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I have stumbled across many depictions of Roman coins with the abbreviation CONOB on it, such as this one.

What does it stand for?

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Constantinopoli obryzum

According to a poorly cited Wikipedia article CON indicates the mint of Constantinople and OB is an abbreviation of obryzum, and quite literally translates to "1/72 of a pound of pure gold".

CONOB, Wikipedia

CONOB is a legend found in much of Byzantine gold coinage . Sometimes COMOB is found.

It was found, for example, in exergue in the solids produced by the mint of Constantinople.

CON indicates the mint of Constantinople.

OB has a double meaning:

the two letters in the Greek numbering system correspond to the numbers 72 and indicate that the monetary foot used for the solid is 1/72 of a pound they are also the beginning of the Latin word obryzum , 2 which indicates refined, pure gold. So OB in this case means 1/72 of a pound of pure gold.

FORVM ANCIENT COINS

For a non Wikipedia reference you can visit FORVM ANCIENT COINS. It says the same thing.

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  • So why does it appear on coins depicting WESTERN Roman emperors, some of whom were not even recognized by Constantinople? Mar 28 at 14:03
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    @TheThinWhistler Because they looked at the Western and Eastern Roman Empires as two parts of one empire, that had multiple emperors because it was too big to be ruled by one person/one city, not as two separate empires. Mar 28 at 14:07
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    @suchiuomizu Why would a Western Roman emperor, many of whom were not recognized by the east, have his coins minted in Constantinople when there were mints in Italy or Gaul? Mar 28 at 14:12
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    This article, though lacking an explicit cite, suggests that it indicates the "Constantinople standard" rather than the Constantinople mint. This would explain why it was also used in the West - note that one of the coins on the Italian article is a local coin from Benevento, which suggests it was probably minted in Italy.
    – Andrew
    Mar 29 at 11:12
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It appears your answer is here:

https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=conob

CONOB. Constantinopoli obryzum. The solidus weighed 1/72 of the Roman pound. "OB" was both an abbreviation for the word obryzum, which means refined or pure gold, and is the Greek numeral 72. Thus the exergue CONOB coin may be read "Constantinople, 1/72 pound pure gold." -- "Byzantine Coinage" by Philip Grierson

Just to partially confirm from other sources:

https://www.islamic-awareness.org/history/islam/coins/dinar5

Here it says CONOB a mint mark indicating it was coined in Constantinople. Although, given the meaning given by the first reference, I am not sure if CONOB would also be used for other mints outside of Constantinople but inside the Empire and under the authority of the Emperor - it may only mean that it is an imperial coin. Also be aware that if crosses are defaced or eliminated, your coin may be an Arab imitation.

And CONOB is called 'mintmark' here: https://www.wildwinds.com/coins/byz/heraclius/i.html

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  • So why does it appear on coins depicting WESTERN roman emperors, some of whom were not even recognized by Constantinople as legitimate? Mar 28 at 14:02
  • Good question. I know as much as you, I can only guesstimate. But, given the nastiness of politics, I would expect each party would add as many signs of legitimacy on their coins as they could get away with, including barefaced lies and fully copying some of the most well trusted designs. See, even the Arabs added CONOB on their imitation coins, probably because the people trusted the design..
    – Luiz
    Mar 28 at 14:12
  • Here is a good resource on western roman and barbarian coins - ia800301.us.archive.org/17/items/cu31924029792722/… - I have heard that barbarians often replicated coins without knowing what the script meant, I have seen coins with COMOB and CONOS instead of the correct abbreviation, these were all from germanic tribes imitating roman coins.
    – ed.hank
    Jul 22 at 18:40

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