|Roman Republican Coins and Books by Andrew McCabe
Catalogues by Crawford, Grueber and Sear Coins:
Aes Grave, Aes Signatum and Didrachms
Catalogues by Crawford, Grueber and Sear;
Aes Grave, Aes Signatum and Didrachms:
Coins: 320-214 BC, Aes Grave and Didrachms, Crawford 1-41
Click on any photo to see that coin. Or click on the
right-hand blue link to see the entire set.
320-270BC Cr1/19 Pyrrhic War
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Whilst the coinage of the Denarius period has many firm anchors in time, arising from magistrates named on the coins
that can be linked with dates on the consular fasti albeit with great difficulty,
and annual issues that can be sequenced from hoard evidence, the pre denarius coins occupy a much emptier space.
Individual find evidence shows silver and struck bronze issues up to about Crawford 16 in the Campania region,
and later issues are found more around Latium. The watershed issues are Crawford 17
Minerva horsehead bronze, struck
after 273BC and found in the Latium region for which I cite the evidence from Cosa on my
Hoards and Archeology
page, and Crawford 20
Hercules Wolf and twins didrachm
is believed to be the first silver issue from Rome and possibly that cited by Pliny as dating from 269BC. The Aes
Grave and Aes Signatum issues are not found with the struck coins and are generally linked with those struck coins
by typology. Thomsen, in Volume 3 of Early Roman Coinage, made the first Silver to Aes Grave linkage of the
modern era. Crawford,
Burnett and Rutter all proposed variations, which to an extent are matters of judgement rather than hard evidence.
The very first coins, the ΡΩΜΑΙΩΝ bronzes of the Neapolitan types,
Crawford 1 and 2, and the Mars Horsehead didrachm
Crawford 13, are generally believed to come from Naples shortly before 300BC. Time generally does
result in improved arrangements, so a current student should probably consider Crawford’s arrangement then
look to Rutter Historia Numorum Italy, an important volume. Crawford made some modifications in Coinage and Money
under the Roman Republic, 1985.
In between, Burnett in 1978, 1980, 1983, 1989 suggested
various improvements which it can be assumed Rutter considered given that Burnett was a co-editor,
however Burnett’s work was generally
published in non numismatic journals that I do not cover on this website. I list the latest view of each
expert after the sets of coins below.
270-225BC Cr20/27 1st Punic War
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The second phase of the coinage, after the mint moved to Rome, is marked by some remarkable referential types
that play on other coins. This shows the Romans must have had an acute awareness of their coin types.
Crawford 20 Wolf and Twins
traditionally the first coin of Rome, undoubtedly refers to the
Capitoline statue that is still there, and may have helped fund its erection.
Roma Victory didrachms copy the die numbering system of Ptolemaic coins in the name of
the deified queen Arsinoe II, dated to after her death in 270BC. This is a firm terminus post quem for
Crawford 22. That they would copy devices from the coins of a powerful foreign nation is an intriguing instance
of the Roman willingness to copy the best in technology and art from wherever, in this case die control marks.
Minerva Eagle large bronze bears the eagle types, control marks and weight standards of the
Mamertini alongside a ROMANO legend, so it must be a Sicilian First Punic war issue where Rome intervened on
behalf of the Mamertimi. Crawford 25, 26 and 27 silvers are all copies with variations of Crawford 13 and 15
and Apollo Horse didrachm.
The Crawford 25, 26 and 27 Aes Grave copy with variations
Crawford 14 and 18 with the
addition of acorn, club or sickle marks, and at a lighter weight.
The struck bronzes for 25, 26 and 27 are related to the Aes Grave
by the sickle
and club symbols
and to the silver by types, thus linking up the silver types to the Aes Grave.
the same matches apply to the original issues, this links Crawford 13 with 14, and Crawford 15 with 18. The few missing pieces are then slotted in, Roma Roma Aes Grave has
a natural although unproven link to the Wolf and Twins coins from Rome, and
Roma Wheel must follow. The remaining
two struck bronze series are Crawford 16 and 17 for which other numismatic techniques provide evidence. Somehow
like playing Suduko the entire arrangement quickly falls into place although
the absolute dating remains speculative, and whilst the general arrangement seems very compelling it relies heavily
on the types themselves and might in time be overturned by an archaeological surprise. But it is good enough for me.
