See aslo Greek Alphabet.
See also Phoenician Alphabet.
See also Historia Numorum-Alphabets.
Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.
ALPHABET.--It is not uncommon to see single letters of the alphabet in the field of coins of the moneyers of the Roman Republic1 or in the billion, silvered and bronze coins of the empire.
For coins of the Republic these letters are control symbols. Their specific use is uncertain and may have varied. Most likely they were used for the security of dies or to track the productivity and integrity of different workshops using the dies.
Eckhel enumerates a few of the coins of the Republic; observing that these letters sometimes appear on the obverse, at other times on the revers; with this regulation, that whichever side the moneyere once fixes on, he constantly adheres to it. The denarii of Herennius, and of Antonius Balbus, present exceptions to this rule: they vary the stations of these letters.
In some types, when the letters are on the obverse, the same re-appear on the reverse. In others, Latin letters are mixed with Greek characters. Others again exhibit different letters occupying the obverse side, while arithmetical signs apper on the reverse. For some series the obverse and reverse dies were paired and the particular symbol found on the obverse die will only be matched with a specific symbol on the reverse die. For some series the moneyer used the whole alphabet.
Later in the imperial period the officina, or workshop, striking the coin would often be indicated by a Roman or Greek letter in a field, in the exergue, or in the Byzantine period, following the reverse legend.
View whole page from the Dictionary Of Roman Coins
1. The Dictionary of Roman Coins refers to coins of the Republic issued by the various moneyers as "family coins." That term is incorrect and is no longer used. The coins were issued by the state, not by families. The name of a moneyer on a coins then woud be little different from the name of the treasurer on a paper note today.