- The Collaborative Numismatics Project
  Explore Our Website And Find Joy In The History, Numismatics, Art, Mythology, And Geography Of Coins!!! NumisWiki Is An Enormous Unique Resource Including Hundreds Of Books And Thousands Of Articles Online!!! The Column On The Left Includes Our "Best of NumisWiki" Menu If You Are New To Collecting - Start With Ancient Coin Collecting 101 NumisWiki Includes The Encyclopedia of Roman Coins and Historia Nummorum If You Have Written A Numismatic Article - Please Add It To NumisWiki All Blue Text On The Website Is Linked - Keep Clicking To ENDLESSLY EXPLORE!!! Please Visit Our Shop And Find A Coin You Love Today!!!

× Resources Home
New Articles
Most Popular
Recent Changes
Current Projects
Admin Discussions
How to
Index Of All Titles


Aes Formatum
Aes Grave
Aes Rude
The Age of Gallienus
Alexander Tetradrachms
Ancient Coin Collecting 101
Ancient Coin Prices 101
Ancient Coin Dates
Ancient Coin Lesson Plans
Ancient Coins & Modern Fakes
Ancient Counterfeits
Ancient Glass
Ancient Metal Arrowheads
Ancient Oil Lamps
Ancient Pottery
Ancient Weapons
Ancient Wages and Prices
Ancient Weights and Scales
Anonymous Folles
Anonymous Follis
Anonymous Class A Folles
Antioch Officinae
Armenian Numismatics Page
Augustus - Facing Portrait
Byzantine Denominations
A Cabinet of Greek Coins
Caesarean and Actian Eras
Campgates of Constantine
A Case of Counterfeits
Byzantine Christian Themes
Clashed Dies
Coins of Pontius Pilate
Conditions of Manufacture
Corinth Coins and Cults
Countermarked in Late Antiquity
Danubian Celts
Damnatio Coinage
Damnatio Memoriae
Denarii of Otho
Diameter 101
Die Alignment 101
Dictionary of Roman Coins
Doug Smith's Ancient Coins
Edict on Prices
ERIC - Rarity Tables
Etruscan Alphabet
The Evolving Ancient Coin Market
Fel Temp Reparatio
Fertility Pregnancy and Childbirth
Friend or Foe
The Gallic Empire
Gallienus Zoo
Greek Alphabet
Greek Coins
Greek Dates
Greek Coin Denominations
Greek Mythology Link
Greek Numismatic Dictionary
Hellenistic Names & their Meanings
Hasmonean Dynasty
Helvetica's ID Help Page
The Hexastyle Temple of Caligula
Historia Numorum
Holy Land Antiquities
Horse Harnesses
Identifying Ancient Metal Arrowheads
Illustrated Ancient Coin Glossary
Important Collection Auctions
Islamic Rulers and Dynasties
Julian II: The Beard and the Bull
Julius Caesar - The Funeral Speech
Kushan Coins
People in the Bible Who Issued Coins
Imperial Mints of Philip the Arab
Later Roman Coinage
Latin Plurals
Latin Pronunciation
Library of Ancient Coinage
Life in Ancient Rome
List of Kings of Judea
Malloy Weapons
Maps of the Ancient World
Military Belts
Mint Marks
Museum Collections Available Online
Nabataean Alphabet
Nabataean Numerals
The [Not] Cuirassed Elephant
Not in RIC
Numismatic Bulgarian
Numismatic Excellence Award
Numismatic French
Numismatic German
Numismatic Italian
Numismatic Spanish
Parthian Coins
Patina 101
Paleo-Hebrew Alphabet
Paleo-Hebrew Script Styles
Phoenician Alphabet
Pi-Style Athens Tetradrachms
Pricing and Grading Roman Coins
Reading Judean Coins
Representations of Alexander the Great
Roman Coin Attribution 101
Roman Locks
Roman Militaria
Roman Military Belts
Roman Mints
Roman Names
Rome and China
Satyrs and Nymphs
Serdi Celts
The Sign that Changed the World
Silver Content of Parthian Drachms
Star of Bethlehem Coins
Statuary Coins
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum
Syracusian Folles
Taras Drachms with Owl Left
The Temple Tax
The Temple Tax Hoard
Test Cut
Travels of Paul
Tribute Penny
Tribute Penny Debate Continued (2015)
Tribute Penny Debate Revisited (2006)
Tyrian Shekels
Uncleaned Ancient Coins 101
Venus Cloacina
What I Like About Ancient Coins
Who was Trajan Decius
Widow's Mite

   View Menu

The Coins of Gallienus ' "Zoo" Collection

By Jim Phelps

First, a very brief historical background on the period:

Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus was about 40 when his father Valerian was declared emperor by his troops in 253. Gallienus was made Caesar immediately by his father, but was declared as an emperor (Augustus) within a month, when his father arrived in Rome. He was given responsibility over the western provinces, while Valerian moved east to fight the new Persian Sassanian kingdom. They would not see each other again.

