Byzantine Coins -- reference works including books and auction catalogs

A short survey of books is first. Jump down to the part on sale catalogs.


Byzantine Coins and their Values, second edition, 1987, by David Sear. Hardcover. 2645 types listed on 526 pages, about two coins photographed per page.
The standard comprehensive guide for identification. It does not have much explanation of types, but it does have a nearly-complete list. Each reign is described in a paragraph or two. The coins are listed by mint and denomination, with good descriptions of each type. 34 pages of introduction precede the lists. This is, by far, the most-used reference work in English. It does not have much discussion of coinage or reforms or the reasons for types. It is basically a well-done list. Do not get the first edition which is far inferior with much less coverage of very late Byzantine coin types.  

Using Sear. For each type Sear cites other major reference works which have examples and photographs. If a given work does not have it, a dash is used, e.g. D.O.-- means the type is not in the Dumbarton Oaks catalogs. This would be very unusual because D.O. is nearly complete and has good illustrations of almost every type. The citation "B.M.C. 167" means coin 167 in the British Museum Catalogue is that type. (See my other, more detailed, page on Byzantine references.) Major catalogs and their abbreviations are on page 523. Pages 33-34 have many inscriptions translated. Page 31 has how to read explicit dates. Page 32 illustrates monograms. If you have the Sear number it will show you the monogram, but not the other way around. You can go from the monogram to the Sear ID number on a Forum page here. Sear was written before the final volume of Dumbarton Oaks was published, so late Byzantine types do not cite D.O. as a reference. Some cite Hendy ("H.") although I'm sure those citations would be replaced by D.O. citations if a new edition were to appear. (Most collectors do not emphasize coins that late anyway.) 

Byzantine Coins, by Philip Grierson. 1982. Hardcover. 411 pages plus 95 page plates illustrating 1527 coins in B&W. A wonderful scholarly treatment of both the coins and the coinage, but probably not easy for beginners because it has too much information. (That is a virtue, not a flaw, if you know something of the coins already.) Do not confuse the book with the booklet, Byzantine Coinage by Philip Grierson, published by Dumbarton Oaks, available as a paper booklet and as a free pdf file at the Dumbarton Oaks site:

Byzantine Coins, by P. D. Whitting. Hardcover. 311 pages with 457 enlarged photographs of sides of coins within (usually both sides in two photos, but sometimes only one side, and many in color).  Much scholarly information, but directed toward people with a deep interest but not a lot of previous knowledge. Very entertaining and informative. You will learn what makes Byzantine coins interesting.

Introduction to East Roman (Byzantine) Coinage, by John F. Lhotka. Paperback. 1989. 113 pages plus 60 coins on four page plates plus some coins illustrated within. The photos are poor. They are okay, but much below modern sale-catalog quality.  This was written before Byzantine coins were popular in a series of articles in the ANA's journal, The Numismatist. Then it was put together published as this book. It is definitely aimed at collectors and emphasizes commonly available coins, especially copper coins. It is loaded with charts and notes that a collector might make as he was learning to grasp the subject. There is a lot to like about this book even though the production quality is low.

"Dumbarton Oaks".  Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection, in 5 volumes in 9 big books,
plus 1 pre-Byzantine. Volume 1, Anastasius through Maurice, does not have much commentary. It is basically a list of coins with one or more of each type illustrated. Beginning with volume 2 the intent widens to include a study of the coinage with expensive commentary. Anybody who collects Byzantine coins wants/needs Dumbarton Oaks for its near-complete photographic coverage and (after volume 1) extensive commentary. If a type was known but not in Dumbarton Oaks, they inserted it (with its number in parentheses) in order to make the work complete. It is massive (12" tall and 14" of shelf space).
[Hahn below lists some, but not many, varieties DO did not have.]
    Bellinger, ,Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection: Vol. 1, Anastasius I to Maurice, 491-602
    Grierson, Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection: Vol. 2, Phocas to Theodosius III, 602-717, 2 vols.
    Grierson, Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection: Vol. 3, Leo III to Nicephorus III, 717-1081, 2 vols.
    Hendy, Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection: Vol. 4, Alexius I to Michael VIII, 1081-1261, 2 vols.
    Grierson, Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection: Vol. 5, Michael VIII to Constantine XI, 1258-1453, 2 vols.
    Grierson and Mays, Catalogue of Late Roman Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection: From Arcadius and Honorius to the Accession of Anastasius   [perhaps pre-Byzantine by coin-collector standards. Very extensive commentary and excellent illustrations. Highly recommended.

