Featured A Gothic Fourée Aureus of Diocletian

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Julius Germanicus, Mar 7, 2019.

  1. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    While following a live auction with my little son, we saw a shiny coin with a hole in it.
    As it was coming up for a minimum bid of just 10 Euros, we decided to bid on it for fun or as possible present for grandma´s birthday, so maybe by her wearing it as jewelry the family could see some practical use in ancient coinage :).

    It was labelled as uncertain imitation by an uncertain mint with no indication of who or what was shown on it.
    I tried a little research on this "mystery purchase" and this is what I came up with:

    Fourée Aureus, gold-plated AE, Chernvyakhov culture, Ukraine, ca. 295 a.D.
    19 mm / 2,57 gr


    IIIEIT (alliterate legend) - Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Diocletianus left

    The left facing obverse bust is obviously inspired by Diocletian´s Aureus RIC 308 (Antiochia, 290-292, but not draped or cuirassed), which would mean the inscription originally read DIOCLETIANVS AVGVSTVS.
    A specimen from the same pair of dies has been interpreted as showing Licinius I, but this is highly unlikely as Licinius did not issue left facing busts on Aurei.


    II S III –(alliterate legend) - Roma seated left, holding sceptre in left and Victory on right hand

    The reverse design seems to be copied not from the same original, which would show a bare headed or laureate Diocletian seated and holding a short baton in his left hand (CONSVL IIII PP PRO COS), but from his Aureus RIC 301 (Cyzicus 284-286, but globe beneath Victory and shield at side) which features a helmeted figure that holds a long sceptre, identified as Roma by the legend ROMAE AETERNAE (this reverse was not struck in gold for the other tetrarchs).

    Since the battle of Abritus in AD 251 (which left the entire imperial roman treasury including hundreds of thousands of Aurei at the hands of the victorious Goths) we find
    Roman aurei, perforated from their obverse above the imperial portrait, in burial sites across much of the barbaric territories, but concentrated in the territory inhabited by the Chernvyakhov culture that is identified as what we know as the Goths. These coins are interpreted as prestige objects, perhaps reserved for members of war bands (comitatus). Although the influx of original Aurei continued until the end of the 3rd century, their number may have been too small to satisfy a growing demand and imitations started to be struck in Ukraine. Nearly all the early Germanic imitations made of gold or gold-plated were pierced. At the end of the 3rd century fashions changed and perforations are gradually replaced by loops for suspension, attached above the head of the emperor.
    This means that my coin can be dated rather precisely to right before the establisment of the loops, but after the issue of the corresponding Aurei of Diocletianus a decade before. I found two other specimens from the same pair of dies, one also plated and pierced, the other of pure gold and intact.

    So this purchase combines at least four „firsts“ for me: my first coin from the era of the Tetrarchy, my first Germanic/Barbarian coin, my first gold (even it it is only a fourée), and my coin with a hole in it.

    And, last but not least, it is an interesting romanized, but still pre-christian artifact from the dark world beyond the borders of the empire, anticipating the great migration of tribes still a century away.

    Please share your thoughts and show your barbaric imitations, coinage of Diocletian, gold of the Tetrarchy, or anything you like!
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Terrific, congrats !

    Julius Germanicus likes this.
  4. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing Supporter

    That's really fascinating! I really like it!
    Julius Germanicus likes this.
  5. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic Supporter

    Interesting purchase, well worth the hammer price!
    Julius Germanicus likes this.
  6. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    You went four four four on that win, congratulations:happy: I have no holed coins, fourees...
    But have Barbarian imitations, and Diocletian aureus.
    AV Aureus Rome Mint struck 286AD
    Catuvellauni AV Stater Colchester Mint Anonymous Ruler circa 60-45BC abstract Apollo/ stylized horse
    AV Stater Vani Mint Cochis/ Black Sea region struck 150BC by Basternae IMG_0021.JPG IMG_0023.JPG IMG_0823.JPG IMG_0825.JPG IMG_0730.JPG IMG_0732.JPG IMG_0684.JPG IMG_0684.JPG IMG_0682.JPG
    AV Stater different size/ version
    Multatuli, Alegandron, R*L and 15 others like this.
  7. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Julius Germanicus, Great score & excellent research ;)!
  8. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    Do I see correctly that the "inside" of the hole is gold-plated, too?

