Getting Started with Roman Coins - Coins Minted in the Greek Style for Trade (312 BC - 170 BC)

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Denarius Coinage (Sextanal Standard) (211 BC - 82 BC)
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Getting Started with Roman Coins
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Somewhat in parallel with the Aes Grave coins, but starting earlier, the Romans minted coins for trade with Greek cities. These didn’t form part of the Roman monetary system.

GoldStaters, half-staters6.8g and 3.4g. Almost pure gold

A stater was worth 8 Didrachmae, and the half stater worth 4.

These were introduced 217 BC but seldom struck.

SilverDidrachm, Drachma7.3g, 99% Silver.

Minted until 235-225 BC. Replaced by the Quadrigatus.

A half denomination (drachm) was also occasionally struck.

These coins were barely distinguishable from Greek coins, and their production was modist.

Quadrigatus7.3g, 99% Silver.

The Quadridgatus was a Didrachm minted in Rome (in great volume) for use in the Second Punic War (225-214 BC). The obverse was a Janiform head and the reverse was Jupiter in a quadriga. Apart from the distinctly Roman images, the coin seems to be identical to a Didrachm.

Due to defeats at Cannae and Trebia, they were reduced in weight and silver content, ending up at less that 5g with 50% silver.

They were eventually replaced by the Victoriatus which were half the original weight of the Quadrigatus.

Fractional denominations may have been struck.

Victoriatus3.4g. Was made from more debased silver (65%) than the Denarius (95-98%) which was introduced at the same time.

Minted from 221 BC to 170 BC and was worth about ¾ of a Denarius.

Double and half Victoriati were also stuck, but are very rare.

There were three bronze coins, the Double Litra, Litra and Half Litra, that are thought to have been minted from 273 BC to 225 BC, and were struck rather than cast. One theory is that these were used for trade with Greece due to their style and their hoard find spots. However, Andrew McCabe thinks these may just be smaller fractions of the Aes Grave cast coinage system. As shown above, this ends with the Uncia (1 ounce) and Semuncia (½ ounce). The Double Litra (¼ ounce), Litra (⅛ ounce) and Half Litra (1/16 ounce) seem to complete that series nicely. Crawford comments :

Speculation on exactly when, where and why the issue was produced is not in the present state of knowledge profitable”.

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