Author Topic: Roman coin names  (Read 15685 times)

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Offline ghipszky

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Roman coin names
« on: June 04, 2007, 03:54:56 AM »
I think the names of denominations modern man has given ancient coins are very curious. Radius makes sense, because of the radiate crown the emperor is wearing. Does anyone know the history of the names such Sestertius, As, Dupondius,etc?
Ghipszky

Offline Figleaf

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Roman coin names
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2007, 02:03:13 AM »
Uncia - from unus, one or unit. There are 12 unciae in an as. Developed into a 12th of a libra (a weight, compare onza)
Sextans - one sixth (of an as)
Quadrans - one fourth (of an as)
Triens - from tres three, one third of an as
Semis - half weight (half as)
As -  unit. Originally a weight, (the weight that could reasonably be held in the hand of an outstretched arm) then a coin of that weight, gradually reduced in weight. (the words "mark" and "pound" have a similar origin)
Centenionalis - from centum, 100, 1/100th solidus
Sestertius - from semis tertius, three halves (one and a half as)
Dupondius - double weight (2 asses)
Quinarius - containing 5 (asses)
Siliqua - pod or husk (compare: shell) of very little substance: 1/24 solidus or 1/1728th of a libra in weight (0,19 grams)
Denarius - from decem, ten, containing ten (asses)
Follis - the name of a bag, containing soldier's pay. Developed into the name for a double denarius
Aureus - golden (compare: gulden)
Solidus - solid, thick, heavy (compare: peso)

These coins were issued at different times, so they do not form one consistent system.

Peter
« Last Edit: June 05, 2007, 02:06:03 AM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline ghipszky

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Re: Roman coin names
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2007, 02:55:53 AM »
Wow, thanks Figleaf. That is alot of information that I didn't know and now I do!
So they are all from the ancient names then?
Ghipszky

Offline Goodies

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Re: Roman coin names
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2007, 07:30:39 PM »
hi @ghipszky

Peter has named the coins (about) in order of value.

Allow me to expand the list, and sort in order of occurrence:

As -  unit. Originally a weight, (the weight that could reasonably be held in the hand of an outstretched arm) then a coin of that weight, gradually reduced in weight. (the words "mark" and "pound" have a similar origin)
Semis - half weight (half as)
Uncia - from unus, one or unit. There are 12 unciae in an as. Developed into a 12th of a libra (a weight, compare onza)
Sextans - one sixth (of an as)
Triens - from tres three, one third of an as
Quadrans - one fourth (of an as)
Dupondius - double weight (2 asses)
Sestertius - 4 Asses (originally a silver coin)
Denarius - from decem, ten, containing 10 Asses
Cistophorus - 3 denarii, (until 135 AD, by then 1 Cistophorus = 1 provincial Tetradrachm)
Aureus - golden (compare: gulden, worth 25 denarii)
Quinarius - half Denarius
Antoninianus - two Denarii (radiate portrait coin)
Aurelianianus - four Denarii, or reformed Antoninianus (actually unknown)
Large Folllis - fat bronze coin of the Tetrarchy era
Solidus - solid, thick, heavy (compare: peso) Gold piece, 120 Large Folles
Argenteus - 5 Large Folles
Siliqua - pod or husk (compare: shell) of very little substance: 1/24 solidus or 1/1728th of a libra in weight (0,19 grams)
Triens - Gold piece of 1/3th Solidus
Centenionalis - from centum, 100, 1/100th solidus
Maiorina - two Centenionnali
Follis - the name of a bag, containing soldier's pay. Developed into the name for a double denarius
unknown value, after 330 a Centennionalis or Maiorina or a Byzantine bronze (40 Nummus)
Byzantine Follis - M-reverse
Byzantine Nummus - 1/40th of a follis
Byzantine Miliaresion - Concave coin, silver
Byzantine Hyperpyron - Concave coin, Gold or Electron piece
Byzantine (Aspron) Trachy - Concave coin, billon

I have not named the partial and multiple denominations (such as double sestertius, half follis, half centennionalis)

This is my list. It is not the only one. Much is unknown of the interrelations (value!) and names (as Romans named them). Antoninianus and Follis are modern names assigned to coins. The following page provides a very careful list with no undocumented knowledge:

http://www.bitsofhistory.com/ace/documents/Ryan.html

.. whereas others provide large lists with lots of assumptions, like

http://www.beastcoins.com/Topical/Denominations/RomanDenominations.htm

:)
Lx
« Last Edit: July 09, 2007, 07:36:27 PM by Goodies »

Offline ghipszky

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Re: Roman coin names
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2007, 02:14:12 AM »
Thanks Goodies for the extra information and the links. Always more to learn isn't there?
Ginger
All I am home from the hospital recovering now.

Offline lusomosa

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Re: Roman coin names
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2007, 10:14:37 PM »
greetings,

Goodies and figleaf gave an amazing description of roman currency. My congratulations,
I only want to add the fellowing :
At the beginning Roman coinage was induced so to speak due to the wars against the Greek colonies in the south of what is now Italy.
Their first Silver coinage appeared during the war against King Pyrrhus from Epiros ( now Western Greece ) who went to Italy to help the Greek comunities.this was in 280 BC and after.
Rome's first silver issuer were Didrachmas ( Greek denomination ) which would be accepted in this southern area.Later during the second Punic war coins were issued with the same weight of the Didrachmas but because the coins showed a Quadriga , this coins were named : Quadrigatus. This was between 225-211 BC.
After 211 BC , The Denarius was introduced. the Denarius was introduced as to be worth 10 asses .The weight of the As fell a lot during the war but after 211 BC, It was clear to the Romans that Hannibal Did not threatened Rome anymore. That gave Rome new hope , there were some gold issues and The Denarius was created.

