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Limes denarius

These are thought to be coins minted either officially or pseudo-officially on the fringes of the empire out of necessity. Perhaps they were used to pay soldiers on the extreme frontiers of the Roman territories or maybe to bolster the economy of regions far from the normal means of monetary distribution. Whatever the reason, many of these coins exist.

According to Doug Smith 's postscript to The Vocabulary of Classical Numismatics, many Roman coins can be classified as "coins of necessity":

Of uncertain status are thousands (millions?) of surviving bronze coins of the Severan era that copy silver denarii. Some examples still bear traces of a very thin silver wash... Termed Limes (Lim-ace) or coins of the borders, these may be another example of coins of necessity. They may also be officially sanctioned issues for use in regions where political unrest made it hazardous to ship large amounts of silver. These low value issues could have served troops on the front and been redeemable for good coinage when they returned to the stable regions.

The name "Limes Denarius", although a misnomer, has been applied to these so often that it has stuck. Here again, although we know that these AE denarii are more or less faithful copies of silver prototypes, and we know that they were both struck and cast in various places - we even have numerous molds and forgers ' dies - we don 't understand the role, if any, they may have played in the official monetary system. Were they copies made by semi-Romanized folks just outside the reach of empire? - folks who had become accustomed to the use of coin but who did not have access to official supplies? Were they a form of military scrip meant to keep large quantities of precious metal from falling into enemy hands in the event of a defeat - and presumably redeemable in good coin at some future date? Were they out-and-out counterfeits? Were they particularly debased official issues? (well, the cast ones probably weren 't) Or did they fill some, as-yet unknown function? They might have done any or all of these at various times and places.

See limes denarii and counterfeit, unofficial, imitative, and barbaric Roman coins for sale in the Forum Ancient Coins shop.

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