In the year 200 or so the emperor Septimius Severus completed his second trip to the east. His campaign had been against the Parthian Empire, reportedly in retaliation for the support it had given to Pescennius Niger. Septimius' legions sacked the Parthian royal city of Ctesiphon and the northern half of Mesopotamia was annexed to the empire. Right around the same time, for reasons which can only be guessed at, the Rome mint ceased striking bronze coins, in all varieties - sestertius, as and dupondius. This followed a trend that had been going on for a few years with each year progressively less coins were struck in bronze. (Curtis Clay has an article that discusses this on the Forum coin site). By the year 200 AD, such a small number of bronzes were being struck that the conclusion is that those that were struck were presentation pieces given out on special occasions - no doubt to the delight of those who received the coins, along with, a couple of thousand years later, numismatists, and collectors of means. In 205 AD, to our knowledge, not a single bronze coin was struck at the Rome mint. Why did the Rome mint stop striking in bronze? Perhaps the needs of the legions were such that the mint had resources only to strike in silver and gold. Or it could be that Septimius Severus believed that the mint of Rome should only strike in precious metals. Fortunately, the loss of bronzes from Rome was more than made up by huge numbers of bronze coins that were struck at provincial mints, again no doubt delighting both those in the provinces, who now (hopefully) had enough coins to satisfy their needs, as well as numismatists and collectors of limited means who are for the most part able to afford these fascinating pieces. In many (20) years of searching I have only been able to find two sestertii from this period that fit within my budget - one of which is the Septimius Severus "DI PATRII" type also discussed in one of the threads, and is my "favorite" coin. (I am, of course, still looking for other examples). The other is the Geta as Caesar, also posted on one of my threads. In or about the year 208 AD, again, for reasons unknown, the Rome mint once again began striking coins in bronze - sestertii, dupondii, and as. There were some differences between the bronzes now struck and the earlier coins. First, and this is very much my opinion, the workmanship considerably exceeded that of the earlier period - the flans were on average, larger and more rounded, the artistry far exceeded the earlier period, and the coins were struck in higher relief. This is more pronounced on the sestertii than on the other types. Perhaps by 208 AD the Rome mint had got rid of the celators who were working during the latter part of Commodus' reign, which is noted for poor workmanship in all metals. Also, by 209 AD, the Rome mint was striking bronze coins for Caracalla and Geta as Augustus - in fact, Geta appeared together on many coins with his father and brother. This brings us to RIC 652(b) Caracalla, the coin above. The coin was struck in early 210, during Septimius Severus' mission to Britain, which was the means to hopefully bring his sons together and to pacify the northern part of the island. The reverse of the coin shows Geta and Caracalla on either side of Septimius Severus, with all three in priestly garb making a sacrifice in front of an alter. This same type exists with Septimius and Geta on the obverse as well. Some descriptions of this coin mistakenly identify the middle figure as Concordia, but better examples clearly show the middle figure as Septimius Severus. Having this type struck for all three members of the ruling imperial family meant that there was an important message that was being conveyed on the reverse. In fact, this is a beautiful example of how coins were used by the Romans both as units of money and to send messages to the masses, in this instance, to illustrate both security in the present through the mutual love between members of the imperial family, and hope for the future once Septimius Severus was gone and the two brothers shared the crown. There are other coins struck at Rome during this time, in bronze, with the same message. In fact, one rare type shows both Caracalla and Geta on the reverse, Geta being crowned by Hercules, and Caracalla being crowned by Liber. See RIC 659 Caracalla. (there is some controversy about the figure crowning Caracalla). The RIC 659 type, Caracalla also exists for Geta, and it does include a type with "CONCORDIA" inscribed on the reverse, as well as dated types. The above coin also illustrates the better quality of the bronzes from the Rome mint. Note how it is nicely centered, and how the figures on the reverse are nicely proportioned. A less worn example would better show the beauty of the portraiture, but this coin does illustrate it as well to some extent. The celator for this coin is not the famed "Caracalla master" but is talented nevertheless. Oddly enough I do have a coin that does show the work of the Caracalla master that was from the same flan mold as this coin - the flans match perfectly. The coin was purchased on an ebay sale from an Italian dealer. Note: I did much of this article on the fly - comments are appreciated. When it comes to the bronze coins of the Severan age I am never at a loss for words, as I find these coins endlessly fascinating. Despite many attempts I have never been able to shift my focus in ancient coins to anything else. Interest yes - everything about ancient coins is fascinating to me - but focus, no.