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Rome's First Gold Coin

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I was lucky to recently examine this coin (and other unforgetable Ancient coins) from a private collection.

 

(Move the mouse across the picture to see both sides of this beautiful coin.)

 

http://www.ancientmo...rr/anon_av.html

 

For us non-coin collectors, coins represent a means to touch history.

 

The story behind these coins is impressive (taken from acsearch.info):

 

The Second Punic War was one of the defining events in the history of Rome, a city-state on the verge of becoming an imperial power. It lasted nearly a generation and tested the government, the military and the system of alliances that Rome had painstakingly built in Italy and beyond. It also caused economic devastation: to pay for the war, the Roman state resorted to credit for the first time in its history, soliciting loans from leading citizens and their ally Hieron II, king of Syracuse.

 

The strain is reflected in Rome

Edited by guy

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thanks for sharing this is very interesting, i cant add to the pig, but i have a question on my own,

it says Rom on the reverse, (and in the description it says Roma), did the "A" dissapear or was it common to just write Rom?

 

cheers

viggen

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I might be way of here but how sure are we about this interpretation? What sources do we have for it? I was all but certain that the obverse depicted Janus, not some kind of janiform Dioscuri head (and to be honest, I can't see any difference at all to other depictions of Janus).

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I might be way of here but how sure are we about this interpretation? What sources do we have for it? I was all but certain that the obverse depicted Janus, not some kind of janiform Dioscuri head (and to be honest, I can't see any difference at all to other depictions of Janus).

 

Here's another example of a similar coin. The ROMA is better struck:

 

http://www.acsearch....e.html?id=24425

 

post-3665-034621700 1295568464_thumb.jpg

 

The Romans produced a gold coinage twice during this war: the early series, to which this coin belongs, and the Mars head/standing eagle gold coins...struck c. 211-208 B.C. Beyond these, the Romans struck no other gold until the Imperatorial period, beginning with aurei for Sulla in the late 80s B.C.

 

The incomplete spelling of ROM(A) of the first example probably represents a defect in the die (the mold used to make the coin) or a failure during the actual stricking (causing a weak strike) of the coin. Other examples show the complete ROMA. Remember, this was emergency coinage during the darkest period of the second Punic war. Also, this was Rome's earliest attempts at producing gold coins.

 

The janiform male head on the obverse is often described as Janus, but since it is un-bearded and youthful, [the great Ancient Numismatist] Michael Crawford is right to describe it as the Dioscuri [and not Janus]

 

Who were the Dioscuri? They are mythological twins better known as Castor and Pollux:

 

The Romans believed that the twins aided them on the battlefield.[28] Their role as horsemen made them particularly attractive to the Roman equites and cavalry. Each year on July 15, the feast day of the Dioskouroi, the 1,800 equestrians would parade through the streets of Rome in an elaborate spectacle in which each rider wore full military attire and whatever decorations he had earned

 

http://en.wikipedia....stor_and_Pollux

 

post-3665-0-38118200-1322426525_thumb.jpg

Temple of Castor and Pollux in Rome

 

 

 

guy also known as gaius

Edited by guy

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Here's another example of a similar coin. The ROMA is better struck:

 

http://www.acsearch.info/ext_image.html?id=24425

 

The incomplete spelling of ROM(A) of the first example probably represents a defect in the die (the mold used to make the coin) or a failure during the actual stricking (causing a weak strike) of the coin. Other examples show the complete ROMA. Remember, this was emergency coinage during the darkest period of the second Punic war. Also, this was Rome's earliest attempts at producing gold coins.

 

Thanks for the explanation guy, however after just finished again A Short History of Nearly Everything (which is btw. the by far best armchair science book i ever read), i have to ask you in the spirit of this book, "how do we know its the first gold coin from Rome?

 

cheers

viggen

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Thanks for the explanation guy, however after just finished again A Short History of Nearly Everything (which is btw. the by far best armchair science book i ever read), i have to ask you in the spirit of this book, "how do we know its the first gold coin from Rome?

 

cheers

viggen

 

Although I'm no expert (and that's obvious :no2: ), I think the archaeological evidence (which is quite extensive) supports the theory that gold coinage wasn't produced before this period (the Second Punic War 218-202 B.C.). In fact, gold coinage made in Rome stopped after the end of the Second Punic War and didn't resume until the time of Sulla, more than a century later.

 

Let me plagiarize from Kenneth Harl's book Coinage in the Roman Economy: 300 B.C. to A.D. 700

 

Gold was not thought necessary for trade and commerce in Ancient Rome, especially after the introduction of silver coinage.

