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Serrated

Having notched or toothed edge.  The predominant "serrati numi" types are Seleucid Kingdom bronzes and denarii of the Roman Republic.  The fabric of the two types is quite different.  The Seleucid bronze flans appear to have been open cast in wells shaped like an old-fashioned bottle cap.  The purpose of the serrated edge appears to have been purely decorative.  The Roman Republic denarii appear to have been cast as regular flans and then notches were cut into the edge before striking.  The Roman effort appears to have been an anti-counterfeiting measure; showing the inside of the coin.  This effort was, however, not completely successful as silver plated with copper core denarii serrati are known.


FORVM's Seleucid Serrate Bronze Quick Attribution Tool

Ruler, reign

Obverse (right unless indicated)

Reverse

Spaer pg

SGCV II


HGC9

SC

Seleukos IV, 187 - 175 BC

Apollo long hair, laureate & diad

Apollo leaning on tripod, examining arrow (AE21-24)

122

6968


584

 

Seleukos IV, 187 - 75 BC

Dionysos w/ivy

Prow left

126

6970


586

 

Seleukos IV, 187 - 175 BC

Artemis w/quiver

Artemis standing, torch in left, stag right

128

6971


591

 

Seleukos IV, 187 - 175 BC

Veiled female (Laodike IV)

Elephant head left, SELUEKOU below

128

6972


592

 

Antiochus IV, 175 - c. 165 BC

Veiled female (Laodike IV)

Elephant head left over prow left, ANTIOCOU below

138



686

1477

Antiochus IV, 175 - c. 165 BC

Apollo diad, control mark l

Apollo std l on omphalos, arrow in r, left on bow, apluster l

146



725

1478

Antiochus IV, 175 - c. 165 BC

Antiochus rad & diad, fillet border

Veiled & draped goddess (Hera?), long torch or scepter in r

156

6994


726

1479 

Demetrius I, 162 - 150 BC

Apollo

Tripod (AE24-27)

180

7026


821

 

Demetrius I, 162 - 150 BC

Artemis w/quiver

Bow and quiver

180

7027


826

 

Demetrius I, 162 - 150 BC

Horse head left

Elephant head right

180

7028


833

 

Demetrius I, 162 - 150 BC

Artemis w/quiver

Apollo standing left, arrow in r, left on grounded bow

180



852

 

Alexander I, 150 - 145 BC

Alexander diad

Zeus enthroned left, Nike in r, long scepter in l

198

7043


909

 

Alexander I, 150 - 145 BC

Alexander diad

Athena standing left, Nike in r, left on grounded shield

198



900

 

Alexander I, 150 - 145 BC

Alexander diad

Prow left

198



925

 

Alexander I, 150 - 145 BC

Alexander diad

Tripod (AE16-19)

198



926

 

Alexander I, 150 - 145 BC

Alexander diad

Apollo seated l on omphalos, arrow in r, left on bow

200



907

 

Alexander I, 150 - 145 BC

Alexander diad

Owl standing facing

202

7045


920

 

Demetrius II, 145 - 138 BC

Demetrius diad, youthful

Demeter veiled & draped, long torch in r

235

7069



 

Antiochus VI, 144 - c. 142 BC

Antiochus diad & rad

Elephant left (AE19-24)

240

7081


1043

 

Antiochus VI, 144 - c. 142 BC

Antiochus diad & rad

Apollo leaning on tripod, examining arrow

240

7082


1046

 

Antiochus VI, 144 - c. 142 BC

Antiochus diad & rad

Panther walking left, palm frond in mouth, right forepaw raised

240

7083


1048

 

Antiochus VI, 144 - c. 142 BC

Antiochus diad & rad

Nike walking l, wreath raised in r, palm in left

240

7084


1052

 

Antiochus VI, 144 - c. 142 BC

Antiochus diad & rad

Horse walking l, right foreleg raised

242



1054

 

Alexander II, 128 -123 BC

Dionysos w/ivy

Tyche standing left, rudder in r, cornucopia in l

312

7133


1166

 