225-214BC Cr28/41 Hannibal's conquests
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The quadrigatus coinage and related cast prow bronzes is complex and insufficiently studied. Crawford documented
a substantial study within RRC, based on a
main quadrigatus type Crawford 28, three subsidiary types,
and some uncertain issues that probably should remain unclassified until further work is done but to which he
gave the numbers 32, 33 and 34. The main issue goes through evident stylistic, and eventually
fineness declines. Apart from generally observing that the good silver and heavy bronzes probably date from the
220s BC until the Punic war disasters of 217 and 216BC, and that the decline in silver and bronze probably dates
from these disasters until the Denarius introduction in 214-211BC, not much more can be said in this small space.
The reader is recommended to read Thomsen Early Roman Coinage to gain a fuller understanding of the
available evidence. The set of coins below contains a full range of quadrigatus types and in time I will
write tasting notes against each, the reasons I assign them to their Crawford series and areas for discussion.
The material is arranged in my head but needs laying out. Meanwhile check my attributions for
Crawford 28, 29, 30 and 31 against his catalogue. A point to note, just about 100% of quadrigati cited as
Crawfords 32, 33 or 34 in sale catalogues are wrongly assigned. The two different semilibral struck bronze series
deserve an essay in their own right to explain why in the midst of a long series of indifferently designed
that were to continue for another couple of centuries, the
splendid Crawford 39 series was struck.
For the weight reductions on the prow bronzes, read Thomsen and other sources that cover the demise of
the quadrigatus and introduction of the denarius.
Thomsen, Crawford, Burnett and Rutter arrangements of Early Roman Coinage
The table below was prepared with the help of Richard Witschonke, showing the latest views of
Rudi Thomsen, Michael Crawford, Andrew Burnett and Keith Rutter on the pre denarius coinage,
Crawford numbers 1 through 27. Whilst the general arrangement has long been clear, details have been long disputed, to a great extent
due to lack of hoard evidence and lack of mixed silver with bronze hoards.
I make no comment on the merits of the arrangements except one might assume
that later calls generally improve on earlier. Please read above in my text on the Crawford 20/27 set how the general logic works,
and then get the books and read their specific
variations to the method.
The dates shown in the list below suggest rather more precision than the authors may actually have intended.
For example, "early in the second
Punic war" or "sometime after the foundation of Cosa" might be the words written that somehow require translation
into dates. For example there may be no difference in intent on Crawford 22, between Thomsen
where I translated "early in the second
Punic war" as 264 to 250BC, and Crawford who writes 265 to 242BC but perhaps meaning the same thing. For the Aes Signatum, there is some
consensus that issues were probably ordered first with Crawford 3 through 8, then Crawford 9 which commemorates a Pyrrhic war scene where
squealing sows frightened the Phyrric elephants, and then the naval scenes follow based on the first Punic war
victories at Mylae in 260BC and Ecnomus in 256BC. However the experts
have not necessarily expressed this consensus in actual dates. For example Crawford quotes 280-242BC for all issues which is not actually
consistent with his own words that comment on the Phyrric and Punic war references. So please take all the numeric dates with a pinch of salt.
What is remarkable is that in the end there is a high degree of consensus, and many of the apparent disagreements represent arguments
from no firm evidence rather than positive contradictions. I’ve briefly noted the mint assumptions which in some cases are, as with the dating, a bit vague even in the writings of these experts. Once again, don’t forget to read the Crawford 20/27 text above for the methodology used.
The relevant references are:
Crawford Number (mint is Rome unless otherwise noted)
- Struck bronze with man headed bull, ΡΩΜΑΙΩΝ
Thomsen Naples after 326BC. Crawford Naples after 326BC. Burnett Naples 320BC. Rutter Naples 320BC. All agree that these
coins were associated with the second Samnite war and given their Neapolitan types and Greek legends were
likely struck at Naples some time after 326BC.
- Struck bronze with man headed bull, ROMANO.
Thomsen Campania 280-275BC. Crawford Naples 300BC. Burnett Naples 310-300BC. Rutter Naples 300BC. These rare coins with
ROMANO legend, although similar in type to Crawford 1, are generally thought to be linked with the first silver coins with ROMANO.
Hence the various dates proposed coincide approximately with Crawford 13. The coins are very rare and the types remain non Roman
and quite unlike Crawford 16 bronzes so all is not yet clear.
