Denomination: 20 Nummia
Mint: Byzantine Bronze, AE
Date: Circa 491-1453 AD
Mount: Sterling Silver
Description: Obverse: Justin II, Thessalonica (D N IVSTINVS P P AVG) Helmeted. Cuirassed bust facing, holding Victory on globe and shield. Reverse: Large K, (ANNO) to left, cross above, X, IIII to right. mint mark.
History: Nummus (Greek: νουμμίον, noummion) is a Latin term meaning "coin” but used technically for a range of copper coins issued by the Roman and Byzantine empires during Late Antiquity. This coin was minted in bronze throughout the Byzantine Empire in wide variety. The “K” stands for the coin’s value, which is 20 Nummia (equal to half a follis). The word “ANNO” that is written to the left of the “K” means “year” and the Roman numerals to the right of the “K” was the reigning year of the emperor who is depicted on the reverse side of the coin. The Byzantine Empire is a fascinating aspect of history to study. It arose when the Roman Empire fragmented in the 5th century AD and survived all the way until the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
Coins were minted by a wide range of empires, often considered to begin with Anastasias (491-518 AD) and end with Constantine XI (1448-1453). These coins started out resembling the later Roman bronzes, but quickly developed a distinctive look, starting with the coinage reform of Anastasias in 498. Some early coins, before the reform, were marked with roman numerals. The denominations were: 'V' for 5 nummi, 'X' for 10 nummi, 'XX' for 20 nummi, and 'XXXX' for 40 nummi. Byzantine coins have the interesting feature of the regnal year of the emperor. It will be written as, for example, ANNO (often vertically) meaning 'year', and a roman numeral date, such as XX IV for '24'. To interpret this date, look up the emperor (if you can identify him!), find out when his reign started, and add the regnal year to that year - you now have the year that your coin was minted!