Constantine (2005) - Balthazar Coin

Mach

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Background
Balthazar (played by Gavin Rossdale) is frequently seen rolling a coin along his fingers. The coin has been partially identified but not confirmed. With a positive ID, the plan is to recreate the coin in pewter, possibly other metals.

Warner Brothers is planning to release Constantine in 4k in Q2-22 if rumors are correct. The 4K screenshots may finally confirm the coin inspiration. Here's what we know so far.

The front of the coin looks like this:
1646539744900.png
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The letters on the left image appear to me IHTAER or INIAER which doesn't seem to match any emperor name. Matching Follis should be Justin I or II with the year X marking but that does not match existing coins. The inner ring seems to be additional lettering which is unlike existing follis coins.

Other emperor names are:
ANASTASIVS Anastasius
JVSTINVS Justin
JVSTINIANVS Justinian
CONSTANT Constantine
TIb, TIbЄRIЧS Tiberius
MAVRIC Maurice
FOCAS Phocas
HЄRACLIЧS Heraclius
LЄOҺ Leo
FILЄPICЧS Philipicus
IRINI , EIRINH Irene
NICFOROS, NICЄFOROS Nicephorus
MIXAHL Michael
bASILIOS Basil
ΘЄOFILOS Theophilus
ZωH, ZOH Zoe
ROMAN Romanus
XPISTOFOR Christopher
ΘЄOΔωPA Theodora
ЄVΔOKIA Eudocia
BOTANIAT Botaniates
AΛЄΞIω Alexius
KOM Comnenus
Iω, IωAnn John
MANɣHΛ Manuel
ANΔPONIKOC Andronicus
ICAAKIOC Isaac
ΘЄOΔωPOC Theodore
ΔHMHTPIOC Demetrius
ΛACKAPHC Lascaris
ΔɣKAC = ΔOYKAC Ducas
Source: legends

The back looks like this:
1646539844519.png
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From a 2006 RPF posting, this thread mentioned a couple of interesting facts:

There was a sticker that was posted by member TFROST but has since been lost to the forum updates. It appears to have shown the back of the coin.

In the same thread, a member posted this:

Antiquity coin dealer here.
The opening first appearance of the coin you see it is silver I was thrown off a little because it looked like a Judean shekel year one after the Jewish War began May of 66 CE but it shouldn't have a cross image on the other side.
The scene in bowling alley you can see the reverse image of a Byzantine follis, Large M , ANNO to one side / X on the other ( anno and X mean year of reign =10. Going back to the first appearance I see the Cross was the X and the Line of the M is barely visible.

Each side of this coin doesn't exist for the other. It should be a bust of a byzantine emperor and the Large M.
For the final but ..... The large M is 100% byzantine image not seen in other coins but it was made in bronze not silver.
It could have been a large fake silver coin you can buy in most of these port cities, or the prop guys decided to make a fun looking coin.

The Byzantine coins look like these on the back - which matches but the front does not match. The X on the Balthazar coin means the 10th year of reign of the emperor. The large M means the denomination is 40 nummia called a Follis. The size and material are also wrong compared to the actual Follis. The Follis was bronze or copper and was larger than the Balthazar coin.

Below are coins from the Justin II reign that similar to the movie coin back. The front of the Follis shows Justin II and Sophia (his wife) but its not the radial design shown on the Balthazar coin.
1646544299792.png
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This coin is from the Justinian I reign
1646545207356.png

Neither design looks like the movie coin front.

A member at the Magic Cafe posted the following:
Balthazar did a coin roll near the beginning. But the girl doing the coin roll just moved her fingers, and they cg'd the coin. If you watch it again, you'll notice the coin adjusts around her fingers, not the fingers adjusting for the coin.

The best images of the in movie coin are likely digitally created. That's encouraging as the 4K release may look even better.

One final interesting fact that makes me want it to be a Justin II coin. Justin II went insane at the end of his reign.

After 572, Justin was reported to have fits of insanity in which he behaved like a wild animal, was wheeled about on a mobile throne and required organ music to be played day and night.

From a canon standpoint, Balthazar might carry that coin because he had something to do with the emperor's insanity but the script nor movie gives any indication that's the case.
 

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Mach

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
This auction popped up this morning and was quickly snatched up. From the reign of Tiberius, the front doesn't seem to match but the back is close. From the auction details "Maurice Tiberius Æ Nummus. Antioch, Dated RY 10 = 591-592 AD. d N mAURI C NP AUT, crowned facing bust, wearing consular robes, holding mappa and eagle sceptre with cross / Large M; cross above, ANNO X across field; B/THEUP'. DOC I 162b; MIB 96C; Sear 533. 12.15g, 28mm, 7h."