Alexander II, 128 -123 BC

Elephant head

Eagle l, wings open

318



  1178

 



Serrati Republican Denarii

by Alexandru Marian

Those of you who are familiar with the republican coinage, surely know a particular type, called "serrati."  Since I saw my first serrati, I have been fascinated by them, wondering the purpose of the serration and what manufacturing process was used to create them. After discovering the internet, and upon the acquisition of my first serrati, I started looking for information about them.  The questions I wanted to answer were: Why were they made?  And how were they made?  Despite my efforts, I did not find a satisfactory answers.  A few lines here and there, only stating that it is not known how they were made of if they had a special purpose.  It was implied that the flans were probably cut with a chisel, before striking. 

Since I am a "technical guy", I said, "let's give it a try."  I carefully examined the cuts on a sample of serrati.  It was immediately clear the cuts were made before striking.  What struck me is, the cuts were not perpendicular to the coin surface, but they fell from right (on the bottom) to left (on the top), like this:

\\ \\ \\ \\ \\ \\ \\ \\ \\

Now let's have a look at the edge of an actual coin.
 All the images below can be enlarged by clicking on them.

 

I will refer to the angle between each serrati cut and perpendicular to the coin's surface as the alpha angle. The alpha angle is present on every serrati coin I have studied.  With only one exception, each coin had the cuts falling from right to left as in the image above.  On the single exception, the cuts were also angled, but fell in the opposite direction. 

Speculating on the cause for of the alpha angle and the single variation from the normal right to left angle, I developed my hypothesis.  The cuts were made by striking the flan on the edge with a sharp tool, most likely a chisel in a form similar to a butcher's cleaver.  One hand held the cutting tool and the other hand held the flan with pliers and rotated the flan by rolling it on a surface.  If the flan was held in comfortable natural way, in front of the body, the normal arm movement would create cuts with the alpha angle. The right to left alpha angles would result from cutting by men holding the cutting tool in the right hand.  Since most men are right handed, this explains why most serrati have a right to left alpha angle.  The single reversed alpha angle observed would be the result of a left handed worker holding the cutting tool in the left hand.  The diagram below illustrates my hypothesis. 

I was determined to test my hypothesis.  First, I made an iron tool resembling the tool above.  Then I took a modern silver coin, of the same thickness as a republican denarius and copied the process.  The image below shows the result after cutting.

The next step was to imitate the die strike process.  I placed the coin on an iron surface and smashed it with a hammer.  You can see the results after striking in the images below:

My test coin serrati features are almost identical to Roman serrati denarii.  Since I am right handed, the alpha angle is from left to right.  The cuts are somewhat narrower than on the ancient coins, apparently because my cutting tool was thinner than those used by the Roman mints.  My test results provide convincing evidence to support my hypothesis. 



Dictionary of Roman Coins


Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.


Serrati Nummi.--Coins are thus called which have their edges regularly notched round like the teeth of a saw.  These serrated or denticulated; medals are common amongst the products of the consular mint up to the time of Augustus, after which scarcely one is to be found.

Thus specimens of this ancient practice are seen on the coins of Antonia, Aquilia, Claudia, Cornelia, Domitia, Mamilia, Maria, Memmia, Papia, Porcia, Postumia, Procilia, Roscia, Sulpicia, and other moneyers

It was a precaution adopted, as Pinkerton observes, by incision; to prevent forgery, by showing the insides of the coin.  "But," adds this scientific numismatist, "the old forgers also imitated this; and I have a serrated consular coin, of which the incisions, like the rest are plated with silver over copper."--From a brief passage in Tacitus (l.v. De Mor. Germ.), it would seem that the Germans had a partiality for this class of Roman money--"Pecuniam probant veterem et diu notam, serratos, bigatosque."

The brass coins of the Syrian kings (such as the Seleucidae) also exhibit the same peculiarity; but this probably was done to them as an ornamental feature, and the metal was cast in that shape before they were struck.


View whole page from the Dictionary Of Roman Coins

 

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