A Bit of Assistance with This Victoriatus

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by kevin McGonigal, Jul 10, 2020.

  1. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I have a pretty much run of the mill Victoriatus and thought I would try to find out a bit more about this coin. I know they were issued by Rome sometime from the latter part of the Second Punic War ca. 210 BC to ca. 170BC. I understand the debate over why they were issued and for whose use but I am trying to pin mine down to a date more accurate than sometime over a 40 year period. I see that the weight of these coins was anywhere from 3.25 grams or so down to somewhere near 2.5 grams and that they were not pure silver but rather lightly debased. Would I be correct in assuming that the lighter weight ones were those issued toward the end of their minting or are their weights quite variable over the entire course of their minting? Also some of these coins had small images on them. Were they control or mint marks and if so what mints? Does the presence or lack of any of these marks have anything to do with what years they were minted? Any information of these coins much appreciated. The coin pictured here weighs 2.75 grams.

    IMG_1467[5880]Victoriatus obv..jpg IMG_1468[5878]Victoriatus rev..jpg
     
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  3. dadams

    dadams Well-Known Member

    I just picked this one up from @red_spork and I know he is pretty knowledgeable about these - perhaps he can help out with yours.

    Victoriatus-VB-Series-wbg.jpg
     
  4. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis Supporter

    Your victoriatus is an early one, a Crawford 53/1. Not quite the earliest victoriatus, but one of the earliest emissions, circa 214-212 BC using dating proposed by Pierluigi Debernardi. If you look at that first link you'll see there are many similarities between 44/1 and 53/1 but your coin has the neat engraving style of the obverse and the wing style of the reverse that is the hallmark of 53/1. Some coins are very hard to place between the two series because there is ultimately some continuity. Here's a 53/1 from my collection that is similar to yours:
    Cr053.1-1200.JPG

    It is my opinion that the earliest victoriati are probably just a little bit earlier than the initial denarius issues. The marks you see on some of them are basically a form of mintmark as you have deduced, but like the early denarii and bronzes, it's a little bit more complicated than just a mintmark in some cases. Sometimes it is purely a mintmark, for instance the "L" issues attributed to Luceria, but some mints used multiple marks over time, or minted anonymous issues and marked issues. Some of the anonymous issues came before the issues with marks, but some anonymous issues were much later, in fact one of the latest issues of Victoriati, Crawford 166/1, is an anonymous issue with no mark, so you can't necessarily assume that no symbol means an early issue.

    When it comes to attributing these anonymous issues, style is always the key and the website I linked above is probably the best guide out there for attributing them. There are a few issues that are either very rare or which were only recently discovered that aren't listed, but overall it covers the issues that anyone who isn't a specialist is likely to need to identify.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2020
  5. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Thank you so very much for your writing and the links. Am I correct in assuming that weight has little if anything to do with when a particular coin was struck?
     
  6. Fugio1

    Fugio1 Supporter! Supporter

    Yes, kind of. As with most, probably all ancient silver and bronze coins, individual coins were almost certainly never weighed. This would have seriously impacted throughput. They were weighed at some quantity, perhaps a pound or greater with a target number of flans per the weight. I recently examined a hoard of several hundred early victoriatii and found that coins of the same issue varied significantly. The weight of your coin is on the high side of the range I found with a low of about 2.5g. to a high of 3.8g.

    The aim weight over time did go down. It is no accident that the Victoriatus weight was initially equivalent to that of the Greek drachm which was widely used for trade throughout the Mediterranean. But the weight of the Denarius and the Victoriatus were both slightly reduced near the end or shortly after the close of the 2nd Punic war. Cr. 166/1, the latest victoriatus issue was considerably lighter with an aim weight of about 2.7 g. Because the weight reductions of the two denominations seem to coincide, the Victoriatus is traditionally regarded as part of the denarius system. Interestingly the two denominations did not apparently circulate together. Denarius hoards rarely include victoriatii and victoriatus hoards rarely include denarii.

    Here is a pic of a Crawford 44/1 in my collection, 3.23 g. As @red_spork suggested, the RRC 44 coins typically display a rather primitive rendering of the wing of Victory. This is one of the exceptions where the wing is engraved in a more refined way:
    44-1-VHoard-CNG-Wh.jpg
     
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