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date: 26 May 2019

(p. 655) Marks of Value (Certain and Possible) on Late Roman Coins with Intrinsic Values (from Aurelian)

(p. 655) Appendix 1 Marks of Value (Certain and Possible) on Late Roman Coins with Intrinsic Values (from Aurelian)

(p. 656) (p. 657) (p. 658) (p. 659) (p. 660) (p. 661)

Gold

Mark

Proposed meaning

Occurrence and weights

Notes

I·L or IL

50 to the lb (I = Greek numeral for 50; L = Latin numeral for 50)

Aurelian, 2 gold coins of Siscia (6.31 g, pierced, and 7.06 g); also 1 base silver “proof” (3.25 g) and 2 radiates (weights unrecorded). See Bastien 1976.

1/50th of a pound should = 6.45 g; the second aureus is therefore too heavy. It is also hard to explain the occurrence of this mark on two radiates.

O

70 to the lb (Greek numeral for 70)

Diocletian, gold coins of Antioch of 284–286 (legends end -AVG, no coins for Maximian). RIC 5, 316–320. Mean weight, 14 coins, 4.6 g; range 4.2–5.0

Average weight of 4.6 g accords very closely with the theoretical weight of 4.61 g.

Σ or Ξ

60 to the lb

Diocletian and colleagues, Galerius, Licinius, and Maximinus: gold coins of Antioch, 286–313 (RIC 5, 6, and 7); Serdica, 305–308 (RIC 6); Thessalonica, 298–313 (RIC 6)

Theoretical weight: 5.376 g.

Mean weight 35 coins of Antioch of 286–305, 5.24 g; range 4.57–5.60.

NKYXC

NK is the monogram of Nicomedia; no convincing explanation has been offered for YXC, except that it would appear to be a numerical symbol

Galerius and Caesars: gold coins of Nicomedia, 306–308 (RIC 6, 44–47). Weight said by RIC to be the same as other contemporary issues of gold coins at 5.35 g.

Other explanations: l[ege] v[alente] 1/90; v[eteris] l[ibrae] 1/90; 1 aureus = 90 scripula of silver; or even N[i]k[omedia] lux c[ivitatum]. See Callu 1969: 464.

IS IN

? I S[olidus] int[eger]

Constantine and Licinius: gold coins of Antioch, 317–319 (RIC 7, 22–23).

See Callu 1969: 329. Other explanations: I[ovi] S[emper] Inv[icto]; I[ovi] S[ancto] Inv[icto] (RIC 7, p. 679).

LXXII

72 to the lb

Constantine and sons: gold coins of Antioch, 336–7 (RIC 7, 98–104 and RIC 8, 3–8). Mean weight 4.43 g.

Theoretical weight: 4.55 g.

S

for solidus ?

Valentinianic: gold coins of Rome, 364–367 (RIC 9, 2, 116–117).

Evidently not the officina mark, as this is found in the right-hand field in combination with exergue SMRP etc.

Silver

XCVI

96 to the lb

Diocletian and colleagues: argentei of ?299–300 (there is no independent evidence for this date) from Ticinum (RIC 6, 20–22), Aquileia (RIC 6, 16–17), and Carthage (RIC 6, 15–16, attributed by Pink to Rome).

Theoretical weight: 3.36 g.

Mean weight (58 coins) 3.13 g; range 2.5–4.1 g.

LX

60 to the lb

Heavy miliarenses: 340–350, Constantius II and Constans at Aquileia, RIC 8, 57, p. 320; 351, Magnentius at Aquileia, RIC 8, 142, p. 328.

Hendy 1985: 468.

Base silver / copper alloy

(a) Before Diocletian

Mark

Proposed meaning

Occurrence and weights

Comments

XX·I, XX, KA, K·A

20 (= Greek K) parts of alloy to 1 (= A) part of silver

Aurelian through to Diocletian and Maximian: reformed radiates. Analyses of the silver content give a mean of 4.5% for Aurelian through Probus; 4.0% for Carus et sui; and 3.5% for the prereformed coins of Diocletian. Mean weight remains at 3.85 g throughout.

