In January, we released a blog that started to cover the topic of ancient Roman coins. In this post, we will take a look at some of the coins from the period between 280 BCE and 96 CE. This roughly spans from the mid republic to the end of the reign of Domitian, right before the founding of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty (the “Five Good Emperors”). This is an incredible period of history and the coins from this era offer the chance to have a “hands-on” experience with part of the archaeological record from the time.
Ancient Roman Coins in the Republic and the Empire
During the Roman Kingdom and the first years of the Roman Republic, the Romans did not use coins at all. Instead, they used a system of bronze weights as a simple form of currency. This was later expanded with gold and silver weights. It wasn’t until the late fourth century BCE that the Romans began minting coins.
Low-valued bronze coins were produced in Neapolis around 326 BCE. In the early third century, silver coins marked Romano or Roma began to be minted. Briefly, during the Punic Wars, gold coins were also made, but this was a rare event until the creation of the empire.
As Rome’s might and influence grew, its coins, now called the silver denarius, became the dominant currency around the Mediterranean. The spoils of war, particularly those with Carthage and Macedonia, helped to fund the state treasury. A series of civil wars during the first century BCE saw generals minting their own coins to pay their soldiers.
Following the death of Julius Caesar and the successful rise of Octavian (Augustus, the first emperor), a uniform system of currency was once again established. From this point forward, the emperor would control the mints. It was common for them to use coins as a form of propaganda, celebrating various victories and important events via the designs on coins. Of course, not every coin was as truthful as the others, creating an interesting challenge for modern archaeologists.
Debasement by Emperors
One of the key financial struggles of the empire was the overspending of certain emperors. When taxation and the supply of precious metals couldn’t keep up with demand, they would debase the coins. By the time of Diocletian, the coins were nearly worthless. It is unlikely that Romans understood inflation (another major issue), but they certainly knew that coins with less gold and silver were not worth as much. However, debasement did not become an overwhelming issue until some time after 96 CE.
Rare Coins for Sale From 280 BCE to 96 CE
At Colonial Acres Coins, we have some truly fascinating coins for you to add to your collection. These are some of the highlights of our coins from 280 BCE to 96 CE:
- Ancient Rome 44BC S1407 Julius Caesar Silver Denarius: One of the most famous names in history, Julius Caesar paved the way for the transition from republic to empire. This coin is from the year of his death, 44 BCE. By this point, he had established himself as a dictator for life.
- Ancient Rome 27BC-14BC Augustus & Agrippa Brass Dupondius: This coin is from the reign of Augustus (AKA Octavian). It depicts him and his friend, supporter and general, Agrippa.
- Ancient Rome 41-54AD Claudius Copper Quadrans: Prior to his ascension, Emperor Claudius was doubted by nearly everyone around him. However, he proved to be a successful ruler in many respects. This coin was minted during his reign.
Expand Your Collection Today
Collecting ancient Roman coins can be a truly exciting experience. The period between 280 BCE and 96 CE sees Rome rise from being a regional power in Italy to the dominant state in Europe and the Mediterranean. It also transitions from a republic to an empire. Check out Colonial Acres Coins’ catalogue of Roman coins today. Find the perfect rare coins for your collection.