Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by DonnaML, Jan 12, 2021.
Log in or Sign up to hide this ad.
Why melt them down? They were valued as bullion, specie and it was more convenient to have the silver in the form of a known coin rather than an ingot of silver of unknown purity.
Here is what I remember from memory. I could probably re-find the original sources but it would take a while.
What scottishmoney refers to was discussed in in books by both Depeyrot and Callu if I recall correctly. Worn Roman large bronzes did circulate in 17th-19th century (at least) France and were used as, for example, 17th century sols. There is no indication that they circulated continuously since Roman times. Instead they were found by farmers and put into circulation as they matched the fabric of the then-current bronze coins. There would have been many centuries since the fall of Rome where they didn't match any contemporary coin and thus couldn't have been used.
There are indications of the same thing in Britain. It might have been in Reece. Anyone who has seen an early 18th century British penny next to a Roman sestertius can see how easy they are to mix.
Late use of Roman coins in Hungary is very well documented. But to date there is no evidence of actual circulation. They are found, instead, in jewelry or offertory contexts in Avar and Magyar graves - thus 7th to 10th centuries. The Avars were not a monetized society and the early medieval Hungarian coinage looks nothing like Roman.
The key, or "law" if you will, especially with base-alloy coinage, is that it can circulate if it matches the overall fabric - shape, size and weight - of contemporary coinage.
It is also simply logic that not matter when found a Roman silver or gold coin would have had some value and been useful at least by weight. Though again that might not count as true circulation.
In the case of China, Thierry and Peng Xinwei both provide lots of interesting information. Many hoards buried in the last quarter of the 19th century and early 20th century, and "frozen savings hoards" where shopkeepers and others put aside their stock of cash when they were replaced with machine-struck regular coins in the 1910s, have been analyzed.
They regularly contain many Western Han Wu Zhus, Wang Mang Huo Chuans, Eastern Han Wu Zhus, Tang Kai Yuans, etc. In other words coins dating from roughly 100 BC to AD 1000 were in regular use in the 1870s and 1900s. These numbers range from 2% to over 1/3 of some hoards!!! Of course they were the same size and shape as contemporary cash.
Imagine if one quarter of the coins in the pocket or purse of someone in Britain in 1900 dated from before the Norman conquest. Incredible!!
The first Chinese coin collectors simply went through the equivalent of bank rolls and pulled out one and two thousand year old coins for their collections...
Also, wouldn't it be possible that, instead of it necessarily a coin collector's hoard, it could be a tradesman didn't get to the bank in time to make a deposit? Is context usually given when hoards like this are found?
I may not collect ancients yet, but I am interested in them, so please forgive the intrusion.
"[W]hat looks like a very interesting article, as translated into English, entitled "Circulation of Roman Coinage in Northern Europe in Late Antiquity," can be found at at https://journals.openedition.org/histoiremesure/886. A brief excerpt:
"In North-Central Europe 2nd century denarii and subaerati are noted almost always in Late Roman and Early Migration Period contexts, i.e. be-tween A.D. 3rd and the 5th century. Most of the denarii hoards, which additionally contain non-numismatic elements, mainly ornaments, are dated to the Migration Period; many deposits from Gotland are recorded even in Late Migration Period contexts. Denarii continue to appear also in Frankish graves dated to 5th and 6th centuries and even later. Strong wear of the denarii from Barbaricum suggests that they were used over a long period.
The other very important group of Roman coinage in Barbaricum are 2nd and early 3rd century sestertii found particularly on the south-eastern Baltic — in Pomerania, Sambian peninsula and the lower Neman River, areas settled by Germanic and West Balt societies. Sestertii are registered in hoards, graves, and as stray finds. In my opinion the influx of the wave of sestertii to the Baltic coast ought to be dated to the period between A.D. 180 and the mid 3rd century, until early Valerianus and Gallienus. There is evidence that they originated from the western Empire and the latest series, dated to the mid-3rd century, may have come directly from northern Italy. The distribution, chronology and provenance of this very specific group of coinage strongly suggest its links with the amber trade which, as a result of Marcomanic Wars, had to take place by a roundabout sea route."
