'Anonymous' Byzantine folles with emperor's name and image replaced by Jesus Christ

By , Coin World
Published : 03/21/14
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The presentation of Christ varies from one issue to another, either in the format or in detail. Usually, Christ is represented as a facing bust shown from the waist up or as a full figure enthroned. On one occasion, he is shown standing. Most often Christ holds the Book of Gospels, but sometimes a scroll. Furthermore, he can be shown holding the Book of Gospels with both hands, or only with his left hand as he raises his right hand in benediction. The latter type is the iconic image of Christ Pantocrator.

The reverse types are also varied. The earliest issues (categorized as Classes A1, A2 and A3), struck from about 969 to 1028, bear a formulaic Greek inscription in four lines that translates to “Jesus Christ, King of Kings.” The next issue (Class B), belonging to the period 1028 to 1042, has a slightly abbreviated version of that inscription that is arranged around a cross set upon a three-step base.

The next anonymous folles (Class C), believed to have been struck circa 1034 to 1050, were original in two respects: the obverse shows Christ standing and the reverse bears a different Greek inscription that translates to “May Jesus Christ Conquer.”

The three issues (Classes D, E and F) attributed to the period 1042 to 1067 all bear on their reverse the original “Jesus Christ, King of Kings” inscription. However, their obverse types vary: Class D shows Christ seated, holding the Book of Gospels with both hands; Class E shows the facing bust of Christ holding the book with both hands; and Class F shows Christ seated, holding the book with his left hand and raising his right hand in benediction.

These were followed by an issue (Class G) attributed to the period 1065 to 1071, which is the most distinctive in the series. The obverse shows the facing bust of Christ, who holds in his left hand a scroll and raises his right hand in benediction. The reverse shows the facing bust of the Virgin Mary, nimbate and raising her hands in prayer (orans). Her image is accompanied by an abbreviated Greek inscription for “Mother of God.”

Most coins of the remaining classes (H to N) appear to have been struck from circa 1070 to 1080, with those of Class K perhaps being struck as late as 1092. There is relative consistency in these final issues, as all show on their obverse the facing bust of Christ (except Class M, on which Christ is seated) and on their reverse a cross (except Class K, which revives the Virgin orans type).

The most interesting design element of these last issues is the cross. Three show a Patriarchal cross and four show a Latin cross, some of which are placed over a crescent or are set upon a base. The fields usually are decorated with pellets, crescents or floral ornaments, and sometimes are accompanied by the inscription IC XC NIKA (“May Jesus Christ Conquer”).

 

 

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