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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Roman Coins (Moderator: Severus_Alexander)  |  Topic: Antoninianii vs. Denari 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Claven2
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« on: November 14, 2005, 05:02:17 am »

In antiquity, an Antoninianus was valued at 2 denari (generally) despite it's weighing only around 1.5 denari.  It has been suggested that over time this contributed to the debasement of Roman coinage.

What about modern times?

As collectors, do we value Denari more or Antoninianii?  I'm talking about real silver coins here, not late billons or silvered examples. 

A theoretical question - two coins from the early severan period when both Denari and Antoninianii were made with high silver content.  Both with an equal rarity rating and both in equal EF or better condition of the same emporer struck about the same reverse subject. 

Which would you value more?  Which would you pay more for in Forum's catalogue?

I suspect the Antoninianus might be worth more if it were not for all the numismatic virgins bidding up denarii on e-bay because the term denarius is as ubuitous as Apple's i-pod these days and also its notoriety as being the denomination that paid Judas his 30 pieces of silver.

What say the group?
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2005, 06:24:17 am »

Where a ruler produced both denominations, I personally prefer the ants.    The coin is larger and more easily handled, and in my opinion, the larger flan allowed a better standard of workmanship on the designs.
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« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2005, 11:44:39 am »

Like most questions, this one has its subtleties.  Some denarii may be rarer.  Some may be usually more nicely struck than the corresponding antoninianus.  Some people like portraits without radiate crowns.  On the other hand, in some parts of some reigns they range of types may be larger among the antoniniani.  That is only what I have observed.   I like the Eastern Mint issues; their denarii are often on too narrow flans, but I like their styles and the silver seems, well, a little more silvery.  I do not think that very many people, or for very long, collect denarii just for the familiar name of them.  Feeling that I have the privilege of collecting some categories quite casually, to compensate for trying to be comprehensive (to a degree) in another, I simply buy Imperial silver if I like and can afford a given coin.  Pat L.
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Claven2
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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2005, 12:07:00 pm »

Like most questions, this one has its subtleties.  Some denarii may be rarer.  Some may be usually more nicely struck than the corresponding antoninianus.  Some people like portraits without radiate crowns.  On the other hand, in some parts of some reigns they range of types may be larger among the antoniniani.  That is only what I have observed.   I like the Eastern Mint issues; their denarii are often on too narrow flans, but I like their styles and the silver seems, well, a little more silvery.  I do not think that very many people, or for very long, collect denarii just for the familiar name of them.  Feeling that I have the privilege of collecting some categories quite casually, to compensate for trying to be comprehensive (to a degree) in another, I simply buy Imperial silver if I like and can afford a given coin.  Pat L.

You may be right, but I would tend to think more ppl collect denari than do Antoninianii.  Why?  Well, for starters, the Denarius was struck for MANY more years than the Antoninianus was.  So unless you collect only Severan and Crisis and Decline Imperial Silver, you likely have many more Denari on your collection.  Also, I think we can agree most newcommers to the silver game will start with a denarius.  Once you've invested your first $50 or so into a denarius and then realize your collection needs focus so as not to break the bank, it's easier to stick to Denari.  Hence thay are in more demand and get bid up rapidly.  This is just my opinion.  FWIW, I collect only Severan period when it comes to silver, both denari and Antoninianii.

It seems to me that nicer Antoninianii sell for less money on e-bay than the equivalent denari.  Perhaps it's just my imagination - I certainly have been wrong before  Grin
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2005, 12:32:28 pm »

Traditionally, for example in Cohen and Sear, and valid today too I think:

Caracalla, Elagabalusantoniniani more valuable than denarii, because larger and somewhat scarcer.

Macrinus and Diadumenianantoniniani much more valuable than denarii, because much rarer.

Balbinus and Pupienus:  prices about equal for both denominations.

Gordian III:  prices about equal.  The denarii are scarcer, but the antoniniani are larger and the main denomination of the reign.

Philip I on:  antoniniani common and cheap, denarii usually extremely rare and expensive, a little commoner for Gallienus and Aurelian.
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Curtis Clay
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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2005, 01:40:44 pm »

Thanks for the info Curtis - I'll buy that for a dollar...  Wink
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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2005, 02:48:16 pm »

I suspect the Antoninianus might be worth more if it were not for all the numismatic virgins bidding up denarii on e-bay because the term denarius is as ubuitous as Apple's i-pod these days and also its notoriety as being the denomination that paid Judas his 30 pieces of silver.