    Dumlbarton Oaks has made them available as pdfs. Links are next.
    Late Roman before Byzantine (Arcadius and Honorius to Anastasius):
    Volume I: Anastasius to Maurice (491-602)   
   Volume 2:  Phocas to Theodosius III (602-717)
    Volume 3:  Leo III - Nicephorus III (717-1081)
    Volume 4:  Alexius I - Michale VIII (1081-1261)
    Volume 5:  Michael VIII - Constantine XI (1258 - 1453)

"MIBE"  or "Hahn", formerly "MIB" = Moneta Imperii Byzantini, by Wolfgang Hahn (volumes 1 and 3) and Wolfgang Hahn and Michael Metlich (volume 2), in three volumes.  MIBE = Money of the Incipient Byzantine Empire is the second edition, in English, of a work originally in German. Each volume is a fully illustrated list of all Byzantine coin types with some introductory commentary and pull-out charts with dates for the various issues. It includes in each listings the citations for one or more examples. (If only one is cited, it is unusual. If seven are cited, it is not.)  Volume 1 covers Anastasius through Justinian I and includes 78 pages of introductory commentary in English. Volume 2, "MIBE, continued", covers Justin II through the revolt of the Heraclii with 72 pages of introductory commentary in English. Volume 3 covers Heraclius through Leo III (in German, but you probably want the list with photographs. The few German words you will want to know to read the listings are pretty easy to figure out from the pictures. You won't get much out of the 208 pages of commentary in volume 3 unless you read German. Unfortunately, Hahn retired and it is unlikely that volume 3 will be revised and published in English, and it is unlikely the series will be continued chronologically to cover later emperors.)
   Volumes 1 and 2 are now in English. The awkward name MIBE is, I think, an effort to keep the abbreviation in English similar to the previous abbreviation to capitalize on the name recognition it had accumulated. If you want a complete list and photographic coverage of Byzantine types up through Leo III (720 AD), this series of three works is for you, even though the third volume is only in German.

"Berk"  Eastern Roman Successors of the Sestertus, by Harlan J. Berk. Hardcover. 1986. A price guide to 979 types of AE coins, many with line drawings, on unnumbered pages plus two page plates of photographs. Prices are given in four grades by a major dealer who knew what the coins were really worth.
    Roman Gold Coins of the Medieval World, 383-1453 AD, by Harlan J. Berk. Hardcover. 1986. 368 types of gold coins, all illustrated in B&W photographs and a few enlarged, priced in three grades.

Less critical:

"Goodacre" A Handbook of the Coinage of the Byzantine Empire, by Hugh Goodacre. Hardcover. 1957. An old price guide with a page or two of biography for each reign. Sparingly illustrated throughout. An old classic superceded by Sear.

Coinage and Money in the Byzantine Empire, 1081-1261 by Michael F. Hendy, published by Dumbarton Oaks.  A monumental early scholarly study, now largely superceded by his "Volume 4" of DO above. This book is for very advanced specialists.

A Private Collection of Palaelogan Coins by Simon Bendall (privately published in an edition of only 250 copies, but essential for study of Palaelogan series).

The Later Palaeologan Coinage, 1282-1453, by Simon Bendall and P. J. Donald. Paperback. Enlarged line drawings for identification of these poorly-struck types. 

Late Byzantine Coins, 1204-1453, in the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, by Eleni Lianta, Spink 2009. 335 pages, 1128 coins illustrated throughout, most from the Bendall collection (Overlapping "A Private Collection" above.)

[Other books, less critical, will be discussed when I find the time.]


Byzantine-coin sale catalogs (emphasizing AE) [For silver, see below]

N.B.  Most of the major firms regularly have Byzantine gold coins in their catalogs. 50 or 100 pieces would not be unusual for any of the top firms. The catalogs listed below are different in that their emphasis on Byzantine coins is especially strong. See my "catalog contents" webpage for the numbers of Byzantine coins in other catalogs of each firm. You may assume that the number given will be almost all gold coins (maybe with a few silver coins) unless I specifically mention AE.

I am sure this list is very incomplete. I welcome contributions from more-experienced collectors who can add to this list.
Write me, Warren Esty, at e-mail

Green means important. Bold Green means very important.  
Return to the main page "Ancient Coin Auction Catalogs - Contents" (listed by firm) or the page of catalogs listed by theme to find the meanings of the other abbreviations used here. 

Note:  Byzantine gold is common, and there are very many sales with a large selection of Byzantine gold pieces. I will list some of them, but have mostly emphasized sales with outstanding selections that include AE as well. Most of these sales emphasize copper coins.

