The gros grand and the gros petit of Hugh IV of Cyprus. - article ; n°27 ; vol.6, pg 130-175

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Revue numismatique - Année 1985 - Volume 6 - Numéro 27 - Pages 130-175
Summary. — The silver gros grands and gros petits of Hugh IV of Cyprus (1324-59) can be classified into two main series, distinguished by a double line or a small cross at the throat. It is probable, but debateable, that these series are from two mints, and if so we may suppose that they were located at Nicosia and Famagusta respectively. Coins with a large letter С in the field, and others in a crude, irregular style, may be from other, minor mints but this is not certain. The large letter В in the field is not a mint-mark. In all, the gros were struck from fewer than 150 obverse dies, and the gros petits from about 40 obverse dies. The article includes a detailed list of the coins of Hugh IV in the Galini hoard, and also those in a hoard from the Limassol district, together with metrological data.
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D. M. Metcalf
The gros grand and the gros petit of Hugh IV of Cyprus.
In: Revue numismatique, 6e série - Tome 27, année 1985 pp. 130-175.
Abstract
Summary. — The silver gros grands and gros petits of Hugh IV of Cyprus (1324-59) can be classified into two main series,
distinguished by a double line or a small cross at the throat. It is probable, but debateable, that these series are from two mints,
and if so we may suppose that they were located at Nicosia and Famagusta respectively. Coins with a large letter С in the field,
and others in a crude, irregular style, may be from other, minor mints but this is not certain. The large letter В in the field is not a
mint-mark. In all, the gros were struck from fewer than 150 obverse dies, and the gros petits from about 40 obverse dies. The
article includes a detailed list of the coins of Hugh IV in the Galini hoard, and also those in a hoard from the Limassol district,
together with metrological data.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Metcalf D. M. The gros grand and the gros petit of Hugh IV of Cyprus. In: Revue numismatique, 6e série - Tome 27, année 1985
pp. 130-175.
doi : 10.3406/numi.1985.1876
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/numi_0484-8942_1985_num_6_27_1876METCALF* D.M.
THE GROS GRAND AND THE GROS PETIT
OF HUGH IV OF CYPRUS
(PL VI-VIII)
can Summary. be classified — into The two silver main gros series, grands distinguished and gros petits by a of double Hugh IV line of or Cyprus a small (1324-59) cross at
the throat. It is probable, but debateable, that these series are from two mints, and if
so we may suppose that they were located at Nicosia and Famagusta respectively.
Coins with a large letter С in the field, and others in a crude, irregular style, may be
from other, minor mints but this is not certain. The large letter В in the field is not a
mint-mark. In all, the gros were struck from fewer than 150 obverse dies, and the
gros petits from about 40 obverse dies. The article includes a detailed list of the coins
of Hugh IV in the Galini hoard, and also those in a hoard from the Limassol district,
together with metrological data.
Resume. — Les gros grands et les gros petits de Hugues IV de Chypre (1324-1359)
sont ici classés en deux séries, selon que le buste royal porte une double ligne ou une
croix. Il est probable, mais peut-être discutable, que ces séries proviennent de deux
ateliers qui auraient été en ce cas situés à Nicosie et Famagouste respectivement. Les
monnaies avec С dans le champ et d'autres de style grossier et irrégulier peuvent
appartenir à d'autres ateliers, mais ce n'est pas sûr. Le grand В dans le champ n'est pas
une marque d'atelier. L'ensemble des gros grands fut frappé par moins de 150 coins
de droit et les gros petits par une quarantaine seulement. L'article comprend une
liste des pièces de Hugues IV dans les trésors de Galini et de Limassol ainsi que des
données métrologiques.
The gros of Hugh IV (1324-59) are the most plentiful of Lusignan
coins today, but that is not because they were minted in exceptional-
* Ashmolean Museum, Heberden Coin Room, Oxford, 0X1 2PH.
Acknowledgements. Work in Cyprus was made possible by a research grant from
the British Academy. I am grateful for the courteous encouragement and assistance
of Dr. V. Karageorghis, the Director General of Antiquities and of Dr. I. Nicolaou of
the Cyprus Museum. Among the hospitable members of the Cyprus Numismatic
Society who discussed Hugh's coins with me and offered every help, special mention
must be made of Mr. A. G. Pitsillides, the President of the Society, and of
Mr. B.E.A. Vlamis and Mr. S.A. Georgiades.