 

Harl quotes Livy as stating that 269/268 B.C. "was the first time the Roman people began to use silver coins" (p. 26).

 

By the first year of the Second Punic War, Rome faced a severe shortage of silver, requiring the lowering of the silver content of coins from 97% to 91%. (p. 30) This could have been one of the pressures for the creation of gold coinage.

 

Romans thought silver was the preferred medium of exchange and the preferred store of value (and not gold).

 

How many of us today think in terms of platinum or palladium coins, despite their high value?

 

In many ancient societies, bartering was still an important part of trade. Stored or implied value was to be found in things other than gold coinage. Harl writes, "Etruscan towns, the most sophisticated centers in Italy during the 6th and 5th centuries B.C. never struck gold or silver coins even though they had extensive trade with the Greeks and Carthaginians. Etruscans reserved gold and silver...for plate and jewelry." (p.21) [Harl is probably incorrect in this assertion. Although bronze was the typical Etruscan coinage found, silver and gold coins attributed to the Etruscans have now been found. These silver and gold coins are in the coastal regions, possibly indicative of the exposure to the Greek and Hellenistic influences of gold and silver coinage. The point of this assertion, however, was that Etruscans did not think of silver and gold coinage as essential to their economy.]

 

According to Harl, Rome preferred silver for their coins and viewed gold as a "regal medal better dedicated to the gods." "The [early] Republic, with no need to hire mercenaries and with limited long distance trade, could afford to dispense with an international gold currency." (p.49)

 

 

guy also known as gaius

 

 

Addendum: An interesting blog about the philosphy of gold, also quoting Harl's book:

 

http://seekingalpha.com/article/22732-why-...stand-inflation

Edited by guy

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Thanks for the explanation guy, however after just finished again A Short History of Nearly Everything (which is btw. the by far best armchair science book i ever read), i have to ask you in the spirit of this book, "how do we know its the first gold coin from Rome?

 

cheers

viggen

 

Although I'm no expert (and that's obvious :no2: ), I think the archaeological evidence (which is quite extensive) supports the theory that gold coinage wasn't produced before this period (the Second Punic War 218-202 B.C.). In fact, gold coinage made in Rome stopped after the end of the Second Punic War and didn't resume until the time of Sulla, more than a century later.

 

Let me plagiarize from Kenneth Harl's book Coinage in the Roman Economy: 300 B.C. to A.D. 700

 

Gold was not thought necessary for trade and commerce in Ancient Rome, especially after the introduction of silver coinage.

 

Harl quotes Livy as stating that 269/268 B.C. "was the first time the Roman people began to use silver coins" (p. 26).

 

By the first year of the Second Punic War, Rome faced a severe shortage of silver, requiring the lowering of the silver content of coins from 97% to 91%. (p. 30) This could have been one of the pressures for the creation of gold coinage.

 

Romans thought silver was the preferred medium of exchange and the preferred store of value (and not gold).

 

How many of us today think in terms of platinum or palladium coins, despite their high value?

 

In many ancient societies, bartering was still an important part of trade. Stored or implied value was to be found in things other than gold coinage. Harl writes, "Etruscan towns, the most sophisticated centers in Italy during the 6th and 5th centuries B.C. never struck gold or silver coins even though they had extensive trade with the Greeks and Carthaginians. Etruscans reserved gold and silver...for plate and jewelry." (p.21) [Harl is probably incorrect in this assertion. Although bronze was the typical Etruscan coinage found, silver and gold coins attributed to the Etruscans have now been found. These silver and gold coins are in the coastal regions, possibly indicative of the exposure to the Greek and Hellenistic influences of gold and silver coinage. The point of this assertion, however, was that Etruscans did not think of silver and gold coinage as essential to their economy.]

 

According to Harl, Rome preferred silver for their coins and viewed gold as a "regal medal better dedicated to the gods." "The [early] Republic, with no need to hire mercenaries and with limited long distance trade, could afford to dispense with an international gold currency." (p.49)

 

 

guy also known as gaius

 

 

Addendum: An interesting blog about the philosphy of gold, also quoting Harl's book:

 

http://seekingalpha.com/article/22732-why-...stand-inflation

 

 

What proof that the image is that of a Pig? Nice coin... priceless.

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What proof that the image is that of a Pig? Nice coin... priceless.

 

You're right about the alleged pig. It looks more like a loaf of bread :lol:

 

As a non-coin collector, I have to defer to the numismatic experts. Nevertheless, it is pretty well accepted that it represents a pig.

 

 

guy also known as gaius

Edited by guy

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