Featured Coin

AE2 of Arcadius

While buying identified coins from dealers who have researched every item is probably the best way of building a collection, rummaging through junk boxes sure is fun. This coin is an ordinary late Roman bronze that came out of a $15 pickout box and has provided me with at least that much enjoyment even if it will not make my collection in high demand when it goes to market. If I lived in Europe in an area where metal detecting is legal and likely to turn up ancient coins, I could fulfill my hunting instincts out in the field. As it is, however, searching for interesting coins in the junk boxes is what is left to me. This type is notable for the addition of the hand of God reaching down to crown the emperor. The emperor Arcadius (383-408 AD) was a Christian. In addition to the hand of God on the obverse, note the cross in the reverse field.

This coin has another interesting feature. The reverse was first struck very unevenly with only the bottom part clear. Noticing this, the mint workers lined up the die again and, it seems, struck again to fill in the missing detail. The problem is that, between the two strikes, the die was rotated so again the coin received only the bottom part of the design. As a result the (Antioch) mintmark appears inverted at the top of the flan where we should see the head of the soldier. The legend (Gloria Romanorum) at the left reads GLORIARO but at the right the two strikes combine to show GLORORVM. Mint errors are relatively common in ancient coins. Such a problem adds nothing to the value of this coin but it is an interesting illustration of daily activities at the mint.

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1997 Doug Smith