Rare Imitation of Diocletian from London

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by thejewk, Jan 13, 2021 at 2:47 PM.

  1. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    In one of my recent threads I mused about a recent acquisition, a selection of 22 'barbarous radiates', most of them from the period just before Carausius' arrival in Britannia, and how tiny little slips of metal 5mm in diameter could serve as coinage. With Carausius' arrival, it became difficult to distinguish between what is and is not official, with style and quality of engraving varying wildly until mint marks started to appear on the coinage. From then on, up until the time when Constantine issued his VICTORIAE LAETAE PRINC PERP series, suspected to be an attempt to introduce a new denomination with a fractionally higher silver content, imitative and unofficial coinage in Britannia seems to have played a far smaller role in the economy.

    Today I received the following:
    7.86g, 25.5mm
    Imitation of London Nummus
    Found C.2010 near St Albans
    Copying LMCC 2.01.X such as:
    Diocletian Nummus London.jpg
    LMCC 2.01.003, RIC 6A and 16A
    Laureate and cuirassed bust right
    Genius standing left, modius on head, naked but for cloak (chlamys) over left shoulder, right hand holding a patera, left cornucopiae
    -/-//- London Mint
    9.73g, 28.5mm
    Unreduced nummi
    296-303 AD

    Unofficial coinage from this era is quite rare, and this is the first coin I've seen for sale imitating coinage of the First Tetrarchy produced at London.

    In the scheme of things, and as far as imitations go, I don't think it's too bad. Although clumsy, the portrait and figure of Genius might have passed at a glance, if it wasn't for the slightly light weight, smaller diameter, and totally blundered obverse legend. My favourite is the falling over I in DIOCL, the drunken S towards the end, and the defeated AG when they realised that they couldn't fit the necessary PF AVG.

    Lee Toone and High Cloke were kind enough to confirm it's status earlier today, and I am very happy to add another interesting item to my collection.

    For other examples of contemporaneous unofficial coins, have a look at @Valentinian 's excellent page:

    Please share any unofficial coins from your collection, or anything else you find appropriate.
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  3. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    I have an ancient imitation of a London follis of Diocletian.

    26 mm. 4.87 grams. (Notice how light it is.)
    I in left field and II in right field
    Prototype is RIC VI London 6a
    London does not ever have these field marks and has no field marks at all until "c. 310."
    I think this coin is very fragile. The obverse from 8:00 to 9:30 shows where the edge crumbled and fractured off.

    I bought this coin in 1988 in London and took it to an RNS meeting where members immediately offered to buy it from me, but I didn't sell it. Now, after paying attention for 33 years since then, I can attest that imitations of GENIO POPVLI ROMANI types are rare, not only from London, but from anywhere (I have one from Alexandria).
  4. John Conduitt

    John Conduitt Well-Known Member

    Very nice. Yes I guess so many coins suddenly started coming out of the London mint (after Carausius set it up) the main reason for all the imitations was removed, so that just left the fraudsters. That would explain why the portrait, Genio and the legends are actually pretty good for a barbarous coin, as it had to fool people.

    I have a barbarous Theodora, wife of Tetrarchy emperor Constantius Chlorus and possibly daughter of Maximian. It was found in Britain but imitates Trier. Like the originals, it was made in the Constantinian era, even though Theodora was empress in 305-306, presumably because the London mint closed in 325 and there was again a lack of coins for commerce.

    Flavia Maximiana Theodora/Constantinopolis hybrid, c340AD
    Obverse should be FL MAX THEO-DORAE AVG but is incomplete and backwards. Reverse is Constantinopolis standing on a prow of a ship, holding scepter and shield, ZPT in exergue (the mirror of TRS for Trier)
  5. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    @Valentinian I wonder if the weight and marks in the fields mean it was contemporaneous with the T/F//PLN coins that had I/I in the fields or something, but that would make the full reverse legend rather than GENIO POP ROM puzzling. Either way it's fascinating. Your site was the first thing that came up when I started researching it.

    @John Conduitt That's an interesting item for sure. I wonder if it was produced in Britain. Do you know whereabouts it was found?
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  6. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    I do not know much about this coin other than the general consensus that it is barbarous. It is definitely unofficial, though:
    Obv: _ _ _ [_?] - ROMA (Could be 3 [POP?] or 4 [VRBS?] letters on the left - Helmeted Head of Roma, right.
    Rev: PIETA-S REIP - Pietas, stadning, facing left, hodling infant to breast.
    11mm, 0.8g.
    Spaniard, galba68, +VGO.DVCKS and 4 others like this.
  7. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    That's a charming little coin, particularly the reverse figure.
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