So you have also Didrachm and Quadrigatus as Roman coins.

PS : Didrachm was also called Nomus.  This name "nomus" slowly meant "Coin" and from there nomus became the base of the name of our hobby : Numismatics

LP

Offline ghipszky

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Re: Roman coin names
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2007, 03:41:02 AM »
Thanks for the further explanation of how names of money in the roman world came to be. Also, interesting PS. too.
ghipszky

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Roman coin names.
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2007, 10:12:57 PM »
Luis,Didrachm is an Ancient Greek coin name,not a Roman one.

Aidan.

Offline lusomosa

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Re: Roman coin names
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2007, 10:44:31 AM »
Greetings Aidan,

Yes The didrachm is a Greek unit but since it was used in the South of Italy For thge Greek colonies there like :
Sybaris, Taras ( tarentum ), Metapontum, Kroton, Kaulonia, Locri, Laos, Rhegium, and some smaller vilages and tribes.

The Romans adopted this standart at the very start of their coinage.

The coins were minted is the South of Italy AND to distinghish them from Greek issues they has the word ROMANO on one of the sides.
This are really Roman coins and are given the designation of didrachmas.
Only with the new design with the quadriga were they called QUADRIGATUS with still the same weight as the original didrachm.

I have here 3 examples.
FIRST : didrachm   ROMANO 6.96g crawf. 20/1  269-266 BC   sold : DIVO 307, lot 1430    7th June 2007
SEC    : didrachm   ROMANO 6.58g crawf.22/1  265-242 BC   Sold: LHS 100 , lot 373     23th April 2007
Third : QUADRIGATUS  ROMA 6.33g crawf.28/3 225-217BC  Sold Divo 307, Lot 1432    7th June 2007

LP

Offline lusomosa

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Re: Roman coin names
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2007, 10:53:18 AM »
Hi ,

Just to clarify things, The crawf.   is the reference of the three examples I gave from CRAWFORD.

Luis

Offline Goodies

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Re: Roman coin names
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2007, 06:00:33 PM »
Hi,

The last piece you showed, I found one with a more elaborate description,

Anonymous. 225-212 BC. AR Didrachm or Quadrigatus (6.78 g, 6h). Rome mint. Laureate head of Janus, annulets in hair, slightly curved truncation / ROMA incuse on raised tablet in exergue, Jupiter, holding thunderbolt in right hand and scepter in left, in fast quadriga driven right by Victory. Crawford 28/3; Hersh, Quadrigatus -; Sydenham 64; cf. Kestner 90-95; cf. BMCRR Romano-Campanian 78



Source: this one in this CA-list

I suppose this name "Quadrigatus" refers to the four horses ? Did Romans use that name ?

In short I agree.. "Didrachm" is definitely a Roman denomination, many Roman colonies persisted in using the Greek system. The youngest I found there was Antoninus (161-180), but I suppose they come later as well.

:)
Lx

Offline tonyclayton

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Re: Roman coin names
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2007, 12:36:55 AM »
The quadrigatus is the four-horse chariot depicted, as similarly a biga is a two-horse chariot

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Roman coin names
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2007, 01:48:59 AM »
Here's a quadriga I looked at last week.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline ghipszky

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Re: Roman coin names
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2007, 03:23:51 AM »
Figleaf,
I have a Constantine the Great coin that has him riding in Quadriga up to Heaven to meet God. You can see a tiny hand in the top of the coin representing God's hand.
That is a wonderful picture you posted!
By the way, both eyes are fixed now and I can see like I could before the cataracts. All is well. Now maybe I can get back to posting here.
ghipszky

Offline lehmansterms

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Re: Roman coin names
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2009, 03:08:51 AM »
Interesting thread - sorry I didn't see it before tonight.  I do need to take small issue with one of Peter's denomination definitions, however.  The Sestertius, was never one and a half asses.  Before the revaluation of the As in about 118 BC, you'll often see an "X" denomination mark on the obverse of denarii - meaning "10 Asses to the denarius". Then, in about 118 BC, the As had been shrinking in size for some time, this relationship was changed.  The term "As" or "AEs" had originally meant one Roman Pound of bronze - literally, 12 ounces of metal (and hence the "dupondius" which was originally 2 pounds of bronze, etc.) -  by 118 BC the As' weight had generally declined to approximately half an ounce.  The As was revalued at this time at 16 to the denarius (or the denarius as baeing worth 16 rather than 10 Asses), and you see a mark which looks like an asterisk taking the place of the "X" on denarius obverses.  This mark is actually the ligate or monogram form of XVI - 16 - meaning the denarius was now worth 16 Asses.  The Sestertius - which, incidentally, was the denomination of account throughout the Republic and well into the 1st century AD - in which all sums were reckoned, like the Dollar in the US - and which had always been worth 1/4 of a denarius (two and one half asses) was now, conveniently, worth 4 Asses - so it was now both a fraction of 4 and a multiple of 4 (quarter of a denarius, 4 Asses).  Back when there had been 10 Asses to the denarius and the Sestertius had been worth two and a half Asses, the name "semis tertius" or "half of three" made sense in the same way we say "Quarter of three", when we mean 2:45 - it was literally "half of three" - meaning two and one half (halfway to three from two) rather than the "one-sixth" or "one and one half" you might assume "half of three" meant.

Fascinating stuff, the many and changing Roman denominations - and not a field we have a particualry firm grip on understanding as records from about the time of Constantine on are few and far between.

Mark
« Last Edit: December 09, 2009, 11:07:33 PM by lehmansterms »