Numismatics: antique and ancient Roman coins
Numismatics: antique and ancient Roman coins

The hobby for numismatics is quite popular these days. Collectors name different reasons for their craving for old coins: these are their historical value, nostalgia for the past, and childhood dreams of mysterious treasures. Such people are especially interested in ancient coins, because they store images not only of rulers, but also of entire eras, grandiose events, and their diversity is amazing.

ancient roman coins

A bit of history

For the first time, coins began to be made in China and India at the beginning of the 12th century. BC e. But the circulation of this banknote did not go beyond these countries. Much later, the Greeks began minting silver coins. And it was they who became the used means of exchange and sale, first hitting the Middle East, and from there spreading to neighboring countries.

This monetary system was preserved further. The coins of the Roman Empire replaced the Greek ones, which served as a model for their creation. During its heyday, Ancient Rome wasexample of the highest civilization. With its collapse, a regression awaited people, since many achievements were forgotten for centuries. For a long period, the coins of the ancient Romans were the standard element of the monetary system in Europe and Asia, like their predecessors, made by the Greeks.

ancient roman silver coin

Antique coins

In a narrow sense, only the banknotes of Ancient Rome belong to this category. However, in reality this is not the case. It includes coins of all ancient peoples, including Persian, Israeli (Jewish) and Byzantine. Banknotes of the ancient period were minted from precious metals: bronze, brass, silver and gold. The material depended on the denomination of the coin, since it was it that determined its value. This rule was observed at all times and exists to this day. Ancient Roman coins were decorated with the seals of the reigning monarch. It was a guarantee of weight, fixing its value. Antique coins are extremely diverse, as new banknotes were issued with each successive change of ruler.

Bronze and brass coins

In the monetary system of Ancient Rome, metals such as bronze and brass (obsolete aurichalk) played an important role. It was from them that banknotes were minted. The first coin was made of bronze. Her weight at that time was measured in ounces. It was a copper ace, weighing as much as 12 ounces (340 g). There were coins of smaller denominations:

  • Semis - 170 gr.
  • Trience - 113 gr.
  • Quadrance - 85 gr.
  • Sextans - 56 gr.
  • An ounce and fractions of an ounce weighedaccording to the title.

Then came the metal aurichalk (brass) - more expensive than bronze, an alloy of copper and zinc. Ancient Roman coins such as sestertius (27.28 gr.), dupondium (13.64 gr.) and ass (54.59 gr.) were minted from it.

Roman Empire coins

Gold and silver

Denarii, victoria, quinaria and sestertia were minted from silver. The largest of them at face value (denarius) weighed about 5 g, and the smallest - just over one gram. As a result of the reforms of 217 BC. e. their mass has decreased. Aureuses were created from gold, and after the reform of Constantine I, solids, semises and triens came into use (names are in descending order of denomination).

Today it is generally accepted that the base unit in ancient monetary systems was either a stater or a drachma. So, within the framework of the Aegina system, silver staters (12-14.5 g) and drachmas were minted (such an ancient Roman silver coin weighed like half a stater), and in the Milesian, Phocian and Persian - gold. It should be noted that banknotes made of brass or copper were also counted using these units. This custom was especially widespread during the time of Alexander the Great.

antique coins

About fakes

There are two kinds of crafts. Some were created by counterfeiters of that time, while others are modern copies. In this section, we will focus on the latter, since they are the only ones losing value today. There are several methods suitable for self-checking:

  1. To identify a low-quality fake, it is enough to look at the photo in the catalog. Now fake ancient Roman coins are made for tourists and ordinary people who do not understand anything about numismatics. Therefore, the resemblance to the originals is rather insignificant.
  2. By comparing the data in the reference book, you can weigh and measure the coin. If the indicators do not reach the indicated values, the conclusion is obvious.
  3. In the days of Ancient Rome, coins were not cast, but minted. Therefore, money made with modern equipment can always be distinguished.
  4. If the coin has detached particles on the surface, it is genuine. This effect cannot be faked. It is caused by internal corrosion of impurities.
  5. The presence of a stamp gloss also speaks in favor of the checked copy.
  6. Ancient Roman coins can be checked with a microscope. With a strong increase, surface corrosion, characteristic of alloys of that time, will be visible.
  7. Comparison with the original is the best method to compare the impression and its smallest details.
  8. Spectral analysis will help determine the sample and composition of the ligature. If the results of the analysis of a dubious copy and a genuine one are the same, then we can conclude that the coins belong to the same time.

Of course, an ignorant person is unlikely to be able to distinguish a fake. And in this case, the best solution would be to turn to an experienced numismatist.

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