I wonder. The commonest coin quoted is the shekel of Tyre, but this doesn't make sense; why pay an informer in a specially pure silver coin, equivalent to a tetradrachm, which was minted specifically for the Temple tax, when any old trade coin will do? The text only says 'pieces of silver', which doesn't help much. If the story's historical, and I don't take it for granted, the commonest 'ordinary' silver coins would have been a selection of drachms, since denarii were fairly rare in Judea at the time.
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Robert Brenchley

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« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2005, 03:03:26 pm »

I collect denarii because they are available for every emperor through and to some degree past the severan dynasty, and even from the republican period. They are usually afordable, and can be used as a standard for collecting emperors (for example, I'm trying to get a denarius from each of the emperors from the Flavian dynasty. From there I'll probably move into Augustus and the Julio-Claudian dynasty.) I also think that for the new collector, denarii are better understood. They have good silver content no matter when they were minted, so the collector more or less knows what they are getting. The antoninianus on the other hand became very debased, and a beginner may be confused about what the silver content of that coin is. People would rather go with something they are sure about than something unknown. There are people more qualified than me on the subject, but that is my take.

Ben
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« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2005, 09:52:32 pm »

I collect only Imperial denarii (I have two silvered antoninianii) up through Severus Alexander.  To me, (sorry, any antoninianus collectors) antoniniani are ugly, and just seem of lower quality than denarii.  I don't mean in grading (F, VF, EF etc.) but there's just some character and fineness lacking in antoninianiDenarii also seem to me as more based on the silver content as it had more real silver.  For some reason, this appeals to me. The antoniniani seem too much like token money that only carries value because the Emperor says it does.  And yes, I know that the Severan denarii are debased, but they are cheap, which is why I settle for them.  Probably the biggest reason is this: denarii are around during the glory days of the empire, and the antoninianus makes its appearance as the empire is on the brink of collapse, a time period in which I am not interested.
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Claven2
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« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2005, 04:48:47 am »

Actually, Antoninianii were introduced at the very start of the Severan era and throughout the severan dynasty had as much silver as a contemporary denari.  Also, the cellation quality is about equal throughout the Severan era. 

The Severan era is also one of prosperity for the empire.  Crisis and decline was still not upon the Pax Romana.

I understand why you don't like the non-denari silver, but realistically, Antoninianii were not the trashy coins many people think they are until the Gordians seized power and began the not so gradual debasement of third century Roman currency.
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« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2005, 01:25:43 pm »

The Severan era is also one of prosperity for the empire.  Crisis and decline was still not upon the Pax Romana.

Actually I would say the Severan era is when the empire slowly began its decline. It was definately after the peak, as the Pax Romana ended after Marcus Aurelius's death in 180. However, I agree with you that (pre-Gordian) antoninianii are not trashy coins. They usually have nice detail, and I would buy some except they are more expensive than denarii. For the price difference, I just don't feel it's worth it.
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Claven2
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« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2005, 07:22:29 am »

Yeah, I know it "officially" ended in 180, but the severan period is not really recognized as an era of crisis and decline either.  In fact, under Caracalla and Septimus Severus the Roman emipre expanded, Pathia was brought to its knees and a huge infrastructure refrom was undertaken.  An empire in decline probably would not have produced the opulent Baths of Cracalla, for instance.

As for antoninianii, I;ve noticed the prices don't really seem to differ much at all on e-bay, despite what Sear might have to say about it...  Shocked
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« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2005, 10:40:28 am »

I don't think the empire was in decline at that stage, but it was undertaking vast expenditure, with the Parthian war, for instance, and I wonder what the underlying economy was like. Expanding an empire too far can easily become the road to economic ruin.
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Robert Brenchley

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« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2005, 03:59:27 pm »

I think this is when the economy began to decline, for many reasons. For one, plagues began springing up around this time (possibly smallpox or measles), killing hundreds of thousands. And when farmers died, their lands lay fallow, and not as many taxable crops were grown. Also, policies implimented by Septimus Severus lead to economic declines. He gave the army a raise, which placed a burden on Rome. Then the army expected further raises with each successive emperor, and to pay for it the taxes were increased, damaging the economy. Caracalla also gave the army large bribes and raises in order to make up for the murder of his brother Geta. Then there were the rebellions of the Syrian legions under Macrinus, not to mention that Septimus Severus was the only emperor of that era who wasn't murdered.

