# ERIC The
Encyclopedia of Roman Imperial Coins

by Rasiel
Suarez

# Rarity

Gauging the relative rarity of the various emperors, empresses and other personages for whom coins were made since the time of Augustus and through that of Anastasius over 500 years later is a formidable task. The extant coins of the Roman empire have come into the hands of collectors as well as private and public institutions either because they were handed down through the generations or because they have been recovered after being lost by their original owners (and then handed down through the generations!). Since on the one hand new coins are being found all the time and records of how many coins were minted back then were never kept no one knows for sure just how rare or common any single ruler, coin type or denomination is. Rarity is also not linearly progressive in the sense that a ruler's length of reign is not necessarily a good yardstick for determining overall rarity. While there's obviously a general correlation with popular emperors with long reigns having many extant coins today that is only loosely indicative of how many coins were actually made during that period and, more importantly, how many have survived.

For example, if one were to add up all the remaining coins left of the top fifty rulers, whose individual reigns would add up to decades, you would still have fewer coins than many single, short-lived emperors such as a Quintillus or Otho. There are several reasons for this including the fact that the more ephemeral the ruler the less likely that they had access to an active mint or the required resources to run it. Of those that did perhaps their particular period was so troubled that little currency was being manufactured. In other cases it's just a matter of bad luck in that the particular ruler had most of his or her coins lost or melted down. And in yet others it is simply that the ruler came and went before the mints under his temporary control had any time to ramp up production.

However, polling existing collections and using the available historical clues one can come to some conclusions that will be reasonably accurate. For the very rare issues or even coins attributed to rare emperors or empresses a single hoard can dramatically alter the rarity scales as understood to be at any given moment. For what it's worth, a couple of tables are presented to provide a general idea of how rare or common coins are for each of the known emperors, empresses, caesars and others who had coins made in their names. A rarity of 1 means the coin is very common while a 9 is of extreme rarity. For the purposes of this scale then a rarity of 5 or higher is fairly rare and each successive number escalates this rarity exponentially.

With the exception of the late Roman Solidus and its various fractions gold coins are to be considered uniformly rare. Few collectors of Roman imperial coins will be lucky enough to own an Aureus or any other pre-Constantinian gold denomination.

## Summary: The full Roman Imperial set has:

• A total of 135 emperors of which 34 were usurpers not counting Clodius Macer who was not hailed as emperor nor Haniballianus whose title was King of Armenia.

• A total of 10 Caesars.

• A total of 51 women (40 wives, 4 mothers, 4 sisters, 2 daughters and 1 grandmother)

• 5 emperors' sons and one friend (Agrippa)

• A grand total of 204 persons (joint issues counted as one)

Note: The coins of usurper-emperors, Amandus, Aelianus and Sponsianus, are discounted by most numismatic experts as fakes. Coins attributed to Proculus and Bonosus are highly controversial and in the author‟s opinion mis-identified coins of barbarous origin. Coins minted in the name of Marcus alone, brother of Basiliscus with whom he shared the imperial title briefly, are not known. Additionally, coins in the name of Victoria, mother of Victorinus, were supposedly minted in copper, silver and gold but none are known to have survived. The 18th century historian Gibbon asserts that an Egyptian merchant named Firmus rebelled during the reign of Aurelian and minted coins in his own name but these, too, have yet to appear. Some arguably Roman issues were excluded from this tally such as Vindex, Antinous, Odovacar, etc.

2[1] Emperors in bold, Caesars in italics

## Table 2 – Ruler Rarity (relative)

In ascending order, approximately from most common to rarest:

