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Diameter 101
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Ancient Coins (other than Roman) from Italy including Magna Graecia in the Forum Ancient Coins shop


Millingen, Considérations sur la Numismatique de l 'ancienne Italie. (Florence, 1841, with Supplement, 1844).
Carelli, Numorum Italiae veteris Tabulae CCII. (Cavedoni, 1850).
Sambon, Monnaies de la Presqu 'ile italique. (Naples, 1870).
Deecke, Etruskische Forschungen, Heft II. (1876).
Garrucci, Monete dell ' Italia antica, 1885.
Mommsen, Histoire de la monnaie romaine, ed. Blacas and de Witte. (Paris, 1870-1875).
Dressel, Z. f. N., xiv. (1887).
Conway, Italian Dialects. (Cambridge, 1897).
Haeberlin, Die Systematik des ältesten röm. Münzwesens. (Berlin, 1905).
Haeberlin, Die jüngste etruskische und die älteste röm. Goldprägung, Z. f. N., xxvi. 229 ff.
Regling, Zum älteren röm. u. italischen Münzwesen. Klio, Bd. vi, Heft 3, (1906).



The gold and silver coins of Etruria (the Etruscans) are usually struck on one side only. But, with one or two exceptions, there are none which can properly be classed to the period of archaic art; the absence of a reverse type is merely a local peculiarity.


The Etruscan coins frequently bear marks of value, from which we gather that a decimal system was applied to both gold and silver money. The marks of value which occur are:—
><=100, ↑=50, XXX=30, ΛXX=25, XX=20, >X=12½, X=10, Λ=5, Λ or <=2½, and =1.

The marks on the gold coins denote their equivalent values in silver, while those on the silver coins usually indicate their values in bronze.

Fifth century B.C. or later.

The standard on which the earliest Etruscan gold coins were struck is based upon that of the Euboïc-Syracusan silver litra of 13.5 grs. (max.). The marks of value on these gold coins indicate the numbers of silver litrae for which they were exchangeable at the then current rate of gold to silver as 15:1. There is nothing to show from what mint these small gold coins were issued.

Lion 's head with open jaws. Reverse, plain.
= 50 Wt. 44 grs. (Sambon, Italie, p. 37.)
ΛXX = 25 „ 22 grs. (Ib.)
X = 12½ „ 11 grs. (Ib.)
Young male (or female) head. Reverse, plain.
ΛXX = 25 Wt. 22 grs. (Sambon, Italie, p. 38.)
X = 10 „ 9 grs. (Ib.)

GOLD AND SILVER. Circ. B.C. 300-265.
Volsinii. The following coins with types on both sides are later in date than the preceding, and, as their inscriptions Velsu and Velznani seem to show, were struck at Volsinii. According to their weights and marks of value the gold pieces were equivalent to 5 and to 20 pieces of silver. Supposing the relations of gold to silver to have been still 15:1 the silver piece would be a Romano-Campanian drachm of 52·68 grs. = 3 Roman scripula, though the unique Etruscan specimen described below is deficient in weight.

Female head (Artemis ?). (Sambon, op. cit., Pl. I. 10.) Mark of value Λ; = 5. VSLEF in Etruscan characters. Dog running. Mark of value Λ; = 5 AV 18 grs.
Young male head bound with wreath. Mark of value XX. ΙΠΑΠCLEF in Etruscan characters. Bull crowned by bird with wreath in beak; in front, star. (Fig. 4.) AV 72.1 grs.

FIG. 4.

Head of Athena r. in Corinthian helmet bound with laurel wreath. [Z. f. N., XXVI. Taf. I. 3.] ΑNCLE[F] Lion l. biting spear. Mark of value Ι
AR 43 grs.


Uncertain Mints.

(α) Euboïc-Syracusan Standard.


Hippocamp Λ Rev. Four stars on plain surface Wt. 43 grains (Sambon, Italie, p. 39).

At the rate of 15:1 this gold coin would be worth 5 Euboïc Syracusan dekalitra or didrachms of about 125 grs.


