THE LARGE BRONZE OF POSTUMUS
The reverse designs encountered on the bronze coins of Postumus, sestertii and double sestertii, often mirror the base silver antoninianus coinage and thus it is reasonable to conclude that the similar types are of comparable date. There would be some slight difference, not in relative chronology of the types of bronze and silver coin but in the absolute chronology. This difference is due to the mint operation working in successive phases of each metal.
A further insight into the date of the introduction of the bronze coinage may be gleaned from the titulature used on the coinage. The double sestertii utilise the full names of the emperor in the form IMP C M CASS LAT POSTVMVS PF AVG. This form of title is also recorded on the gold coinage and the base silver coins but all recorded specimens in these two metals exhibit an epigraphic error where the name Postumus is rendered as POSTIMVS, an error not repeated on the bronze.
The bronze coinage was becoming untenable due to the debasement of the silver but when did the official bronze coinage cease? Excluding 'medallic' issues connected with the quinquennalia of c.264, the third consulate of 267 and the decennalia of 269 the main bronze coinage issues from the official mint cease with the rare coinage proclaiming the third Gallic consulship (thus approximating to 262).
What is a feature of the large bronze coinage of Postumus is the large number of coins which appear to be of a somewhat barbarous nature in terms of the die engraving. Bastien [Bastien, P; Le Monnayage de Bronze de Postume Numismatique Romaine: Essais, Recherches et Documents 3 (1967)] ascribes the best of these coins to a secondary mint, 'Atelier 2' which, upon reflection, although he concludes their output was prolific, the mint was not officially sanctioned (although it may have been tolerated). It is amongst these pieces that later reverse types, for example MONETA AVG and PAX AVG, are recorded. The latest of these imitations appears to have been made under Victorinus who was the eventual successor to Postumus. This made be deduced from a coin recorded with the name PIAV POSTVNO (sic) mixing the praenomen of Victorinus with the cognomen of Postumus.
Besides the obvious stylistic differences between the official coins and the 'Atelier 2' products, as well as the size reduction in 'Atelier 2' there is another difference that can be used to separate the coins. The sestertii and double sestertii of the official mint are very regular in the axes of the dies used to strike them. When looking at the obverse (heads) side the reverse is usually aligned to 6 o'clock or, less commonly, 12 o'clock. The 'Atelier 2' coins have no regular die axis.
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© RJB 2003