Ancient imitations in the time of Constantine

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Valentinian, Jan 25, 2022.

  1. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    There are many ancient imitations stuck in the time of Constantine. CoinTalk had a thread started by @Victor_Clark with some recently:

    In the late 1990s I wrote a large website on ancient imitations
    with some pages devoted to coins from the time of Constantine. The images were from scans and therefore not great. Recently I decided to redo the pages on Constantinian-era coins and the six web pages beginning here are the result:
    The images are larger and better. The text font is also larger. The organization is clearer. (PM me if you have comments or corrections. I welcome your input.)

    Here is an interesting example:


    It is interesting for being so remarkably well done, given it is only 10 mm and 1.08 grams.
    Constantine II. Tiny, with outstanding lettering.
    Rarely is such a small flan matched by correspondingly small dies done so well. The size assures it is an imitation. Why did the engraver do such a fine job on the obverse legend?
    mintmark not visible.
    From Berk, 1984.

    @Victor_Clark has a page, ""Barbarous' coinage of the Fourth Century":

    Show us some ancient imitations!
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  3. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    These particular coins came from an unnamed hoard from Sri Lanka (Ex Alexander Fishman), they are dated around 5th century AD when Sri Lanka was ruled by the Pandu kings of the Pandya lineage, and must have been in circulation until the 7th century. These are crude and weigh between 0.8-1.5 grams.

    First coin is based on the FEL TEMP REPARATIO aka fallen horseman type, weighing 0.89 grams, the reverse is mirrored, my guess is the engraver just copied the official coin in the die and when struck, the coin came out like this. I find the style on this coin simple yet elegant.

    This one is based on the Gloria Exercitus type, what I like about this coin is that the engraver's attempt to copy the Latin words! It weighs 1.55 g.

    This one is curious, the reverse was probably copied from a Theodosian cross issue, however we see a Swastika, an auspicious symbol for the Hindu/Buddhist religions. Here we see the locals taking in the Roman culture, however they knew to separate the religion! It weighs 0.82 g. s.jpg
  4. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    I've only got 1. I "think" it is something along the lines of an imitation of a VIRTVI AVG reverse and Claudius II Gothicus/Tetricus/Victorinus/Postumus. I'm not sure.
    Barbarous Radiate, Antoninianus.png

    I would love to get a Constantine imitation with the Victories on the reverse. One of the real funky looking ones.
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  5. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    My only one.

    Roman Imitative Issue, (4th century A.D.)
    Minima Class
    O.: Bust right.
    R.: Falling Horseman // TC?
    RIC VIII Arles 224
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  6. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I wish this photographed better, but it doesn't even look good in hand. From a large group lot:
    Era of Constantine, 4th Century AD.
    Barbarous imitation of Roman Æ centenionalis, 3.07 g, 18.0 mm, 11 h.
    Obv: Nonsensical legend, head wearing crested helmet, right.
    Rev: Nonsensical legend, imitation of two Victories reverse type of AD 319-320.
    Refs: cf. RCV 16288 ff.
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  7. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    YES! This is exactly what I'm talking about! Love it!
    Roman Collector likes this.
  8. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    Valentinian, The huge number of barbarous Constantinian Era coins posted in Victor Clark's & your links is bewildering :jawdrop:. These were obviously fiduciary coins of necessity with a fixed value higher than their intrinsic value, & probably circulated within a limited regional area. Does anyone know what the purchasing power of these coins were, & is it possible or probable some of these coins circulated outside of their regional area o_O? All my barbarous imitations were made of gold or silver & are pre or post the Constantinian Era. I'm guessing these coins had a wider range of circulation since they probably traded for bullion value. Pictured below is a coin of the post Constantinian Era I've posted a number of times.
    Germanic Solidus of Zeno, late 5th cen..jpg
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2022
  9. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    I have a few imitative, my favorite is this imitation of a Constantine I with reverse of two Victories inscribing shield. The artistic style is somewhat barbarous, but what really gives it away is the inscription:
  10. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark all my best friends are dead Romans Dealer

    This is one of my favorites because it was slabbed as official. It shows how easily some of these unofficial issues could have circulated and mixed with official least if they were close in size, weight and style.