Gallienus ruled as a co-emperor from 253-260, before the treacherous capture of his father by the Sassanian king Shapur I. Gallienus ' sons had also been declared as Caesars, but by the end of 260 both had perished. From 260-268 he ruled alone, during one of the most difficult times of the empire. Not only was the empire facing invasions on all sides from various barbarian groups, but he had to face at least 8 rebellions from his own governors and generals!


Antoniniani of Gallienus ' family. Wife Salonina, and sons Valerian II and Saloninus.


Antoniniani of some of the rebels. Macrianus, Quietus, Postumus, and a coin struck in Mediolanum by Aureolus in support of Postumus.

Given the disasters that occurred during his reign and the fact that "the winners write the history books", it 's not surprising that he is portrayed very negatively. However, given the fact that Gallienus managed to remain emperor for fifteen years during all of this chaos suggests otherwise. A look at the battles and rebellions that took place show him going back and forth almost constantly during his reign fighting battles, trying to hold his empire together. He simply had the misfortune to be the ruler of the Roman Empire at the time when, through a variety of reasons, the empire seemed bent on falling apart. Gallienus managed to bring the empire through this incredibly difficult period without complete disaster.

Perhaps due to all of these problems, the rate of inflation soared incredibly during this period. The antoninianus, which had begun as a silver coin, was by now heavily debased. So many of these were being pumped out of the mints that they now offer the collector a huge, and generally very affordable, selection.

One group of these coins was issued very near the end of his reign and honor nine Roman deities, asking for their protection against these troubles. The legend on the backs of the coins translates as "To (the named deity) Preserver of Augustus". There are a rich variety of animals on these, some real and some mythical. This series is sometimes called the "Zoo" of Gallienus. The links below are arranged by which deity the coin was dedicated to - Apollo, Diana, Liber Pater, Jupiter, Hercules, Neptune, Mercury, and Sol. Gallienus ' wife, Salonina, also issued coins for this series, asking Juno for protection. It 's possible that these coins also refer to religious festivals or games to entertain the Roman people, hopefully diverting their attention from the continuing rebellions, invasions, and plagues and thus help in maintaining the security of the rulers.

The Cunetio Hoard consisting of 54,951 coins was found in England in 1978, and is sometimes used as an example of the coins in circulation when it was buried in the early 270 's. About 30% of the coins in the hoard were struck for Gallienus and his family. Of these, 2737 belonged to the "Zoo" series. Using these numbers, and taking into consideration that only Gallienus and his wife (but NOT his sons) produced coins in this series, we come up with a very rough approximation (just this side of a wild guess) that roughly 14% of Gallienus ' total coins minted belong to the Zoo series.

The chart below has links to pages showing coins from each part of this series, as well as census information taken from the Cunetio Hoard. The percentage information below seems a bit off from what has been showing up in the marketplace. Though the coins of Diana and Apollo do show up more often than the rest, the coins of Sol, Jupiter, Liber and Neptune are still much more common than the numbers would have us guess.

Deity Typical reverse legend Number Percentage Typical animal
Doe, stag, antelope/gazelle
Centaur, gryphon
Pegasus/winged horse, bull
Capricorn, hippocamp
Lion, boar

Officina # Primary type Secondary type
A (Alpha)
Pegasus/winged horse (Sol) (Siscia-none) Lion (Hercules)
B (Beta)
Panther/tigress (Liber Pater) (Siscia-B or none)
Antelope (Diana)
Gryphon (Apollo) Doe/Elk/Capreolus (Juno)
Doe (Diana) Boar (Hercules)
Goat (Jupiter) Capricorn (Neptune)
Z (Zeta)
Centaur w/ bow (Apollo) (Siscia-SI above groundline)
E (Eta)
Centaur w/ globe (Apollo) Criocamp (Mercury)
B (Nu)
Hippocamp (Neptune)(Siscia-SI)
Stag (Diana)(Siscia-SI)
Gazelle (Diana)(Siscia-SI) Bull (Sol)
Gazelle (Diana)

During the reign of Gallienus, the Roman Imperial mints were beginning a system of putting mint and/or officina (workshop within a mint) marks on coins, a practice that was to continue throughout the remainder of the Imperial period. Among other things, this might have been needed for quality control, helping to trace irregularities in coin weights and alloys.

