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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  For the New Ancient Coin Collector (Moderators: wolfgang336, cscoppa, Gavignano, Lucas H)  |  Topic: Tiberius Denarii aka "Tribute Penny" and Lugdunum Mint 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Tiberius Denarii aka "Tribute Penny" and Lugdunum Mint  (Read 2927 times)
Lucas H
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« on: March 02, 2011, 06:30:43 am »

I have a question about the Tiberius denarius aka the "Tribute Penny."  My question does not concern rehashing if this denarius is the "Tribute Penny" of the bible (Matthew 22:20-21) or why it's called a "penny."  I've seen the prior discussion on this topic:

http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=44927.0

My question concerns the minting of this coin.  Every one of these for sale here at the Forvm is from the Lugdunum mint.  In looking at another site or two, I found the same thing, that all of the "Tribute Pennies" for sale are from the Lugdunum mint.  I understand Lugdunam was an important Roman city in Gaul.  I can see some of these being minted in Lugdunum, but why are all the coins available from that mint?  Even if a number were minted in Lugdunum, I would think the majority would come from Rome.  Have all of the Roman examples been snapped up?  Was there a hoard from Lugdunum at some point flooding the market?

Any guidance on this topic is greatly appreciated.

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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2011, 12:20:49 pm »

I have often wondered this myself.  After all, this is one of the few coins mentioned in the Christian bible.  One would have expected them to be minted in the near east, Syria or somewhere close by.
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Jay GT4
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« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2011, 02:28:36 pm »

Taken from http://www.celatorsart.com/mints.html


"Following the assassination of Julius Caesar (44 BC), the mint at Rome was closed, and all production of coins was moved to the various provincial mints. Around 23 BC, the mint at Rome was reopened, although for a time it struck only bronze and copper coins. It did not strike any precious metals until a few years later, and then only until Augustus opened the mint at Lugdunum, Gaul, around 15 BC. Soon, only this mint was allowed to strike coins in gold and silver.

Under the reign of Caligula, the mint at Rome was again made the primary center for all coins, around 38 AD.

Under Nero, the mint at Lugdunum was again reopened, and struck coins in bronze and copper, while the mint at Rome struck all denominations, including silver and gold."
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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2011, 08:21:39 am »

There you go.  Thanks Jay GT4.  I was beginning to guess perhaps Christian interest collectors had collected all the Rome examples some time in the past, but then surely, they would come up for resale some time. 
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Lucas H
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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2011, 08:23:02 am »

Interesting site also. 

http://www.celatorsart.com/
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« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2011, 02:04:34 pm »

Quote from: Tacitus on March 03, 2011, 12:20:49 pm
I have often wondered this myself.  After all, this is one of the few coins mentioned in the Christian bible.  One would have expected them to be minted in the near east, Syria or somewhere close by.

That's the basic reason why I question whether it has any relationship with the Biblical story! It was a western coin which didn't circulate in Judea. The story doesn't mention any coin explicitly; all it says is 'a denarius', and it's evidently a coin with an imperial portrait on it. Any emperor will do, and personally I think Mark, who wrote the earliest extant version, wrote 'denarius' to make the scene seem more familiar to his audience; it's not the only time he Latinises terms. My guess is that the original coin, if the story's historical, was a drachm.

What I haven't been able to do is get a copy of a paper giving the numbers of 1st Century denarii found in Jerusalem, which could potentially put the 'tribute penny' to rest. I do have data for AE's of the period, and as you might expect, there are no Imperial coins at all before the 4th Century.
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« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2011, 07:11:41 pm »

It would not have had to be a denarius, nor first century. 
A better candidate would be a copper quadrans or some Egyptian version of the quadran.
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« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2011, 02:32:33 pm »

The paper I saw didn't record a single quadrans from Jerusalem. Judea had its own small copper coinage, retariffed by Archelaus at the same weight as the quadrans. The Gospels offer some evidence that the value was considered equivalent. If you want a portrait of a Caesar though, you need a silver coin. Then, whatever the truth about the historicity or otherwise of the story, the question arises of why it was important to the authors of three Gospels, two writing for Gentiles and one for Jews. I don't think it's hard to find an answer. After the fall of Jerusalem, the Romans placed a new tax on the Jews, equivalent to the Temple tax, which was to be paid to the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. This functioned as the Roman treasury, but you can imagine how offensive it must have been for Jews. Hence Matthew's interest. Then there was Gentile Christianity, an ambiguous movement, following a Jewish prophet, worshipping the Jewish God. Were they Jews or not?

All the Gospels, and most of the rest of the NT, want to seem innocuous to the Romans; it's only Revelation that's clearly anti. They let Pilate wash his hands of guilt, and blame the Jews for the Crucifixion. So Gentile congregations are told not to make waves, and it's all put in the mouth of Jesus to give it authority. The tax was two drachmas, silver coins with, usually, a Caesar's head.
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« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2011, 07:24:56 pm »

Quote from: Tacitus on March 03, 2011, 12:20:49 pm
I have often wondered this myself.  After all, this is one of the few coins mentioned in the Christian bible.  One would have expected them to be minted in the near east, Syria or somewhere close by.

That's the basic reason why I question whether it has any relationship with the Biblical story!

What about this interesting wrinkle though, if the Tiberius denarius did not circulate in the east, why all the imitatives out of India?