    Constantine II
    Circa A.D. 333- 334
    16x17mm 2.3gm
    CONSTANTINVS IVN NOB C; laureate and cuirassed bust right.
    GLORI-A EXER-CITVS; Two soldiers helmeted, stg. facing one another, reversed spear in outer hands, inner hands on shields resting on the ground; between them one standard inscribed with X.
    in ex. PTR


    Con II slab.png
  11. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    This thread is a bit of a dilemma for me. I like imitations and have a few but we have discussed the subject in the past and I have no firm idea what I showed then and what I did not. The fact remains that I probably showed my favorite examples which raises the question as to whether I should show them again (and again???) or select something relatively boring just because it may possibly be new to those who have been here a while. Somehow I prefer showing what I consider 'better' barbarous and will apologize to old timers who have seen them before. My favorite barbs are earlier than the period of greatest interest here so I'll stick to a few from the 4th century.

    Easily my favorite is the URBS ROMA wolfie with legends that read correctly and style that does not seem to strange unless you consider neing a mirror image of both sides to be 'strange'. The TRP mintmark assigns the coin to Trier which was often a bit strange in some ways making it a question as to just what is and what is not official. I say this is barbarous but I can see that it could have just been 'Friday afternoon'.

    The best barbarous coins are, IMHO, those with the worst departure from 'normal'. This Falling Horseman shows the alphabet simplified a bit leaving a bunch of I's, a couple O's and perhaps a T or an H if you stretch the point.

    This one does away with all that foolishness and reduces the legend to nothing but I after I after I.

    While on Falling Horsemen, it is well known that the rarest and most desirable of all the types is the rare issue in the name of Magnentius. I do not have one to show. If there is anything more rare than rare it is something that does not exist which describes what I am calling a Falling Horseman of Decentius. Unfortunately the lettering leave some points less than obvious. The first two letters are certainly DN. The next letter could be D or M (not to exclude a couple dozen other options) followed by a crack that eliminates a letter. The we have either a C or a G and EN finishing the left side. Decentius has one fewer letter than does Magnentius and counting the letters makes this lack that extra bump or N after the C while Decentius has the correct bump count. The right side legend is pretty clearly TIVSAVGV which could be either unless you are not willing to accept a coin of Decentius as Augustus. The reverse shows a garble save the clear PARATIO on the right and one S in exergue. I'll blame this coin on Siscia or the second shop at Trier (TRS) or some other mint that has an S in the game. The Magnentius FH coin known is from Arles PARL with FH2 --- not even close to this coin. This is obviously barbarous but it might sell for more if I claim it is an issue of "Paul the Chain", Martinus or Silvanus one of whom might have supported Decentius as Augustus. Hey, it works for people selling Aureolus coins. :angelic:

    Finally is a low point of my collecting activity. Many years ago, I pulled the coin below from a junk box because I thought I could make it into a piece of jewelry for my wife. The coin was substantially one sided but had a clear Christian symbol that would make a necklace she might like. Rather than drilling a hole, I enclosed it in a rim mount intended to accept a US quarter. My wife wore it to a dinner at Victor Failmezger's place where we met his out of town friend who specialized in late Roman. (I did not at the time but was doing photos for Victor's book.) He pointed out that the coin seemed to be something that does not exist - a Chi Rho AE2 of Siscia. We really do not know if this was intended to be of Magnentius but the reverse sort-of refers to a Caesar so we assume this was issued for one of the brothers by someone who did not know that Siscia was not an option. I would really feel bad if I made jewelry out of the only known official coin of its type and mint. It is bad enough with a coin as barbarous as it is. If you want it, talk to my wife. She still wears it on appropriate occasions.

    Yes, that is how I met Valentinian.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2022
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  12. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Don't worry about posting coins you've already posted before, @dougsmit! Does anyone ever say to themselves, "Well, I saw a sunset once; I don't need to see it again"?
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  13. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Right! Doug, I hope you understand that we are wanting to see them again!
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  14. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    I third this statement.
  15. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    Here is a remarkably well done imitation

    Rev.: GL--EXEHC-ITAI
    In Exergue: SIS

    The die engraver was illiterate, but very capable.
    Size and weight are in line with official issues.