Ben
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Claven2
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« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2005, 04:58:47 am »

The raises DID eventually contribute to the downfall, but I would argue not until after the Severans left power (or more appropriately were removed from it). 

As for murder, I would argue the majority of ALL Western (and many Eastern) emporers were killed so another could ascend.  Living out one's years does not seem to be a common thread for persons of power in ancient Rome.  I wonder if the plebs were always told how their emporer met his end, or if the Senate just informed them "Ceasar Augustus is dead"?

Another interesting thing - is it me, or were the Syrian Legions often the first legions to rebell?  It seems that way, but maybe my mind is just playing tricks on me???  Grin
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« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2005, 10:53:24 am »

It might be more history-minded to ask whether legions in the former Seleucid kingdom rebelled more readily.  And then, whether those were maintained in greater strength and order.  Pat L.  (just a thought)
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« Reply #16 on: November 17, 2005, 11:45:44 am »

They were the last to rebel in the wars at the end of Nero's reign. There was a very strong force maintained for the defence of the eastern frontier, and it could be that that gave potential rebels there more confidence.
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Robert Brenchley

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« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2005, 01:24:20 am »

I would like to turn back to the primary problem of this thread. To my mind, there is something wrong with the question
(resembling this one:  who will win in battle --  a whale or an elephant). 
Its formulation  contains a hint that a collection is a  set of nicely alienated objects of the similar size and appearance (and such nice
collections do exists,  one can recall, e.g.,  the well-known website with Philip's antoniniani).
However, such an idea seems to be contrary  to the very nature of ancient numismatics with its infinite variety of epochs, periods, types, subtypes
etc.  There are no identical ancient coins and all types are of interest. 
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Claven2
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« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2005, 07:19:14 am »

I agree, no two coins are equal.  However, take for example two other threads I posted recently here.  One asks the viewer to rate an Elegabalus Denarius I found posted on e-bay listed in gVF condition and the other an Antoninianus of Elagabalus from e-bay listed in EF condition. 

I had hoped to prove through statistics that a bias existed in rating Denari higher than Antoninianii.  I had thought that the results would prove that people would low-ball the ant and highball the den.  The polls are still in progress, but my hypothesis is not entirely correct thus far.

People are rating the Ant on average slightly lower than it's advertised grade, but on average the Den is nt being rated any higher than its advertised grade.  A more proficient statistician than me will have to read up on "statistically significant results" and "proving null hypotheses" to give a difinitive answer with such data that does not contain glaringly obvious trends.

What I CAN say though is that significantly more FORVM members have looked at the den thread and not the ant thread, despite the threads being identical aside from denomination - which to me indicates that more people are interested in reading about denari than antoninianii.  ie, Denari are more popular.

This would HAVE to have an effect on sales prices IMHO since cost will always be a function not just of supply, but also of demand.  All this to say, if rarity and condition  were more or less equal between a given denarius and antoninianus, one would expect the Denarius to sell for more money on e-bay.
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« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2005, 10:18:48 am »

I can only speak for myself, but I tend to open and read threads where members whom I've found interesting are contributing, even if (again, speaking only for myself) the 'question' seems to me to be no question at all.  To me, the two coins are part of an evolving economic and monetary picture.  I cannot, for the life of me, see how "vs." can be relevant.  Pat L.
In this case, several members of long standing gave you informed and helpful answers (no, I don't mean me; I mean the others).
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« Reply #20 on: November 18, 2005, 11:07:55 am »

To me, they're both stages in the evolution of Roman coins. I tend to buy ants rather than denarii, but that's purely because of the period I collect. I read posts on both with equal interest.
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« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2005, 12:09:05 pm »

In this case, several members of long standing gave you informed and helpful answers (no, I don't mean me; I mean the others).

And for that I am grateful! Smiley  I by no means intend to stir the pot, but rather better understand the hobby of collecting ancient numismatic issues.

