Medieval Coins

Medieval coins are, as the name might suggest, coins minted during the period known as the middle ages. When did this period started and how long it lasted is an area of contention. Most historians seem to agree that the medieval period started with the fall of the Western Roman Empire, but there’s heated debate on when exactly did it end. Was it when Christopher Columbus reached the shores of the American continent in 1492 A.D.? Or did it end when the Renaissance started? Or maybe it began when the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) collapsed?

We will let you take your pick. We like to think that all of these factors have contributed to the sea change that occurred during this transitionary period. But since we are talking about coins, perhaps the most important transition (or at least the first step towards a very important transition) around this time to us, came about in 1561 A.D. As this is the date when the first milled coins were minted for the first time.

The Medieval coins presented below are divided into Medieval British Coins, and Coins of Medieval Europe span between the time period of 476 A.D. (fall of the Western Roman Empire) and 1561 A.D., when the first Milled coin was made by a European Kingdom (England).

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Almohamad Square Dirhem Good Very Fine

Almohad Caliphate, Square Dirhem Good Very Fine

These curiously shaped square silver dirhams were struck by the Almohad Caliphate, founded by Ibn Tumart, a member of the Masmuda, a Berber tribe that controlled much of Northern Africa and Spain at the time. They were struck between 1121-1269 AD making them around 800-900 years old and have Arabic script on both sides showing mint marks and declarations of faith but are undated and anonymous, meaning that they are not attributable to any single ruler. The square shape was probably symbolic and linked to the emergence of the Square Kufic script that emerged in the 12th century, influenced by Iranian architecture. They certainly weren’t the first to strike square coins as the Indo-Greeks had done this over 1000 years before but since these dirhams are also quite thin, one practical reason for their shape would be to make it easier to cut them from a larger flat piece of metal.
Cilician Armenia, Levon I (1198-1219), AR Tram  Extremely Fine_obv

Cilician Armenia, Levon I (1198-1219), AR Tram Extremely Fine

On 6 January 1198, the Armenian Kingdom was formed when the then Prince Levon (The Lion) II was crowned as King Levon I, King of Cilician Armenia. He became known as ‘Levon the Magnificent’ due to his numerous contributions to political, military, and economic influence. His growing power made him a particularly important ally for the neighbouring crusader state of Antioch. The coinage of King Levon I set the standard for that of following Cilician rulers, comprising coins struck in silver, copper, and bronze and the odd, very rare, gold issue. On these silver Trams he is shown seated facing on an ornamented throne, holding a cross and fleur-de-lis with the legend ‘Levon King of the Armenians’ around. The reverse depicts a pair of lions standing back to back flanking a tall cross with the legend ‘By the Will of God’ in Armenian around. These are nice grade silver coins available in Extremely Fine condition, and are now over 800 years old, from a once-influential but now long-forgotten kingdom.
Iron_Crossbow_bolt_head. Ca. 12/14 A.D.

Iron Crossbow bolt head. Ca. 12/14 A.D.

The crossbow has been around a lot longer than most people think. In China, crossbow mechanisms have been found from 650 B.C. with a repeating crossbow as early as 300 B.C.! In Europe, the Greeks write they were around before at least 400 B.C. While the average crossbow had a much slower rate of fire than a bow, it did not take a lifetime of training to use properly. This meant they were the main ranged weapon used by most nations in medieval warfare, except for England. We offer the iron heads of Medieval crossbow bolts from Europe in the 12th to 14th Centuries. They average about 8cm, come with a Certificate of Authenticity and make a great present or an affordable addition to any collection. There were many different designs over 300 years so they might look a little different to the picture as this is representative.
Turkey, Anatolia, Kaykhusraw II, Dirham Lion & Sun Type Good Very Fine_obv

Turkey, Anatolia, Kaykhusraw II, Dirham (Lion & Sun Type - Seljuq sultans of Rum) Good Very Fine

Ghiyath al-Din Kaykhusraw II was the sultan of the Seljuqs of Rûm from 1237 until his death in 1246. He ruled at the time of the Babai uprising and the Mongol invasion of Anatolia. He led the Seljuq army with its Christian allies at the Battle of Köse Dağ in 1243 and was the last of the Seljuq sultans to wield any significant power, he died a vassal of the Mongols. Between ca. 1240–1243 a series of remarkable silver dirhams were struck in Kaykhusraw’s name depicting a lion and sun. Generally, Islamic traditions forbid representations of living things so it is very unusual to find such iconography on Islamic coins. Several explanations of the lion and sun have been offered to suggest that the images represent the constellation Leo, the astrological sign of Kaykhusraw’s beloved Georgian wife Tamar or that the lion represents Kaykhusraw and the sun Tamar. Grading Good Very Fine, these are beautiful silver coins struck around 780 years ago. Limited availability and the first time we have offered these coins.

How Were Medieval Coins Made?

Coins in medieval times were, for the most part, Hammered coins, which were made by placing the flan for the coin between two dies and striking the top die with a hammer.

Medieval English Coins for Sale

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you since we are coin dealers based in London, England, that most of the medieval coins presented here are from this country. England was (and still is) the largest country in the UK, and so the medieval coinage from the country is a lot more abundant, too. In the future, you might be able to find the coins you’re looking for in our new stock uploads. Subscribe to our newsletter to be one of the first to know when new stock arrives!

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