Featured Britannia countermarked coins - redux

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by jamesicus, Oct 4, 2018.

  1. jamesicus

    jamesicus Member Supporter

    Very much a work in progress ………
    All comments and corrections very welcome

    As Mattingly points out in "Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum" (BMCRE), Volume I, the main purpose of Countermarks on coins was to extend their circulation under new authority.

    In his article "The Countermark PROB on Coins of Claudius I from Britain" (The Numismatic Chronicle Vol. 148 {1988}, pp. 53-61), Robert Kenyon points out that after his conquest of Britain in 42AD (and maybe planned before) Claudius issued large quantities of early OB CIVES SERVATOS (without PP) and SPES Sestertii of 41AD (minted in Rome) for use in general commerce in Britain.

    All of this coinage was countermarked PROB (Probatum=approved) on the coin obverse.

    It seems that there was a large amount of irregular coinage struck in Gaul with Roman Imperial approval in order to provide additional currency, especially in Britain following the conquest of that country by Claudius. These coins were also countermarked PROB on the coin obverse and circulated as legal tender despite their often flawed appearance.

    Following is an example of a Countermarked Claudius sestertius:

    [​IMG]
    BMCRE, Vol. I, CLAUDIUS, SESTERTIUS, Rome, No. 120, 41-45AD (38mm, 29.2gm)
    Obverse depiction: Claudius, laureate head facing right
    Inscription: TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG PM TRP IMP
    Countermarked PROB
    Mattingly note - Cmk in oblong incuse in front of neck and face; end of legend obliterated
    Reverse depiction: Civic Oak Wreath
    Inscription in four lines:
    EX SC
    O B
    C I V E S
    SERVATOS
    (within Civic Oak Wreath)

    Later (PP marked) coins were not so Countermarked and were probably not circulated in Britain:

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    BMCRE Vol. I, CLAUDIUS, SESTERTIUS, Rome, No. 185, 42AD and on (38mm, 29.8gm)
    Plate 36
    Obverse depiction: Claudius, laureate head facing right
    Inscription: TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG PM TRP IMP PP
    Mattingly note - with PP (Pater Patriae) marking
    Reverse depiction: Civic Oak Wreath
    Inscription in four lines:
    EX SC
    P P
    OB CIVES
    SERVATOS
    (within Civic Oak Wreath)

    Claudius also Countermarked and issued asses and dupondii of Caligula in order to extend the supply of money after his expedition to Britain and his subsequent conquest of the island.

    Mattingly lists TIAV (Tiberius Claudius Augustus) as the Countermark used by Claudius on those coins. They were issued for extended circulation in Britain by Claudius following his Victory there.

    They were the common Roman denominations used as legal tender in Britannia - evidently for a very long time, for many are found in very worn condition.

    Following is an example of such a Countermarked coin:

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Much worn Germanicus SIGNIS RECEPT dupondius
    BMCRE, Vol I, Caligula, No. 93 (RIC, Vol I, No. 57)
    Reverse: Claudius Countermark TIAV in oblong incuse to left of head
    Mattingly, BMCRE, Vol. I, Caligula, No. 93 & Plate 30

    A much clearer photograph of countermark on an As originally issued by Caligula:

    [​IMG]
    Agrippa Obverse & Neptune reverse As
    BMCRE, Vol I, Tiberius, No. 168 (RIC, Vol I, No. 58)
    Plate 26
    Reverse: Claudius Countermark TIAV in oblong incuse to left of head of Neptune.

    "in hand" enlargement of countermark:

    [​IMG]
    Neptune reverse
    As, BMCRE, Vol I, Tiberius, No. 168 (RIC, Vol I, No. 58)
    Plate 26
    Reverse: Claudius Countermark TIAV in oblong incuse to left of head of Neptune.

    Nero also Countermarked and issued Claudius sestertii in order to extend the supply of money in Britain after the death of Claudius.

    This coinage was countermarked NCAPR - which is interpreted different ways by collectors and researchers, with the most popular and frequently used interpretation being Nero Claudius Augustus Probavit.

    The same problem that existed with Claudius countermarked sestertii - a large amount of irregular coinage struck in Gaul with Roman Imperial approval in order to provide additional currency, especially in Britain - led to these coins also being countermarked NCAPR on the coin obverse and circulated as legal tender despite their often flawed appearance.

    [​IMG]
    BMCRE, Vol. I, CLAUDIUS, SESTERTIUS, Rome, No. 123, 41-45AD (35mm, 22.3gm)
    Obverse depiction: Claudius, laureate head facing right
    Inscription: TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG PM TRP IMP
    Countermarked NCAPR in oblong incuse rectangle behind head
    Reverse depiction: Triumphal arch surmounted by equestrian statue of Nero Claudius Drusus
    Inscription: NERO CLAVDIVS DRVSVS GERMAN IMP
     
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  3. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

  4. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I understand my NCAPR on Claudius is strange because he c/m appears before the face rather than behind the head.
    rb1025fd2545.jpg
     
    Marsyas Mike, TIF, galba68 and 3 others like this.
  5. jamesicus

    jamesicus Member Supporter

    Still very much a work in progress. As before, I solicit any comments or corrections.