1. Constantine I

2. Constantius II

3. Constantine II

4. Valens

5. Valentinian I

6. Constans

7. Licinius I

8. Probus

9. Aurelian

10. Valentinian II

11. Gallienus

12. Gratian

13. Constantius Gallus

14. Theodosius I

15. Arcadius

16. Honorius

17. Licinius II

18. Julian II

19. Jovian

20. Diocletian

21. Crispus

22. Claudius II

23. Maximian

24. Maximinus II

25. Anastasius

26. Tetricus I

27. Tetricus II

28. Salonina

29. Tacitus

30. Delmatius

31. Gordian III

32. Philip I

33. Postumus

34. Victorinus

35. Philip II

36. Galerius

37. Helena

38. Magnentius

39. Decentius

40. Vespasian

41. Antoninus Pius

42. Claudius

43. Augustus

44. Elagabalus

45. Severus Alexander

46. Septimius Severus

47. Caracalla

48. Carinus

49. Numerian

50. Florian

51. Hadrian

52. Trajan

53. Maxentius

54. Galeria Valeria

55. Trajan Decius

56. Faustina Sr.

57. Faustina Jr.

58. Domitian

59. Marcus Aurelius

60. Geta

61. Fausta

62. Valerian I

63. Magnus Maximus

64. Agrippa

65. Germanicus

66. Constantius I

67. Quintillus

68. Commodus

69. Marcian

70. Nerva

71. Julia Domna

72. Herennia Etruscilla

73. Otacilia Severa

74. Carus

75. Lucius Verus

76. Severina

77. Julia Maesa

78. Julia Mamaea

79. Nero

80. Aelia Flaccilla

81. Caligula

82. Julia Soaemias

83. Volusian

84. Leo I

85. Valerian II

86. Trebonianus Gallus

87. Drusus

88. Sabina

89. Maximinus

90. Tiberius

91. Crispina

92. Lucilla

93. Titus

94. Plautilla

95. Vabalathus

96. Theodora

97. Eudoxia

98. Macrinus

99. Antonia

100. Saloninus

101. Carausius

102. Severus II

103. Procopius

104. Herennius Etruscus

105. Clodius Albinus

106. Theodosius II

107. Allectus

108. Julia Paula

109. Hostilian

110. Aelius

111. Aquilia Severa

112. Vitellius

113. Zeno

114. Galba

115. Maximus (Caesar)

116. Quietus

117. Macrianus

118. Flavius Victor

119. Diadumenian

120. Johannes

121. Otho

122. Vetranio

123. Magnia Urbica

124. Aemilian

125. Eugenius

126. Hanniballianus

127. Livia

128. Balbinus

129. Pupienus

130. Agrippina II

131. Orbiana

132. Valentinian III

133. Marius

134. Pescennius Niger

135. Mariniana

136. Romulus

137. Pertinax

138. Agrippina I

139. Basiliscus

140. Julia Titi

141. Julian

142. Gordian I

143. Gordian II

144. Laelianus

145. Didius Julianus

146. Pulcheria

147. Eudocia

148. Verina

149. Domitilla

150. Nero Claudius Drusus

151. Paulina

152. Nigrinian

153. Domitius Domitianus

154. Constantine III

155. Galla Placidia

156. Libius Severus

157. Didia Clara

158. Manlia Scantilla

159. Jovinus

160. Anthemius

161. Matidia

162. Marciana

163. Majorian

164. Plotina

165. Domitia

166. Honoria

167. Julius Nepos

168. Pacatian

169. Martinian

170. Alexander

171. Cornelia Supera

172. Licinia Eudoxia

173. Romulus Augustus

174. Zenobia

175. Jotapian

176. Maximus

177. Avitus

178. Clodius Macer

179. Nepotian

180. Constantius III

181. Britannicus

182. Regalianus

183. Priscus Attalus

184. Uranius Antoninus

185. Dryantilla

186. Zenonis

187. Tranquillina

188. Annia Faustina

189. Petronius Maximus

190. Glycerius

191. Ariadne

192. Constans II

193. Sebastianus

194. Leo II

195. Olybrius

196. Euphemia

197. Leontius

198. Valerius Valens

199. Constantia

200. Silbannacus

201. Domitian II

202. Saturninus

**Table 3 – Denomination Rarity **

In ascending order, from most common to rarest, excluding multiples and fractions:

1. AE4's (fourth and fifth century)

2. AE3's and reduced Folles (fourth century)

3. AE Antoninianus

4. AE Folles (third and fourth century)

5. AE2 (fourth century)

6. AR Antoninianus

7. AE As

8. AR Denarius

9. AE Dupondius

10. AE Sestertius

11. AE1 (fourth century)

12. AR Siliqua

13. AE Quadrans

14. AU Solidus

15. AU Tremissis

16. AE Semis

17. AR Argenteus

18. AU Aureus

19. AR Cistophoric Tetradrachms

20. AU Semissis

21. AR Miliarense

22. AU Scripulum

23. AR Quinarius

24. AU Quinarius