Does anyone have a silver Sestertius from the Roman Republic?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Gam3rBlake, Jun 15, 2021.

  1. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    I didn’t know this until very recently but I was reading the article about the Sestertius on Wikipedia and apparently during the Roman Republic it was a small silver coin rather than the large copper/brass coin we often see from the Roman Empire (see below).

    Does anyone happen to have an example of a silver sestertius in their collection that they are willing to share photos of?

    Thanks :)

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  3. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    I have one - looking at it again, I'm not 100% sure that it's official and not some sort of Celtic imitation
    Republican anonymous AR sestertius IIS ROMA Cr 44-7.jpg
  4. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    Hmm any idea or guess on the date range?

    No need to be precise. Just curious if you happen to know the century it was minted?

    Also were the imitations made with the same weight & purity as the authentic ones?
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2021
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  5. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    IIRC, these anonymous Sestertii are attributed to the ca. 211 BC timeframe, shortly after the 2nd Punic War.

    I don't know of any certain imitations of AR Sestertii - all I know is that my coin came in a mixed lot, and the style looks "off" compared to all other examples I've seen.
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  6. Alwin

    Alwin Supporter! Supporter

    SESTERTIUS (211-208 B.C.)
    Cr 44/7 - S 46
    1.26 g - 13 mm
    Helmeted head of Roma to right . Behind IIS
    The Dioscuri galloping right . ROMA

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    @Gam3rBlake, thanks for raising this issue (yep, in both senses of the term)!
    @Finn235, from @Alwin's example, it's looking, intuitively (please read, I'm otherwise clueless), that the points on yours that you could interpret as imitative are likely reducible to condition. I'm most impressed by how the legends on yours are fully intact, without alteration. Same for the details of the motifs. ...My two cents, for what they're worth.
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  8. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis Supporter

    I've got just a single silver sestertius, along with a number of early quinarii and Denarii. These come in a handful of styles mirroring some of the stylistic groups of early anonymous denarii. It is a very small coin compared to most contemporary RR coins.

    20160114010557-98a8b829-me (3).jpg
    Roman Republic AR Sestertius(12.75 mm, 1.14 g, 2h). Anonymous, circa 211 B.C. Rome mint. Helmeted head of Roma right; behind, IIS. Border of dots / Dioscuri galloping right; in linear frame, ROMA. Line border. Crawford 44/7; Sydenham 142; RSC 4; Russo RBW 176-177.

    FWIW I believe @Finn235 has a perfectly authentic and official example from a style I've seen before.
  9. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    Nice one!

    Well no surprises that it’s a very small coin.

    I mean even the denarius is a pretty tiny coin and a sesterce is only 1/4 of a denarius so I can only imagine how minuscule it must be.

    My Hadrian denarius is only the size of a dime with a weight of 2.89g so dividing that up into 4 coins would make itsy bitsy teeny tiny little coins xD
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  10. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    You want tiny? Check out the Greek AR tetartemorion:
  11. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste


    ...or these. The "base" coin has 23,75 mm diameter.

    In hand they look like this

  12. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    You should see the tiny semuncia that the Romans made.

    They were worth 1/24th of a Roman as.

    An as was 1/10th of a denarius so a semuncia was 1/240th of a denarius.

    Basically it was worth about 3 minutes wages for the average unskilled laborer.
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  13. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    As far as I know, the semuncia is not a small coin.
  14. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    I haven’t seen one so I’m not sure but they did have the lowest value of any coinage in the Roman Empire.
  15. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    Last edited: Jun 16, 2021
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  16. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    The Romans actually made a Quartuncia (1/48 as or 1/480 denarius) albeit briefly, shortly after 211 BC. It's small by modern standards but at 16mm still far from being "tiny"
    Roman Republic AE Quartuncia Minerva Prow 211 BC.jpg

    The semuncia is bigger, starting at about 21mm and shrinking to about 15mm over time. Mine is earlier, about 20mm across
    Republic anonymous AE Semuncia mercury prow Punic War 211 BC.jpg

    The tiny bronze coins come mostly from Asia Minor, where 9-12mm AEs are common from a variety of cities. I'm not sure how much they were worth, but it can't be much!
    Troas, Skepsis AE11mm
    Troas Skepsis AE.jpg

    One thing I've noticed is that across all cultures, coins smaller than 5mm are very rare, and those that are usually have either an extremely simple design, or barely any design at all.

    My personal favorite- a 5mm tetartemorion (I've heard conflicting theories about either Miletos, from 500 BC, or Mylasia, 400 BC) engraved by a master of their art (grain of rice included for scale) - I need to re-shoot this one actually; the wrinkles on the lion's nose don't fully come through
    ZomboDroid 09042020125714.jpg
  17. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    I think we have similar coins, @Finn235

    I attributed mine as Miletos.
    5 mm., 0,08 g.
    I knew it was small when I bought it as I had the size and weight, but the coin simply shocked me in hand. And other Greek small (in all means) denominations.
    Fascinating how people were able to create such jewels.
    And I really don't understand how didn't they lose these.
    Or this "giant" from Kasolaba, 7 mm
    I don't know what is the smallest Greek bronze - I have this from Aiolis

    11 mm., 1,19 g
    And several coins with similar size but a little heavier.

    I don't think Romans issued something similar to tetartemorions.
  18. catadc

    catadc Well-Known Member

    Just ... epic.
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  19. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    It’s called reading. ;)

    I know it’s not very popular these days but some people still enjoy it
  20. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis Supporter

    The semunciae come in different sizes, like most Roman bronze. These 3 are about 21mm, 17mm and 15mm, all larger than the sestertius above. The last one pictured here is the latest known anonymous(no mintmark/moneyers name) semuncia from 206-195 BC and one of only two examples known to me. There are a few later issues but all have moneyers names on them.
    20190525104758-44c9b549-me (1).jpg
  21. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    My guess for the reason teeny tiny coins weren’t produced often is it was probably annoying losing them constantly.

    I think the US Dime is about the smallest any coin should be.
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