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The History of Byzantine Coinage
Uses of Coins
Christianization of the Coin
Representation of Christ
Representation of the Virgin
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Coins were produced by hammering a round metal blank (flan) that was placed between two dies (drawing below). The dies were engraved with the images in reverse for each side of the coin.

Although no Byzantine dies have survived, they may have looked like the western medieval example illustrated below. The lower die was tightly fitted into a block of wood, while the upper die, held in the workman's left hand, was struck by several blows of the hammer held in his right. The upper die often cracked and always wore out faster than the lower die. The ruler's image was generally on the lower (obverse) die while the value mark or other symbol or inscription was on the upper (reverse) die. To produce a gold coin in the 6th century, it is likely that two blows of the hammer were needed; if the die slipped between strikes, two imprints would result producing a blurred image known as a double strike.

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