Are these the 4 main roman coin categories?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Everett Guy, Oct 21, 2020.

  1. Everett Guy

    Everett Guy Well-Known Member

    I didnt really know if I worded the thread title correctly. In doing my roman coin homework I ran across a place that has info on roman coins and they had them in these 4 categorys, under each each category was a bunch of separate categories. Are these the 4 main categories? 20201021_223005.jpg
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  3. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    For many years "Roman Imperatorial" was just the tail end of "Roman Republican." It is cataloged in with Republican in all the major reference works and does not have its own category. Most auction sale catalogs still divide "Republican" from "Imperial" without the new label "Imperatorial" for coins after 49 BC, but I now see that term often in on-line sales.

    I wonder if Sear's excellent book, "The History and Coinage of the Roman Imperators, 49-27 BC," had something to do with popularizing the new category. Those coins used to be, not that long ago, offered as "Republican."

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Consider the (following...) source, but they're all valid categories, with @Valentinian's valuable elucidation about the transition from 'Republican' to 'Imperatorial,' especially in reference to the coins.
    ...Except, once you get to the 'Imperial' ones, there are as many sub-phases as you might expect from a half-millenium interval. Starting with the Julio-Claudian and Flavian imperial dynasties, which cover most of the 1st c. CE. After which, there are the Antonines, covering most of the 2nd.
    Then there are the Severans, c. late 2nd century -about 235.
    After that, the real fireworks start. From about 235, with the emperor Maximinus, you get about a half-century of the 'Barracks emperors,' a period when the imperial office was held largely (with prominent exceptions) by generals. The average reign was something like 2 1/2 years. This period saw the secessionist 'empires,' conspicuously in Gaul (mostly France) and Britain.
    Then you get Diocletian, definitively rescuing the empire from total chaos. The later 3rd century is known for simultaneous co-emperors of a reunited empire. Here's where you run into the phrase, 'the Tetrarchy,' because of how the empire's administration was split up, between the eastern and western parts.
    From there, you get Constantine I, and most of the last two centuries of the western side of the empire.
    ...The 'Provincial' coins are mostly of the same, Imperial period --with conspicuous exceptions, back to Republican and Imperatorial.
    ...If, by now, all of this was redundant, please receive my cordial apologies. Your posts are already conveying the impression of someone who is learning, Fast. ...Anyway, best of luck.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2020
  5. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    For me personally as a collector, i divide this way:

    Roman republican
    Roman imperial
    Late imperial (post Constantine)
    Roman provincial

    everybody has their own thing
  6. John Conduitt

    John Conduitt Well-Known Member

    It helps me to think about why coins are divided into these categories and how that's relevant to me as a coin collector. This is how I see the breakdown:

    Roman Republican (509-27BC)
    For coins, the important distinction is that this is pre-Augustus and the creation of the role of Emperor. Rome was run by Consuls - two per year - to prevent any individual getting too powerful (as in the monarchy it replaced). So you don't get busts of rulers on coins - although plenty of gods. Coins were produced in Rome for use in Rome.

    Roman Imperatorial (59-27BC)
    A subset of Republican, during the Imperatorial Triumvirates - when power was taken from the Senate and consolidated with three individuals (Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus). You start to get individual rulers on coins, and these are such people as Caesar, Marc Anthony, Brutus and Cleopatra.

    Roman Imperial (27BC-426AD)

    The Empire, from Augustus and the creation of the role of Emperor. Coins feature the Emperor and were eventually produced across the Empire for use across the Empire.

    Roman Provincial (44BC-293AD)
    I see this mostly as a subset of Imperial, although it could cover coins going back to 241BC. As the empire grew, it became necessary to decentralise and create administrative regions outside Rome. Similarly, coins began to be produced in these regions and not just Rome - places like Sicily, Egypt, Lycia, Crete and Syria. These coins feature Emperors but were mostly used only in the province that minted them (which distinguishes them from Imperial coins).

    Tetrarchy (293-324)
    A subset of Imperial, after Diocletian divided the empire between four emperors - two senior (Augustus) and two junior (Caesar). One Augustus and Caesar pair covered the West, the other pairing covered the East. All four appear on coins produced on both sides of the Empire (which means there are up to four times as many rulers to collect).

    Constantinian (307-363)
    A subset of Imperial, relating to Constantine I the Great (who ended the Tetrarchy) and his family. They produced a lot of coins that survived in high numbers, making them inexpensive to collect.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2020
  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Yes. Other answers cover the same thing but you have the main points.

