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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numism  |  Reading For the Advanced Collector  |  Topic: An overstruck AE 3 of Constantine I at Trier 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: An overstruck AE 3 of Constantine I at Trier  (Read 3559 times)
curtislclay
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« on: June 10, 2008, 12:10:30 am »

I wonder if this coin is official or an ancient imitation.  Are other Trier coins of this issue also known to have been overstruck?

Overtype:  CONSTA - NTINVS AVG, helmeted bust r. / BEAT[A TRANQVILLI]TAS, .PTR. in exergue, altar inscribed VO / TIS / XX, globe and three stars above.  2.64 g, 19-20 mm, axis 7h.  RIC VII Trier 368, dated to 322-3 AD.

Undertype:  Might be RIC VII Trier 157-9, dated to 317-8 AD:  IMP CONSTANTINVS AVG, laureate portrait r. / SOLI INVICTO COMITI, F - T in field, .ATR or BTR in exergue.  I illustrate below from Wildwinds a similar coin but without IMP in its obv. legend.

Still surviving beneath the overstrike: Constantine's nose and mouth, the outline of his head, his wreath ties and back shoulder, underneath the altar on the reverse; beginning of obv. legend IMP CON... at left.  The image of the rev. below is aligned so that the overstruck portrait is upright, to make it easier to spot.

Surviving of the original rev. type:  the clear letter T in r. field, on Constantine's cuirass of the overtype.  The lines to the l. of the T are probably the drapery fold hanging down from Sol's l. arm.

Die axis of the undertypes: upright, 0h.
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Curtis Clay
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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2008, 09:09:54 pm »

I think it would have to be unofficial since Constantine's coinage reform of c.318-319 noticably increased the silver content of the coinage, likely corresponding with a denomination change (nummus to centenionalis) and increased value. A nummus undertype would not have high enough silver content to be restruck officially with a post-reform type.

The style seems good though, so possibly a moonlighting effort by mint personnel? I've seen a few others where a low value undertype (often Licinius's late 12 1/2 DC Iovi) has been restruck with a later higher value type in decent style.

Ben
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curtislclay
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« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2008, 12:29:19 pm »

Thanks, that makes sense.

The main reason I hesitated to accept the overstrike as official was its rarity; I can't recall having seen any similar coins.  But if it was official policy to overstrike this issue on earlier coins, one would have to notice traces of overstriking on most of the surviving specimens!
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Curtis Clay
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« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2008, 12:56:27 pm »

I agree. The reform of 318 is believed to have coincided with a demonetizing of the existing bronze/billon coinage. Boon in 'Counterfeit coins in Roman Britain' refers to this reform as a "watershed" (p. 137).  Although the legislative evidence has not survived, hoards tend to either begin or end with this reform and the acute shortage of small change resulting from the associated demonetization is the apparent cause of the first of several waves of epidemic counterfeiting in the 4th century. While many of the demonetized coins made their way into the counterfeiter's melting-pot, a certain number were simply over-struck with false dies of the new type(s). Though not as abundant as counterfeits of the period struck on fresh flans, the illicit overstrikes (based on my own fairly casual observation) are not uncommon as a class.

--Dave
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Robert_Brenchley
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« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2008, 03:41:26 pm »

Looking at the eye on the overstrike, it really has to be unofficial.
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Robert Brenchley

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« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2008, 09:59:37 pm »

The apparent demonetization of 318 is new info for me, so I would like to know more. Has it been proposed to explain hoard evidence? Can you point me towards the studies that demonstrate this increase in silver content c318? RIC is quiet here...

Retariffing is one thing (a la Diocletian), as it would presumably also increase the tariff of coins already in circulation. But to retariff AND demonetize earlier coinage at the same time would require a physical and readily apparent change in the coins themselves, would it not? Otherwise how would people have confidence in their values? Based on the reverse design??? Seems impractial.

For it to work in practice, a man in the street would need to be able to look at all the coins in his purse and readily separate the higher value coins from the older ones. After some circulation the new ae3's would look the same as the old demonetised ones, with the exception of the reverse design. A slightly higher silver content in the 'new' coins would not be obvious to the man in the street.

Regards,
Ian
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khingila
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« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2008, 11:12:54 pm »

"Counterfeiting seems to have been on a fairly small scale until until the reform of 318, but that reform is something of a watershed in late Roman monetary history. Hoards tend to end or begin with it and this is a fact which must point to a legislative background obscure to us: perhaps the earlier issues were demonetized, becoming pecuniae vetitae, to adopt the expression of a later imperial edict ", George Boon, 'Counterfeit Coins in Roman Britain' in Coins and the Archaeologist (2nd ed.), London, 1988.

