Featured Coin


A Fourree Serrate Denarius

I had no intention of posting another fourree coin so soon but the photos of what was to be this weeks 'Feature' needed to be reshot and this coin is filling in. There are many things about ancient coins that are less than fully understood but one of the most interesting is the class of Roman Republican denarii called serrati. These coins were struck on a flan that had been notched around the edge producing a sawtooth pattern. The coins were done individually with great variety of depth and spacing. Issues that were made serrate were entirely serrate; I am not aware of a smooth example of a normally serrate issue or a serrate example of a smooth type. These coins date from much of the Republican period but are not known at all during the empire. It is frequently stated taht these coins were issued to guarantee the flans were not fourree. Personal experience proves that this is a poor guarantee: my collection contains several fourree serrati.

Republican Fourree Denarius of moneyer Ti. Claudius Nero 78-77 BC, Claudia 5 Syd. 770, 3.4g
Bust of Diana right SC before / Victory drives biga right
XXII under horses TI CLAVD TI F AP N in exergue

Tacitus wrote that the Germans prefered the serrate coins and coins showing a two horse chariot over other issues of Roman coins. This example is both but the large patch of core exposure on the reverse proves the coin is plated. It is likely that the Germans knew that the denarii issued after Nero's debasement were lower grade silver so the Republican types were better. Not being fully certain about which coins were pre-reform they would prefer coins that bore an easy to spot sign of being from the 'good old days.' It would seem that the cuts would reveal the core unless the spaces were silver washed after the serrations were made. I have never seen a fourree serrate denarius that showed any silver in the cuts. This is a common coin. Seaby notes the reverse die numbers (XXII here) run from I to over CLXX. Are all XXII coins fourree?


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1997 Doug Smith