- Aes Signatum, Cornucopiae Branch.
Rome. Thomsen 289 to 260BC. Crawford 280 to 242BC. Burnett 320 to 300BC. Rutter 280 to 275BC. Only a few damaged fragments of this
bar type exists, it is less well made than the remaining aes signatum so any dating is very tentative.
- Aes Signatum, Eagle Pegasus.
Rome. Thomsen 289 to 260BC. Crawford 280 to 242BC. Burnett 320 to 300BC. Rutter 280 to 275BC
The consensus on the eagly/pegasus, bull/bull, cornear/tripod, shield/shield and sword/scabbard bars is that they likely preceded
the Pyrrhic and first Punic wars for which there exist more clearly historic referential types. Aes signatum are found together
with aes grave and thus likely were concurrent with the early aes grave although Burnett places them a little earlier. Comparette
considers this type to refer to the alliance between Rome (eagle) and Carthage (pegasus), referring to a Rome Carthage treaty of 279BC.
- Aes Signatum, Bull Bull.
Rome. Thomsen 289 to 260BC. Crawford 280 to 242BC. Burnett 320 to 300BC. Rutter 280 to 275BC. The type on this bar is directly
symbolic of pecunia, i.e. money, from pecus, cattle.
- Aes Signatum, Cornear Tripod.
Rome. Thomsen 289 to 260BC. Crawford 280 to 242BC. Burnett 320 to 300BC. Rutter 280 to 275BC.
- Aes Signatum, Shield Shield.
Rome. Thomsen 289 to 260BC. Crawford 280 to 242BC. Burnett 320 to 300BC. Rutter 280 to 275BC
- Aes Signatum, Sword Scabbard.
Rome. Thomsen 289 to 260BC. Crawford 280 to 242BC. Burnett 320 to 300BC. Rutter 280 to 275
- Aes Signatum, Elephant Sow.
Rome. Thomsen 289 to 260BC. Crawford 280 to 242BC. Burnett 320 to 300BC. Rutter 275 to 260BC. This type is generally thought to
refer to the Pyrrhic war where at the battle of Asculum in 279BC the squealing of hogs caused the Pyrrhic elephants to stampede and
trample down their own lines.
- Aes Signatum, Anchor Tripod.
Rome. Thomsen 289 to 260BC. Crawford 280 to 242BC. Burnett 320 to 300BC. Rutter 255BC. The three bars with the naval symbols of
anchor or trident are generally thought to date from after the first Punic war victories at Mylae and Ecnomus.
- Aes Signatum, Trident Caduceus.
Rome. Thomsen 289 to 260BC. Crawford 280 to 242BC. Burnett 320 to 300BC. Rutter 255BC
- Aes Signatum, Chickens Tridents.
Rome. Thomsen 289 to 260BC. Crawford 280 to 242BC. Burnett 320 to 300BC. Rutter 255BC. Comparette considers this type to
relate to guarding the straits of Messana, with the watchful chickens on one side and opposing prow stems (rather than tridents)
on the other side referring to Roman naval forces at Messana and Rhegium, the opposite sides of the straits.
- Silver, Mars Horsehead.
Thomsen Campania 280 to 275BC. Crawford Campania 310 to 300BC. Burnett Naples 320 to 300BC. Rutter Naples 310 to 300BC.
- Aes Grave, Dioscuri Mercury
Rome. Thomsen 289 to 280BC. Crawford 280 to 276BC. Burnett 289 to 275BC. Rutter 280BC. These are considered the first coins
made at Rome, the college of the Triumviri Monetales being supposedly founded in 289BC, following the conclusion of the Samnite
wars in 290BC. Cast bronze currencies were usual in central Italy and Etruria had large copper mines. The coins were struck on a
weight standard of exactly one pound, 288 scruples, with typical unworn examples at 98-99% of their standard weight.
- Silver, Apollo Horse.
Thomsen Campania 280 to 275BC. Crawford uncertain mint 275 to 270BC. Burnett Rome 270BC. Rutter uncertain mint 260BC.
- Struck bronze, Goddess Lion.
Thomsen Campania 280 to 275BC. Crawford South Italy 275 to 270BC. Burnett Rome 264-250BC. Rutter South Italy 260BC. The majority
consider that these coins were not struck at Rome but were associated with the early Romano-Campanian silver.
