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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Ancient Coin Forum (Moderator: goldenancients)  |  Topic: Legionary coins of Marc Antony 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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« on: January 22, 2007, 07:04:18 pm »

We've all read the passage that states: These denarius were "coins of convenience" because of their lower silver content and generally poor strikes. Also that they circulated for 200 years after mintage.
Three questions/topics for discussion:
What was the average silver content of these coins?
Why are they so common?  A semi-traveling mint that would produce so many coins seems unlikely, but that's why I'm asking.
Even debased, how did so many survive the  sudden collective gleam that must have occured in the collective eyes of the various mints when debasement really got into full swing.  One Marc Antony denarius could have helped produce how many  antoninianus
Thanks for any discussion.
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PeterD
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2007, 10:41:34 am »

I'm not sure when the denarius stopped circulating at bullion value and started circulating at face value, but it must have been
by the end of the Republic. Nero, reduced the weight of the denarius (but not the value), so it must have been circulating at face value at that point. In theory it then would then have been worth the mint's while to melt down the Republican and Augustan denarii and re-mint them as lighter coins. However, they had to get hold of them first. The only way to do this would be from the flow of taxes through the treasury. People tended to keep back coins that appeared to be superior and so they would have tried to pay their taxes in the newer, lighter coins. Of course, the older and newer coins still had the same value as each other and Joe Public wouldn't have been able to make a profit by melting down the old because the denarius was overvalued compared with raw silver. Anyway that's the reason denarii stayed in circulation for such a long time. Doubtless when the older coins became worn they were less attractive to mint anyway.

Mark Antony's legionary coins were supposed to have been badly de-based. Whether they survived because they were Republican era coins and therefore "good" or whether they were de-based and therefore "bad" and were ignored when used to pay taxes is unclear. The coins were apparently made in very large numbers, so that may also account for their survival.

Clearly the continued de-basement of the denarius was an opportunity for the mint to melt down older coins, but did they? When the antoninianus was introduced (at one and a half the weight of the denarius, but twice the value) both coins continued to be minted, whereas you would have expected the denarius to be taken out of circulation altogether.

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Peter, London

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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2007, 05:24:01 pm »

Hi,

Allow me to comment on

Quote
Why are they so common

In my view, two aspects may play a role here..

First, an explanation for the common occurrence in finds: the LEG-coins were intended for soldiers wages. Consequenly, the coins  spread along the Roman Limes in the south, north and east, they can now be found by metal detectorists that live in these  countries where their hobby is not prohibited by law, like it is in Italy.

Second, there was a reason for the large numbers. One of the persistent strengths of the Romans was that they were able to impose their economic and monetary system upon the provinces. Cheap coinage is a weapon too.. The LEG-coins got out quickly, that is, they were issued to the soldiers in the camps.. then, they were used to pay in the villages, the LEG-coin  ended up in the local Gallo-Roman population. There, it was able to replace the Celt silver stater. One way traffic. For the next payment, new denarii had to be struck. I think the silver stater, originating from lute and bulk-weight taxes was the coin that the Romans loved to melt..

 Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2007, 11:30:43 am »

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LEG-coin  ended up in the local Gallo-Roman population

Yes, except they were minted in or near Athens, in Greece, already part of the Roman Empire. The battle of Actium, where Antony's forces were defeated took place off the coast of south-east Greece.
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Peter, London

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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2007, 02:50:53 pm »


Yes, except they were minted in or near Athens, in Greece, already part of the Roman Empire. The battle of Actium, where Antony's forces were defeated took place off the coast of south-east Greece.

the point isn't so much where they were minted, but rather where they were spent.  they circulated among soldiers, who may have been sent off to guard the frontiers.  Though not all soldiers fought on the borders, a higher percentage of them would have gone there than the regular population.  Therefore, a higher percentage of coins that circulated among soldiers would end up along the borders, compared to the types of coins circulating among the common population, which would have remained closer to home.
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2007, 03:42:10 pm »

Yes, except it was Antony's armies that were issued Legionary denarii, and Antony's armies that were defeated, so who knows where they went. Meanwhile Octavian's armies went off to Eygypt.
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Peter, London

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« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2007, 08:19:24 pm »

Yes, but the issue of demand and suppy remains.  There are many out there in relation to their age.
I'd say undervalued, but the market makes the liar of me.  They have more historical authenticity than a "Tribute penny" being solidly attributable, and are perhaps more scarce than the "widow's mite".
But you can still buy one for $10 if you look around.  It's Marc Antony. Augustus Ceasar, dripping with historical significance.  But you can get a very good example for say $110 dollars.  Go figure.
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