Are there any RD Roman Coins left?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Colby J., Oct 20, 2019.

  1. Colby J.

    Colby J. Well-Known Member

    Seems like a stretch, given the two thousand years, but I wanted to know if there are any surviving red examples of roman bronze coins.
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  3. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing Supporter

    RD??? What is that? A red toned copper alloy coin?
  4. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    This depends on what you mean by "red."

    1. If you are asking for a red patina, yes, these exist but are less common than, for example, a green, brown, or blackish mineral patina. I personally have none to show, but I know that other forum members do.

    2. If you are referring to the color of blank copper, about every Roman copper coin will look "red" when completely stripped of its patina, e.g. by electrolysis. Such extreme cleaning may in single cases be appropriate or even necessary but is generally not recommendable. The patina constitutes part of the coin and is usually more attractive than what hides below it. Here is a "red" Roman coin that has been stripped of its patina:

    Rom – Licinius 2, AE3, jupiter.png
    Licinius II, Roman Empire, AE3, 317–320 AD, Antioch mint. Obv: DN VAL LICIN LICINIVS NOB C, laureate and draped bust left, holding mappa, globe, and sceptre. Rev: IOVI CONSERVATORI CAESS, Jupiter standing left, holding Victory on globe and sceptre, captive at feet left, delta in right field. 18mm, 2.82g. Ref: RIC VII, 29 delta.

    3. If you mean coins that have never experienced any surface oxidation or similar process, the answer is probably no. Every ancient base metal coin will have undergone some chemical reaction altering the appeareance of its surface. There are of course bronze and copper coins without a mineral patina. Sometimes they have been expertly cleaned, sometimes they were burried in conditions that did prevent the formation of a thick mineral layer covering their surface. Yet, even these coins normally have significantly darkened surfaces sometimes referred to as "Tiber patina." Below is an example.

    Römische Republik – As, Saxula, Janus und Bug.png
    Roman Republic, As (uncial standard), 169–158 BC, moneyer: C. Cluvius Saxula, Rome mint. Obv: head of Janus, I above. Rev: prow right, C·SAX (ligated) above, ROMA below. 35 mm, 25.98 g. Ref: RRC 173/1.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
  5. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Roman Republic
    Aes Grave Anon 280-276 BCE
    Triens 46mm 90.3g 9.3mm thick
    Rome mint
    Crawford 14-3 T Vecchi 3
  6. IdesOfMarch01

    IdesOfMarch01 Well-Known Member

    It's not clear to me what you mean by "RD" but in the context of other responses in this thread, it seems that you mean something like the following:

    Are there any ancient Roman coins that were struck by the mint, immediately removed from circulation, and survive with their originally struck characteristics intact?

    For silver and bronze coins, the answer is no. There are no realistically plausible circumstances under which a silver or bronze coin would survive 2000 years without having its surface affected by chemical reactions. Silver and copper react with various gases and solids present in air, water, and soil, as well as contact with other coins, so in the course of 2000 years these surfaces would at the very least show significant changes due to these chemical reactions. It might be possible that a freshly minted coin was isolated in such a way that the coin experienced no changes other than interaction with air, forming only a patina of some sort, but I doubt it's possible to determine this with any certainty.

    In the case of gold coins, the answer is "probably yes" since gold is essentially inert and will not react with most (but not all) gases, liquids, and solids with which it comes in contact, and most Roman gold coins were as close to 100% pure gold as possible given the refining processes during ancient times. Note that this doesn't take into account the slight impurities in gold coins that may have been transferred from the die to the coin when it was struck, such impurities being susceptible to the usual degrading chemical processes. But again, there's no way to determine with certainty that an FDC gold coin was never circulated and has been preserved for 2000 years in its originally struck condition.
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  7. Colby J.

    Colby J. Well-Known Member

    thanks, I meant like how wheat pennies can be brown red brown and red; maybe there is one exception that survived the 2000 years. Was just curious
  8. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    To the best of my knowledge, there is not an extant example of any ancient bronze coin that retains its original, unpatinated bronze surface - because all ancient coins spent time in the ground, they were all exposed to the elements. I had asked a similar question on another forum some time ago; nobody could bring up an example of a certified "red" copper or bronze coin from before the 1600s or 1700s.