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Looking further at the front, the lettering appears to be Greek.
:Greek_Iota:
Greek_Eta.gif
Greek_Tau.gif
Greek_Lambda.gif
Greek_epsilon.gif
R

1647147593144.png
 
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Mach

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I've been trawling the coin forums with several lines in the water. I was able to find a few compelling ideas that are not yet definitive. A better screen grab may emerge with the 4K disc. Bear with me...

The original script had set the movie open as being in Turkey. The director decided that it would have blown the budget so you see the Spear of Destiny pulled out of the ground in Mexico instead of Turkey. From the 2002 script, we see that it's specifically set in Istanbul.

EXT. ISTANBUL - DUSK

Glimpses of an ancient city. Almost motionless against the tide of time. Sea swelled along an endless wall. Billowing silk frozen
against the sky. Birds lighting on Byzantine columns. FINAL IMAGE is of an imposing STRUCTURE beyond the trees.

As the popular song suggests, Istanbul (not Constantinople) is the city's current name. The name was changed in 1930. Previously Istanbul was Constantinople named after the Roman emperor, Constantine the Great. Interesting, he was also said to have been in possession of the Spear of Destiny during his reign.

The city of Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 after the emperor was killed during an 8 week siege. So the last Roman Emperor was Constantine XI. His predecessor and brother was John VIII and their father was Manuel II. Coincidence or easter egg? The scavenger in the movie who finds the Spear in Mexico was named Manuel.

This is all relevant regarding the coin because (from reddit):
For centuries, numismatists believed that Constantine XI issued no coins. He died on the city walls fighting the final Turkish assault on May 29, 1453.

In the 1980s, a hoard of about 80 pieces turned up in Istanbul. These were evidently siege coins, struck from crude dies on recycled silver from church altar vessels in order to pay mercenaries. On the obverse is a sketchy stick figure of Christ; on the reverse is an even sketchier image of the emperor, with an inscription that translates to “Despot Constantine Palaiologos, by the Grace of God, Emperor of the Romans.” The coins closely resemble the common issues of John VIII, Constantine’s late elder brother, but as the very “last” Byzantine coins they command high prices. An exceptionally clear specimen brought $80,000 at the Gemini VII auction (January 9, 2011). In more recent auctions the little one-eighth stavrata have gone for $22,000 to $30,000.

Another poster in the reddit thread called these coins the "Holy Grail" of coin collecting....in other words, exceedingly rare.

Looking at the coins of Constantine XI, you can see the nested circles with text circling around a central figure. The central figure's arms or robes pointing outward within the central circle. Not to over fictionalize the coin, but I like the idea of Balthazar nudging the fall of Constantinople and the Roman empire then leaving with a memento coin.

1647188348137.png


The coins of John VIII show a similar nested circle design on the reverse side. Again the robes or arms pointing outwards.
1647192613036.png


The same reverse design is seen for several emperor's reign going back to John V
1647193563202.png


A screen grab from the movie shows the nested circles and a similar central figure.
1647192755917.png

1647192794334.png


https://www.reddit.com/r/ArtefactPorn/comments/t5c6o1
EmperorNested CirclesText
John_V Palaeologus 1341-1391YesIW DECPOTIC O PALAEOLOGOC, QV XAPIT BACILEVC POMAION
Andronicus IV Palaeologus 1376-1379Yes+ ANDRONIKOC DECPOTIC O PALEOLOGOC and QV XAPITI BACILEVC TwN RWMAIO
Manuel II Palaeologus 1391-1423Yes+MANOVH DECOOT]HC O PALAOL[OGOC] +Q[VXAPI]TH bACIL V TWN ROMAIWN
John VII Palaeologus 1390 and regent for Manuel II 1399-1423YesIWANHC DECPOTIC O PALEOLOGOC QV XAPITI AVTOKPATOP
John VIII Palaeologus 1423-1448YesIWANHC DECPOTIC O PALEOLOGOC QV XAPITI AVTOKPATOP (or variant) in two lines around nimbate facing bust of John VIII; dot to left and right.
Constantine XI Palaeologus, 1448-1453YesKWNCTANTINOC ΔΕCΠΟΤΗC Ο ΠΑΛΕΟΛΟΓ (“The Despot Constantine, the Palaiologos”) in the outer circle, ΘV ΧΑΡΙΤΗ ΒΑCΙΛΕΩC ΡΟΜΕΟΝ (“By the Grace of God King of the Romans”) in the inner circle
 

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TK-1776

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I've been trawling the coin forums with several lines in the water. I was able to find a few compelling ideas that are not yet definitive. A better screen grab may emerge with the 4K disc. Bear with me...