IA, X ET I, XI, ·X·I·, ·X·II, ·XII·, ·X·I·I, XI·I

10 (= Greek I) (or 11?) parts of alloy to 1 part of silver

Tacitus: radiates of Antioch (RIC 5.1, 211) and Tripolis (RIC 5.1, 214). Analyses of 5 coins in Callu et al. (1979: 246), with a mean weight of 3.76 g, gave an average silver content of 9.2% (8.75%–9.8%), compared with an average of 4.99% for 7 pieces from the same mints marked XXI or KA.

Carus: radiates of Lyon (RIC 5) and Siscia (RIC 5, 99–100). Analyses of 4 coins in Callu et al. 1979, 250, with a mean weight of 4.18 g, gave an average silver content of 8.77% (8.1%–9.1%), compared with an average of 4.28% from 8 pieces from Lyon.

VSV

“Usualis” or “Vota Soluta V”

Aurelian and Severina, denarii of Rome of 274–275: RIC 71–74, 5–6. Mean weight (174 specimens of all types): 2.51 g. Analyses of two coins (both RIC 73) give 2.81% and 2.09% of silver (Bastien 1976 84).

I find the suggested reference to Aurelian's Vota unconvincing, both because of the location of the mark (in the exergue on the reverse) and because it also occurs on Severina's coins. If “usualis” is intended, could it be that this coin was a denarius communis? See Callu 1969: 328–329.

(b) Diocletian and later

XXI, XX·I

? 20 parts of alloy to 1 part of silver

Diocletian and colleagues: nummi of Siscia (RIC 6, 110–125) and Alexandria (RIC 6, 30–33) of c. 300–301 (there is no independent evidence for this date). Two analyses by Cope (1968: 128) gave finenesses of 3.36% and 3.48%: the average for eastern mints was 3.13%.

It is natural to assume that XXI has the same meaning as on the radiates; although analysis shows that the standard was considerably below the stated 5%, Diocletian's prereform radiates, which were similarly marked, also had an average fineness of 3.5%. Harl 1985: 263–270 had argued that the mark meant 20 sestertii = 1 nummus. This seems unlikely.

KV

? 20 (K) and 5 (V)

Diocletian and colleagues: nummi of Antioch (RIC 54–55) of c. 300–301 (there is no independent evidence for this date). An analysis by Cope 1968 128 gave a fineness of 3.13%: the average for eastern mints was 3.13%.

Harl (1985) proposed 20 (K) sestertii = 5 (V) denarii. I wonder whether this is a mark of value at all. (Note that KX later occurs on reduced nummi of Licinius of c. 315–317 from Alexandria, RIC 7, 12–21.)

N

for nummus ?

Maximian and Constantine (+ eastern colleagues): reduced nummi of Lyon of 307–308. RIC 6, 203–216; 226–245. Weight: 9.6 g.

Just prior to the CI HS series.

Mark

Proposed meaning

Occurrence and weights

Comments

CI HS

100 HS (sestertii) = 1 nummus

Maximian and Constantine: reduced nummi of Lyon of 308–309. RIC 6, 286–303. Weight: 7.25–6.25 g.

Hendy 1985: 462–463. 100 sestertii = 25 denarii, the value of the nummus as interpreted on the Aphrodisias Currency Edict alongside the 4-denarius radiate (see Corcoran 2000: 177–178).

CMH (MH ligatured)

100 (sestertii) at 48 to the lb

Galerius, Licinius, and Maximinus: reduced nummi of Nicomedia of 308–311 (RIC 6, 54–61 and 66) and of Cyzicus of 311–312 (RIC 6, 76–103). Fineness: c. 2.5%; weight: 7.5–8 g.

Hendy 1985: 463.

