Billon (?) Coinage of King Ivan Shishman (1371–1375): A Structural Investigation




“Billon” coinage, King Ivan Shishman, Second Bulgarian Empire, Metallographic analysis


In the numismatics of the Second Bulgarian Empire, there is an interesting group of coins which have an additional plating of white metal over the coin cores. These coins are an interesting phenomenon that has not yet been the subject of extensive research. There is also ambiguity about the plating metal. Researchers suggest that the plating metal is silver and, according to the current statement, they attribute them as a billon coinage. So far, all scientific publications on the topic are based only on visual observations. The aim of this study is to analyse these coins with advanced elemental analysis (SEM/XRF/EDX). In this work, attention is focused on the “billon coinage” of the reign of King Ivan Shishman (1371–1395). The analysis of the coin cores characterises them as made of copper. In the preparation of the first and second “billon” coinages, medieval metallurgists used tin (Sn) plating. In conclusion, these coinages are not billon since silver is not used for additional metallic plating and is not present in the alloy composition of the coin core.




How to Cite

Ovcharov, V. (2024). Billon (?) Coinage of King Ivan Shishman (1371–1375): A Structural Investigation. Bulgarian Numismatic Journal, 2(1), 11–18.