Retariffed Magnentius Double Centenionalis? - Cut to Nummis Size

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by The Trachy Enjoyer, Apr 6, 2021.

  1. The Trachy Enjoyer

    The Trachy Enjoyer Well-Known Member

    Magnentius BI Double Centenionalis. Amiens, AD 350-353
    Obverse: D N MAGNENTIVS P F AVG / bare-headed, draped and cuirassed bust to right
    Reverse: SALVS DD NN AVG ET CAES / Chi-Rho
    IMG_6641_scrubbed.png IMG_6643_scrubbed.png
    Here is an interesting example of a Magnentius Double Centenionalis...cut down to about 1/4 of its original weight! Remarkably, it remains identifiable with the Chi-Rho on the reverse. I am curious if there is knowledge about cut down coins and what purpose they served. This seems to fit the nummis weight standard of the 5th century and I wonder if it was cut down to continue having function in a much reduced economy.
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

  4. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Basileus Megalos

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  5. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    Your assumption is in line with Boon's conclusion ('Counterfeit coins in Roman Britain' in Coins and the Archaeologist, 2nd ed., 1988) that these date to the early 5th century when supplies of new coin were no longer reaching Britain. A motley mix of older coins, imitations, cut aes and clipped siliquae came into play. Boon writes, "Most interesting, perhaps, are the demonetized Magnentian majorinae, cut down to 'fourth brass' size, as represented here by a Lydney piece" (p. 145; pl. VIII, 148). The plated coin is similar to yours. By the middle of the 5th century, coins had fallen out of use entirely in Britain.
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  6. romismatist

    romismatist Active Member

    I remember reading a similar thread here in CT about this a few weeks ago. Interesting indeed.
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  7. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    If you were to cut a majorina down to 1/4 its original size, wouldn't you end up with two straight edges meeting at a more or less right angle near the center of the Chi-Rho? Why would you bother cutting it with a round edge and getting only one coin out of it? I'm very confused.
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  8. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Agree. Cutting it just pie shaped would give you four 1/4 denomination coins not one small coin and a bunch of bronze scraps, useless as any coinage and of little scrap value. I've never heard of anyone clipping a bronze or copper to get the shavings, whereas gold or silver which did have considerable scrap value as bullion.
  9. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    The nominal value of the late AE4 was almost certainly greater than their intrinsic value. I suspect the idea was to get passable round-ish coins, which simple quartering would not have produced. Here is a portion of the plate I referenced above. Note 149: "Specimen offcut from cutting down Magnentian Salus majorinae, Ham Hill; Somerset County Museum, Taunton". Number 148 is similar to the op: "Magnentian Salus type, cut down to the size of Theodosian small aes. Lydney; Collection of Lord Bledisloe". Magnentius_Snip.JPG
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2021
  10. otlichnik

    otlichnik Well-Known Member

    Beautiful and fascinating coin.

    In the late 4th and early 5th century many earlier coins still circulated if their size matched that of the current currency or if they were cut down to this size. However, unlike during the earlier centuries, halved or quarters coins are now very rare. In other words, it seems like the reduced coin had to be round or round-ish to be accepted.

    I suspect that someone therefore cut this Magnentius down and got two things - one coin immediately usable, plus over half the original weight in copper-alloy cuttings that would go into the crucible for re-casting.

    Such operations were semi-professional. No common householder would have the tools necessary to cut such metal at this time. The person with tools and skills to cut up such metal also likely had the tools and skills to cast metal.

    While Boon notes that such cut-down coins were used in the 5th century, we know from hoards across Europe that cut-down coins were used before that. It could have been used as soon as official coinage fell to that size.

    Not sure what the diameter is but to me the weight indicates periods such a 356 to 362 or 383 to mid-5th century.

  11. rrdenarius

    rrdenarius non omnibus dormio Supporter

    Interesting coin! The identifiable Chi-Rho is neat. I like cut coins and scale weights. I have a few of both. Most (maybe all) of my cut coins are half or pie shaped straight line cuts and from before your Magnentius Double Centenionalis. The coins cut into scale weights are near 1 Solidi (4.55 grams) or 1/2 Solidi (2.27 grams). The next lighter weight listed in Bendall is 1/3 rd Solidi or Tremissis (1.52 grams). Your coin could be a scale weight, but looks like it falls between the last two coin weights mentioned by Bendall.
    three one Solidi weights @ near 4.5 grams

    scale weights from LRB, two Solidi and two half Solidi
  12. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    This makes me wonder if this coin is a cut coin or a weight.

    I've been thinking that this is a barb on a tiny flan, but the die size is so much larger it's hard to understand what happened here. I can only confidently ID it as Constantius II due to portrait style, as there are not even traces of lettering left.
    Constantius II undersized.JPG
  13. otlichnik

    otlichnik Well-Known Member

    That's just a coin struck on a flan that was too small. This is very typical for the 4th series of Few Temp's like this.

    The only weights made from coins I have ever seen are square and marked, like the ones shown by rrdenarius.

  14. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Ah, makes sense. This one is the most egregiously undersized FTR I’ve seen, but it doesn’t like like a weight like you mentioned
  15. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    This makes me think that pretty much anything small, metal, and approximately round was accepted as money
  16. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    I found this these two cut-down chi-rhos at an English coin fair in 1988. The first is 11 mm and identifiable by emperor and mint!

    1.06 grams. Mintmark AMB.
    This was minted at Amiens. The legend break for Decentius at Amiens is TI-VS and the legend break for Magnentius is EN-TI, so this must be Magnentius. For the original, see Bastien, plate IV, 141-2.


    9 mm. 0.55 grams. Mintmark gone.
    Chin and front drapery of the emperor. The (weak) end of the obverse legend suggests Decentius. The size of the remaining part of the chi-rho and the "AVG" to its upper right suggest a large original flan size.

    I looked through bags with many thousands (I am not exaggerating) of tiny coins. Extremely few of them were of interest, but I did find these. Most were very small FEL TEMP REPARATIO soldier-spearing-fallen-horseman types (and many ancient imitations of them) and almost all were weakly struck and in poor condition.

    I wonder if coin fairs in England still would (if it weren't for the pandemic) have bags full of tiny and poor condition late Roman coins to pick through. Can some of our English members let us know?
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2021
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