I'll be the first to admit my collection and knowledge repetoire is amateur at best, I'm merely trying to learn how to best grade and value coins of the various denominations so that when I see pricing at online stores such as FORVM or on e-bay, I can appreciate the value a coin has based on it's desireability and attributes and ensure that:
a) I don't overpay too much and
b) I recognize a great buy when I see it

If anything I've posted came accross as condescending, reproachful, or of an insulting nature to anyone at all, then you have my sincerest apologies as that is NOT my intent  angel
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Claven2
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« Reply #22 on: November 18, 2005, 12:19:43 pm »

I cannot, for the life of me, see how "vs." can be relevant.

I understand your point, what I meant with the "VS." part is simply a direct comparison to see if a coin of one denomination might be more expensive in general than the coin of another denomination if condition and realative rarity are more or less equal.

I don;t consider the den superior to the ant or vice versa in any way.  Both are grat coins worthy of collecting.  My interest lies more in whether one is more typically collected by a greater number of individuals.

As an illustrated example:

Imagine a Denarirus rated R4 in FDC condition goes up for sale on e-bay from a reputed dealer and at almost the same time an Ant rated R4 in FDC condition goes up for sale from the same reputed dealer.  Let's further assume all the references place both coins within +/- $5 of each other depending on the reference you looks at.

Do you think they will both sell for the same price?  Ok, now we all know that one sale doesn;t point to a trend, but imagine each buyer gets those coins and then decides they are going to change the focus of their collection and sells them on e-bay at the same time, and that this scenario repeats itself a few more times so that we can see a trend.  Which coin will, on average, sell for more money?

I had thought that the denari would simply because I assumed that more people collected denari than Ants, thus demand would be higher despite rarity and values.  I am, however, not able to prove this and am very possibly wrong.

All this to say, I enjoy owning both Denari and Antoniniani of the same period which I collect (Severan).  In my limited experience, I've been lucky in that I've often found nice Ants for better prices than denari which is likely tainting my view in all this, and I don;t pretend that my experience is even typical of all collectors of Severan silver.

Confused yet? Because I sure am!!! lol...

Anyhow thanks all thus for for indulging a relative newcommer to FORVM Smiley
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« Reply #23 on: November 18, 2005, 01:11:14 pm »

Well, I didn't mean to be unkind; I guess I've just been teaching undergraduates for too long.  And you're not one!  You didn't ask for advice, but here is some: for the first couple of years (a) concentrate on learning the history and geography and (all those other peoples!) anthropology that make the coins really meaningful; no one ever taught you all that, I am dead certain (in my 60s I had to learn it just as if I'd been in my 20s, though I went to a rather prestigious university), and (b) try to avoid getting too enchanted with a coin and bid it up, or react to others bidding it up, until you've had time to know for yourself from observation; you have to do that, because there are no rules of worth; in the market, a coin is worth what it will bring at the moment it is for sale.  That can be crazy sometimes, but both beauty and rarity do not govern all the time--and that's not just on line, meaning eBay.  Truth to tell, if you feel insecure, look at the fixed prices in lists like Joe Sermarini's and Barry Murphy's, just to name two.  You may pay a bit high one day and a bit low (relative to market) another; just try to keep the average in line with reality.  Finally, (c) don't spend more than you can afford.  Coins are addictive (though there are worse addictions!).  Pat L.
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Claven2
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« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2005, 06:51:23 am »

 Grin I used to be an undergrad at one time - does that count?  Wink

Actually, I'm an Mechanical Engineer specializing in vehicle catalysts which is about as far removed from numismatics as you can get  Embarrassed

That being said, I should perhaps have pursued a different career path.  All my elective courses were centered on ancient history and I got far better grades and far better attendance at those courses than any of my core subjects...  laugh

I do read literally every book I get my hands on regarding Roman civilization and the ancient world in general and have been an amateur Roman coin collector for several years. 

I do NOT consider myself any sort of expert, authority or even bastion of knowledge on the subject though...  Undecided Perhaps one day...

I'm also lucky in that one of my co-workers is a more advanced collector than myself and has more reference books than I do, including a variety of well known price guides dating back to the 1920's and most or RIC.  My library is limited to Van Meter and RSC Sad  Oh well, one must start somewhere... at least I've read some books I don't own! Cool
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