Roman Republican Coins in the British Museum

E Ghey, I Leins (eds) - descriptions and chronology after MH Crawford

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Aedile: Elected magistrate with civic and administrative responsibilities. Curule aediles had some additional privileges.

Aes grave: Term formerly used for early cast bronze coinage.

Aes signatum: 19th-century term formerly used for early cast bronze currency bars.

Barbarous imitation: See imitation.

Bes: Rare bronze denomination equivalent to 8 unciae.

Brockage: A form of mis-strike created when a coin became stuck in the punch die and was struck again onto a new blank placed on the anvil die, creating an incuse version of the design on the anvil die on the upper face of that coin. This usually creates a coin with two obverses, one incuse and one normal, although sometimes reverse brockages also occur[1].

Cast: Formed in a mould. This method can be used for the production of both blank discs for striking and for the production of finished coins with the design of the coin built into the mould.

Consul: The most senior magistrate of the Roman Republic. Two were elected annually.

Control marks: A series of numerals, letters or symbols used by the mint to distinguish different dies or issues for coins of the same type.

Countermark: A mark stamped on the surface of the coin after production, for example to indicate re-use by another authority or confirm authenticity. The term is also used in this catalogue for ‘banker’s marks’ or other small punch marks sometimes thought to be connected with official testing for plated coins.

Denominational mark: Symbol or numeral used to mark the value of the coin.

Decussis: Rare early bronze denomination equivalent to 10 asses.

Dextans: Rare early bronze denomination equivalent to 10 unciae.

Die: A stamp or punch engraved with the design of the coin, which is impressed on the surface of a blank disc (flan) in the minting of coins.

Die-axis: This is the relationship between the lower, anvil die and the upper, punch die. A straight alignment between the two would have a die-axis of 12 o’clock. In this period there is a slight preference towards 6 o’clock, but all orientations are found.

Dodrans: Rare bronze denomination equivalent to 9 unciae.

Dupondius: Rare early bronze denomination equivalent to 2 asses. This denomination was later issued in the Roman Imperial coinage system.

Exergue: The area below a horizontal line at the bottom of the coin design (usually on the reverse of the coin).

Flan: The blank metal disc on which a coin is struck.

Forgery: The term is used in this catalogue (under object type) to denote both ancient and more recent coins made with the intention of their being taken for genuine coins of that type; the catalogue specifies whether the forgery is thought to be ancient or modern. These are most commonly plated or cast copies.

Hybrid: A coin with the obverse of one type and the reverse of another.

Imitation: A form of ancient forgery, used in the catalogue to denote a ‘barbarous’ copy of an official coin type, often with some degree of variation in the design or legend. Unlike forgeries, they are close to the original in metal content.

Incuse: Design impressed below the surface of the coin rather than raised above it.

Litra: Early bronze denomination.

Moneyer: A magistrate responsible for coin production.

Obverse: The side of the coin commonly depicting a head; the other side is known as the reverse.

Oscan: Southern Italian culture; the Oscan alphabet was sometimes used on coins from Italian mints.

Overstrike: A coin struck using a pre-existing coin as a blank. The original design may be partly visible below (the undertype).

Plated: Refers to a coin with a core of base metal (usually copper alloy) covered with a thin sheet or coating of precious metal (gold or silver). This was a common method of forgery. It has been suggested that the issuing of serrated denarii was intended to deter this practice by revealing the base core of the coin.

Praetor: A senior elected magistrate with legal and civic responsibilities.

Quaestor: An elected magistrate with particular responsibility for financial matters.

Quartuncia: Denomination equivalent to one quarter of an uncia.

Quincunx: Rare early bronze denomination equivalent to 5 unciae.

Semuncia: Denomination equivalent to half an uncia.

Reverse: The side of the coin that does not usually depict a head; the other side is known as the obverse.

Senate: A council consisting principally of former magistrates (administrative and executive officials) making up the governing body of the Roman Republic.

Struck: Impressed with a design by hitting the surface of the metal with an engraved die.

Tressis: Rare bronze denomination equivalent to 3 asses.

Triumvir: A member of a board of three men. The term was used for moneyers and also for the political alliances of the later Republic.

Undertype: The original coin used as a blank for the creation of another coin (see overstrike).

Inscriptions on Republican coins

AED CVR – curule aedile

A P F – auro publice feriundo – ‘struck from public gold’; a formula used by the first triumvirs to strike gold.

COS – consul

EX A P – ex argento publico – ‘struck from public silver’.

EX S C – ex senatus consulto – ‘struck by the decree of the senate’. This may refer to additional issues of coinage that required specific authorisation.

F – filius (‘son of’)

IIIVIR or IIIVIR AAAFF – triumvir, or “triumviri auro argento aere flando feriundo” (meaning ‘three men responsible for casting and striking gold, silver and bronze’).

IIIIVIR – quattuorvir

IMP – imperator (commander-in-chief or general)

LEG – legate (as a title) or legion (in legionary issues of Mark Antony)

PRO COS – proconsul (the title of a Roman provincial governor)

PRO PR – propraetor (the title of a Roman provincial official)

PRO Q – proquaestor (the title of a Roman provincial official)

PR – praetor

Q – quaestor

  • ^ [1] - See Goddard 1993 for a detailed discussion.
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