A preview on ancient Roman coinage
The precursors to real Roman coins were made from bronze. Aes rude or rough bronze, aes signatum or signed bronze, and aes grave or heavy bronze were used during the developments of trade and commerce when Romans were looking for a more effective medium of exchange other than barter. Aes grave is considered the first true coins in the history of Roman coinage.
Gold coins in the Roman coinage
The Roman authority often hesitated to strike gold as coins for several reasons. For one, gold was considered a regal metal and was better offered to gods than to be used in daily transactions.
But when Romans indeed mint gold coins, the golden coins were used for administrative payments: to pay for seized booty or pirate treasures, as payment of imperial taxes, and to bribe soldiers and troops. Brass and bronze currency, on the other hand, were used for day-to-day commerce by the common people.
Gold Roman coins were prone to wear especially when handled frequently. For this reason, and because of the potential difficulty in locating and mining gold, the ancient Roman gold coins were often melted down to be recycled.
How to collect ancient Roman gold coins
In general, Roman coins collecting is not a very expensive hobby. The Romans have minted huge numbers of coins in the past and many of these pieces are still left in the present and are available in the coin market.
But the case is different in dealing with ancient Roman gold coins. They are made of precious metal – rarer than other types of collectible coin money from early Rome. Therefore, you should be more cautious when collecting and buying antique gold Roman coins.
1.) Study about collecting Roman ancient gold coins
a. Read books and online articles about gold coins of the late Roman Empire and early Republic of Rome
b. Refer from coin collecting magazines, periodicals, coin price guides, and catalogs to view lists, descriptions, and values of gold coins from antiquity
c. Know how to identify your ancient Roman coins
d. Beware of fake gold coins
2.) Go to a reputable numismatic dealer
a. If you are a beginner, in collecting gold coins, it is advised that you deal with coin sellers personally
b. When you do transactions online, start from dealers recommended by your numismatist friends and other people whom you personally know
c. Take note of customer feedbacks but don’t rely on them because feedbacks could be fabricated.
d. Look for dealers who are authorized by numismatic institutions like PCGS or Professional Coin Grading Service
3.) Only consult expert numismatists when in doubt.
Ancient Roman gold coins are valuable so you should only learn about them from the best.
List of common gold Roman coins
Aureus was the standard gold coin of the Roman Republic and most parts of the Roman Empire. It was first struck at 1/40 of the Roman pound and was gradually reduced at later time.
Initially the name aureus (plural aurei) was only to describe the type of metal used on the coin, from the Latin word aurum which means “golden”. Later, the term aureus has become a noun representing denomination.
The gold Roman coin aureus was first introduced as emergency money during the Second Punic War but only for a few years and at very limited mintage. At around 82 BC, Roman general and politician Sulla struck golden coins but not as regular currency. Aurei were first produced in volumes during the time of Julius Caesar to pay the Roman legions during wars.
A great decline of Rome’s wealth occurred around 3rd century AD and so there was the need to reduce the weight of the aureus.
The weight reduction was most obvious under the rule of the Roman Emperors Publius Licinius Valerianus (253-260) and Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus (260-268).
It is also believed that the rise in the value of gold as base metal pushed the decrease of weight for gold coins. Still, the gold coin money was always made from pure gold unlike silver which was gradually debased (not composed of pure silver metal).
The quinarius was also referred to as quinarius aureus. It was lighter and with a value half of the aureus.
This gold coin was not officially part of the Roman Empire currency but was occasionally minted as ceremonial coins.
Due to some inconsistencies in minting the quinarius, there came a difficulty in determining the difference between a quinarius and a light aureus.
In addition, a quarter aureus was also minted rarely, purely for ceremonial purposes.
The aureus was replaced by solidus around 309 AD under the authority of Constantine the Great.
Although solidus became the standard gold currency by then, the aureus was still occasionally used as ceremonial coins. In 324, aureus was completely phased out in the ancient Roman currency.
The half of solidus was the semissis, gold coins of the later Roman Empire minted mainly for ceremonial uses.
It was produced in volumes and became part of the Byzantine Empire coinage at the beginning of the 6th century.