Numismatic and History Discussions > Celtic, Barbaric & Tribal Imitative Coins

Help ID Unknown emperor ???

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Just out of interest Tanit, how would you now describe the second coin you posted  ::) ;D

Lech Stępniewski:
Personally, I like term "an ancient imitation". It clarly states that an object is ancient but does not determine who made it: barbarian, forger etc. and when it was made: exactly at the same time as original or 50, 100, 200 years  later.


--- Quote from: Arados on October 19, 2021, 05:06:35 am ---Just out of interest Tanit, how would you now describe the second coin you posted  ::) ;D

--- End quote ---

I already posted it here and Pekka K identified it:
'Unofficial imitation of Crispus as Caesar (317-326), AE follis, issued 320 (produced c. 320-337). Imitating Thessalonica, 2.96g, 17mm.'

Virgil H:
This is interesting because I draw a distinction between "contemporary imitation" and barbaric imitation" and I would ask if my logic makes sense to you. I am certainly willing to change my current thoughts on this.

Contemporary imitation: an ancient forgery meant to be used like counterfeit money today. Not official. Coins meant to deceive.

Barbaric imitation: a coin modeled after an official coin by a tribe or group outside the official minting process of the modeled coin's origin. I never thought they were meant to really deceive because most are quite obviously stylistic in many ways. They were also "official" as far as the tribe was concerned, I assume, in most cases.

Did the Romans, for example, care if the tribes were minting coins that were modeled after theirs? I assume they did not approve of forgeries and have always thought they were probably OK with the tribal coins.

What do you think?


Hoard and distribution evidence has shown that most of the so-called barbaric imitations was actually made, and used, inside the Empire.  Even very "barbaric" looking ones with entirely blundered legends.  The notion that they all come from barbaric tribes is wrong. 

It is uncertain exactly why coin designs were so "barbaric".  Some were undoubtedly due to lack of skill, others may have incorporated regional artistic styles, others may have been done on purpose to show that you were making a "currency of necessity" to meet a shortage and not engaging in true counterfeiting, as many of these imitative types were clearly tolerated by officials.

The term "barbaric" therefore is more often used today to refer to style - without actual judgement as to whether it was made inside or outside the Empire.

Similarly the term "contemporary imitation" is used, often in preference to the more judgmental "barbaric", to signify a coin type that is ancient but was not official.

Some related reading suggestions:
Jeremie Chameroy, Comment les monnaies romaines étaient-elles exportées.
Alexander Burschke, Circulation of Roman Coinage in Northern Europe in Late Antiquity
Delia Moisil, The Danube Limes and Barbaricum (294-498 AD): A Study in Coin Circulation.

The coin in question (a beautiful example by the way) is clearly a contemporary imitation of a FEL TEMP REPARATIO Falling Horseman.  With the blundered legends and odd style one could be forgiven for calling it a barbaric imitation - though that does not indicate geographic origin. 

Interestingly, the bust lacks diadem and ties, which indicates a caesar on official coins.  While exaggerated, the long hair seems to indicate an imitation of an early coin of Gallus.



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