Revue numismatique, 1985, 6e série, XXVII, p. 130-175. GROS OF HUGH IV OF CYPRUS 131 THE
ly large quantities. Rather, they have had a high survival-rate
because so many hoards were concealed from 1373-4 onwards as a
result of the Genoese attacks on Cyprus. In fact, Hugh's gros
grands were struck from fewer than 150 obverse dies, and the gros
petits from about 40 obverse dies. Knowing this confers three
benefits. First, and obviously, it offers some measure of the scale of
the Cypriot currency and allows us to consider how the commerce and
the economic prosperity of Cyprus affected the island's money
supply. Secondly, if we have compiled a list of most of the dies, it
allows us to feel that we have got more or less to the bottom of things,
— and that what remains unknown is measurable, and unlikely to be
full of surprises. Thus, for example, we can deal more confidently
with the scarce varieties on which extra symbols have been added
to the dies. We can make statements of the kind, «Only two dies
out of twenty in this group have a crosslet added in the field». This
may not take us much nearer to an interpretation of the extra
symbols, but it certainly brings the stylistic analysis of the series into
sharper focus. Thirdly there is the potential benefit of being able to
list hoards in terms of individual dies, rather than merely varieties.
New come to light year by year, and it should be possible
within the foreseeable future to make elaborate comparisons between
them, probably employing computer programmes in order to study
topics such as clustering, unequal use of dies, wastage, and regional
variations in the currency. And in practical terms, if hoards are
published by reference to their obverse dies, it is easy to rearrange the
material in light of any future revisions. In short, the gros of
Cyprus hold the potential to be one of the show-pieces of medieval
numismatics, because they are struck from such a manageable
number of dies, and because hoards from the 1370s and 1380s are so
plentiful. This study seeks to clear the ground by establishing a
corpus of obverse dies for the reign of Hugh IV. It is based on a
very careful check of a random sample of some 350 coins1 including
those in the Paralimni hoard2, plus a listing by obverse dies only of a
further 192 coins of Hugh in the Galini hoard3.
In their design, weight, and alloy both the gros grand and the gros
petit correspond closely with the later issues of Hugh's predecessor,
1. These include the holdings of the British Museum, the American Numismatic
Society, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge,
and I must thank the curators of these collections for their ready help. The largest
collection, however, is that of the Bibliothèque Nationale, and I am grateful to
Mrs. Nicolet, Conservateur en chef, and to Mr. Michel Dhénin for permission to consult
it.
2. I. Michaelidou- Nicolaou, «The Paralimni hoard of silver Lusignan coins»,
Num. Report 1977, 39-44.
3. Unpublished hoard in the Cyprus Museum. See Appendix II. D. M. METCALF 132
Henry II. The obverse shows the king enthroned, while the reverse
type is the heraldic cross and crosslets of the kingdom of Jerusalem,
to which the kings of Cyprus had a titular claim. The legend, in the
vernacular and continued from the obverse over onto the reverse, is
bveve rgi dg / + ieRvsAL/m e De cbiPRe, with minor
variations. Nearly half the specimens have a conspicuous letter В
or В in+ the obverse field, while about a tenth have similarly a large
letter Č.
Significance of the letters В or Č IN THE FIELD.
The significance of these letters has intrigued students. Henry's
coins had similar field-marks or sigla, commonly a star, but
occasionally a cross, a cinquefoil, three fleurs-de-lis, or a letter F.
There is some+ reason to suppose that the F stood for Famagusta4.
Could В and С similarly refer to the names of the towns where the
coins were minted ? Edwin King speculated that В might stand for
Baffo (Paphos) and С for Cérines (Kerynia) while the unmarked coins,
he thought, were to be divided between Nicosia (Lefkosia) and
Famagusta5. This is far from persuasive, as it is hard to imagine
that Paphos could have been such an important mint as to strike
nearly half the coinage. Further, the letter I which appears on coins
of Peter I is unlikely to signify the name of a place.
No serious attempt has ever been made to argue from the style of
Hugh's coins or from their distribution in hoards that they were
struck at more than one mint. Their workmanship, with the
exception of one small group of specimens, is rather uniform.
Certainly the stylistic variation that occurs is no more than would be
natural at a single mint over a thirty-five year period. And in view
of the size and the historical geography of Cyprus it is not obvious
that more than one mint would have been required.