In later times the mint of Roma (Rome) used a letter abbreviation for the Latin number of the officina, such as P, S, T, or Q (prima, secunda, tertia, quarta). During this early period though, it was a more mixed system, using a combination of a Greek numbering scheme and Roman. Officinae numbers 1-8 used Greek numerals, while 9 used Nu , which normally meant 50. The normal Greek letter for 9 was Theta , but this was also the first letter of the Greek word for death, Thanatos, and seems to have been considered unlucky. Officinae 10-12 went back to typical Roman numerals, providing a mixed and sometimes confusing pattern. Soon after the reign of Gallienus the Imperial mints seem to have ironed out their system more, with western mints using the Latin numerals while the eastern ones used Greek, but the Gallienic period provides an interesting glimpse into the development of this system.

The number "6" by this reasoning is represented by the Greek letter stigma. For an excellent article on the use of this letter as a number, and it 's identification as stigma (as opposed to digamma) please see The Numismatica Font Project.

The vast majority of Zoo coins were produced at the mint of Rome, with a few rare examples coming from Siscia. Each officina produced a different coin within the series, with some producing a second, less common type also. Occasionally you 'll find an animal with the "wrong" officina mark. These are fascinating, and the rarity leads us to believe that they represented mistakes, perhaps when a die engraver was transferred from one workshop to another. He gets the right animal, but the wrong officina. Or maybe one workshop was falling behind, so another was temporarily enlisted to help catch up on the quota? I show the more common, apparently "official" animal/mint combinations on this table, including the more rare Siscia mint marks.

The following catalogue references are used for the coins throughout this section of the website:
Van Meter - "The Handbook of Roman Imperial Coins" by David Van Meter (1991) - My favorite general reference.
RIC V - "Roman Imperial Coinage", Volume V, part 1 - by PH Webb, edited by H Mattingly & EA Sydenham (1927)
SRCV - "Roman Coins and Their Values" - by David Sear (1988)
RSC IV - "Roman Silver Coins" - Volume 4 - by H.A. Seaby (1982)
Gbl MIR - "Moneta Imperii Romani 36, 43, 44 - Die Mnzprgung der Kaiser Valerianus I./Gallienus/Saloninus (253/268), Regalianus (260) und Macrianus/Quietus (260/262)" - by Robert Gbl (2000) - An excellent survey of coins of this period, from collections in European museums. Very complete with regards to representing each type, but probably not an absolute indicator of how common each type was, since the museums might have turned away multiple examples of common coins. Still, if you are interested in coins of this period, it 's invaluable.

Some other helpful references for this series are:
The Cunetio Treasure -Appendix 5 "The Animals on the 'Cons Aug ' Coins of Gallienus" - by E. Besly and R. Bland, with contributions by I. Carradice and C. Gingel (1983) - I refer to this constantly throughout this site. It is certainly the most thorough study that 's been done thus far on these coins.
Weigel - Gallienus ' 'Animal Series ' Coins and Roman Religion - by Richard D. Weigel in The Numismatic Chronicle #150 (1990)

There are some excellent resources for learning more about this series, and about other coins of Gallienus. I 'd like to recommend the following:
Ed Flinn 's Gallienus Coin Collection - a listing of coins by Gbl catalogue number. A truly amazing collection, and growing rapidly. If you have any interest in coins or this emperor or need references to help identify your Gallienus coin, visiting this site is a must.
Beast 's Gallienus Coins - Besides the "Zoo" series, Gallienus also issued coins honoring each of his legions, with the legionary badge (usually an animal) on the reverse. The Beast has a wonderful collection of animal coins, and also shows some of his own Gallienus "Zoo" coins on this page.

Coins of Gallienus ' Zoo
last modified: 7 Mar 2006
All coins are guaranteed for eternity