1989, Dec. 7.  368 Byz AE, well photographed.  This may be the best sale catalog for Byz AE.
    Byzantine AE (368)


2009, May 26 "Pre Long Beach sale" HV. HQP. 875 ancients among 2257, all in color, a few enlarged, plus 1 color E. 188 G, 84 Jewish and related, 96 RI, some of the highest quality, including the largest silver Roman medallion, 66 mm in diameter of Valentinian, 484 rare Byzantine "The Christov family collection").  [See F&S 17 for nice, but not outstanding, copper from this collection.]
    Byzantine (484 rare, mostly gold but including some very rare AE and AR)
2009, Oct. 28-29. HV. HQP.  638 ancients among 1709 lots which include 63 antiquities, all in color and some enlaged in color. 107 HV Greek, 17 RR, 95 RI, 377 rare Byz, mostly AE, 4 Trebizond (numerous large lots of Roman and Byzantine).
    Byzantine AE (and AR) (377)

Stack's 2009, Jan 12, "Moneta Imperii Romani Byzantini" 640 ancients, illustated throughout in color with almost all also x2 in color. 44 late Roman (moslty gold rarities), 344 Byzantine rarities, mostly gold but lots of silver and copper too,  281 Byzantine-related and early European coins (almost all outstanding), including 12 Ostrogoths, 3 Visigoths, 7 Merovingians, 10 Axumite, 3 Lombards, 3 Duchy of Naples, 4 Lombards, 14 Normans in South Italy, 14 Arab-Byzantine, 7 Georgia, 27 Armenian, 9 Latin East Crusaders, 3 Kingdom of Cyprus, 27 Turkoman, 16 Bulgarian empire, 13 Kingdom of Serbia, 1 of Bosnia, 1 of Venice, 4 of Patriarchate of Aquileia, 1 of Trieste, 3 Anglo-Saxon, 7 Norman and Platagenet England, 58 other early Europe.
    Late Roman (44), Byzantine (344), Byzantine-related (over 100), early medieval (over 100)

mail bid sale XIV (10/98)  496 ancients. 99 G, 42 RP, 9 RR, 96 RI, 244 Byz AE.
    An amazing group of AE rarities: 7 Constantine IV, 4 Justininian II (1st reign), 18 Leontius, 6 Tiberius III, 5 Juntinian II (second reign), 14 Philippcus, 11 Anastasius II, 4 Theodosius III, etc.
    244 Byzantine AE

Elsen, Jean (Brussels, Belguim)  
53  14 March 1998 "Collection G. W. de Wit: Les deux Rome de Diocletian to the fall of Constantinople."  MLV. MQP.1209 ancients among 2046. 562 Diocletian through Byzantine, mostly AE, on 16 ppl, plus another 21 ppl with 84 G, 125 RR, 184 RI before Diocletian, plus another 254 Diocletian-Byzantine.
    Late Roman AE and Byzantine AE (among 800)

19  (2/92)  mbs.  588 Byzantine, mostly AE, and 27 closely related.   [Perhaps second best for Byzantine AE.]
    Byzantine AE (all but a few among 588)
28  (12/93)  699 ancients among 759. 212 G including 32 Athens new style, 31 RR, 78 RI, 14 RP, 289 Byz, 75 Turkoman bronze (Spengler/Sayles I)
    Athens new style (32), Byzantine (289), Turkoman (Artuqid, 75)
29  (3/94)  mbs. 1395 ancients among 1753 (+ numis literature). 404 G, 107 RR, 399 RI, 146 RP, 264 Byz, 4 DA, 69 Turkoman (Spengler/Sayles II, Artuqid) 17 Celtic England, 18 England
    Byzantine (264, including AE), Turkoman (Spengler/Sayles II, Artuqid, 69)
13  (4/75)  VHV. HQP. 785 ancients on 39 ppl + 4 E. 345 G, 220 R, 220 Byz (almost all gold).
    220 Byzantine

NAC (Numismatica Ars Classica)
"Arcadius to Constantine XI"  (5/93)  HV. VHQP. A specialized collection of Byzantine and related coinages, in English
    29 late Roman, 492 Byz (mostly gold), 31 Vandal, 12 other DA, 31 Papal-Byzantine silver
    37 ppl, Papal-Byzantine life-sized and 2x in B&W, plus 5 ppl of very large enlargements. 4 additional ppl of color enlargements
    Byzantine gold, late Roman gold, Vandal, Papal-Byzantine silver
    This is the primarry offering of Papal-Byzantine silver, with the hoard throughly written up and extensively expounded.
D  (lettered catalog, 3/94)  1329 ancients on 65 ppl.  623 G, 542 R, 166 Byz
    Byzantine (166, including AE)

18  (March 31 and April 1, 1987, in two parts) VHV. VHQP. Two thick volumes.  Part I:  "Ancient Greek coins and coins of the Seleucid Kings"  402 G. Very extensive commenary on many. Spectacular catalog.  Plus many enlarged in the text plus 2 ppl in color plus two ppl of a single coin hugely enlarged.
    Seleucid (Seleukid) Greek   [no Byzantine in part I]
    Part II:  "Roman and Byzantine"  591 ancients. 208 R, 383 Byz. Very extensive commenary on many. Spectacular catalog.  Plus many enlarged in the text plus 1 color ppl.
    Byzantine gold