The edict referred to above is preserved in the Codex Theodosianus IX, 23.1 which refers to the reform of AD 348 and the concurrent demonetization of existing coins, which are therein called pecuniae vetitae ("prohibited money"). We know that something happened in 318 to cause hoarding on a large scale and a severe empire-wide shortage of small change which in turn stimulated counterfeiting on an epidemic level. While Brunn in RIC VII does not mention demonetization he does refer to the reform of 318 as a "barrier" stating "except for stray pieces the hoards either close immediately before the Victoria laetae coinage or start with that coinage" (p. 13). Brunn then explains that there is no extra-monetary explanation for the "high number of hoard burials in 318-19" such as political strife or invasion and so attributes the cause rather nebulously to "monetary conditions". We can't be certain exactly what happened since, as Boon notes, the "legislative background" is lost to us. We do know, however, from the Codex Theodosianus that in 348 demonetization indeed was a factor in a similar episode of reform followed by epidemic counterfeiting.

I really can't agree with your notion that a new reverse type would not be enough to separate the old from the new. I assure you that if tomorrow the US government announced that only Washington quarters with state reverses were valid from that point on, I would be most careful not to accept any with eagle reverses! I don't think I would find it so difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

--Dave
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mwilson603
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« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2008, 11:49:16 pm »

I really can't agree with your notion that a new reverse type would not be enough to separate the old from the new. I assure you that if tomorrow the US government announced that only Washington quarters with state reverses were valid from that point on, I would be most careful not to accept any with eagle reverses! I don't think I would find it so difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.
OK Dave, as a rank amateur here, I am going to stick my neck out and ask what may well be a stupid question.  If it is please be gentle with the public humiliation. Smiley

So what would you do if you had a purse full of a similar reverse type that was struck across the time frame?  For example, the common IOVI CONSERVATORI type at Nicomedia was struck between 313 and 324.  Not much chance of looking in your purse and saying "Ah, this one was pre 318, so not worth as much now.  Even the legends on RIC VII Nicomedia 14 and RIC VII Nicomedia 43 are the same and yet RIC has 14 as 313-317, and 43 as 321-324.  OK, there are some differences in the devices, but with coins aften struck off flan, with worn dies etc, that would be a very hit and miss way of anyone knowing which was which.

regards

Mark
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Maximinvs
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« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2008, 12:05:58 am »

Thanks Dave.

Is suppose the difference with the reform of 348AD was that the new coinage was clearly different to the old, not an identical module.

I am not sure how many different types of quarters are in use today, presumably only one? If several dozen types of quarter were in use then it might be a tad harder to weed out the chaf...It would certainly be possible to sort by reverse type but just timeconsuming and impractical (IMO).

Good thread!

Regards,
Ian
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khingila
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« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2008, 11:57:33 am »

Quote

So what would you do if you had a purse full of a similar reverse type that was struck across the time frame?  For example, the common IOVI CONSERVATORI type at Nicomedia was struck between 313 and 324.  Not much chance of looking in your purse and saying "Ah, this one was pre 318, so not worth as much now.  Even the legends on RIC VII Nicomedia 14 and RIC VII Nicomedia 43 are the same and yet RIC has 14 as 313-317, and 43 as 321-324.  OK, there are some differences in the devices, but with coins aften struck off flan, with worn dies etc, that would be a very hit and miss way of anyone knowing which was which.


The reform of 318 was effected by Constantine and so would not have directly affected the mints under Licinius' control until after his defeat in 324. We do see some reaction by Licinius however who apparently reduced the value of his folles from 25 denarii to 12-1/2 denarii c. 320 and reduced the number of working officinae in his mints from 37 to 22. (see RIC VII, pp. 11f). Now talk about a hard one to spot - the only obvious difference between a IOVI CONSERVATORI of 320 worth 25 denarii and a IOVI CONSERVATORI of 321 worth 12-1/2 denarii seems to have been the little numeral in the field!

My real expertise is in the "barbarous" counterfeits, not the official coinage per se, so I don't want to overstep my knowledge here. The best and most overlooked parts of RIC are the introductions. I followed Boon's footnotes to the pages I have cited in this thread.

BTW - for those abroad, by the end of this year in the US our circulating quarters will have 51 different reverse types and two distinct obverse types.
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