|Sale: Triton X, Lot: 894. Estimate $7500.
Closing Date: Monday, 8 January 2007.
Sold For $22000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.
Circa 600-620. AV Solidus of 21 siliquae (3.84 g, 6h). Struck in the name of Phocas. C
’’ S CR
VC, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right / VICORI (wreath) L L
VCCV, cross potent set on globe; M L
flanking cross, X XI flanking globe; all within wreath; CONOB. NM Type 8-1A, 30; Rigold 72 corr. (same obv. die); Belfort 2457; MEC -. Superb EF, advanced die break on reverse, minor encrustation. Extremely rare, only four examples recorded in NM.
Struck from the same dies as the previous lot (but at later die state). This type has never appeared at auction.
By the end of the sixth century AD, diplomatic ties between the Byzantine Empire and southern Gaul were reestablished after having lapsed a century earlier. The resumption of ties was marked by the introduction of Merovingian pseudo-imperial coinage during the final years of the reign of Justin II (574-578). As first these coins were struck on a limited scale and under strict control of a centralized minting authority, which supervised all the mints, legalized the reduced local standard, and possibly supplied the dies. By 580, however, this control broke down, and soon some mints began striking issues of clearly inferior style and often with illiterate legends. Elsewhere, while mints such as Arles might conform briefly to centralized standards, they too soon lapsed into striking more “localized” types.
During this period, only Marseille, by far the most active of the Gallic mints, as well as the only one to continue proclaiming loyalty to the Byzantine emperor, continued to remain under strict control, while it increased its output sharply by coining the heavy imperial subsidies flowing into the area in return for Frankish military assistance.
In the final years of the reign of Maurice Tiberius, and certainly by 596, Marseille, now the chief regional mint, reintroduced a small, more tightly controlled pseudo-imperial issue in the name of Maurice Tiberius, which the mint continued to strike after the emperor’s death. Like those coins issued under Justin II, this new issue was more than likely a resurgence of the Byzantine contact with the area that had been allowed to lapse during the preceding years. Although, as before, the other regional mints, such as Uzès, Viviers, and Arles also briefly participated, they soon fell into obscurity, and Marseilles became the main southern Gallic mint.
Upon the death of Maurice Tiberius, Marseilles half-heartedly accepted the rule of Phocas. Although a very small and extremely rare issue was struck in the name of the new emperor, the mint preferred to continue striking the Maurice Tiberius type until the succession of Heraclius in 610, when it briefly struck coins commemorating his new rule. Subsequently, the Merovingian kings, at last able to exert their authority over southern Gaul, took over control of Marseilles and its mint and began striking issues in their own names.
Only two examples of the Maurice Tiberius type have appeared at auction in the past century (A. Cahn 79 (14 December 1932), lot 1061, and Crédit de la Bourse (12 June 1997), lot 275), and no example of the Phocas type has ever appeared at auction.