A different interpretation of the letter В and С which has been
suggested is that the В signifies the numeral 2, and С stands for 3,
while the unmarked coins are to be understood as if they were marked
with an A, standing for the numeral 1. Taking into account the
quantities in which the different varieties survive, one might then go
on to suggest that the coins were produced by three officinas of a
single mint, but that the third officina was needed only rarely6.
4. D.M. Metcalf, «The Gros grand and the Gros petit of Henry II of Cyprus»,
NC 1982, 83-100 and 1983, 177-201.
5. Unpublished typescript, Clerkenwell. Referred to by J.R.Stewart in his
forthcoming monograph on the Lusignan coinage.
6. I am grateful to Mr. Pitsillides for this suggestion. GROS OF HUGH IV OF CYPRUS 133 THE
The text that follows is devoted in large part to arguing the case
that there were two main mints in Cyprus in Hugh's reign, each of
which struck coins with no field-mark and subsequently with B.
There are two further small blocks of coinage which may or may not
be from separate small mints, but which in any case belong early in
the reign. The argument for two mints is not supported at all
clearly by the evidence of the available hoards, which show a
currency (in the 1370s) in which all the varieties mingled freely,
apparently in all parts of the island. The only viable alternative
hypothesis, however, is one which uses the same scheme of
classification but postulates two officinas of a single mint. If the is accepted, the debate moves to the numerical analysis
and interpretation of the hoards as the area where the rival
hypotheses must be tested. The force of each of the various steps in
the argument needs to be considered carefully, and it has proved in
fact surprisingly difficult to reach a judgement.
We may begin by pointing out that the existence of the letters В
and A (understood) does not necessarily entail the conclusion that
there was only one mint. In principle, it might be the case that two
mints, each with two officinas, both used a similar system of marking;
and there are details in the style of the coins, as we shall see, which
favour an arrangement along those lines rather than one which gives
all the coins marked В to one officina and all the unmarked coins to
another.
A further point to note is that the letter В is sometimes written
with and sometimes without a small annulet above it. Occasionally
an о was added during the lifetime of a die. Unless this is taken to
be the letter о of Baffo (a suggestion that should find no support), it
remains unexplained. Similarly the letter С is always distinguished
by a crosslet above it, the meaning of which is unknown.
Whether there was one or more than one mint in Cyprus is
obviously a basic question, which numismatists will need to settle
before they can make much progress towards using the evidence of
the coins for purposes of monetary history. The way to approach it
is by a two-pronged attack combining the evidence of a stylistic
classification of the coins with the evidence provided by a numerical
analysis of the hoards in terms of the classification. The classifica
tion has to come first, and it must be arrived at independently of the
hoard evidence, although obviously one would hope to find confirmaof it in the hoard statistics. If the choice lies between saying
that there were two main mints, or that there were two officinas of a
single mint, the only way to prove the former hypothesis, ultimately,
would be to demonstrate a persistent regional bias — to show, for
example, that hoards found in Nicosia contain a higher-than-average 134 D. M. METCALF
proportion of the coins claimed to have been minted there, while
hoards found, for example, in or near Famagusta show a similar local
tendency. It should not be controversial that in historical terms the
capital and the main port are the natural places to look first for
mints.
The elements of a classification.
All the coins can be classified accordingly as they use a letter V or
V ei>" in their legends in the spelling of Hugue and IerusaVm. The
coins marked С always use V for the gros grands and IT for the gros
petits. Also, one small group of irregular coins consistently uses a
mixture : bVGlfG. Under Henry II V and V served (it has been
argued) to identify the products of two mints, doubtless Nicosia and
Famagusta7. The same distinction may have been made (as will be
suggested below) at the beginning of Hugh's reign, but if so it was
soon abandoned, and the mint or officina using V changed over to V ,
as is clear from general considerations of style, from the occurrence of
additional ornaments, from mules, and indeed from a die-link
(catalogue nos. 91, 101, and 111). The great majority of Hugh's
coins employ V .
There would of course have been no practical necessity for users to
distinguish the product of different mints, since all the coins were of
the same basic design and were of the same intrinsic and face values
for each denomination, and they all mingled freely in circulation. If
any were found to be of defective weight or alloy, however, the royal
officials would no doubt wish to be able to trace them, in some way,
to the mint-master who was responsible for their issue.