- Struck bronze, Minerva Horsehead.
Thomsen Campania 280 to 275BC. Crawford Cosa 264 to 250BC. Burnett Cosa after 273BC. Rutter Rome 260BC. The dating of these
coins is linked to similar pieces from Cosa after its 273BC foundation, some which copy the Mars obverse of Crawford 13 and
and or of a higher weight, but some which copy the Crawford 17 types and weights fully. Find spots now suggest these were not
Campanian, but further north. Crawford in RRC thought they were from Rome but in CMRR has aligned with Cosa as the mint. The
issue volume is large which makes a provincial town a curious choice of mint.
- Aes Grave, Apollo Apollo.
Rome. Thomsen 275 to 265BC. Crawford 275 to 270BC. Rutter 270BC. Thomsen notes the style of these issues is much finer than
those of Crawford 14 and supposes Greek artists were employed as for the early silver coins. This issue is peculiarly heavy, about
3% more on average than Crawford 14.
- Aes Grave, Dioscuros Apollo.
Rome. Thomsen 275 to 265BC. Crawford 275 to 270BC. Rutter 270BC.
- Silver, Hercules Wolf.
Rome. Thomsen 269BC. Crawford 269 to 266BC. Burnett 264BC. Rutter 265BC. This is generally considered to be the first silver
struck at Rome and corresponds to Pliny’s 269BC for the first Roman silver coins, although Burnett and Rutter place it a little
- Aes Grave, Roma Roma.
Rome. Thomsen 264 to 260BC. Crawford 269 to 266BC. Rutter 265BC. These aes grave show a marked reduction in weight standard
as compared with Crawfords 14 and 18, being made on a standard of 80-85% libral i.e. about 270 grams. All later aes grave except
the reduced pieces from the second Punic war were made to about this standard.
- Silver, Roma Victory.
Rome. Thomsen 264 to 250BC. Crawford 265 to 242BC. Burnett 255BC. Rutter 250BC. As with the aes grave, the silver didrachms
also show a reduced weight standard of about 6.75 grams as compared with the 7.25 grams for earlier coins. This weight was then
maintained until quadrigatus issues. This type includes a control mark system directly copied from the Egyptian queen Arsinoe II.
- Struck bronze, Minerva Eagle.
Thomsen Sicily 260 to 250BC. Crawford Messana 264BC. Burnett Panormus 250 to 240BC. Rutter Messana 260 to 250BC. This odd
bronze type has clear associations with the coins of the Mamertini and thus are believed to have been struck in Sicily in the first
- Aes Grave, Wheel.
Rome. Thomsen 260 to 250BC. Crawford 265 to 242BC. Burnett 230BC. Rutter 230BC.
- Silver, Struck bronze, Aes Grave, Mars Horsehead, sickle.
Rome. Thomsen 250 to 240BC. Crawford 241 to 235BC. Burnett 240BC. Rutter 240BC. This and the following two issues are associated
with the earlier aes grave, Crawfords 14 and 18, by type, but with variations that include the sickle, acorn or club marks. The
struck bronzes are associated with the silver by their types and with the aes grave by the sickle or club marks. The aes grave
continue to be struck on a lower standard, less than 90% libral, mirroring the reduction in silver.
- Silver, Struck bronze, Aes Grave, Apollo Horse, acorn.
Rome. Thomsen 250 to 240BC. Crawford 234 to 231BC. Burnett 235BC. Rutter 235BC.
- Silver, Struck bronze, Aes Grave, Mars Horse, club.
Rome. Thomsen 240 to 235BC. Crawford 230 to 226BC. Burnett 230BC. Rutter 230BC.
On this page I review Crawford's foundation catalogue as well the underpinning books addressing historical context
(Grueber, British Museum Catalogue, and Sear, History and Coinage of the Roman Imperators) as well as one uniquely useful collectors
handbook (Sear, Roman Silver Coins volume 1), and another collectors handbook (Sear, Roman Coins and its Values) which however
should be compared with a couple of good alternatives that I discuss on my Handbooks page.
If stranded on a desert island with your coin collection, with these books you'll
have as comprehensive an overview of the history and coinage of the Roman Republic as can be obtained.
