Ancient Byzantine - AV Tetrateron - Nicephorus II Phocas (AD 963-969) - Mounted in 14K gold

Denomination:  AV Tetarteron (Nicephorus II)                 

Date:  Circa: (963-969)

Mint:  Constantinople                                                          

Weight: 3.97g

Grade: NGC 6330386-005 – Ch VF – Strike 5/5 – Surface 2/5

Mount: 18 kt gold  

Description: Byzantine Empire: Nicephorus II (AD 963-969). Obverse: (+ IhS XIS RЄX RЄϚNANTIhM), Bust of Christ facing, wearing nimbus cruciger with two pellets in each arm, pallium and colobium, right hand raised in benediction, book of Gospels in left. Reverse: (+ ΘЄOTOC' Ь' HΘ' hICHF' dЄSP) half-length facing busts of the nimbate Virgin Mary (on left), wearing stola and maphorium, and Nicephorus II (on right), wearing loros and crown with pendilia, jointly holding patriarchal cross with pellet on shaft between them; M-Θ barred flanking Virgin.

History: One of the greatest generals of his age, Nicephorus Phocas led the armada that reclaimed Crete for Byzantium after 130 years of Arab rule. He followed up by annexing Cyprus and capturing Aleppo. These stupendous victories led the army, following the death of Romanus II in March AD 963, to acclaim Nicephorus as Emperor. Returning to Constantinople, he married Theophano, the widow of Romanus II, and proclaimed himself protector of her two young sons Basil II and Constantine VIII, who became subordinate Emperors. Nicephorus continued the offensive against the Caliphate, which fell back on all fronts before the disciplined Byzantine forces. Theophano, however, found him physically repulsive, remote, and austere, and sought refuge in the arms of a dashing soldier, John Tzimisces. Together they plotted and carried out the murder of Nicephorus in December of AD 969.