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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numism  |  Reading For the Advanced Collector  |  Topic: Roman coins in WW1 trenches? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Roman coins in WW1 trenches?  (Read 7663 times)
Nils
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« on: December 14, 2001, 03:31:08 am »

Dear readers,

I wonder, is it common knowledge amongst coin experts and collectors that Roman coins were found by soldiers in the trenches during the Great War and that these coins were sold to antique dealers or collectors?

I wonder, because Roman artefacts are commonly found by battlefield visitors today, and should therefore have been even more commonly found by soldiers digging trenches in the French soil for years - but there are no accounts of it.

Regards,

Nils Fabiansson, Sweden
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Alex
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« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2001, 04:01:05 am »

First of all, welcome among us!
It's reasonable to believe that they found things while digging, as well in ww2. But not when you digg with the speed of light, fearing the enemy projectiles Smiley
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Nils Fabiansson
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« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2001, 04:25:19 am »


Quote

First of all, welcome among us!
It's reasonable to believe that they found things while digging, as well in ww2. But not when you digg with the speed of light, fearing the enemy projectiles Smiley


Thanks, Alex,

Well, they perhaps dug with the speed of light sometimes, but they also lived in these trenches more or less for years.

I quote a passage from the selfbiographical novel "Le feu" by Henri Barbusse, a French writer who participated in the war:

"-Look, old man," says Tulacque, as he comes up. Look at this.

Tulacque is magnificent. He is wearing a lemon-yellow coat made out of an oilskin sleeping-sack. He has arranged a hole in the middle to get his head through, and compelled his shoulder-straps and belt to go over it.

He is tall and bony. He holds his face in advance as he walks, a forceful face, with eyes that squint. He has something in his hand.

-I found this while digging last night at the end of the new gallery to change the rotten gratings. It took my fancy off-hand, that knick-knack. It`s an old pattern of hatchet.

It was indeed an old pattern, a sharpened flint hafted with an old brown bone-quite a prehistoric tool in appearance.

-Very handy, said Tulacque, fingering it. Yes, not badly thought out. Better balanced than the regulation axe. That`ll be useful to me, you`ll see.

As he brandishes that axe of Post-Tertiary Man, he would himself pass for an ape-man, decked out with rags and lurking in the bowels of the earth."


Henri Barbusse, "Under Fire" (1917) translated by W. Fitzwater Wray, 1965 Everyman Paperback edition, p. 10.

Regards,

Nils


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Alex
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« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2001, 06:12:04 am »

Nice story!  Wink
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LordBest
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2001, 02:18:15 am »

In the same vein, lots of the coins and artifacts that have been coming out of the Balkans recently are apparently found due to mine laying/removal and bombs blowing up grat wads of earth. And a couple of denarii would be worth a lot to the inhabitants of a country whos economy has crashed.
             LordBest.  Cool
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Albert
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2001, 07:01:58 am »

I had a co-worker who's mother lived in Italy. He would go visit her every summer and help her in the garden. He aways came back with 4 or 5 nice coins. They just found them while digging around.

This was just near the surface and in a small area. I can imagin how much stuff is found all over Europe and just put in the dresser drawer. Not just coins, but other atifacts as well.

Here in the US we don't really have a good understanding of living in a place with so much history. There have been shops and homes on the same spot for 2000 years or so. It's just hard to imagine all that has gone on in one place.

Al
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2001, 07:31:12 am »

Continuous living in one place does sound romantic but archeologically is bad. Around here Tomis and Kallatis are almost completelly covered by modern cities and we know very little about their architecture and historical details.
A roman city, Tropaeum Traiani was lived since Trajan till early medieval times.  Byzantine coins can be found at 1 meter deep while IInd century items are as deep as 5-6 meters!    On the other hand, these "corn fields" are much better. Every year they are stired up and a detector finds greek coins mixed up with constantininian stuff at only a few inches..... Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2002, 09:28:32 pm »

well...i found soemthing after all   Shocked Shocked Shocked

http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/html_En/03/hm3_7_1_1c.html
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« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2007, 04:18:01 am »

Just in case the link goes down.

This piece weighing the equivalent of eight standard gold coins (solidi), was made as a presentation piece. It is unique, differing from other medallions of Constantine in that it shows the Emperor with his four sons. This outstanding example of a 4th-century coin was unearthed when trenches were being dug on the South-Western front during World War I.



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Simon
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« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2007, 05:10:51 pm »

 A little off topic but related to WWI and ancients is the story one of the more senior Byzantine collectors posted on the board. At the end of the war Turkey had to pay the United States war reparations, they did in the form of a boatload of Byzantine gold coins .

 The US treasury then melted them down.

Simon
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« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2007, 02:46:06 pm »

Hi all,

I'm so sorry I didn't notice this thread before. As I've already writen in an other thread, my grand father, born 1894, has been lucky enough to be involved in the whole WWI. He eventually found three coins, romans he told me, digging a trench at Verdun battle. After the end of the war, being in a train, back home with two other poilus he decided to give them one coin each and keep the last one. Here it is, a sestertius of Commodus :

Minted in Rome, AD 192
L AEL AVREL CO---MM AVG P FEL, Laureate head of Commodus right
HERCVLI ROMANO AVG, Hercules facing, head left, holding club and lion's skin, resting on trophy. SC in field
21,01 gr
Ref : RCV #5752, Cohen #203

It is the very first roman coin I have ever possessed, as he gave it to me when I was 18 and the only one in the family to collect coins. It's of course the real start of my addiction for ancient coins.

Hope you like the story, I find it very moving every time, it makes me thoughtful and thankful of my grand father
Regards
JC
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« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2007, 04:00:50 pm »

Hi @ all!

All I can add to this topic is the story of an old man I got to know few years ago. When he was in the Caucasus mountains with the german army during the second world war, he had to dig a lot of trenches because he was camp guard with a machine gun. It was not uncommon to find arrowheads made of stone or copper, or pieces of axes while digging. Unfortunately he didn't keep any, the soldiers just threw them away.

Although this may be a little off topic, it still seems an interesting story to me.

-Kat
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