The standard reference book on Roman Republican coinage, accurate and thorough, backed by comprehensive research evidence. This is
the first book that gets the overall story correct in all its fundamentals although there remain specialist areas of debate. Excellent
plates illustrating many rare varieties, with rarities being illustrated in preference to common varieties. Plates in the first (1974)
edition are noticeably better than the reprints, and worth paying a premium. In case of doubt the 1974 edition can be identified by its
(fragile) paper dust-jacket, missing from the reprints.
In covering the entire scope of the coinage Crawford has drawn from a wide range of existing studies, adding his own analysis to fill in
the gaps. Dating in the pre-150 BC era is based on the foundation research by Thomsen in “Early Roman Coinage”. Post 150-BC dating
is based on hoard evidence from Crawford’s own “Roman Republic Coin Hoards”. Historical background is covered only by exception
where conclusions differ from the discussion in Grueber’s British Museum catalogue. Many readers have commented that
Crawford almost entirely misses the historical storyline, and where he does deal with historical links his comments are brief and
not necessarily more valid than those of older numismatists. To his credit he relies to a greater extent on sound physical evidence,
such as hoards and technical links between coin issues, than previous numismatists. The reverse side of this is a corresponding
lower emphasis on typology and historical links for which access to other sources of information particularly on history is presumed.
For this reason I regard Grueber’s British Museum catalogue and
Sear’s History and Coinage of the Roman Imperators as really essential, more so other
updates of and corrections to Crawford, mainly dating revisions, which I cover on the next webpage.
Crawford draws on many other specific studies, for example Kraay and Alföldi as regards the arrangement of 44BC Caesar portrait
coins which Crawford reasseses, or Buttrey’s various studies on Imperatorial issues, specially those of Pompey. Specific new studies
within RRC fill gaps which Crawford had studied himself. For example (a) a tentative proposal for arrangement of the
(b) approximate size (relative commonness) of denarius issues based on statistical estimates of die-counts and inferences from economic
history. Crawford provides no information on the relative rarity of small issues, which are of less interest to him as having
little economic impact. (c) early struck bronzes, particularly “difficult” series such as the various
Luceria coins (d) assignment
of the anonymous denarius to many discreet issues based on style (e) analysis of 1st century coins with symbols, such as the
Crawford is not an easy read. As an example, in distinguishing the many types of anonymous denarius he does not specify how the types
differ from each other, instead the reader is expected to study the photos carefully and work out the stylistic or type differences for
themselves. Another example is the way in which the chronological and mint analysis is presented up-front, separate from the catalogue, and
sometimes in highly abbreviated form. History is mentioned only where his views differ from the prior consensus, otherwise you are
expected to reference Grueber.
Nevertheless its general reliability makes it essential for any serious student of RR coins. The
majority of references on this website consist either of studies preceding Crawford (1974) providing evidence that supports his conclusions,
or post-1974 studies with new evidence that modifies his conclusions. Few pre-1974 studies that disagree with Crawford have stood the test
of time, which is a testament to Crawford’s good judgment in reviewing the work of others.
The dating (and related evidence) remain generally undisputed 30 years after publication, with a number of specific exceptions:
- earliest didrachms
which Rutter and Burnett in Historia Numorum Italy dates somewhat earlier than Crawford.
- relative and absolute dating of the earliest anonymous denarii that Crawford assigns to a narrow range 211-206BC, which are
believed to cover a longer timescale after 211BC, see Hersh in NC1977.
- dating in the 150-90 BC era for which HB Mattingly has proposed many refinements in a series of studies republished
in From Coins to History.
- dating in the 50s, 60s and 70s BC, which lacks hoard evidence and has been significantly
revised since discovery of the Mesagne hoard, for which
refer to Hersh and Walker, Mattingly, Hollstein, Harlan.
- a substantially revised dating and locations of 49-42BC coins has been proposed by
Woytek in Arma et Nummi.
- chronology of Octavian’s Imp Caesar and Caesar Divi F
now considered Imperatorial period, refer RIC1 (1979) and HCRI.
With the exception of the Caesar Divi F and Imp Caesar coins where there is a definitive catalogue that post-dates RRC (RIC1, 1979),
Crawford’s dating is generally quoted unaltered in books, catalogues and websites partly there is still debate and disagreement
over the other proposed adjustments, but to a much greater degree because the alternative datings are not available to ordinary
scholars in commonly published handbooks. For example the changes proposed by Hersh and Walker based on the Mesagne hoard,
and by Hersh based on his NC1977 comments, are not published in any recent easily available book.
