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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Numismatics| ▸ |Coded||View Options:  |  |  | 

The Roman "Secret" Codeword Coins

Some Roman antoniniani offer a unique and very interesting collecting focus - the embedded "secret" codeword series of Probus, Diocletian, and Maximian. Each of these coins was struck with the letters of a codeword "hidden" within the mintmark. Each officina (mint workshop) was assigned part of a codeword. When all the types from a codeword series are assembled in officina order, the embedded letters spell out the "secret" codeword: AEQVITI (for Probus at Rome), AEQVIT and later EQVITI (for Probus at Ticinum), IOBI (for Diocletian at Siscia), and HPKOYΛI (for Maximian at Siscia). The following articles in NumisWiki discuss these hidden codewords:

"Coins of Probus with coded markings of AEQVITI" by Chip Scoppa

"The Translation of the Codewords AEQVITI, IOBI, and HPKOY" by Gert Boersema

"EQVITI Coins of Probus" by Doug Smith

Probus, Summer 276 - September 282 A.D.; EQVITI Series III of Ticinum - * | I VIXXI

|Probus|, |Probus,| |Summer| |276| |-| |September| |282| |A.D.;| |EQVIT<u>I</u>| |Series| |III| |of| |Ticinum| |-| |*| ||| |<u>I</u>| |VIXXI||antoninianus|
Ticinum mint EQVITI series III - click AEQVITI to read the NumisWiki article, "Coins of Probus with Coded Markings of EQVITI Embedded in the mint mark." The letter "I" in the reverse field is the sixth letter of the codeword EQVITI. The letter "VI" in the exergue indicates this coin was struck by the sixth officina (mint workshop). The letters of the word EQVITI are coded in the mint marks of coins from all the officinae of the mint, with the specific letters of the codeword assigned to each officina in order corresponding with their officina numbers. This codeword probably refers to cavalry. It may be AEQVITI truncated because there were only six officinae in operation.
RA87600. Billon antoninianus, Hunter IV 170; RIC V-2 525; Cohen VI 612, Pink p. 67, em. 10; SRCV III 12033, Choice aMS, nearly as struck, lustrous full silvering, excellent centering, bold strike, areas of light toning, weight 3.639 g, maximum diameter 24.5 mm, die axis 0o, 6th officina, Ticinum (Pavia, Italy) mint, 282 A.D.; obverse VIRTVS PROBI AVG (the valor of Emperor Probus), radiate bust left in consular robe, eagle-tipped scepter in right; reverse SECVRIT PERP (everlasting security), Securitas standing left raising right hand to head, resting left elbow on column, star left, I right, VIXXI in exergue; SOLD


Probus, Summer 276 - September 282 A.D.; EQVITI Series II of Ticinum, I, QXXI

|Probus|, |Probus,| |Summer| |276| |-| |September| |282| |A.D.;| |EQV<u>I</u>TI| |Series| |II| |of| |Ticinum,| |<u>I</u>,| |QXXI||antoninianus|
Ticinum mint EQVITI series II - click AEQVITI to read the NumisWiki article, Coins of Probus with Coded Markings of EQVITI Embedded in the mint mark. The letter I in the reverse field is the fourth letter of the codeword EQVITI. The letter Q in the exergue indicates this coin was struck by the fourth officina (mint workshop). The letters of the word EQVITI are coded in the mint marks of coins from all the officinae of the mint, with the specific letters of the codeword assigned to each officina in order corresponding with their officina numbers. This codeword probably refers to cavalry. It may be AEQVITI truncated because there were only six officinae in operation.
RA35030. Billon antoninianus, Hunter IV 148; RIC V-2 508; Pink VI-1, p. 67, 9/4; Cohen VI 352; SRCV III -, Choice aEF, weight 3.538 g, maximum diameter 22.2 mm, die axis 180o, 4th officina, Ticinum (Pavia, Italy) mint, 9th emission, 281 A.D.; obverse IMP C PROBVS AVG, radiate mantled bust left, eagle-tipped scepter in right; reverse MARTI PACIF (to Mars the peacemaker), Mars advancing left, holding olive-branch, shield and spear, I left, QXXI in exergue; SOLD


Probus, Summer 276 - September 282 A.D.; EQVITI Series II of Ticinum, Q, SXXI

|Probus|, |Probus,| |Summer| |276| |-| |September| |282| |A.D.;| |E<u>Q</u>VITI| |Series| |II| |of| |Ticinum,| |<u>Q</u>,| |SXXI||antoninianus|
Ticinum mint EQVITI series II - click AEQVITI to read the NumisWiki article, "Coins of Probus with Coded Markings of EQVITI Embedded in the mint mark." The letter "Q" in the reverse field is the second letter of the codeword EQVITI. The letter "S" in the exergue indicates this coin was struck by the second officina (mint workshop). The letters of the word EQVITI are coded in the mint marks of coins from all the officinae of the mint, with the specific letters of the codeword assigned to each officina in order corresponding with their officina numbers. This codeword probably refers to cavalry. It may be AEQVITI truncated because there were only six officinae in operation.
RA66591. Billon antoninianus, RIC V-2 491, VF, nice centering, attractive green patina, flan crack, weight 3.258 g, maximum diameter 23.7 mm, die axis 180o, 2nd officina, Ticinum (Pavia, Italy) mint, 281 A.D.; obverse VIRTVS PROBI AVG (the valor of Emperor Probus), radiate, helmeted and cuirassed bust left, spear in right over shoulder, shield on left arm; reverse PROVIDENT AVG (the foresight of the Emperor), Providentia standing left holding globe in right and transverse scepter in left hand,Q in left field, SXXI in exergue; SOLD







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REFERENCES

Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 6: Macrianus to Diocletian & Maximianus. (Paris, 1886).
Colombetti, L. "Cennisulla monetazione di Probo gli antoniniani delle serie (A)EQVIT(I) (zecche de Roma e Ticinvm)." in La numismatica 20, 11 (1989), pp. 339 - 340.
Dannhäuser, E. Untersuchungen zur Geschichte des Kaisers Probus (276-282). Inaugural Dissertation. (1909).
von Kolb, J. "EnträthselteSiglen auf Münzen Diocletians and Maximians" in Numismatische Zeitschrift 4 (1872), pp. 24 - 30.
von Kolb, J. "EnträthselteSiglen auf Münzen Diocletians and Maximians" in Numismatische Zeitschrift 5 (1873), pp. 116 - 121.
Mattingly, H., E. Sydenham & P. Webb. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. V, Part II, Probus to Amandus. (London, 1933).
Missong, A, "Gleichartigsystemisirte Münzreihen unter Kaiser Probus" in Numismatische Zeitschrift 5 (1873), pp. 102 - 115.
Mommsen, T. 'Equitius', Zeitschrift für Numismatik, 15 (1887) pp. 251-252.
Mowat, R. "Combinaisons secrète delettres dans les marges monétaires de l 'empire Romain" in Revue Numismatique 1897, pp. 67 - 81.
Pink, K. "Der Aufbau derrömischen Münzprägung in der Kaiserzeit. VI/I, Probus" in Numismatische Zeitschrift 73 (1949), p. 13 - 74.
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. IV. Valerian I to Allectus. (Oxford, 1978).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. Three, The Accession of Maximinus I to the Death of Carinus AD 235 - AD 285. (London, 2005).

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