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Roman Coins: From Republic to Empire

Ancient Roman coins are a popular choice for beginning collectors, because their legends are easily read, and the Roman series has a logical structure similar to collecting modern coins by date and mintmark. Roman coins are classified into three  series, each offering enough interest and variety for a lifetime of collecting.  Before coins were developed,  Roman money was cast bronze ingots. The first coins were issued under the Republic, beginning with cast Aes Grave issues of the third century bc. Forum2.jpg (9064 bytes)
The Roman Forum
After the Punic Wars, these cumbersome cast coins were replaced by a new series of Roman coins based on the  denarius, the principal Roman denomination for the next four hundred years. Struck bronze coins were issued during the next century, but bronze issues ceased in the 1st century bc. Collectors of Republican coins pursue various topical specialties, some selecting Aes Grave while others focus on the numerous varieties of late Republican denarius issues.
After a series of great wars, Rome's dominion extended first over Southern Italy, next the western Mediterranean, and ultimately  the entire Mediterranean world. These conquests destabilized the Republic, which ended when  Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 bc. His nephew Augustus emerged as the first Roman Emperor,  inaugurating two centuries of Pax Romana.  After the Republic was succeeded by the Empire, the denominations of Roman coins expanded to include regular issues of gold aureii, while the sestertius became the principal bronze issue. During the third century the denarius was replaced by the antoninianus, and  debasement of Roman coins issued during the  second half of that century reflects the effects of barbarian invasions. Diocletian reformed the coinage and the new denominations of Roman coins, later modified by Constantine and his successors, endured until the end of the Empire. Collectors of Roman coins of the Imperial series tend to focus on getting a good portrait of each emperor, which can be a challenge since some (particularly usurpers) had brief reigns.

Many provincial cities and Roman colonies, particularly in the Balkans and in Asia Minor, struck civic and colonial issues under the Empire. These are also Roman coins, all issued under Imperial or Senatorial authority, although their types are different and legends are normally in Greek. The vast Roman Provincial or Greek Imperial series offers many collecting challenges since most of these issues are rare, although many are still very reasonably priced. The extensive coinage of Roman Egypt is a significant collecting field in itself.

In the third century barbarian invasions overwhelmed the Principate, which was replaced by the Tetrarchy. After Diocletian retired, Constantine  reunited the Empire.  Constantinople, his new capital, eclipsed Rome in 330. After Theodosius died the Empire was divided between his sons, and the West could not  cope with its economic and military problems. Germans poured over the borders and the Western Empire collapsed in 476.

The Republic
289-41 bc
Imperatorial Issues
71-27 bc
The Roman Empire
27 bc - 498 ad
Roman Provincial Coins
(Greek Imperial Coins)
Cast Bronze Coinage
(Aes Grave)

289 -212 bc
Pompey the Great
(and his sons)
71 - 40 bc
The Twelve Caesars
27 bc - 96 ad
The Tetrarchy
285 - 324
Western Europe and North Africa
Pyrrhic and Punic Wars
280-212 bc
Julius Caesar
49 - 40 bc
The Adoptive Emperors
96 - 197
The Age of Constantine
307 - 337
Eastern Europe
The Denarius Coinage
211 - 41 bc
Brutus and Cassius
43 - 42 bc
The Severan Dynasty
193 - 235
Heirs of Constantine
337 - 363
Asia Minor
  Mark Antony
44 - 31 bc
The Soldier Emperors
Valentinian and Theodosius
364 - 423
Roman Egypt


43 - 27 bc
The Time of Troubles
The Late Empire
423 - 498

















Roman Coins | Ancient Roman Coins | Roman Republican Coins | Roman Imperial Coins













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