    If so, that's quite fascinating. It would imply that the coin was already holed when it was struck, and thus likely produced as a piece of jewelry and not as fake currency.
  9. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    But, but, but... it's not unpatinated bronze!! Why did you do that!? :sour: And dagnabbit, what's up with kids these days? I mean, what kinda present is that for a grandma anyway?! :shifty:

    Erm, yeah, you outbid me. :bag:

    Great coin! Please don't add these to your list of specialties though, K? :shy:

    At least I have this earlier coin from the same region:
    Screen Shot 2019-03-07 at 11.12.17 PM.jpg

    Actually, maybe not so much earlier; from my notes on the coin: "Anokhin indicates that imitations of Antonine emperors were produced until the 3rd century at least, demonstrated by (for example) a reverse die match between an imitation aureus of Maximian, and an imitation denarius of Antoninus Pius. The official seed coins may have come from accumulations of non-Roman peoples elsewhere, e.g. in Dacia, and the paucity of examples from the reign of Septimius Severus and rarity of imitations of later emperors may indicate an awareness of the silver content of the originals."

    My notes also say that the Chernyakhov culture is thought to be comprised of some mix of Sarmatian, Geto-Dacian, Gothic and Slavic populations. (So not just Goths.)
    Multatuli, Ryro, TIF and 9 others like this.
  10. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    Those are all incredible and must be among the finest known! (I especially like that Diocletian...)
    If you should ever decide to sell all of your ancient gold in one auction, it might be the numismatic event of the year and I can imagine the stir it would create on Coins Weekly and elsewhere :woot:.
    Multatuli and panzerman like this.
  11. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    That is an interesting question. I would say that the hole is indeed (still) gold-plated, as opposed to parts of the coin´s edge and some high points, especially on the reverse legend, where the AE core is exposed.


    On the other hand, here is a specimen (obviously from the same dies, but not plated) that is not holed and shows considerably more wear than mine, which would imply that it has seen circulation instead of being used as jewelry.

    Bildschirmfoto 2019-03-08 um 09.21.33.png
  12. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    ,,,or could the plating have been applied long after the coin was made? How do you know the coin is not plated? Weight? Specific gravity? The plating inside the hole suggests the coin was copper when struck and plated after. How long after is hard to say.
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  13. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    Thank you Julius Germanicus:happy: I intend to keep on collecting for hopefully a long time.
  14. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    I don´t think so because the whole point of making these imitations was to produce substitutes for those original Aurei that did not enter the Barbaricum in large enough numbers after 251 to satisfy the demand for gold coins to be presented to warriors by their chiefs. Is far as I know, no imitations of Aurei have been found that were not at least gold plated.

    Actually I don´t. It is said to be found near Kiev ca.2015

    This would mean that these coins were first struck, then holed (at least most of them), then plated, and then given out at some ceremony (the golden specimens to higher ranking individuals, the .

    What is puzzling me is this coin that was sold earlier this year:

    Bildschirmfoto 2019-03-09 um 11.32.21.png

    Is this my coin before cleaning? Here is my seller´s picture:

    Bildschirmfoto 2019-03-09 um 11.35.10.png
    Or could one or both be modern fakes???
    Alegandron likes this.
  15. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    While possible, it also is possible the intended use could have been jewelry and both were once strung/attached together.
    That would also allow an explanation of the holes being gold inside if the surfaces were refreshed when the piece was assembled.

    The holes are elongated as appropriate with wear. The two do not appear to be the same specimen (compare face details on reverse figure) but were die dues and have similar holes. The angle photo showing the plating inside the hole shows the wrong side of the hole to tell if the gold was worn away with use or if the holes were made oval. Whether the coins were gathered and assembled from circulation or made for the purpose will be hard to tell.
  16. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    Could it also be possible that the coins were struck from already holed and gold-plated flans?

    This would explain the “struck” look of the coins’ surface as well as the plating inside the hole. Furthermore, the force of the strike would have centrifugally flattened the flan and hence rendered a preexisting round hole oval.

    @dougsmit , you are very knowledgeable in technical numismatics. Do you think such a mode of production could have worked?
    Julius Germanicus likes this.
  17. arnoldoe

    arnoldoe Well-Known Member

    Nice, your coin is also the plate coin from Oleg Anohin's book..