Aside from these examples I’d note some other areas that today still have significant scope for future study
- The quadrigatus, Crawford’s arrangement being tentative and not yet based on die studies, and not easy to apply.
- Bronzes that straddle the denarius reform date, those from Luceria and Sicily, as well as the anonymous types,
almost all classified as Crawford 56, which vary widely in style, module and presumably dating,
and merit the same treatment that Crawford provides to the different styles of anonymous silver.
- Italian and Spanish small change, both
types that directly copy Roman Republican bronzes and those attributed to Italian and Spanish cities.
Their dating and relationship with the mainstream bronze coinage is unclear.
- Mint locations and dating of coins associated with the travels of the Imperators between 49 and 30 BC, the varying views of Crawford,
Sear and Woytek illustrating the uncertainty.
Extremely useful for the historical analysis of types illustrating family history, which remain valid today
and contain much more information than in Crawford. Crawford addresses historical links only by exception where
the BMCRR historical analysis is out of date, so a curious collector necessarily must have both books.
Indeed Crawford encouraged the British Mueseum with the 1970 reprint so that it would be easily available when RRC was
published. Hence it is best regarded as an addendum to Crawford itself.
It has many excellent plates particularly useful as a back-up to Crawford’s plates for bronzes, for
non-mainstream coins e.g. Social War coins and Fleet bronzes, and for type varieties.
Coins not in the BM collection are illustrated as line drawings
in the text, which adds to its readability. For most types there are multiple copies listed in many varieties
with weights specified, so it is in many cases possible to match a coin with its exact variety in the BM
catalogue. This can only be done with a corpus such as this which refers to actual coins rather
than generic types. Crawford usually references BM coins as type examples so BMCRR can be referred to for
details. For example Crawford does not quote the weight of his type examples whereas the BM catalogue does.
The numismatic analysis (evidence of dating) has generally been superseded and should be ignored,
but this book is useful for many other reasons. As usual the 1910 original has somewhat better plates than
the reprint but the reprint is still well produced with good plates, and also includes a useful Appendix
discussing and illustrating important 20th century acquisitions so is numismatically more valuable.
Crawford 1 ΡΩΜΑΙΩΝ and Crawford 546 Scarpus
Grueber’s analysis of the coin types, documented in the footnotes, is usually cited as the reason a student needs
a copy of Grueber in addition to Crawford, because this information is lacking from Crawford. It is difficult to select
a sample of footnotes because there are literally thousands, several per page over the three volumes.
Each has its merits. So why not start at the beginning. An entirely typical example is that provided by Crawford 1/1.
Here is what Michael Crawford has to say about the coin (photo taken by me with kind permission Roberto Russo):
There is little that can be said about nos. 1-2. The first was clearly struck at Neapolis some time after 326
(R.Thomsen, ERC iii, 78-81)... Both issues are presumably isolated forerunners of the Roman Republican coinage proper.
It is noticeable that there is nothing Roman whatever about their types.
And here is what Herbert Grueber had to say in 1910, a discussion that is still entirely up to date:
The obverse and reverse types of this coin occur on bronze litrae and half litrae of Naples, which were struck about the end
of the 4th century BC. They would therefore be contemporaneous with this piece. Bahrfeldt (Riv.Ital. 1899, pp.418,419) mentions
six specimens in various collections, and refers to a seventh described by Sambon (Recherches, p.133, no.7). This is the only
coin of this series with the legend in Greek. Mommsen (Hist mon.rom., t.iii.p.225) has attributed this coin to Capua, and to
a period soon after the subjugation of the city in 338BC, when it had not yet received its modified form of citizenship, and was
not compelled officially to use the Latin language. M. Ch. Lenormant and the Baron de Witte
(Rev.num.1844, p.251, Etudes sur les vases peints, p.103) have suggested another solution, and have assigned it to Naples, its issue
being placed in 327BC, when the city was betrayed into the hands of the Roman consul, Q.Publilius Philo, by the chief citizens,
Charilaus and Nymphius. Shortly afterwards Rome concluded an alliance with the inhabitants, the Foedus Neopolitanum, and it
is at this epoch that this coin may have been struck. The name of Charilaus, ΧΑΡΙΛΕΩΣ,
occurs on autonomous coins of Naples, and it may be due to him that the coin with ΡΩΜΑΙΩΝ was issued.
