Byzantine Coins

The Byzantine Empire was originally known as the Eastern Roman Empire, and most of its coinage follows the pattern of its progenitor. Most coin collectors and historians regard 498 A.D. as the date of the first official Byzantine coinage, as Emperor Anastasius reformed the remains of the original Roman system. Under Anastasius, Byzantine coins were split into gold, called the solidus, and bronze, called the nummus.

The nummus developed denominations, as the tiny nummus coins did not add up to much value on their own. The additional denominations included 5, 10, 20, and 40 nummi. As time passed, the solidus and nummus system was replaced with a new system called the hyperpyron. These coins were frequently minted in a unique cup shape, which some believe allowed bankers to be able to stack them easily for counting. Others suggest that the cup shape of these coins helped their thin, debased nature resist cracking and bending.

The obverse of a Byzantine coin typically features the face of the reigning emperor at the time of minting, although the Byzantine Empire preferred to display the frontal face of the emperor as opposed to the bust profile most common on other types of coins. This preference echoed through the ages to influence many European coins in the Middle Ages. The reverse of Byzantine coins feature a prominent Christian symbol as well as the value of the coin displayed in Greek letters.


Quick Facts

  • A gold Zoe and Theodora coin from 1042 A.D. sold at auction for $190,000 in 2014. Zoe and Theodora were the daughters of Emperor Constantine VIII and reigned as co-empresses for a mere two months
  • Beginning in 695 A.D., Byzantine coins were minted with a frontal face of Christ on the obverse, with Emperor Justinian II moving to the reverse. This marks the first time Christian iconography appeared on a coin
  • The Byzantine Empire's adoption of religious symbols on its coins was the driving factor behind Islamic Caliph Abd al-Malik developing uniform Islamic currency featuring legends on both sides, but no types

Recommended Items at Auction

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EMPIRE BYZANTIN Théodose II (402-450). Solidus 402, Constantinople. NGC Cho
Oct 20, 1:30 PM CEST
EMPIRE BYZANTIN Théodose II (402-450). Solidus 402, Constantinople. NGC Cho
by MDC Monaco
Est: €0- €0
€5000 Bids
BYZANTINE GOLD COIN, ALEXIS I COMNEUS 1081-1118
Oct 24, 10:00 AM EDT
BYZANTINE GOLD COIN, ALEXIS I COMNEUS 1081-1118
by Ahlers & Ogletree Inc.
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
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Byzantine gold solidus, Constans II (AD 641-668) and Constantine IV (AD 654-685).
Oct 24, 10:00 AM EDT
Byzantine gold solidus, Constans II (AD 641-668) and Constantine IV (AD 654-685).
by Eternity Gallery
Est: $2,500- $5,000
$2000 Bids
AD 610-641 Byzantine Empire Gold AV Solidus NGC-XF
Oct 22, 5:30 PM CDT
AD 610-641 Byzantine Empire Gold AV Solidus NGC-XF
by Gold Standard Auctions
Est: $100- $10,000
$50 Bids
AD 1065-1071 Byzantine Empire AE Follis Ancient Coin NGC Graded
Oct 19, 8:00 AM PDT
AD 1065-1071 Byzantine Empire AE Follis Ancient Coin NGC Graded
by BK Auctions
Est: $190- $220
$10 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Byzantine Coins


Ahlers & Ogletree Inc.

Ahlers & Ogletree Inc.

Eternity Gallery

Eternity Gallery

BK Auctions

BK Auctions

MDC Monaco

MDC Monaco