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Index Of All Titles


Alexander Tetradrachms
Ancient Coin Collecting 101
Ancient Coins & Modern Fakes
Ancient Counterfeits
Ancient Glass
Ancient Weapons
Ancient Wages and Prices
Ancient Weights and Scales
Anonymous Folles
Anonymous Follis
Anonymous Class A Folles
Armenian Numismatics Page
Byzantine Denominations
A Cabinet of Greek Coins
A Case of Counterfeits
Clashed Dies
Coins of Pontius Pilate
Conditions of Manufacture
Countermarked in Late Antiquity
Dictionary of Roman Coins
Doug Smith's Ancient Coins
Edict on Prices
Facing Portrait of Augustus
Fel Temp Reparatio
Fertility Pregnancy and Childbirth
Friend or Foe
Greek Alphabet
Greek Dates
Greek Mythology Link
Hellenistic Names & their Meanings
Helvetica's ID Help Page
Historia Numorum
Illustrated Ancient Coin Glossary
Imperial Mints of Philip the Arab
Latin Plurals
Latin Pronunciation
Library of Ancient Coinage
Life in Ancient Rome
Maps of the Ancient World
Military Belts
Mint Marks
Nabataean Numerals
Not in RIC
Numismatic Bulgarian
Numismatic Excellence Award
Numismatic French
Numismatic German
Numismatic Italian
Numismatic Spanish
Parthian Coins
Paleo-Hebrew Alphabet
Phoenician Alphabet
Pi-Style Athens Tetradrachms
Pricing and Grading Roman Coins
Roman Coin Attribution 101
Roman Mints
Roman Names
Serdi Celts
Silver Content of Parthian Drachms
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum
Syracusian Folles
The Evolving Ancient Coin Market
The Sign that Changed the World
The Temple Tax Hoard
Travels of Paul
Tribute Penny
Tribute Penny Debate Continued (2015)
Tribute Penny Debate Revisited (2006)
Tyrian Shekels
What Did The Julio Claudians Really Look Like?
What I Like About Ancient Coins
Widow's Mite


Sestertius (quasi sesquitertius), the sesterce, a coin in value two asses and a half. It was, therefore, one fourth part of the denarius, and the half of the quinarius, and, when the value of the Roman coinage underwent a change, it shared with them a common fate. It was the smallest coin of the Roman silver mint (exclusive of the "pretended libella", which was the tenth part of a denarius, about three farthings of our money). - The sestertius is marked IIS., shewing it to be worth two as and a semis, which multiplied by four make the denarius. - On the well-known medal of Hadrian inscribed RELIQVA VETERA &c. (see this article), as well as on other ancient monuments and in published books, it is written IIS., namely, with a small line joining together each mark of the as, thus resembling the letter H.

Hoffman, quoted by Rasche, says - "Four sesterces make a denarius, that is ten asses, which, if it is silver, is equal in weight to a drachm."

The sesterce has for its types, on one side a female head helmeted and winged, behind it IIS., on the reverse are the Dioscuri on horseback, and below ROMA. - This little coin is by no means common. Eckhel had seen but two; one belonging to the Cordia family, ascertained to be a sesterce solely by its weight; the other to the Sepullia family, which, besides the right weight, had the mark IIS.

The simple sesterce, or little sesterce, says Kolb, was worth about four sous French money (2d. English).

At the epocha when, according to the generally received opinion, silver money was introduced at Rome, viz., in the year 269 before Christ (485th of the city), the monetal unit (l'unité monétaire) was changed; the As, which had become successively of a less important value, ceased to be used in numbering sums. The sesterce was adopted as the monetal unit, probably because this real money (monnaie effective) was the intermedial coin of three established forms of specie.

View whole page from the Dictionary Of Roman Coins