The most common comment was to express surprise at the level of organisation and order in a period commonly known as the Dark Ages.

A penny of Edgar (959-975) minted by Heriger, a moneyer known to have been based in York, around 970.  Edgar is sometimes taken as the first King of England and he certainly had a successful and peaceful reign.  However it could argued that his grandfather, Edward the Elder (899-924) and uncle, Athelstan (924-839) had better claims to this title.  This coin comes from the Tetney hoard found in a potato field in Lincolnshire in 1947.  It comprised some 300 coins of the Northeastern type (i.e. minted in York, Lincoln, Stamford) of Edgar and his half brother Eadwig who briefly reigned from 955-959.    

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