Thursday, July 28, 2011

Do You Know Billon About Your Coins?


I am opening the floor for a discussion about ancient billon coins. I have never really gotten around to learning my billon so after a bit of reading I have the following information. I think we will get varying responses to what billon is and is not. That is fine. Let us know what you think, please.

I have read where some say billon coins contain a high content of either gold or silver. This is contrary to what I found. Allow me to back up and state that billon coins have been around a long time and we find billon coins created by the Greeks and we find billon coins still being produced in the Middle Ages.

OK, back to billon and metal content. The best I can tell billon is an alloy of either gold or silver with a very high percentage of a base metal such as copper. However, I saw where one source indicated a billon coin to have "about one-fifth silver to four-fifths copper." My thesis is that billon varied greatly from era to era and mint to mint.

A good gentleman, Tony Clayton, in "Metals Used in Coins and Medals" has stated that billon is a silver alloy with more that half copper content.
From the nominal amount I have shared we can already see we may be all over the place with our "billon theories" and what a billon coin really is.
I look forward to responses and I hope you will share your opinion.. God Bless.. Jerry..

2 comments:

Daniel Nabors Jr said...

How much should I pay for this year 1001 Macedonia leer with a big M on the back of it. I am new to coins but I thought it was neat that it was made back during Alexander the great

Anonymous said...

Evening, Through the research i do from time to time, it is hard to say what exactly is meant by billion. Everything points to silver, but, coins were debased thousands of years ago also. So the content of the silver may mean nothing. My understanding as of now (my novice understanding) is the value being placed on the coin such as we do today with our own coins. Dime, quarter, dollar. I could be so far off base as not to be funny. At times this part of the coin collecting hobby is an education in itself. With no difinative answers to too many unanswerd questions.

There have to be experts out there that can answer some of these questions. I often wonder where the experts get their answers, specially those in the auction business. They seem to have knowledge about ancient coins. How much is factual, how much is conjecture? Anybodys guess. Very interesting topic. Thanks for bringing it up.