See also http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/87152/1/WP275.pdf at p. 7: "There is some evidence that late Roman low-denomination coins were still circulating in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, as were privately produced jettons (Dyer, 1997, p. 40)." [From an paper entitled "Technologies of money in the Middle Ages:
The ‘Principles of Minting’," by Oliver Volckart of the London School of Economics.]
Finally, see the  thread at forumancientcoins.com entitled "How long were Roman coin in circulation for?"; it's at http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=108861.0;wap2. One comment cites an article mentioning Roman bronzes from a hoard circulating (on a small scale) as farthings in 1741; see https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.b3421958&view=1up&seq=548. [The book cited is
Rev. Gilbert White, The natural history and antiquities of Selborne, London, Printed for J. and A. Arch [etc., 1837], Source: HathiTrust.org
cf. pp. 516-517.]
[Another comment, by our own @Jochen1, mentions that he had read that "Roman sestertii were used until begin of 19th century as sous pieces in France," presumably because of the similarity in size.]
Another comment, by a Forum member named Gallienus1, states:
"With the collapse of the Western Empire the new coins minted by the tribal successor states probably could not be produced in the numbers needed for trade, pay for the loyalty of warriors or even for every day exchange. It is therefore reasonable to expect that Roman coins that survived in circulation would be used until worn into featureless discs, then melted down for reuse.
Then the[re] are hoard coins. Hoards have been found from the time they were hidden to the present day. Reading an excerpt from The Social Circulation of the Past: English Historical Culture 1500-1730 by Daniel Woolf indicates to me that hoards were discovered at a much greater frequency in the past than they are today. In the 15th through to 18th centuries some of these coins must have re-entered the economy as unofficial units of exchange based on the monetary value of their metal content.
Names given for Roman coins such as 'madning money', 'Binchester pennies' and 'Burrough money' certainly suggest that the locals at least may have used them as a means of exchange. The part in the excerpt that makes me weep is the schoolmaster who gets his students to look for Roman coins and when they found enough silver ones he had them melted down to make a silver tankard!" (Citing https://books.google.com.au/books?id=5fb2qsnZozMC&pg=PA233&lpg=PA233&dq=circulation+of+<a href='http://www.forumancientcoins.com/catalog/roman-and-greek-coins.asp?vpar=55&pos=0' target='_blank'>roman</a>+coins&source=bl&ots=eCC8e-HzIS&sig=IGt_9KA2bw0GKhI7GE9JFVoBXPk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiZzKq62IjQAhWJHJQKHUjQBtE4KBDoAQgfMAE#v=onepage&q=circulation of roman coins&f=false .)"
So why couldn't something similar have happened in late medieval Hungary? That seems more likely to me than the idea that the presence of Roman silver coins in the hoard suggests an early numismatist. Why would such a numismatist have kept his Roman coins mixed in indiscriminately with his circulating coins?
Finally, everyone's assuming that this hoard was buried by a single owner. How do we know that it wasn't the collective property of an extended family or even of an entire community fleeing in advance of "the Turks"?
I did want to take a moment to apologize for a couple things. I totally went off on a tangent, posting inaccurate information, trying to be edgy or something, in your super fun thread of coins with Egyptian iconography that ultimately was shut down due to my weirdness. Then when you were super nice about it, I turned it into some sort of pity party like you had asked me to go, when you were just trying to help me keep it on the rails. You certainly have never been anything but welcoming and sweet to me. You certainly never told me to buzz off, even though I deserved it.
Truthfully, I have been coming off my antidepressants which makes me lose focus and turns me into a regular Scrooge McDuck (except without all the gold coins).
But excuses are like armpits (and other areas) we all have them and they all stink! So, I will simply say I am sorry and thanks for all you do for myself and this wonderful community.
Thanks so much, Ryro. I accept your apology completely. You're one of my favorite posters too. And believe me, I understand the effects of going off anti-depressants, even for a couple of days because you can't get the prescription refilled quickly enough, all too well.
That is a very interesting site! Thanks for sharing.
The coffer of the local church, perhaps? Based on the photo where they are separated into piles by reign, 98% of the coins are apparently common Hungarian denars. I wouldn't be surprised that a peasant field worker who turns up a denarius with his hoe might very well plunk it into the collection box on Sunday morning.
Separate names with a comma.