A less obvious variation than the use of V or V , but one which is
certainly deliberate, is the treatment of the hem-line at the king's
throat. It is shown either by a double line, unornamented ( /\),
or with a crosslet, which probably represents a jewel worn on a chain
round the neck ( J\). The coins with a crosslet usually have a
single line, but it may be double, and the may be pierced
(Fig. 1). Unless a specimen is weakly struck, there is rarely any
need for doubt about which variety it belongs to. Whether these
two categories, each found among both the coins marked ê and those
with no mark, can be attributed to separate mints was the question
which prompted the idea (above) that two might each have
had a two-officina structure. All the coins marked С are of the
6 bis. The letter \f , used throughout the text, is only approximately similar to the
Lombardie style seen on the coins, for which the reader should consult PI. VI-VIII.
7. Metcalf, loc. cit. Note the late introduction of V among the Series 2 gros
petits of Henry, nos. 421-431. GROS OF HUGH IV OF CYPRUS 135 THE
Fig. 1. — Detail of the hem-line at the king's throat. a, b, the two basic versions; c,
early, experimental variant of a; d, e, f, minor variations of b.
variety with the double hem-line. An alternative way of taking
account of the hem-line and the crosslet varieties would be
to argue that they reflect earlier and later phases of the coinage of
Hugh's long reign. We are faced here with a choice which is quite
crucial to an understanding of the series. As a first step, let us
simply examine the possibility that the coins can all be placed
objectively into six blocks, without prejudice to the way the blocks
should be arranged in relation to each other. Fig. 2 shows, for
each of the six, the estimated numbers of obverse dies used (gros
grands + gros petits), and the same lay-out of the blocks is used
throughout the text, as a visual aid. For the variety with J\
the numbers for gros grands with V and V have been calculated
separately and then added together, for reasons that are discussed
below.
No mark в à
16- н 5 16 + 4 15+4 A ,8+3
37 н 40+12 /Л -14
- 142 + 42
Fig. 2. — Estimated original totals of obverse dies, for gros grands + gros petits.
(Source : the Catalogue below.)
These estimates were derived by using the formula
non-singletons _ known dies
sample total dies
Strictly speaking, the formula gives an estimate of output rather
than numbers of dies, i.e. it says that the known dies reflect a certain
proportion of the original total output. The missing proportion of
output can be quantified as 'equivalent dies', but if the missing dies
were in fact used less than the average, there may have been more of 136 D. M. METCALF
them than the figures quoted8. This is not a practical difficulty
except for the reverse dies of the gros grands, because our knowledge
of the series is otherwise relatively complete. It will be noticed that
each of the six blocks of gros grands is accompanied by gros petits
— only 3 to 5 obverse dies each for most of the blocks, but a larger
number, and a higher proportion, for the two blocks with a crosslet at
the throat. There is a small degree of uncertainty about this,
because a minority of the gros petit dies that have been classified as
/\ show only a single line at the throat, and could perhaps have
been interpreted as J=\ . But the proposed attributions can be
defended on the evidence of die-links and stylistic considerations.
All six varieties of gros petit certainly exist, and the sample is large
enough to show clearly that the recorded obverse dies reflect a very
high proportion if not the whole of the output.
It is clear also that dies for the gros petits march closely with those
for the gros grands. This can be illustrated from the irregular block,
or from the coins with a crosslet in the field, or from the early coins
reading blTGlT GRGID'. The first few dies for gros grands in the
unmarked series with J\ have this experimental legend, and there
is a hard-worked gros petit die with the same. (Another gros petit
die with li has a crosslet between the feet, perhaps intended to
match, on a smaller flan, the three crosslets of the gros grands.)
Additional ornaments in the design: crosslets, etc.
Some of Hugh's coins are additionally ornamented with tiny
crosslets or pierced crosslets — either one or three between the king's
feet, or one in the field right, by his elbow. The legends, too, are
occasionally embellished, reading bVGVG+, DG X, DG+, or D6»
on the obverse, and CbIPRG+, CblPRG X , CbIPR+, or
IGRVS+AL'Sft on the reverse.
Some of these ornamented coins are demonstrably early, and their
details perhaps reflect just a degree of extra enthusiasm or effort on
the part of the die-cutter. Others appear to be isolated members of
their series, of which they form only a small proportion. The
reverse reading I eRVS+AL'SI?„ for example, occurs with four obverse
dies, some of which are linked to each other through their reverses.