    This is a rewrite of the “front end” of my soon to be web page - I have now included links to several excellent online reference resources. I have also included a pic, accompanied by descriptive text, of a very early countermarked Augustus Dupondius - probably intended for use on the Germanic frontier. I have not revised the remainder of the page - that is my next project …………

    Introduction

    As Mattingly points out in "Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum" (BMCRE), Volume I, the main purpose of Countermarks on coins was to extend their circulation under new authority.

    Countermarks on Roman coins were not used until Augustus became Emperor. They first appear on his moneyer series of aes coinage.

    In his article "The Countermark PROB on Coins of Claudius I from Britain" (The Numismatic Chronicle Vol. 148 {1988}, pp. 53-61), Robert Kenyon records that after his conquest of Britain in 42AD (and maybe planned before) Claudius issued large quantities of early OB CIVES SERVATOS (without PP) and SPES Sestertii of 41AD (minted in Rome) for use in general commerce in Britain.

    All of this coinage was countermarked PROB (Probatum=approved) on the coin obverse.

    Claudian and other early aes coins were countermarked for use throughout (especially) the northern frontiers of the Empire, including Britain. The marks may have been applied by officials to confirm the continued validity of old, much worn and/or inferior coins, particularly when the supply of new coins to the frontier areas fell short of established goals. There were other occasions when a shortage of aes coinage in Britain may have led to locally-produced coins being countermarked and accepted as official issues.

    It seems that there was a large amount of irregular coinage (struck from locally made unofficial dies) produced in Gaul with Roman Imperial approval in order to provide additional currency, especially in Britain following the conquest of that country by Claudius. These coins, which usually were of inferior design and execution, were also countermarked PROB on the coin obverse and circulated as legal tender despite their often flawed appearance.

    The countermarks were heavily incused (stamped within a border) in the coin obverses in order to survive prolonged usage and wear.

    REFERENCE RESOURCES

    The Countermarks found on Ancient Roman coins - A brief Introduction - Richard Baker (PDF)

    Roman Countermarked Coins - Kevins Coins


    Coinage of Britain during the Roman Occupation by Peter R. Thompson - The Ormskirk & West Lancashire Numismatic Society

    Money in the Military Community in the Early Empire by Andrzej Kunisz - Silesian University, Kratowice (PDF)

    Museum of Countermarks on Roman Coins - Roman Coins & More - Roman Numismatic Gallery

    Mattingly, Harold: Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum (BMCRE), Volume 1 (Augustus to Vitellius) - Standard reference Book & Catalog (British Museum Publication)

    The earliest countermarked Roman coins were the "moneyer" issue sestertii, dupondii & asses of Augustus. These were the coins provided to the Legions serving on the German frontier and they were intended for use by both the Roman soldiers and the local populace. A countermark was required because this coinage was produced by the authority of the senate (SC - Senatus Consultus) and therefor was held to be unofficial outside the established boundaries of the Empire. At first, the head Roman official in each jurisdiction the coin travelled through stamped his validating countermark on the obverse. Evidently this was determined to be un-necessary and confusing due to the proliferation of stamps and so the countermark of Augustus alone was used.

    [​IMG]
    BMCRE, Vol. I, AUGUSTUS, DUPONDIUS, Rome, No. 141, 15 BC (27mm, 8.35gm)
    Obverse depiction: Oak Wreath between two laurel branches
    Inscription: AVGVSTVS TRIBVNIC POTEST (in three lines within oak wreath)
    Four countermarks - hard to distinguish: maybe the (original?)
    top left one is the stylized CA countermark of Augustus.
    Reverse depiction & Inscription:
    L SVRDINIVS IIIVIR AAAFF around large S C
    Unusually located reverse Countermark ? in oval incuse below SC.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
    Bing and Marsyas Mike like this.
  6. jamesicus

    jamesicus Member Supporter

  7. jamesicus

    jamesicus Member Supporter

    I have not been able to find any references relating to optional location of the NCAPR counterstamp - Mattingly only lists positioning it behind the head - but that only means I haven’t come across a reference so far. It seems that counterstamps were often carelessly applied on irregular issue coins (struck from locally made unofficial dies) as with the following PROB countermarked sestertius .......


    [​IMG]
    BMCRE, Vol. I, CLAUDIUS, SESTERTIUS, Rome, No. 120, 41-45AD (38mm, 29.2gm)
    Obverse depiction: Claudius, laureate head facing right
    Inscription: TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG PM TRP IMP
    Countermarked PROB
    Mattingly note - Cmk in oblong incuse in front of neck and face; end of legend obliterated
    Reverse depiction: Civic Oak Wreath
    Inscription in four lines:
    EX SC
    O B
    C I V E S
    SERVATOS
    (within Civic Oak Wreath)

    I believe this to be an irregular issue coin (struck from locally made unofficial dies). Note the flattened and bulged area on the reverse resulting from the very heavily struck countermark on the obverse which was carelesly positioned almost off the flan. The inscriptional lettering on the reverse is uneven and not well formed.

    Note:

    It seems that there was a large amount of irregular coinage (struck from locally made unofficial dies) produced in Gaul with Roman Imperial approval in order to provide additional currency, especially in Britain following the conquest of that country by Claudius. These coins, which often were of inferior design and execution, were also countermarked PROB on the coin obverse and circulated as legal tender despite their often flawed appearance.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
    Bing and Johndakerftw like this.
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