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Weekly Highlights

Roman Republican Coins

The Roman Republican period began after the Roman Kingdom was overthrown by Roman nobles in 509 BC and lasted until the establishment of the Roman Empire by Octavian/Augustus in 27 BC. Although coinage began in the Greek world before the beginning of the Republic, sheep and lumps of bronze were used as vehicles of trade. The lumps of bronze had to be weighed during each transaction to determine their value and these are called aes rude and considered proto-money and very collectible. Near the end of the 4th Century BC, some began to make flat bronze bars with or without a design on them, roughly weighing five Roman pounds, or libra. A libra weighed 328.9 grams. These flat bars are called aes signatum and are another form of proto-money. The city of Rome began producing its own aes signatum, inscribed with ROMANOM, c.300 BC. The beginnings of Roman coins came in the form of aes grave – heavy, cast bronzes, in distinct Roman style, with marks of value and 12 unciae to the libra. During c.270 BC, the light libral standard of 10 unciae was developed, which gave way to the semi-libral standard of 5 unciae c.225 BC, which lasted until the 1.5 to 1 uncia standard around 211 BC. While the bronze issues were being worked out, silver issues were also being produced. According to Crawford, the first silver coin, a didrachm, was minted in 281 BC, and was Greek in style – a helmeted head of Mars on the obverse with a horse head and ROMANO on the reverse. Silver and (very rarely) gold coins were needed to finance military campaigns abroad. The first silver coin minted in Rome was a didrachm, likely in 269 BC. The denarius, introduced in 211 BC, was the silver workhorse of the next four centuries – through Julius Caesar, Brutus and Cassius, Marc Antony and Cleopatra – well into the Roman Empire.

Enjoy this exceptional selection of the thousands of Roman Republican issues we have available at VCoins:

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