Unit, the Litra, 13.5 grs. and its bronze equivalent.
Chimaera Rev., Plain Wt. 257 grs. (Sambon, Italie, Pl. I. 18.)
Boar 254 grs. (Ib., Pl. 1. 19.)
Gorgon-head X 130 grs. (B. M. Guide, Pl. VII. 1.)
Id. V 64 grs. (Sambon, Italie, p. 49, No. 38.)
Head of Hermes Λ 64 grs. (BMC Italy p. 7.)
Hippocamp 65 grs. (BMC Italy p. 7.)
Hare 62 grs. (BMC Italy p. 7.)
Young male head 60 grs. (Sambon, Presqu 'île, p. 50, No. 14.)
Gorgon-head < 32 grs. (B. M. C., Italy, p. 396.)
Sepia 16 grs. (Sambon, Italie, p. 46, No. 28.)
Young male head 14 grs. (Per. di Num., VI. Pl. III. 11.)
Wheel. Rx or plain 13 grs. (Ib., Pl. III. 12.)

(β) Euboïc-Syracusan Standard.—Unit, the ½ Litra, 6.75 grs. and its bronze equivalent.

Reverse, Plain (or occasionally with a symbol in a plain field; sometimes inscribed Pupluna, etc., i. e. Populonia).

Gorgon-head. XX Wt. 131 grs. (BMC Italy, p. 2.)
Head of Herakles, facing. XX „ 130 grs. Symbol on Rx. Club. (Ib., p. 1.)
Male head. X „ 66 grs. (Deecke, op. cit., p. 15, No. 17.)
Id. Λ „ 32 grs. (BMC Italy, p. 8.)
Head of Apollo X „ 66 grs. (BMC Italy, p. 3.)
Id. Λ „ 29 grs. (Deecke, op. cit., p. 18, No. 30.)
Id. Λ „ 19 grs. (Ib., No. 32.)
Head of Hermes. Λ „ 31 grs. (Ib., No. 28.)
Head of youth. Λ „ 31 grs. (BMC Italy, p. 4, 19.)
Female head. X „ 60 grs. (BMC Italy, p. 3, 13.)
„ 31 grs. (Sambon, Presqu 'île, p. 50, 8.)
Head of Athena, facing, Rx. ΠV.
„ 129 grs. (BMC Italy, p. 396.)
„ 32 grs. (Sambon, Presqu 'île, Pl. III. 9.)
Lion 's head with open jaws.
„ 17 grs. (BMC Italy, p. 8.)
„ 5 grs. (Sambon, Italie, p. 46, No. 27.)

For other varieties see Sambon, Italie, pp. 16 sqq.


As the weights of the various denominations remain unchanged in classes (α) and (β), the marks of value alone being doubled, it is clear that between the first and second series a reduction in the weight of coined bronze as compared with silver money must have taken place.

It is further noticeable that the smallest denomination which has a mark of value, ΛII, is, in the second period, only slightly heavier-than the Roman sestertius, which also bears the mark of value 2 ½ (S). Hence it may be inferred that the Roman sestertius was of Etruscan origin. The silver coins of class (α) are previous to B.C. 350, some of them belonging to the archaic period, while others are of comparatively recent style. Those of class (β) belong to a later period, extending perhaps down to the middle of the third century.

(γ) 2 Scruple Standard.—Unit, 35.12 grs. and its bronze equivalent.
Head of Zeus (?) Plain. (BMC Italy, p. 13.)
AR 173 grs.
Head of Apollo Λ Id. (BMC Italy, p. 12.)
AR 175 grs.
Id. Wheel. (Sambon, Presqu 'île, p. 51, 40.)
AR 175 grs.
Gorgon-head. Crescent. (Deecke, op. cit., p. 14, 15.)
AR 84 grs.
Monster with forepart of lion, terminating in serpent 's body and head. Plain. (Sambon, Italie, p. 43, 15, 16.)
AR 164 grs.
Head of ditto. Plain. (Ib. No. 17.).
AR 59 grs.
Running Gorgon, holding in each hand a serpent. ΘEΖI Wheel. (Fig. 5.).
AR 172 grs.

FIG. 5.

ΘEΖI Male head facing; above and below a serpent. Sphinx. (Sambon, Italie, p. 42.)
AR 84 grs.
ΘEIE Bull 's head. (BMC Italy, p. 397.) Hippocamp. (Fig. 6.).
AR 145 grs.

FIG. 6.

(δ) 1 Scruple Standard.—Unit, 17.56 grs. and its bronze equivalent.
Sepia emerging from an amphora behind which are two helmets seen in pro- file. Mark of value XX Plain. (Num. Chron., 1900, p. 2.)
AR 350 grs.
Id. (without the helmets) X Id. (Sambon, Italie, Pl. I. 21.)
AR 178 grs.
Hippocamp, around which dolphins Λ Kerberos in linear square. (Sambon, Italie, p. 45, No. 22.)
AR 83 grs.
Hippocamp. Plain. (Ib., No. 23.).
AR 40 grs.

