Cross-above-head Byzantine coins: The Dan Clark
Here is a typical Byzantine copper follis except for one thing--the
cross above the head. Most early Byzantine coppers do not have that
(See all the coin photos of Anastasius, Justin, or Justinian.)
Justin I, 518-527 AD
DN IVSTI-NVS P AVC
M = 40-nummia.
30 mm. 16.81 grams
Clear cross above the head.
Stars on either side of M. Cross above.
Weak B below M.
NIKM = Nicomedia mint, in exergue.
Sear 84, which is listed with the cross above head.
Sear 83 is the same type without the cross.
Coin varieties with profile bust and "cross above head" were issued by
emperors until the reform of Justinian in his year 12 when profile
busts were replaced with facing busts. There are
many crosses above facing
heads, and this site does not address them, nor does it cover the
profile cross-above-head varieties of later emperors.
Anastasius (491-518), Justin I (518-527), and Justinian (527-565)
minted cross above head varieties at three mints:
Antioch (Antioch was renamed "Theopolis" under Justinian. Here is a page on why the name of the city changed and the coins before and after the change.).
All three mints that issued copper coins under Anastasius sometimes used
a cross above the head. Thessalonica and Cyzicus began issuing coins
under Justin, and
Alexandria and Carthage began under Justinian, but those four mints did
not use the cross-above-head varieties.
those four mints did
not mint cross-above-head varieties remains unexplained, as does why some coins have it when others of the same type do not.
This site illustrates more cross-above-head coins than all the major
reference works put together. The types illustrated in the reference
works are listed here.
Citations, Types, and Varieties:
This web site has seperate pages for the coins of each emperor.
This site is organized by Sear
number and notes if
1) that type always has a cross-above-head, or 2) sometimes has a
cross-above-head, or 3) the possibility of a cross-above-head is not
The Hahn number of the type is given with that information, and the
Dumbarton Oaks catalog number is given with that information. Grierson
numbers are given if and only if they illustrate
So, a citation like
"Sear 68" means Sear 68 at least mentions the possibility of the cross-above-head variety, but does not illustrate it.
"Sear 17, illustrated" means the Sear illustration shows the cross-above-head.
"Sear 91variety" means it is a variety of Sear 91 because Sear 91 does not mention the possibility of the cross-above-head.
"Sear 23-24 type variety"
means it is a variety for some reason other than just the
cross-above-head. In a new edition, it might have its own number for being different,
regardless of the cross-above-head.
When it comes to Sear numbering for Anastasius at
Constantinople (specifically at this mint), the
designation "variety" does not mean it is otherwise unknown or even
rare. Often Hahn has it when Sear did not. Also, Sear
not consistent about whether or not the cross-above-head deserves its
own number. Under Anastasius at Constantinople, the possiblity of a
not mentioned even though it is common, so some Constantinople types have a Sear "variety"
suffix here without being rare. However at Nicomedia, Sear explicitly
possibility of cross-above-head. For example, listings may say
with cross above head," which acknowledges two
varieties in one Sear number. Sometimes the distinguishing cross gets
its own number. For example, Sear 84 is exactly as Sear 83 except for
having the cross-above-head.
On the other hand, Hahn attempts to be complete and
if Hahn does not note or illustrate the possibility of the
cross-above-head and the other references do not mention one, the variety can be regarded as "unlisted" and rare.
Sear numbers of all the copper types of Anastasius, Justin, and Justinian for the three mints (not just those with cross-above-head).
Anastasius: At Constantinople,
Sear 13-29B. At Nicomedia,
Sear 31-45. At Antioch,
Justin I: At Constantinople,
Sear 62-77. At
Nicomedia, Sear 83-93B. At Antioch, Sear 100-111.
Justin I and Justinian I: At Constantinople, Sear 125-126B, Nicomedia, Sear 127-128, and Antioch, Sear
Justinian I: At Constantinople, Sear
Sear 198-206A, and Antioch/Theopolis,
Begin with coins of Anastasius or skip to the coins of Justin or Justinian.
Here is a very short biography of Dan Clark
who assembled this collection.
Main Reference works
The types illustrated in the reference works are listed here.
Sear, David. Byzantine Coins and
their Values. Second edition, 1987. Abbreviated "Sear" in the
The primary collectors' handbook, with a nearly
complete listing of Byzantine coin types and many photographs,
especially of the main types.
Hahn, Wolfgang. Money of the
Incipient Byzantine Empire (Volume I: Anastasius I - Justinian I,
491-565), second edition, with the collaboration of M. A. Metlich. 2000.
Abbreviated "Hahn" in the listings.
Volume I of a series intended to provide a complete
list of Byzantine types with photos of most types and dating as close
as possible. Volumes I through III were published in German (under the
title Moneta Imperii Byzantini)
and then volumes I and II were revised with the addition of many new
varieties and published in English. Volume III is unlikely to be
updated anytime soon because the author retired. Only volume I is
relevant to the period of this web site.
Bellinger, Alfred R. Catalogue
of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and the
Whittemore Collection, volume I, Anastasius to Maurice, 491-602.
1966. Abbreviated "DO" on this web site.
Grierson, Philip. Byzantine Coins.
1982. (A large hardback book, not to be confused with his pamphlet of
the same name.)
The best one-volume scholarly work that explains
Byzantine coins. It is organized by broad time period, geographic
region, and denomination, not by emperor. It includes many plates with
1527 illustrations of the major types during the whole empire, but has
few illustrations of the cross-above-head varieties. Abbreviated "Grierson" on this site.
Other reference works are less important and mentioned here.
For other pages on other ancient-coin topics, visit the table of contents.
I may be contacted at .