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ERIC Table of Contents


Title Page

Introduction

About Roman Coins

Denominations

Coins of Other Ancient Cultures

Identifying Roman Coins

How To Use This Book

Mintmarks

Mint Map

Pricing And Grading

Bibliography

Reference Catalogs Cited

Coin Terms Used

Glossary

Rarity Tables

Index of Rulers

Photography Credits

Additional Web Resources

Imperial Catalog:

AUGUSTUS
LIVA
AGRIPPA
NERO CLAUDIUS DRUSUS
GERMANICUS
AGRIPPINA I
TIBERIUS
DRUSUS
ANTONIA
CALIGULA
CLAUDIUS I
BRITANNICUS
AGRIPPINA II
NERO
GALBA
CLODIUS MACER
OTHO
VITELLIUS
VESPASIAN
DOMITILLA
TITUS
DOMITIAN
DOMITIA
JULIA TITI
NERVA
TRAJAN
PLOTINA
MARCIANA
MATIDIA
HADRIAN
SABINA
AELIUS
ANTONINUS PIUS
FAUSTINA I
MARCUS AURELIUS
FAUSTINA II
LUCIUS VERUS
LUCILLA
COMMODUS
CRISPINA
PERTINAX
DIDIUS JULIANUS
MANLIA SCANTILLA
DIDIA CLARA
PESCENNIUS NIGER
CLODIUS ALBINUS
SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS
JULIA DOMNA
CARACALLA
PLAUTILLA
GETA
MACRINUS
DIADUMENIAN
ELAGABALUS
JULIA MAESA
JULIA SOAEMIAS
JULIA PAULA
AQUILIA SEVERA
ANNIA FAUSTINA
SEVERUS ALEXANDER
JULIA MAMAEA
ORBIANA
MAXIMINUS I
PAULINA
MAXIMUS
GORDIAN I
GORDIAN II
BALBINUS
PUPIENUS
GORDIAN III
TRANQUILLINA
PHILIP I
OTACILIA SEVERA
PHILIP II
PACATIAN
JOTAPIAN
TRAJAN DECIUS
HERENNIA ETRUSCILLA
HERENNIUS ETRUSCUS
HOSTILIAN
TREBONIANUS GALLUS
VOLUSIAN
AEMILIAN
CORNELIA SUPERA
SILBANNACUS
URANIUS ANTONINUS
VALERIAN I
MARINIANA
VALERIAN II
GALLIENUS
SALONINA
SALONINUS
REGALIANUS
DRYANTILLA
POSTUMUS
LAELIANUS
MARIUS
VICTORINUS
DOMITIAN II
TETRICUS I
TETRICUS II
QUIETUS
MACRIANUS
CLAUDIUS II
QUINTILLUS
AURELIAN
SEVERINA
ZENOBIA
VABALATHUS
TACITUS
FLORIAN
PROBUS
SATURNINUS
CARUS
CARINUS
MAGNIA URBICA
NIGRIAN
NUMERIAN
JULIAN I
DIOCLETIAN
MAXIMIAN
CARAUSIUS
ALLECTUS
DOMITIUS DOMITIANUS
CONSTANTIUS I
THEODORA
GALERIUS
GALERIA VALERIA
SEVERUS II
MAXENTIUS
ROMULUS
CONSTANTINE I
HELENA
FAUSTA
ALEXANDER
LICINIUS I
CONSTANTIA
MAXIMINUS II
LICINIUS II
CRISPUS
VALERIUS VALENS
MARTINIAN
CONSTANTINE II
DELMATIUS
HANNIBALLIANUS
CONSTANS
CONSTANTIUS II
MAGNENTIUS
DECENTIUS
NEPOTIAN
VETRANO
CONSTANTIUS GALLUS
JULIAN II
JOVIAN
VALENTINIAN I
VALENS
PROCOPIUS
GRATIAN
VALENTINIAN II
THEODOSIUS I
AELIA FLACCILLA
MAGNUS MAXIMINUS
FLAVIUS VICTOR
EUGENIUS
HONORIUS
CONSTANTINE III
CONSTANS II
MAXIMINUS
PRISCUS ATTALUS
JOVINUS
SABASTIANUS
CONSTANTIUS III
GALLA PLACIDIA
JOHANNES
VALENTINIAN III
LICINIA EUDOXIA
HONORIA
PETRONIUS MAXIMINUS
AVITUS
MAJORIAN
LIBIUS SEVERUS
ANTHEMIUS
EUPHEMIA
ANICIUS OLYBRIUS
GLYCERIUS
JULIUS NEPOS
ROMULUS AUGUSTUS
ARCADIUS
EUDOXIA
PULCHERIA
THEODOSIUS II
EUDOCIA
MARCIAN
LEO I
VERINA
LEO II
ZENO
ARIADNE
BASILISCUS
ZENONIS
LEONTIUS I
ANASTASIUS I
ANONYMOUS COINAGE