    Not saying it's impossible - the bronze Sword of Goujian in China was made in about 500 BC and came out of the ground looking like it was just made

    The distinction of course - the sword was made using the *best* technology available at the time, and was placed in the ground with the intent of conservation as it was a grave good. Ancient bronze coins were made to be used as money, and even when they were buried, it was usually just in a simple pot that was neither water nor airtight.

    This is just about the closest thing I have to a "red" ancient bronze coin... and it's not even close!

    constantine I gloria exercitvs antioch.jpg

    Silver, on the other hand, can come out looking mint state if it was buried as such
    Severus alexander iovi propvgnatori.jpg
    Maximinus thrax victoria avg.jpg
  9. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    "RD" is short for red and is an important designation on modern copper or copper alloy coin slabs with collectors currently. Certain collectors will pay a premium for this slab designation. If I understand correctly, they believe RD coin slabs represent a most original coin, a coin that has not formed a patina or toned since being minted.

    I believe @IdesOfMarch01 has answered the original question very well.
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  10. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    And yet, there are many examples of silvered antoninianii that still retain their original silvering. Considering how thin this original silver wash was, it's pretty darn close to an RD state of preservation.
    Augustus, A.D. 270-275
    Billon Antoninianus
    Cyzicus mint
    Rev: ORIENS AVG - Sol, standing left, raising right hand and holding globe in left; captive at feet
    XXL in exergue
    RIC 360
    22mm, 3.8g.

    Augustus A.D. 284-305
    Bronze Nummus
    Treir mint, A.D. 301-305
    Rev: GENIO POPV-LI ROMANI - Genius, modius on head, naked but for chlamys hanging from shoulder, holding patera and cornucopiae
    PTR in exergue; S in left field, F in right
    RIC 582a
    26mm, 7.7g.
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  11. AnYangMan

    AnYangMan Well-Known Member

    While certainly not ancient, I can show a 16th century coin that still retains some original lustre! The second half of the sixteenth was a rather turbulent time in the Netherlands, with the struggle for independence reaching its zenith in the 1570-ies. The northern city of Deventer was in an extremely strategic position, as the Spanish garrison (which were actually German mercenaries) was in a prime location for raiding the smaller cities of Utrecht and Holland. The count of Rennenberg was tasked with taking the city and the siege began on the third of August 1578. Towards the end of this siege, most commodities became scarce and so did coins. To still be able to pay the soldiers, the city council decided on producing a series of siege coins. These were stuck in four different denominations (1/2, 1, 2, 4 Stuivers) on the 29th of October 1578, to be issued the next day, as is marked on the coins themselves; 30 OC 78.


    The trick is that these only circulated from October 30th to the 19th of November, when the German garrison officially surrendered. Afterwards, the majority of these siege coins were handed in and the city council, who countermarked them with the Eagle of Deventer (Specimens without this countermark are extremely rare), provided good silver coins in return. The large quantity of returned coins were stored somewhere in the archives, with a fair few having been ‘lost’ over time. Proper storage and less than a month of circulation means that they are only rarely found with any wear. I believe RD means that the majority of the coin still has its original lustre (85%?). While my example of the two stuiver only retains some patches of the original red lustre, I have seen some superior examples that come quite close to that!

    And just because I like showing coins; an example of the 4 stuiver coin (without any lustre):

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  12. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    RD is a color determination not a comment on wear or lustre. RD is the color of a freshly minted cent and commands the highest premium. RD is followed by RB for red brown. It is also my understanding that the third party graders no longer or never did guarantee color designations.
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  13. IdesOfMarch01

    IdesOfMarch01 Well-Known Member

    Pure, untarnished silver is bright and shiny. A silvered item -- coin, jewelry -- would initially exhibit a smooth, bright, evenly shiny surface.

    Your coins might be well preserved but in no way do they represent a mint state of a coin whose surface has been just silvered. They exhibit wear in the high spots as illustrated by the uneven remaining silver coating.
  14. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    I think this is a very good question. Ancient coins may have been preserved in materials that didn't react with their metal, and so may still retain their primal appearance. I have been looking for coins like that. This one turned out to be - not primal in any case.

    2804 Julianus ct.jpg

    This one is pretty primal, but part was struck too lightly.

    2846 Theodosius.jpg

    And this one is so sharp and brightly shining...

    5358 Peroz s.jpg
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
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