XVI

16 denarii

Constantine and Licinius: fractions (?2/3) of reduced nummi of Rome of 312–313 (RIC 6, 359–360) with radiate portraits. Mean weight of 4 specimens in BM: 3.14 g (range: 2.75 g–3.54 g).

This and the following mark presumably represent the value of the coin in denarii. By 312, the nummus had been reduced twice: first to c. 6.8 g (1/48 lb) in 307 and then to c. 4.5–4.2 g (1/72 lb) in 310–311. Assuming that the nummus was still valued at 25 denarii, the XVI piece would be worth about 2/3 and the XII piece about 1/2. The weights of the coins are reasonably consistent with this. Sixty nummi of the same period from Rome have a mean of 4.20 g; on this basis the XVI coins should weigh 2.69 g (instead of the observed mean of 3.14 g, taken from a very small sample), and the XII 2.02 g (instead of 2.00 g). The radiate portraits of the XVI coins also suggests a denominational significance.

XII

12 denarii

Constantine and Licinius: fractions (? half) of reduced nummi of Rome of 312–313 (RIC 6, 355–358) with laureate portraits. Mean weight of 4 specimens in BM: 2.00 g (range: 1.76 g–2.24 g).

XIIΓ

12.5 (Γ is an episemon, standing for s[emis]) denarii

Licinius: reduced nummi (1/96 lb) of 321–324 from Heraclea, Nicomedia, Cyzicus, Antioch, and Alexandria (RIC 7).

This is taken to indicate devaluation by Licinius of the nummus (which had been reduced again since 310–311 to 3.4 g, 1/96 lb in 313) from 25 to 12.5 denarii.

A

Marked both sides on the highest argentiferous copper alloy denomination

Maiorina(?), large AE2, coinage of 348–351 (various western mints).

RIC 8, p. 62; Hendy 1985: 469.

N

Marked both sides on the middle argentiferous copper alloy denomination; N for nummus?

Centenionalis(?), small AE2, coinage of 348–350 (various western mints).

RIC 8, p. 62; Hendy 1985, 469.

LXXII

72 to the lb

Maiorina, large AE2, coinage of 351/352–355 at Aquileia and Siscia. RIC 8, 187–198, p. 333, and 334, p. 374.

Hendy 1985: 469.

Intrinsic Values

(p. 662) Intrinsic Values

following the maximum values in Diocletian's Prices edict: gold: 72,000 dena; silver: 6,000 d.; copper of the second cheapest quality: 60 d.

Aurelian

Denomination

Weight and fineness

Intrinsic worth1

Intrinsic worth in relation to denarius2

XXI radiate

3.93 g with 4.5% of silver

3.97 d.

2.48

Denarius

2.51 g with 2.45% of silver

1.60 d.

1

“As” (or sestertius?)

6.5 g, no silver

1.21 d.

0.76

Old radiate

2.6 g with 2% of silver

1.44 d.

1.11

(1.) Expressed in terms of the values of Diocletian's price edict.

(2.) Assuming that Aurelian's VSV denarius may be equated with the denarius communis.

Diocletian (after revaluation of September 301)

Denomination

Weight and fineness

Intrinsic worth

Actual value

% overvalued

Aureus of 1/70 (284–286)

4.60 g with 99% of gold

1027 d.

floating

0%

Aureus of 1/60 (286–305)

5.24 g with 99% of gold

1170 d.

floating

0%

Argenteus

3.11 g with 92% of silver

53.5 d.

100 d.

87%

Prereform XXI radiate

3.85 g with 3.5% of silver

3.20 d.

? 10 d.

213%

Western nummus

9.7 g with 2.14% of silver

5.62 d.

25 d.

345%

Eastern nummus

9.7 g with 3.13% of silver

7.38 d.

25 d.

239%

Reformed radiate

3 g with 0.25% of silver

0.86 d.

? 4 d.

365%

Reformed laureate fraction

1.5 g, no silver (?)

0.36 d.

? 1 or 2 d.

178% or 456%