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Research Coins: Electronic Auction


The Usurper Theodore Mancaphas ("the Crazed")

275, Lot: 246. Estimate $300.
Sold for $850. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Theodore Mancaphas. Usurper in Philadelphia, circa 1188-1189 and circa 1204-1206. Æ Trachy (29mm, 3.03 g, 12h). Struck 1188-1189. Christ Pantokrator standing facing on dais / Theodore standing facing, holding cruciform scepter and placing hand on hilt of sword. DOC 2; SB -. Good VF, reddish-brown patina. Some striking weakness and minor metal flaws on obverse, otherwise a quality example of this seldom offered type.

Property of Princeton Economics acquired by Martin Armstrong. Ex Classical Numismatic Group XXXIV (6 May 1995), lot 417.

The coinage of Theodore Mancaphas was first published in 1967 - although unattributed - and has been assigned to various rulers since (see DOC pp. 393-395 for alternative attributions and Philip Grierson’s sound rejection of them). Indeed, we are explicitly told by the contemporary historian Nicetas Choniates that Mancaphas struck coinage with his name and image (although he states, surely incorrectly, in silver - with only electrum and highly debased billon issues surviving today).

The reverse legend, particularly clear on the current specimen, can be expanded to Θεόδωρος Βασιλευς Μαγκαφας. The use of basileus in place of despotes is remarkable for the time. Mancaphas (from the Turkish mankafa [“crazed”] was the (unflattering) family name of the usurper, one that his opponents must have found to be entirely fitting!