1990, 5-6 Dec. (New York)   VHV. QP. Hardcover. "The William Herbert Hunt Collection of Highly Important Byzantine Coins" 961 Byzantine on 67 ppl. (the photos are okay, but not as good as most catalogs. (The qualtiy of this catalog is far below that of the Bunker Hunt Greek and Roman catalogs.)
    Byzantine (961)
1991, June 21 (New York) HV. QP. 646 lots, 114 of individual Byz gold, the rest multiple-coin lots of Byzantine gold, most not illustrated. "The William Herbert Hunt Collection of Important Byzantine Coins"
    Byzantine (114 + large lots)
1998, 2 Nov. (New York)  "An Important Private Collection of Byzantine Coins"  HV. VHQP. 599 Byzantine gold + 1 E + 11 color E + some enlargments thoughout. Very long coin descriptions.
    Byzantine (599)

2000, July 13.  The Dr. Anton C. R. Dreesmann Collection of Ancient Coins, Part II: Byzantine and Early European Gold Coins.  HV. HQP. 573 ancients + 7 color ppl.  364 Byz gold,  many DA: 94 Ostrogothic, Lombard, etc.,  20 early Arabic gold, 31 early Italian gold,  4 crusader, 12 florins, 37 Aksumite
    Early European gold (512) including Byzantine (364), Dark ages (94), Aksumite (37)


(11/75)  [#5, unnumbered]  HV, HQP.  760 ancients. 548 R, 218 Byz including AE.  38 ppl + 4 of enlargements + 1 in color. 
    Byzantine AE (about half of 212)
8  (11/78)  MV, HQP.  1015 ancients. 339 G, 41 Aksum, 374 R, 238 Byz including AE, 18 Arab-Byz, on 50 ppl + 2E
    Aksumite (41), Byzantine AE (among 238)

UBS  (Zurich, Switzerland)
45  (9/98)  1235 ancients among 3225. MV. MQP. Very thick catalog. 318 G, 382 Roman Republican, 346 R, 153 Byz.
    Aes grave (among 62), Byzantine gold (153)

4  (12/96)  738 ancients on 43 ppl plus 4 E. 417 R, 321 Byz, including AE,
    sestertii, Byz AE
8  (12/97)  MV. HQP. 675 ancients illustrated within + 10 E + 6 ppl of enlargments in color. 157 G, 237 R, 282 Byz.
    Byzantine and Byzantine AE (282)

4  (Spring 1976) "All Byzantine Bronze" 345 Byz AE (surprisingly poor photos, but good coins)
    345 Byzantine AE

Bonham's (London)
3  (Dec. 3, 1980)  404 Byz gold on  19 ppl. + 22 ppl. of B&W enlargements.  Good photographs, some with slight glare problems.
    Byzantine gold (404)

Freeman and Sear
6  (10/00)  663 ancients among 701.  181 Byz AE, 182 G, 72 architectural RP, 210 R, 18 Byz AV.
    Byzantine AE (181), architectural Roman Provincial (72)

17  (2009, Dec. 15) MV. MQP. 736 ancients. B&W photos throughout, some enlargements, plus 4 color E. 15 G, 32 Parthian, 5 sub-Parthian, 16 central Asian, 104 RR, 440 RI, 120 Byzantine AE from the "Christov family collection" (very nice, but not outstanding) [see Goldberg, 2009, May 26 for rare Byzantine from this collection]
    Byzantine AE (120)
Baldwin's (London)
5 (11 Oct. 1995)  "Byzantine Gold Coins from the P. J. Donald Collection" 285 Byz gold on 12 large ppl. Photos okay but not as good as most.
    Byzantine gold (285)
fixed price list #37, Nov. 2001.  77 Byz, well photographed, 1/3 AE

Swiss International Coin Auction AG (SINCONA) Zurich
Auction 3 (2011, Oct. 25) "Important Collection of Byzantine Coins" HV. HQP. 539 Byzantine gold coins in color and enlarged in color. Descriptions in English.
    Byzantine gold (539)

Berk 116 (10/2000) Paleologean Thessalonica, lots 682-717.

Kovacs fp list 16 (1982) 5 page plates of AE

Byzantine silver (just two I noticed)

Berk 52 (1988, Feb. 22) lots 256-268 are small Byzantine silver from Carthage.
Berk 80 (1994, Jan 18) lots 703-717 are Berk's famous hoard of Constantine XI, the last Byzantine emperor.

Byzantine Seals
Spink 127 (7 Oct. 1998) "Zacos collection, part I"
Spink 132 (25 May 1999)  "Zacos collection, part II"
Spink 135 (6 Oct. 1999)  "Zacos collection, part III"
Schulten (3/1990) lots 1105ff (46 pieces)

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Go to "Byzantine Coins (AD 491-1453): An Introduction for Beginners."