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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Important Joint-Reign Basilikon

Triton XXI, Lot: 897. Estimate $3000.
Sold for $14000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Andronicus II Palaeologus, with Andronicus III. 1282-1328. AR Basilikon (19mm, 2.11 g, 6h). Constantinople mint. Struck circa June-October 1321. The Virgin Mary enthroned facing; MP-ΘV across upper field / AΔPONIK [A]ΔPOИI, Andronicus II, wearing beard, and Andronicus III, beardless, supporting labarum between them. DOC –; PCPC –; LPC p. 108, 2 = A. Veglery and G. Zacos, “Silver coins of Andronikos II and Andronikos III,” NumCirc LXX.4 (April 1962), p. 77, Type I; T. Popov, “Две уникални късновизантийски сребърни монети,” Minalo 3 (2017), fig. 1-2; SB –. Good VF, old cabinet tone. Extremely rare and possibly unique. Of great historical importance.

Acquired by the consignor from Numismatique Antique, Montpellier, France; reportedly from an old Parisian collection.

In their 1962 Numismatic Circular article, Veglery and Zacos noted that they had inspected a unique specimen of this type and planned to fully publish it at a later date. That article, unfortunately, never came to fruition, and Bendall and Donald (LPC) subsequently based their description on Veglery and Zacos’ cursory 1962 account. Since Veglery and Zacos did not illustrate the coin that they had inspected and did not include its weight, it is unclear if that coin is the same as our piece, which previously belonged to an old Parisian collection.

The present coin is published with a full discussion in an article by Tencho Popov, (“Две Уникални Късновизантийски Сребърни Mонети” [“Two unique Late Byzantine Silver Coins”], Минало No. 3 (2017). We thank the author for generously sharing his research with us.

Andronicus III was crowned co-emperor with his grandfather on 25 February 1325 (Bosch, p.35), and on this occasion two types of basilika, classified by Veglery and Zacos as Type II and Type III, were minted. On these types, the two co-emperors are each represented individually, one on the obverse and the other on the reverse. However, two facts lead to the conclusion that Types II and III are later than Type I (our coin): the published specimens of Types II and III have reduced weights of 1.71, 1.73 and 1.63 g (Veglery and Zacos, p.78), and depict Andronicus III wearing a short, circular beard. Therefore, the three types are not synchronous in date; Type I, the heavier series depicting a beardless Andronicus III, must be earlier in date. But under what historical circumstances would this earlier coinage have been struck?

It is known that after the death of his father, Michael IX, the younger Andronicus rebelled against his grandfather, which grew into a civil war. The older and younger Andronici reached a treaty on 6 June 1321, with Andronicus II recognizing his grandson as his heir and co-emperor (Bosch, p.24). It is likely at that time, perhaps at the insistence of the younger emperor, that the Type I coinage was struck. Since relations between the two emperors worsened again by October of 1321, and with the next stage of the civil war ensuing, the coinage would have been suspended, shortly after it was started. This dating would explain the exceptional rarity of this coin type.