The silver coins of classes (γ) and (δ) are based upon units weighing 2 and 1 scruples respectively, and the duplication of the marks of value in (delta) shows that between the two series there was a reduction by one half in the weight of the bronze equivalent of the scruple, corresponding with that which we have already remarked between classes (α) and (β). This seems to prove that (α-β) the Litra-Standards and (γ-δ) the Scruple-Standards were contemporaneously in use in Etruria, although probably not in the same cities.


The bronze coins of Etruria are numerous. The relative value of bronze to silver was 120:1 (see Haeberlin, Z. f. N., xxvi). The larger pieces belong to the class of aes grave, and are cast; the smaller are struck, and are, for the most part, of later date. As a general rule, both cast and struck coins bear marks of value.

The following is a list of some of the types arranged in approximate chronological order :—

Wheel. Wheel with straight spokes.
Wheel. Wheel with two straight and four curved spokes.
Wheel. Circle with three crescents (?).
Wheel. Circle with bipennis.
Wheel. Circle with krater.
Wheel. Circle with amphora.
Wheel. Circle with anchor. (Vetluna.)
Wheel. ,, „ (Cha.)
Circle with Augur 's head. Circle with sacrificial instruments.
Head of Janus. Marks of value. (Velathri.)
Club. (Velathri.)
Dolphin. (Velathri.)
Head of Vulcan. Hammer and tongs. (Pupluna, Pufl.)
Head of Herakles. Club, bow and arrow. (Pupluna.)
Head of Hermes. Caduceus and two stars.
„ „ Hammer and tongs. (Pupluna.)
Head of Athena. Owl, crescent, stars. (Pupluna.)
Bearded head laureate, covered with dolphin 's skin, or Head of Athena, with marks of value 100, 50, 30, 25, 20, 12½, 10, 5, 2½ and 1. Incuse Hippocamp; Eagle and Serpent; Ass 's head; Cock; Eagle with spread wings; Serpent; Fish; Cross; marks of value Star, etc.

Concerning this interesting series see A. Sambon, Italie, p. 33.


Head of Poseidon. Hippocamp in square.
Head of Hades. Griffin.
Head of Herakles. Bird and lizard.
Head of Zeus. Eagle.
Head of Athena. Cock.
Head of Asklepios. Serpent.
Male head. Square.
Head of Herakles. Anchor or Trident with two dolphins. (Vatl.)
Head of youth. Two crescents and two (or three) stars.
Head of Negro. Elephant.
Head of Herakles. Fox-dog.
Head of Apollo. Owl.
Head of Janus. Prow. (Tla.)
Head of Zeus (?). Prow. (Tlate.)
Head of youth. Prow. (Tl.)
Helmeted head. Half Lion (?). (Vercnas.)
Head of Hermes. Owl. (Peithesa.)
Head of Ares, or Head of Athena. COIANO. Horse 's head, sometimes over a dolphin
Æ .75.

The coins of this last type, formerly assigned to Compsa in Samnium, belong to Cosa or Cossa Volcientium, a town on the Etruscan coast, colonized from Rome in B.C. 273. They art bronze litrae of Romano- Campanian Standard and types (Haeberlin, op. cit., p. 235).

The inscriptions on the coins of Etruria have given rise to much discussion. Most of them undoubtedly contain the name of the city where they were struck. Among these Pupluna, etc., has been identified as Populonia; Vatl, Vetluna, etc., as Vetulonia; Velathri as Vola- terrae; Cha(mars) as Camars (Livy x. 25 'Clusium quod Camars olim appellabant '); Tla(mun), etc., as Telamon; Velsu and Velznani as Volsinii. On this subject see Corssen (Z. f. N., iii. p. 1), A. Sambon (Monn. ant. de Italie), and Haeberlin (op. cit., p. 230).

Most of the Etruscan coin-types are of Greek origin. The Wheel, the Gorgon, and the Bull 's-head may possibly point to solar and lunar worship. The head of Vulcan with his hammer and tongs recalls the metal working and mining activity of some of the districts about Populonia, and especially in the island of Elba. Other types, such as the Hippocamp the Polypus, Dolphin, and Prow, remind us of the power of the Etruscans on the sea; while some, such as the head of Hades, the Kerberos, Griffin, Sphinx, leonine Chimaera, and the head of a Priest or Augur, are suggestive of those gloomy and horrible or fantastic ideas connected with death and the world of shades, which are especially characteristic of the religion of the Etruscans.



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