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The Countermarks of Caligula's Imperial Coinage

By Joe Geranio

Please add any Caligula coins you find with countermarks.

GAIUS CALIGULA and DIVUS AUGUSTUS. 37-41 AD. AR Denarius (3.61 gm). Struck 37-38 AD. Lugdunum mint. Laureate head of Caligula right; c/m: IMP VES ligate within rectangular incuse / Radiate head of Divus Augustus right. RIC I 16; BMCRE 17; RSC 2; c/m: Howgego 839; see BMCRE vol. II, pg. xvii where it is mentioned that the countermark is found on denarii from about 120 BC to those struck under Augustus.

The countermark on this issue indicates the continued use of older coins in circulation and the occasional need to identify them as acceptable media of exchange. Subsequently, there was a general recall of worn issues by Trajan in 107 AD.

Orichalcum Dupondius, issued by Caligula in the name of his father Germanicus.- Quadriga Signis Receptis

Another measure was the countermarking of Claudian and earlier aes, which seems to have taken place all along the northern frontiers of the empire, including Britain. The purpose of these countermarks usually a few letters such as AVG, PROB, etc applied to the obverse of worn coins is not known, but, like the Claudian copies, their presence in hoards shows that countermarked aes were officially accepted. The marks may have been applied by officials, to confirm the continued validity or revaluation of old and inferior coins, when the supply of new coins to the frontier areas was very difficult.

At about this time, c. AD64, Imperial aes began to be struck at Lugdunum. The reason for this is obscure, but Lugdunum was certainly closer to the geographical center of the western empire while the east was still mainly using locally-struck provincial aes coins. This must have improved the supply of aes to Britain and the whole northern frontier area, where it was needed.

Nero & Drusus Caesar. Died AD 31 and 33, respectively. Dupondius (30mm, 15.80 g). Rome mint. Struck under Gaius (Caligula), AD 37-38. Nero and Drusus on horseback riding right; countermarks / Legend around large S C; countermarks. RIC I 34 (Gaius); BMCRE 44 (Gaius).

GAIUS CALIGULA. 37-41 AD. As (11.21 gm). Struck 37/38 AD. C CAESAR AVG GERMANICVS PON M TR POT, bare head left / VESTA, S C across field, Vesta seated left, holding patera and scepter. RIC I 38; BMCRE 46; Cohen 27.

Caligula Sestertius with Unknown Countermark

Incuse double "M"?

Gaius (Caligula). AD 37-41. As (28mm, 11.11 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck AD 37-38. Bare head left / Vesta seated left on throne, holding scepter and patera; c/m: TIB CLA IMP (ligate). RIC I 38; for c/m: Pangerl 51, Joe Geranio Collection, anyone may use as long as credit is given.  Also see http://www.romancoins.info/CMK-Caligula.html.