    To avoid confusion: The terms Roman Provincial and Greek Imperial are synonyms. The popular book on the subject, Greek Imperial Coins and their Values by Sear popularized that term but I prefer Roman Provincial to address the coins for local use issued by cities in the Empire. Some of them used Latin legends (coins of cities with full Colony status) but most used Greek legends. Most beginners start with Roman Imperial and later move on to include coins of the other main categories you listed or adding coins of Greek, Byzantine, Eastern and Medieval civilizations. I suggest you keep an open mind and give all of them a chance to grab your interest. I am a general collector with a few coins of all areas but I add specialty interests where I buy many more coins than I do for other periods. What works for you may be different. Find the one that is fun for you and go with it.

    I do suggest reading my overview on the Vocabulary of Ancient Coins presented on 8 free and non-commercial pages. I believe all collectors should learn the terms highlighted on those pages.
  8. Everett Guy

    Everett Guy Well-Known Member

    I love your post, at 52 I wished I paid more attention to history in school. I learned alot here. When I set out to collect I orignally thought like collecting american coins...but to my surprise there was just not alot of coins but the are by period and category so to speak...emperors and emperors wifes, family members, same people on front but different sceans on backs...ect..ect. I was more confused and wondering how to understand what I am trying to collect. I am getting into the ballfield of what I am doing now.
    +VGO.DVCKS and Carl Wilmont like this.
  9. Everett Guy

    Everett Guy Well-Known Member

    I see where some of these dates over lap each other...I think thats where I was confusing my self. Also what are the coins from 426-518 AD referred to?
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  10. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    I always define them thusly:

    Roman Republican
    Roman Imperatorial - the age of Caesar, Pompey, Lepidus, etc.
    Roman Imperial (up until 476 A.D.)
    Roman Provincial (up until roughly 260 A.D.)
    Byzantine - the Eastern empire after 476 A.D.
  11. Alegandron

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

    I kinda take a little different approach to Roman Coinage. I collect Historically, and not as a Coin Collector / Numismatist. Ergo, it is not so much the coin that is important, but how it acts as a placemarker in History. This is why I also collect those City States and Entities that interacted with Rome as they moved through their Ascendency into a World Empire.

    It is how I am starting to collect Egyptian Scarabs in this pattern, also.

    I enjoy exploring foundations as to why an Entity becomes successful. What were the events or critical junctures that defined their success. Since I focus more on the Roman Republic (the Rise of a Successful Empire), I approach my groupings as:

    Roman Kings: 753-509 BCE: no modern coinage, but proto monies and other artefacts

    Roman Republic Until Punic Wars: 509-264 BCE: no modern coinage, but proto monies and other artefacts. Rome expanding into all of Italia, Greek Coinage in the South, Italia Coinage from central Italia to north, several City States, etc. Allied or in Conflict. Crucible period of forming Roman Republic, laying foundations for their Culture, Government, Ideals.

    Roman Republic / Empire During Punic Wars to the Gracchii: 264-130's BCE: Rome becomes an Empire. Additions of overseas Provinces, major conflicts defining Roman resolve, problems on how to govern and distribute wealth, problems with defining a City State to encompassing Italia and overseas Provinces (this later lead to the Social War of 91-87 BCE)

    Imperatorial Period: 130's to approx 27 BCE / Augustus: Decline and Death of the Republic. Gracchii Reforms reversed resulting in major strife with Allies. Social War was a major historical pivot point. Major personalities compete for individual power. Roman Legions become professional armies, with personal allegiance more to their Imperators vs. to the City State / Republican Empire of Rome. Virtual Mercenary Armies. Marius was the first to truly develop this concept.

    Roman Principate (Rome was ALREADY an Empire for 200 years before): Augustus to early-200's CE. Height of Pax Romana. After this period, total economic wealth begins to decline, as evidenced from devaluating and discontinuing the AR Denarius, long-term and acute inflationary periods, and moving economic psychology to token or fiat monies with heavy emphasis on AE vs. precious metals, etc.

    Slow decline of Western Roman Empire: After 200 CE.


