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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Denominations| ▸ |Tesserae||View Options:  |  |  | 

Tesserae and Lead Coins

Tesserae (singular: tessera) are ancient tokens. Most were made from lead, but other materials including bronze, bone, ivory, clay, glass and wood were also used. They were used as tickets for theaters, gladiator fights, ferry passage and even brothels. Tesserae liberalitatis were distributed as gifts by the Roman emperor or local government, often to the poor, and used as vouchers to exchange for grain, oil, or other goods. Some ancient lead "tokens" may have been used as small change coinage.

Byzantine Empire, Levante or Alexandria, c. 5th - 6th Century A.D., Jewish Menorah Lead Token

|Holy| |Land| |Antiquities|, |Byzantine| |Empire,| |Levante| |or| |Alexandria,| |c.| |5th| |-| |6th| |Century| |A.D.,| |Jewish| |Menorah| |Lead| |Token||token|
The purpose of Byzantine era lead tokens is unknown. Many appear closely related to seals differing only by the absence of a cord or channel for attachment to a container or document. Many late Roman and early Byzantine seals have a figural type on one side and a legend in two lines in Latin or Greek on the other side. Seals with a menorah are known, usually with a blank globular reverse, but some also have a name on the other side.
JD98657. Lead token, personal token of Rodanos(?); Roma e-sale 53 (7 Feb 2019), lot 504 (same dies), VF, highlighting earthen deposit desert patina, weight 3.077 g, maximum diameter 14.1 mm, die axis 180o, c. 5th - 6th century A.D.; obverse Menorah of seven branches, flanked by lulav on left and etrog on right; reverse PO∆A/NOY in two lines across field, palm frond above; ex CNG e-auction 435 (2 Jan 2019), lot 401; extremely rare; $1800.00 SALE PRICE $1620.00


Judean Kingdom, Anonymous Hasmonean, c. 140 - 37 B.C.

|Judean| |Kingdom|, |Judean| |Kingdom,| |Anonymous| |Hasmonean,| |c.| |140| |-| |37| |B.C.||tessera|
A Judaean coin expert informs us that there are nine known specimens of this type, one specimen of this type was discovered during excavations at Mt. Gerizim, and the second best known specimen of this type sold for $12,000 a few years ago.
JD97077. Lead tessera, Hendin 6193 (RR), Meshore TJC -, Sofaer -, HGC 10 -, SNG Cop -, F, scratches, bumps, earthen encrustation, tight flan, weight 2.024 g, maximum diameter 12.1 mm, die axis 225o, Samarian(?) mint, c. 140 - 37 B.C.; obverse double cornucopia, upright rod between, border of dots; reverse stylized palm tree between two blooming lily flowers, border of dots; zero sales of this type listed on Coin Archives in the last two decades; extremely rare; $1350.00 SALE PRICE $1215.00







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REFERENCES|

Burnett, A., M. Amandry & P. Ripolls. Roman Provincial Coinage I: From the death of Caesar to the death of Vitellius (44 BC-AD 69). (London, 1992, and supplement).
Buttrey, T. "The Spintriae as a Historical Source" in NC 1973.
de Boccard, E. Les tesseres et les Monnaies de Palmyre. (Paris, 1962).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappes sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 8: Nepotian to Romulus Augustus, plus tesserae & cotorniates. (Paris, 1888).
Dattari, G. Numi Augg. Alexandrini. (Cairo, 1901).
Emmett, K. Alexandrian Coins. (Lodi, WI, 2001).
Farhi, H. "Note on Two Types of Byzantine Lead Currency" in INR 8 (2013).
Geissen, A. Katalog alexandrinischer Kaisermnzen, Kln|, Band 4: Claudius Gothicus - Bleimnzen. (Cologne, 1974-1983), pp. 178 - 213.
Hendin, D. Guide to Biblical Coins. (Amphora, 2010).
Hoover, O. "A Reassessment of Nabataean Lead Coinage in Light of New Discoveries" in NC 2006.
Milne, J. A Catalogue of the Alexandrian Coins in the Ashmolean Museum. (Oxford, 1933), pp. 125 - 130.
Milne, J. "The leaden token-coinage of Egypt under the Romans" in NC 1908, pp. 287-310, pl. XXII.
Rostowtzew, M. Tesserarum Urbis Romae et Suburbi Plumbearum Sylloge. (St. Petersburg, 1903).
Rostowtzew, M. Tesserarum Urbis Romae et Suburbi Plumbearum Sylloge, Supplementum I. (St. Petersburg, 1905).
Scholz, J. "Rmische Blei Tesserae" in Numismatische Zeitschrift bd. 25 (1893).

Catalog current as of Wednesday, May 18, 2022.
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