    Screenshot 2022-01-26 at 09.39.57.png
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  16. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    I agree, I also like the most barbaric pieces best. Here are pieces that are similar to the one above. I really like to know who made them (inside the empire or outside?) and why.

    Screenshot 2022-01-26 at 11.28.24.png

    Screenshot 2022-01-26 at 11.30.09.png

    Here is an imitation of a follis of the Tetrachy. I think imitations of this period are much rarer than those of other periods:

    Screenshot 2022-01-26 at 11.31.07.png
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  17. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    The coin below is my smallest imitation.
    The diameter is just 6mm. The die engravings were remarkably well done considering how small the dies were.

    Barbarous radiate, imitating Tetricus I (?), dating to the 270s.

    Screenshot 2022-01-26 at 12.44.28.png
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  18. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    My opinion is that once a people experience the concept of money for commerce it is hard to go back to barter. When they were cut off from a normal supply of spendable cash, some decided to make their own version not to fool people into thinking they were 'official' but to use in the marketplace. In the US, we saw this in the early part of the Civil War when there was a shortage of small change. 'Money' is what the people who use it agree to say it is. Most of us today accept money with no physical characteristics at all (direct deposit, electronic banking, crypto currency?). If you could hand one of these 'coins' to someone and get a loaf of bread in return, it was good money at that time and place.
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  19. sky92880

    sky92880 Well-Known Member

    Here are 7 more,usually 4-6 century, although some I'm not sure it's not official money. The quality is not good, but recognizable.
    Here is the first:
    IMG_73441_1024_499.jpg a second: in my collection for its mint mark, looks like a snake
    third : could be 5th or 6th century, Victoria on prow
    fourth : FTR with ?taser?
    fifth : in collection because of the helmet on the reverse, Victoria on prow
    sixth : from fourth or fifth century
    seventh : could be much later, turrets look like fleur de lis

    Sometimes these are difficult to date.
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  20. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    The last one looks like the prototype was a coin of Valentinian III. Maybe one of these two types:


    AE4. ROMA
    gateway, star above
    c.440-455 [RIC p. 174-5]
    Only for Valentinian III.
    11 mm. 1.57 grams.
    RIC X 2164 (Rome, R4) p. 381, 1 photo, plate 53.
    Sear V 21306


    AE4. VOT PVB
    Gateway with turrets, usually with officina number between. Also known as "camp gate" or "city gate".
    ?c.430-?c.437 [RIC p. 173] 435? [DO]
    Only for Valentinian III. Only at Rome. See Type 71 for more discussion.
    RIC says, "A gateway may denote an imperial Adventus, but it is worth noting that earthquakes in 429 and 443 gave rise to considerable concern about the walls and other public buildings in the city." "The legend, which specifically refers to the festival of 3 January, was often associated with consular issues." RIC p. 173. "All bronzes of this period omit PLA [in the obverse legend]" RIC p. 173.
    DOC 852 says "it is not clear to which occasion the inscription belongs (435?)" p. 239. "there is an alternative legend CAS-TRA" (Type 82) p.239 [which is always crude and rarely clear].

    Coins of Valentinian III are so poorly produced that the cited coin might be official, even with its irregular flan shape.

  21. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    I fully agree with the explanation above for why these coins have been made. This leaves the question of who made them. There is probably not one single answer

    For coins like the one below, I have seen the description "Balkan imitation". I'm not sure if this derives from find spot evidence. Maybe these coins circulated in provinces or towns in provinces like Moesia, when they experienced copper coin shortages. Or these coins may have been made in regions and cities, from which the Roman empire withdrew, but which continued to have some kind of monetary economic system.

    Screenshot 2022-01-26 at 11.28.24.png

    The imitations in the name of Magnentius and Decentius may have been minted in modern southern Germany or the Alsace region of France just after the death of Magnentius and Decentius, when these regions were overran by Germanic peoples.

    Screenshot 2022-01-26 at 18.02.25.png
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