Mark Antony Denarius Reissued

Today some special events are commemorated with a special issue of coins. Most Roman coins were commemorative to some degree with several types being produced simultaneously. There is, however, one class of Roman commemoratives that deserves special notice: the 'Restitutions'. These issues were reissues of types used previously with the addition of a legend stating that the coin was a reissue.

Several emperors of the first century AD reissued coins in honor of their predecessors. In the second century, Trajan demonitized the Republican silver still in circulation and issued an extensive series of restitution denarii. All of these are very rare and will never be seen by most collectors. The last of marked restitution coins were issued in the joint reign of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus.

Marcus Aurelius & Lucius Verus
Silver denarius - c.169 AD
Restitution of Types of Mark Antony
Galley / Legionary Standards
(III VIR R P C = Triumvir for the establishing of the Republic)

Why the two emperors decided to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Actium with a reissue of coins of the losing party (Mark Antony) is a mystery. A further mystery is why all of the reissues honor Legion VI but the originals were produced for a large number of legions. Did this legion so something noteworthy to deserve this honor?

Later Emperors occasionally 'borrowed' types from earlier days but the Aurelius/Verus legionary was the last marked restitution of an earlier coin. In addition, this coin is the most commonly seen of its genre and is the only restitution coin likely to be added to the average collection.

The original legionary coins of Antony were struck in more debased silver than other coins of the period. As a perfect illustration of Gresham's law, many remained in circulation well past their 200th year. Second century AD hoards frequently contain a few very worn Antony denarii. The man on the street would have still been aware of these coins long after the issues of other rulers of the period had all been hoarded or lost. The example shown here also bears several bankers marks that show the coin was tested to be certain it was not plated. Fourree examples of legionary denarii are quite common. An additional point of interest is the restitution spelled out ANTONIVS AVGVR while the original abbreviated ANT AVG. Following the foundation of the Empire AVG became the standard abbreviation for Augustus so it would have been confusing to use those letters for Augur. Similarly, ANT was too well associated with the Antoninus name of the second century Emperors to allow its use for 'Antonius'.

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(c) 1997 Doug Smith