EQVITI Coins of Probus

Coded coins from the mints of Ticinum and Rome

Previously mentioned in passing on my Probus and XXI pages, the 'Equiti' coins of Probus provide a strange sidelight for the collector of Roman coins. This page expands the display of coins from that series but sheds no new light on the prime question: 'Why were these coded coins issued?'

Two mints of Probus, Rome and Ticinum, produced very different series of coins using a code based on the word 'Aequiti'. The meaning of the word is not fully clear to me and could relate to either 'the just one' (Aequitus) or 'the horsemen' (Equites). Some references refer to Probus as 'Equitius' but I have found no convincing explanation of this name or evidence of its use in inscriptions or on coins. I would be most appreciative if someone could explain to me the grammar and reasoning behind this usage. The purpose of this page is education. In some cases I may have been the teacher; now I ask you to return the favor and make me your pupil.

The mint at Rome used a system of seven workshops numbered using Greek numerals A, B, G, D, E, S, and Z. The mintmark in the reverse exergue consisted of three parts. At the left was 'R' for Rome; at the right was the Greek numeral for the workshop 1 through 7; between them was the letter which, when arranged in order by workshop number spelled AEQVITI. Therefore the first workshop used RAA; the second REB (left above); the third RQG; the fourth RVD (center above); the fifth RIE; the sixth RTS and the seventh RIZ (right above). I have not seen a complete set of the Rome series but certain parts of it seem reasonably common. The standard reference, RIC, lists coins from the series mixed in with other Rome mint coins rather than listing them in an easy to follow manner. I will have to do more study before being able to update this site on this subject.

Ticinum, however, produced coins from only six workshops. At first, the seven letter code word AEQVITI was truncated so the first six letters were used. Soon, however, the mint switched to a second series using EQVITI (dropping the A from the diphthong). The second series coins are by far more common than the originals. RIC separates into a third series those coins which show a star in the reverse field. The meaning of these starred issues is unclear to me as is the relative dating of the two series. My examples below show a mixture of the second and third (plain and starred) series coins. At Ticinum, the code letter is found in the field while the workshop number is in exergue preceding XXI. The shops are numbered using the series P, S, T, Q, V and VI. These are the initial letters in the Latin ordinals with Roman numerals used for fifth and sixth since these words begin with the same letter as fourth and second. Each workshop at Ticinum issued a different reverse type from each of the other shops. Each used more than one obverse portrait style and legend varieties so a complete set of these coins would require several dozen specimens. For our purposes here, only one coin is shown from each shop. While there are rare varieties from this series, a complete set of the common obverses (shown here) are easily assembled. Ticinum Equiti coins are more common than those from Rome. We will examine our examples in the table below:

Ticinum Mint Equiti Coins


1st Workshop - P XXI

The first (Primus) workshop used a reverse showing Concordia holding two standards. The code E is in the left field. The example is a third series coin with star in the right field.


2nd Workshop - S XXI

Shop Secundus used Providentia holding a globe. The example is from the second series lacking the star in the field.


3rd Workshop - T XXI

Shop Tertius shows Salus holding a snake. The coin from the third series has a star in the right field.


4th Workshop - Q XXI

Shop Quartus used Mars holding a branch and shield. The coin from the third series has a star in the right field.


5th Workshop - V XXI

Shop Quintus used Pax holding a branch and scepter. To avoid confusion with Quartus, the workshop used the numeral V. The lack of star in field places this coin in series two.


6th Workshop - VI XXI

Shop Sextus used Securitas (Everlasting) leaning on a column. To avoid confusion with Secundus, Sextus is shown as the numeral VI. The code letter is in the right field while the (series 3) star is at the left.

This page will help identify the coins that form this strange series but will do little to aid understanding. When more information is available, the page will be updated.

Back to Main page

(c) 1999 Doug Smith