    RR Anon AR Heavy Denarius - Didrachm 310-300 BCE 7.3g 21mm Mars-Horse FIRST Cr 13-1 Left

    Carthage Zeugitania AR ½ Shekel 17mm 3.8g 2nd Punic War 218-202 BC Sicily mint 216-211 BC Tanit l Horse r sun as double uraeus SNG COP 359

    Marsic den 90-88 BCE Italia-Corfinium Oath pig Marsi Picentines Paeligni Marrucini Vestini Frentani Samnites Hirpini S227 SCARCE
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2020
  12. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I understand the logic behind all your categories. @Alegandron, but -- as @+VGO.DVCKS indicates -- you could also use the same approach to divide up the Imperial period into numerous categories on various historical and numismatic grounds, and you'd end up with 30 different categories overall. Which reduces the utility of the categorization in the first place. I guess it depends on whether one is a "lumper" or a "splitter" at heart!

    Going back to the four basic categories mentioned in the OP, I'm not a big fan of breaking off the so-called Imperatorial period from the larger Republican period as a truly separate category. Apart from the coins issued by the Imperators themselves and/or their associates (including Caesar, Pompey, Lepidus, Marc Antony, etc.), there are a great many coins issued in the two decades after 49 BCE that are indistinguishable stylistically and substantively from Republican coins in the several decades prior to 49 BCE. In fact, many such coins are attributed to the later period only by extrinsic evidence, such as information known about the moneyers, hoard evidence, etc. So I think it's a fairly arbitrary distinction numismatically. Which, I assume, is why Crawford includes "Imperatorial" coins in his book on Roman Republican Coins, up through Antony's legionary issues in 32-31 BCE. Note that he seems to refer to the final Republican period as the "Triumviral" period, beginning with the formation of the First Triumvirate in 60 BCE, rather than with Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon in 49 BCE. I haven't found any references by Crawford to an "Imperatorial" period.

    Speaking of arbitrary distinctions, I've previously stated that I strongly agree with @Alegandron that it doesn't make much sense to define Roman Provincial coinage -- as the RPC project does -- as beginning only with the ascension of Octavian/Augustus, and excluding all coins issued by provinces belonging to Rome during the more than a century prior to that dividing line. But that cut-off point seems to have been set in stone, so I've been calling those earlier coins, when I post them, "Republican Provincial" coins.
  13. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

    [QUOTEwhat are the coins from 426-518 AD referred to?[/QUOTE]

    Byzantine :woot:

    (Okay, more like 498-1453...)
  14. PlanoSteve

    PlanoSteve Supporter! Supporter

    As usual, I am enthralled by the lucid, educational, dedicated, thoughtful responses of our many & varied collectors posting here (& of course, the many other forums, but particularly "Ancients"). :singing::singing::singing::singing::singing:

    And I have always found it interesting, given the finite number of coins available, that there are so many variations in how collections are assembled. ;)

    For my part, while I mostly live vicariously through our members posts, it is a thrill to hold (read: "fondle") a coin from the ancient past, imagining the possible "life" it has led. :happy:

    In my collecting, while I appreciate a good "history" story, & and coins related to that era, I don't marry the 2 together. My collecting is basically broken down into 3 basic categories:

    1. Is it attractive to me, something I want to hold & contemplate about, at a cost I am willing to pay?

    2. Is it attractive to me, something I want to hold & contemplate about, at a cost I am willing to pay?

    3. Is it attractive to me, something I want to hold & contemplate about, at a cost I am willing to pay?

    It's just that simple, for me. ;) Thankfully, there are so many who post here & provide the "fix" I need to satiate my thirst. :singing::singing: Know that while I don't often post on these threads & I certainly don't have the experience of the majority (100%?) of "Ancients" collectors, I do peruse these threads daily & now have a vast collection in my CT library. :happy:

    Thank you! (back into my cave...:D) (Btw, you can blame the excessive use of emojis on my 10 grandkids...I can't break the habit!!! :jawdrop::joyful::joyful::joyful:)
  15. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Beware of Greeks bearing wreaths Supporter

    And another secretive kind of Roman Provincial coinage is called by Professor Francoise de Callatay Roman Proxy Coinage. These are the coins normally produced by Greek cities but at the behest of Rome mainly to pay mercenaries and bribes to keep the peace.
    see de Callatay " More than it would seem" on My speciality Athens NewStyle can be ranked as a Roman Proxy Coinage.
  16. Everett Guy

    Everett Guy Well-Known Member

    I am reading this page (link) now. Lots of info, thanks!
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