The Greek legend is the equivalent of ROMANORVM.
So let us zoom right up to the end of the Republic and choose the very last
coins listed, those of Scarpus, for Antony and then for Octavian. Here is what Michael Crawford says:
The coinage of Scarpus for Antonius and Octavian falls immediately before and after the battle of Actium. His coinage for Antonius
records his fourth imperatorial salutation. His coinage for Octavian cannot have lasted after his final victory.
And the analysis by Herbert Grueber:
Lucius Pinarius Scarpus was the grandson of a sister of the Dictator, and heir to the eight part of his property
(Suetonius Caesar 83, Appian Bell.civ.iii.22f.). He commanded for Antony in the war against Brutus and Cassius
(Appian Bell.civ.iv.107), and shortly before the battle of Actium was placed by Antony in charge of Cyrene with the command of four
legions. After the battle of Actium Antony sailed for Libya and ordered Scarpus to join him with his legions. Scarpus however,
realizing the desperate condition of the affairs of Antony refused to comply with the order, put the messengers to death, and
with the view of gaining the favour of Octavius handed over his troops to C.Cornelius Galus, who was then governor of Africa
(Dion Cassius li.5.9, Plutarch Antonius 69). It is evident from the coins that the policy of Scarpus was successful, for he
remained in Cyrenaica at least till 27BC, Cornelius Gallus having been transferred to Egypt.
The date of issue of these coins is fixed by the legend on the obverse, as Antony claimed the consulship for the third time in 31BC,
in which year the arrangement made at Misenum in 39BC expired (Dion Cassius 1.10), but he had been deprived not only of this dignity
but of all his other powers by the Senate in the previous year (Dion Cassius 1.4). It was also in the early part of 31BC that he was
acclaimed Imperator for the fourth time (Caland de Num.M.Ant.p22). The obverse type, head of Jupiter Ammon, is that met with on the
early coins of Cyrene (Head Hist.Num.p728)... The reverse type of Victory is adapted from the coins of Antony with the name of
Decimus Turullius, which commemorated some slight successes at the beginning of the war, and in which Scarpus may also have taken
part. It is not recorded when Scarpus was acclaimed Imperator, but it may have been on his taking over the command of the legions
in Cyrenaica. The name of Antony is in the dative case, showing that these coins were dedicated specially to him. The same occurs
on some of the coins bearing the name of Octavius also struck by Scarpus.
Though this denarius does not bear the name of Scarpus, it is evident from its fabric and the obverse type that it was struck in
Cyrene, and no doubt by his orders. It is possible that Scarpus, not knowing precisely what line Octavius would take after his
faithless conduct to Antony, thought it politic at first to omit his own name and so to make it appear as if the coins were
struck by the order of Octavius. Octavius no doubt overlooked the treachery of Scarpus on account of their relationship, the
latter being the grand nephew of the Dictator. The reverse type is met with on contemporary coins of the Roman mint, which
commemorate the battle of Actium. Fr. Gnecchi (Riv.ital.1889.p171) has noticed a peculiar formation of the letter D in the legend.
He gives it as Δ but it really is a [AM: a hybrid Δ D letter, look at the DIVI in the reverse picture above].
The malformation of the letter is due to provincial striking.
Take your pick. Which explanations give you more information, that from 1974 or that from 1910? Which are more interesting?
Multiply this by several thousand footnotes and you have a sense why Grueber is still greatly valued, and this in addition to
his very perceptive and clear numismatic analyses.
Very readable historical analysis that presents the coins alongside the history. It restores to the main Republican series many
imperatorial coins missing from Crawford including Antony's Fleet Bronzes, Octavian's Imp Caesar and Caesar Divi F (as per RIC dating)
and Antony's Cistophori. The numismatic analysis generally relies on the work of others but Sear makes some well-informed judgment calls
as to precise (to the season) dating and mint locations. Even where opinions on dating and mints differ between numismatists (Crawford,
Woytek), the close association of coins with historical events in this book makes it a useful baseline against which to interpret the
views of others. There is a thorough discussion of the types and their interpretation, this aspect being generally lacking in Crawford.