But each obverse is used with perhaps 7 or 8 reverses, and it is by no
means the entire output of any one of these four obverses that has
8. For a critical discussion of this formula for die-estimation, see С Carcassonne
and T. IIackens, Statistique et Numismatique ( = PACT 5), Strasbourg, 1981. GROS OF HUGH IV OF CYPRUS 137 THE
reverses ornamented with a crosslet. The reading I GRVS + AL'ffii is
recorded again on a single coin marked В which, if the classification is
correct, is quite separate in date from the earlier and larger group.
Other extra marks seem often to occur on just a pair of dies, as may
be seen from the analysis which follows. Different marks are
sometimes loosely die-linked to each other. About one-eighth of the
dies over-all have marks of this character, but the proportion is
higher in the block with В J\ , where also the marked dies seem to
have been used more heavily than the average.
In addition one whole block, apparently, is marked with a crosslet
between the king's feet.
A comparison with English coins of the fourteenth century, where a
small proportion carry the symbol of, for example, the bishop of
Durham, suggests that the profits of a few of Hugh's dies may have
been assigned to some officer of the kingdom or of Cyprus, or to an
ecclesiastic. In default of documentary information it will be quite
impossible to prove such a suggestion; but one would be reluctant to
think that a few dies were given distinguishing marks upon a mere
whim of the die-engraver. Their occurrence in hoards may
eventually offer some hints.
Analysis of the additional ornaments.
(It will be worth while to make additions to this list from hoards in
the future, in order to establish, for example, that in block JJ^ , dies
F, I, J, L, 0, R, and S do indeed have a crosslet between the feet; to
record any new instances of a crosslet between the feet in block C;
and to note any new die-combinations with the reverse ornaments
or, CbIPR + .)
On the obverse dies.
1 + + + between the king's feet. Found only with /*\, blTGlTG
(dies A, B, and C, but not D, E, F, or G) or bVGVe (only on die A:
a carry-over, or evidence of the concurrent use of V and V ?).
Dies IT/B-G and V /B also have DG,t. Dies V /B-C also have
bVGVG+. A gros petit with + between the feet (die C) is
perhaps intended to match.
2 + between the king's feet. Probably the entire block J\ ,
although there are still a good many dies where the detail is off the
flan on the available specimens. Also the following sporadic
occurrences:
In block В /=\ (Dies A and perhaps D). Two dies out of about
15.
In block /\ The gros petit mentioned under 1 above.
In В J\ With both В and В : possibly two pairs? 138 D. M. METCALF
B/L,? = О, and N. è/K and L. Thus 4 dies out of about 40.
In block С (Dies I and J.) Two dies out of about 16, but the true
figure could be higher, as the detail is often off the flan.
3 bVGVG+ A pair of dies in block J\ (V/B and C).
4 DG X See 1 above.
5 DG ° Three dies in В J\ (A, B, and C), out of about 15. Note
the overlap with 2 above, and cf. 6 below.
6 DG+ In block è /\, three dies (with B, dies К and T, and with ê,
die M). The crosslet is pierced and when in a worn state looks like
an annulet. +
In block C, one die (E).
In JJ{ , possibly one die (Q?).
7 + (crosslet or saltire) in field to right, near the king's elbow. In
В /\ , a pair of dies, one more heavily used than the other (K and
L). There is a matching gros petit (die D).
8 Dot between king's head and globus cruciger. One heavily-used
die in ê J\ (B/M = B/J). It is tantalizingly difficult to be
confident that all specimens are from the same die, but there is a
large die-flaw obliterating the right-hand fleur of the crown (more
prominent on coins with B) and a kink in the sceptre. One
wonders whether there has been any recutting at the cuff. It is
not obvious the dot is a deliberate symbol or a die-cutter's
error which was allowed to pass.
On the reverse dies.
1 IGRVS+AL'm Four dies in block J\ ( V/E, F, G, and H). One
die in block В /\ (B/E), seen by the writer only in the form of
plaster casts.
2 CblPRG X In block /\ , V (dies D and G) where it is evidently
an early feature. Cf. 3 below.
3 CblPRG: In block J\ , IT die G (again).
4 CbIPRG + In block С (perhaps die I).
5 CbIPR+ In block Pi (die M), block /\ (dies V /A, J, and K),
and block С (die E).
Are the blocks separate in terms of mint-output?
The division of the material into six blocks is based solely on the
style and detail of the obverse dies, and the scheme does not yet
incorporate any evidence drawn from the reverses. It needs to be
formally demonstrated that the blocks are separate units of mint-
output (since that is what a classification ought properly to reflect),