The original script had set the movie open as being in Turkey. The director decided that it would have blown the budget so you see the Spear of Destiny pulled out of the ground in Mexico instead of Turkey. From the 2002 script, we see that it's specifically set in Istanbul.



As the popular song suggests, Istanbul (not Constantinople) is the city's current name. The name was changed in 1930. Previously Istanbul was Constantinople named after the Roman emperor, Constantine the Great. Interesting, he was also said to have been in possession of the Spear of Destiny during his reign.

The city of Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 after the emperor was killed during an 8 week siege. So the last Roman Emperor was Constantine XI. His predecessor and brother was John VIII and their father was Manuel II. Coincidence or easter egg? The scavenger in the movie who finds the Spear in Mexico was named Manuel.

This is all relevant regarding the coin because (from reddit):


Another poster in the reddit thread called these coins the "Holy Grail" of coin collecting....in other words, exceedingly rare.

Looking at the coins of Constantine XI, you can see the nested circles with text circling around a central figure. The central figure's arms or robes pointing outward within the central circle. Not to over fictionalize the coin, but I like the idea of Balthazar nudging the fall of Constantinople and the Roman empire then leaving with a memento coin.

View attachment 1555813

The coins of John VIII show a similar nested circle design on the reverse side. Again the robes or arms pointing outwards.
View attachment 1555824

The same reverse design is seen for several emperor's reign going back to John V
View attachment 1555828

A screen grab from the movie shows the nested circles and a similar central figure.
View attachment 1555825
View attachment 1555826

https://www.reddit.com/r/ArtefactPorn/comments/t5c6o1
I appreciate that you take such time to find details on all these props. :)
 

Mach

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Nothing definitive on the front, just collecting some additional ideas.

After reviewing actual coins from the close matches a few posts back, I think we're looking at a totally fictional observe side. I went back to the DVD and changed up some of the video settings to CSI "Enhance". As it appears in the movie, the text looks mirrored or we are looking at the bottom of the coin and the text line is "line fed" from the top of the coin to the bottom. For future reference, the alphabet in the inner ring is supposed to be Enochian or Aramaic possibly. I'll go back through my Hellblazer books to see if anything looks similar.

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1647445055651.png

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1647518440047.png
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Enochian alphabet
1647518688682.png


1647518820017.png

From wikimedia "Evolution of the Aramaic alphabet from biblical times. Chart showing Moabite, Hebrew, Phoenician, Samaritan, and Palmyrene alphabets."
 

TK-1776

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Yeah- good stuff right here. I’m shocked that Hollywood Props of London or some similar company didn’t have the original coin to auction off at some point. If they did, someone would have taken detailed photos of the coin.
 

Mach

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
(y)

Knightmare mentioned that at least one was in a collector's hand. I'm guessing they were never auctioned because there were more exciting or recognizable props to auction off. The coins were never clearly identified in the movie with no back story. Its a plot device in the story and is only called an ancient coin in the script. They may have also been coins from another production. Gavin Rossdale said that they had a stack of them in case he dropped them.

I found a Hellblazer website that listed all uses of sigils in comics but no joy. I'll post them here for completeness but I don't think the design came from there.

1647582875738.png
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Source: Master List of Spells and Sigils used in the Comics

As a note for further investigation are Solomonic Seals Seals of Solomon - Modern Witch University

I worked up the back of the coin, I can't quite make out the mint or the workshop. I believe its Theup or Theoupolis and the workshop is tertiary or Gamma to be confirmed via the UHD version. There should be a cross at the top but it looks blurred in the screenshot, maybe intentionally as it would have been odd for a demon to be carrying anything with a cross on it.

1647583699501.png
 

tripoli

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
"Yeah- good stuff right here. I’m shocked that Hollywood Props of London or some similar company didn’t have the original coin to auction off at some point. If they did, someone would have taken detailed photos of the coin."

They did, one of the older board members here bought most of the Constantine props. I have seen them, but I was asked not to divulge the owner or further details. He did not want to take photos as he was afraid there would be duplication of the prop and it would lessen the value of what he had. I do believe that many of these props will become available in the next year, I would keep an eye out on eBay and other prop sites.
 

Mach

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Thanks for the heads up. I'll keep my eye out. Do remember which auction house handled the auction?
 

TK-1776

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
"Yeah- good stuff right here. I’m shocked that Hollywood Props of London or some similar company didn’t have the original coin to auction off at some point. If they did, someone would have taken detailed photos of the coin."

They did, one of the older board members here bought most of the Constantine props. I have seen them, but I was asked not to divulge the owner or further details. He did not want to take photos as he was afraid there would be duplication of the prop and it would lessen the value of what he had. I do believe that many of these props will become available in the next year, I would keep an eye out on eBay and other prop sites.
Whoa!!! I’d love to get my hands on some of these original props!
 

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