Chris

PS quick disclaimer: I really dislike these coins! They are boilerplate coinage that have a purely speculative story attached to them and pow, all very expensive. As far as I can tell, they are no less common that freakin Nicaean standard coins! But I digress...
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« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2011, 08:31:53 pm »

The coin discussed in Matthew 22:20-21 is called a penny because the King James version of the Bible says, "Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it."  My understanding is that the original Greek said δηναρίου (denarius).  The Greek δηναρίου was translated as penny because at the time of translation (1604 -1611) the penny was the silver coin in circulation closest to the size of a denarius

Most modern translations say denarius, but "Tribute Penny" has stuck as the nickname for Tiberius denarii.

Augustus denarii can be called the alternate Tribute Penny because they are also denarii that existed at the time of Jesus. 

The circulation of denarii in Jerusalem at the time may be interesting but is not really important to the designation of the Tribute Penny.  There is only ONE denarius in the story, not hoards of circulating denarii.  I have received Tiberius denarii said to have been found in the region. If Jesus could turn water into wine, heal lepers and raise the dead, he could arrange for ONE denarius to be nearby when he asked to see one.   

You can argue that Matthew named the wrong coin but that does not really matter.  The designation as Tribute Penny relates to the story as told in the King James Bible.  The designation as a penny comes from the King James Bible.  The Greek translated said denarius.  The Tribute Penny must be a denarius.

On the other hand...   

The Gospel of Thomas 100:1-4 (excluded from the New Testament) tells a slightly different version of the "Tribute Penny" story..."They showed Jesus a gold [coin] and said to him:  Caesar’s agents demand taxes from us.  He said to them:  Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar; give to God what belongs to God, and give to me what is mine."  The Tiberius aureus is thus the "Gold Tribute Penny."  The Gospel of Thomas is apocryphal but it is still interesting and good marketing.   
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2011, 09:13:49 am »

Quote
My guess is that the original coin, if the story's historical, was a drachm.

Since we got off the mint, and onto which coin it may have been, how many Tiberius drachms were there?  I understand the position that it didn't necessarily need to be Tiberius, but assuming it was a coin of Tiberius, how many eastern drachms were their?

I don't have it yet, but recently ordered a Tiberius drachm from the Caesarea-Eusebia mint as my own version of the "tribute penny."  The dealer photo is below.  I didn't buy it for that attribution, and it wasn't marketed as such.  I really just liked the coin.  But could something like that have possibly been a candidate for the tribute penny as much as a denarius minted in Lugdunum ?

Quote
The Gospel of Thomas 100:1-4 . . . tells a slightly different version of the "Tribute Penny" story..."They showed Jesus a gold [coin] . . . The Tiberius aureus is thus the "Gold Tribute Penny."  The Gospel of Thomas is apocryphal but it is still interesting and good marketing.

Now, that is an interesting tidbit to me.  I was familiar with the Gospel of Thomas as apocrypha, but I've never actually read it.  I also saw prior sales of Tiberius aureus here at the Forvm, but never put together the connection.  Good thing I can't afford gold, or that would be another niche I need to fill. 
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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2011, 02:58:48 pm »

What about this interesting wrinkle though, if the Tiberius denarius did not circulate in the east, why all the imitatives out of India?

Chris

There was quite a bit of trade between Rome and India. I've never looked into the specifics, but I imagine it went to Italy rather than the east. Maybe someone else knows?
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Robert Brenchley

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« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2011, 11:05:28 pm »

If I remember correctly the old designation for one English penny (or pence) was 1 d. (for 'denarius').
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« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2011, 01:34:50 pm »

It was, and as long as the penny was a valuable silver coin, the two were quite comparable. LSD was a quite different, and far more intoxicating, sort of drug when I was a kid!
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Robert Brenchley

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« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2011, 04:24:48 pm »

Well, whatever the story, these Tiberius denarii are common coins and it is only their association -- whether real or apocryphal -- with the biblical story that keeps their prices artificially high. If you want one and are willing to pay the going price, one can be found in a matter of minutes, if not seconds, on the internet. Many a much rarer coin goes for a fraction of the cost of the average "Tribute Penny." If this is, indeed, the type Jesus used, he only used one, not all of them, yet they are universally priced as though each was the very one he held! Ain't marketing grand?!
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« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2011, 12:31:34 pm »

Ok, this was originally about the mint, and the Imperial Mint had been moved to Lugdunum during this time, so no precious metal coins were minted in Rome until sometime later.

My new question about Tiberius denarii is a stylistic one.  I see the differences between RIC I 26, 28, and 30, but I also see "group" numbers referring to some type of classification system.  What is this system, and where can I find it?
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« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2011, 06:22:06 am »

I perceive some people tire of discussing the denarii of Tiberius, but I have some additional questions I hope someone could answer.  First, just an observation that it is disappointing given the length of Tiberius' reign, he had so little diversity in his denarii.  I guess Sejanus was worried about other things, and Tiberius could have cared less. 

However, given the Liva as Pax is the most common denarius, I have questions about the Style.  I can see the differences between the ornamental or plain chair legs, and RIC I 26, and RIC I 30, but I see references to style groups in listings for these coins.  A coin I purchased was advertised as "Group 4."  I assume the source is an article or publication.  Can someone please point me to it?
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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  For the New Ancient Coin Collector (Moderators: wolfgang336, cscoppa, Gavignano, Lucas H)  |  Topic: Tiberius Denarii aka "Tribute Penny" and Lugdunum Mint « previous next »
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