    87. Imitation of Aureus, period III-IV centuries. Possibly imitating Aureus of Emperor Maximian (RIC 610) or Emperor Diocletian (RIC 308). Location of the find: Ternopil region. Metal: Bronze clad with gold, weight 2.61 g. EC18. Single stamp imitation from gold No. 109
    Multatuli, Alegandron, Ryro and 4 others like this.
  18. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    Wow, how did you find it in there?! I wish I could understand Russian...
    Was it Goethe who said "The borders of our language are the borders of our world"?

    That book seems to include all one would need to know about these imitations. That will be some work for the translation program.
    I find it interesting that the plate coin of the gold version (Anohin 109) was also found in the Ternopil region. Maybe that was where the mint might have been located.
    So far I thought that the holed specimens predated the ones with a loop, so it is curious that mine should be a copy of Nr. 109. On the other hand, one could probably not produce un-holed coins from a holed host coin. Anyway, now we know at least four specimens of the type (two holed, one looped, one without hole or loop).
    When comparing it to the vast number of other specimens pictured in the book in terms of style and/or wear, I find my new acquisition a rather nice example of an imitative Aureus :shame:
  19. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    Ditto. Figure 26 in Anohin's book appears to illustrate the 'phenomenon of the gold-plated hole' we discussed here, but since I unfortunately never learned Russian or any other Slavic language, I have no idea what the author found out about this matter. A pity!

    Ludwig Wittgenstein
    Julius Germanicus likes this.
  20. Valens

    Valens Well-Known Member

    We discussed a little here.
    Professor Bursche's lecture is interesting.
    Here is an example of imitation aureus / denar without traces of gilding. There is a trace where there was a pendant.
    I have a bit of imitation. In the area of Czarnaniachowska culture in the 3rd / 4th century, we can talk about Germanic coinage.[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Multatuli, Alegandron, Ryro and 5 others like this.
  21. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    Here is some of what he found out (translation by Google and myself including some editing):

    "There three kinds of barbarous imitations of gold coins: 1) minted from gold, 2) silver, plated with gold, and 3) bronze, plated with gold, were originally intended for use in the form of pendants and jewelry. This is evident by the presence of holes, loops, or visible traces of spots where a loop had been attached, in 99% of the imitations. The official Aurei of the Roman mints which are found in the territories that were inhabited by barbarian cultures also have holes or loops for the most part. This also confirms that the gold coins of barbarian cultures were not intended for monetary circulation, but served as donatives, which, according to the assumptions of some researchers, the Roman authorities awarded to leaders and nobles of barbarian tribes.
    Then in order to show their closeness to the Roman emperors, "barbarians" made barbaric imitations of the Aureus. Proof that neither Aurei nor barbaric imitations of Aurei were intended for monetary circulation is that they are practically not found in coin hoards and the fact that the manufacture of barbaric imitations of Aurei did not respect the weight in relation to the Aureus. In most cases the weight of imitations is much to low, and specimens with the same dies can vary by several grams. In the manufacture of barbaric imitations of Denarii, on the other hand, an approximate correspondence to the weight of the original Denarii was observed.

    The remains of gilding in the holes and on the loops in bronze imitations plated with gold indicates that they first made a hole or attached the loop, and only then put on gold plating.

    Quite often, imitations of Aurei are found that are minted with the same dies. There are 44 imitations known that come from one obverse die. They were found at t Chernyakhov culture settlement sites in the Vinnytsia, Zhytomyr, Kiev, Lviv, Poltava, Rovno, Ternopil, Khmelnytsky, Cherkasy, Chernihiv regions and in Moldova.

    21 imitations from another Aureus, also from one obverse die, were found in Vinnitsa, Volyn, Zhytomyr, Ternopil, Khmelnytsky, Chernivtsi regions and Moldova.

    There are types of imitative Aurei that both exist as golden coins and bronze coins plated with gold, this suggests that they were made for different representatives of barbaric tribes differing in their status.

    Holes or loops are almost always located above the bust. This suggests that the "barbarians" cared about the aesthetic appearance of jewelry, and it was intended to be worn in a prominent place."

    My OP coin is one of those that exist both in a pure gold and in a plated bronze version. I now have pictures of two golden and four gold plated bronze specimens from the same dies.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page