ERIC The Encyclopedia of Roman Imperial Coins
by Rasiel Suarez


Mintmarks

 
For hundreds of years Rome kept a close eye on the output of its coins. As there were only a few mints operational at any one time, with Rome itself reserving the lion's share of this output, quality control and accurate bookkeeping was a task that the mint officials could handle without resorting to the practice of placing marks on the coins themselves to know what was going on. However, near the latter half of the third century, the quality of the coins had suffered greatly under the stress of inflation and a centralized system made for an impractical way of distributing the (cheaper) currency being made. It was at this time that mintmarking really began to take hold and, within a few years, the process had become the most intricate and methodical the world would ever witness.
 
Although silver and gold  would eventually get some mint marks here and there it was the low value bronze denominations which received full attention in this area. Oddly, down to the very last days before the fall of Rome even the sorriest little copper would be duly impressed with the mark of its city of origin and, frequently, its officina as well.
 
The big idea therefore was for the government to keep track of who was making what and how much of it. Specie in gold and silver had such tight controls that general accounting practices were generally sufficient to minimize corruption and fraud. Copper coinage on the other hand was being produced on a very massive scale. Each mint each year may have made hundreds of millions of coins and, not surprisingly, most were of the copper variety meant for general circulation. This scale of manufacture would not be repeated again until the industrial age so a system for all those coins coming into circulation was imperative.
 
The treasury's primary need in accounting was to make sure the correct number of coins were being made to pay off the government's expenditures. Each mint was therefore bound to a number of rules that they were to follow both for accounting as well as to ensure a supply of coins that were as seamless in terms of look and feel from one mint to the next. Designs were therefore carefully coordinated between the various mints and for specific lengths of time. The painstaking practice of ensuring that every single coin looked essentially identical from one end of the empire to the other and a level of detail that dictated the precise, hyper-correct placement of individual letters and other design elements can be considered as part of the quintessentially Roman way of precision engineering.
 
The very first mintmarks employed under the Roman imperial period usually consisted of cryptic symbols just meant to reveal the city of origin. This practice was far from widespread and given the normal variances from region to region it is now known without doubt that some coins were made in certain locations or at least general areas even without these mintmarks based on stylistic differences alone. But these differences were much too subtle for administrators to bother with. When the need presented itself the mint marking system was put into place and within a matter of a few years the practice was more or less standardized across hundreds of thousands of square miles.
 
No sooner than explicit mint marks begin appearing that identify each city of origin than it becomes necessary to break it down further into individual series and, as noted above, often the officinae involved too. A typical late Roman bronze will often carry additional symbols that reveal separate production runs.

 
Understanding this system is complex and their meanings are not always universally agreed upon. But generally speaking some conventions can be followed with enough consistency that they soon become familiar to the collector.
 
The first step then is to identify the name and location of all these mints. The  map on the following page identifies the main ones in operation during the fourth and fifth centuries.