The reference list of provincial coins of the imperatorial period will save a lot of work for collectors who don't wish to wade through
RPC to work out what's Republican and what's Imperial - though I find it inconsistent (also in RPC) to include local coins without any
Roman magistrates name or any typological reference to the Roman Imperium. Beautifully presented with illustrations of every coin in the
text.I would say more except that this book so perfectly meets its objectives that there is not much I can say. Essential.
The current standard collectors reference, I hesitantly list this as essential, but there is no other
English language publication that is as accessible or with the coverage of the Republican series as RCV1.
However it has many defects and it does not measure up well against its eminent
predecessors. Despite much increased coverage, with 230 pages on the Republic,
the story of the coinage is quite unclear due to the separation of silver from
bronze, and the bronze coins are sorted by denomination rather
than issuer, which is inefficient on space as well as requiring a lot of leafing back and forward.
Whilst RCV1 lists a majority of the
Republican silver coin types, the anonymous types from 214-150BC are
almost entirely missing at least so far as individual listings are concerned. It bundles them into
large undifferentiated buckets, for example catalogue number 39 includes over 65 entirely separate silver issues
made in different decades and many different mints. The early anonymous silver are amongst the most popular
collecting themes in the Republic so this odd arrangement has rendered RSC1, a 60 year old book, still indispensible
and indeed the latter was recently reprinted to reflect this. In its
favour, the comprehensive struck bronzes listings, the aes grave, as well as comprehensive listings of silver
after 150BC should be very useful for collectors who do not yet own Crawford. Perversely however the bronze listings
hit the other extreme of overcoverage. My bronzes rarity guide
shows that as much as half the listed issues are very rare, with each known in only a handful of examples.
It is only dispiriting to a collector to see rare issues listed at $100 catalogue price in RCV1
yet in practice entirely unobtainable in the market, at any price. Few bronzes are illustrated
and I suspect most readers never open the bronzes pages.
The Republican era would also have greatly benefited from the type of historic snapshots
that are presented throughout the Imperatorial and Imperial eras of the same book. A pen portrait of the second Punic
war or Marius or the Gracchi would surely attract readers.
The price indications are very well-judged and the book is extremely accurate, I have owned it for nearly
a decade and in that time have only found a single error. As a serious numismatist it may be a
disappointment when compared with what Rainer Albert or
Fiorenzo Catalli were able to
achieve in about the same number of pages, but it is still essential if English is your main language.
This is an essential collectors handbook, Babelon in a small volume with excellent photographs, and very easy to use due to being
sorted by family name. After some experience with the Republican series, just by instinct you can pick up a coin and say, that’s
a Calpurnia, or a
perhaps from a quick glance at the moneyers name on the coin, and with seconds you are at the right page
where the listing has just about al relevant information about the coin.
Just about every main type is illustrated. Although with fewer photos of the 214 to 150BC coins with symbols, at least they
are all separately listed, in contrast to RCV1. It includes many other minor varieties of coins missing from Sear RCV1,
and its pricing is a better
indication of relative rarity than that of RCV1.
The 1978 edition was republished in 2005 (unchanged, hence the RIC numbers for Octavian’s
coins still refer to the old RIC1). The 1952 first edition, with line drawings, is also worth having, as it contains useful
information on how relative prices have moved over the last 50 years. It may surprise you to know that rare coins cost relatively
much less today than in 1950, as compared with commoner coins that may have more name recognition.
The Spanish website http://tesorillo.com has a useful
family name arrangement of coins with brief comments on each family,
as well as a similar approach to
For easier reference with RSC1 or Babelon, I list below all the
coins from my site arranged according to the Babelon family name:
- Pre denarius coinage
- Aes Grave
- Pre Denarius struck coins
- Anonymous denarius coinage
- Anonymous Denarius
- Anonymous Victoriatus
- Anonymous Quinarius
- Anonymous Sestertius
- Families A
- Families B
- Families C
- Families D
- Families E
- Families F
- Families G
- Families H
- Families I
- Families J
- Families L
- Families M
- Families N
- Families O
- Families P
- Families Q
- Families R
- Families S
- Families T
- Families V
- Pompey and Sextus Pompey
Pompey, Sextus Pompey and Pompeian supporters
- Julius Caesar
- Brutus and Cassius
- Mark Antony and family
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