Solid Sterling Silver with 18kt Gold Plate
Dimensions: 13/16″ wide by 1 3/16″ high including Finding
Christ and Nicephorus II Phocas and Theotokos (Virgin Mary) AV histamenon Nomisma. Constantinople mint. A.D. 963-969. DO 4; Sear 1778
Obverse: Christ Pantokrator-Facing bust of Christ wearing nimbus cruciger (cross bearing halo), right hand raised in blessing, left hand holding book of gospels; Ihs XΓS REX REGNANTInm (Jesus Christ King of Kings).
Reverse: Facing busts of Nicephorus with short beard, wearing loros and crown with cross, +ΘOTOC’ bHΘ’ hIEHF dESP’ (God-bearer help ruler Nicephorus) and Theotokos nimbus (with a halo) wearing a stola and maphorium (head covering) and divides M/•-Θ (mother of God), both holding patriarchal cross between them.
Nicephorus II Phocas was born 912, Cappadocia and died Dec. 10/11, 969, in Constantinople. He reigned as Byzantine emperor from 963 to 969. His military achievements contributed to the resurgence of Byzantine power in the 10th century. During Nicephorus’ reign the gold coinage was divided into two types. The first retained the weight and appearance of the solidus; it would be called the “histamenon” or “standard”; this coin is an example. The second was a debased coin called the “tetarteron” or “quarter” having a lighter weight. Taxes had to be paid in histamena, disbursements were paid in tetartera. Finally there was coinage reform under Alexius I in 1092.
Christ Pantocrator was one of the first images of Christ in the Early Christian Church and remains a central icon of the Eastern Orthodox Church. In the half-length image, Christ holds the New Testament in his left hand and makes the gesture of teaching or of blessing with his right. The typical Western Christ in Majesty is a full-length icon. In the early Middle Ages, it usually presented Christ in a geometric frame, surrounded by the Four Evangelists or their symbols.