Small, Lightweight Commodus Denarius

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by gsimonel, Jan 16, 2020.

  1. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    I received the coin below in a small lot of silver denarii and antoniniani that I was top bidder on in a recent Roma auction.
    Commodus, A.D. 177-192
    AR Denarius
    Rome mint, A.D. 192
    Rev: P M TR P XVII IMP VIII COS VII P P - Victory, advancing left, holding wreath in right hand and palm branch in left; star in left field.
    RIC 237
    16mm. 2.1 g.

    Note the small size and light weight. I've done a few searches and have found many Commodus denarii as small as 14mm and as light a 2.3g. 2.1g seems awfully light, though.

    I can find nothing on it to suggest that it is a fouree. So what do you think? Lower end of the normal range, or something funny going on? Clipped maybe?
    dlhill132, Pishpash, Paul M. and 7 others like this.
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    Denarii of Commodus after his father died are often small and poorly made. The rulers that followed him restored a bit of the loss but the good old days were gone.
  4. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    I have several Commodus denarii that weigh around 2 grams or so. They appear to be legitimate mint issues. From what I can tell, it is the later issues that are the lightest weight - based on a couple dozen Commodus I have, so hardly an expert opinion. The OP fits in with some of mine from that era:

    Commodus - Den. Hilaritas Nov 2019 (0c).jpg

    Commodus Denarius
    (186-187 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    M COMM ANT P FEL AVG BRIT, laureate head right / HILAR AVG PM TR P XII IMP VIII COS V P P, Hilaritas standing left holding long palm
    and olive branch.
    RIC 150a; BMC 210.
    (2.28 grams / 17 mm)

    This one is one of the scarcer coins in my collection - it was issued in the last months of Commodus' reign - and weighs barely 2 grams:
    Commodus - Liberalitas rev (1).JPG

    Commodus Denarius
    (192 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    L AEL AVREL COMM AVG P FEL, laureate head right /LIB AVG VIIII P M TR P XVII
    COS VII P P, Liberalitas stdg. half left with abacus & cradling cornucopia; star to left.
    RIC 240; RSC 327. Very rare.
    (2.01 grams / 17 mm)
    Pishpash, Alegandron, Paul M. and 6 others like this.
  5. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    @gsimonel....Nice interesting coin...Thanks for posting your coin as I have a light weight Commodus as well at 17mm BUT ONLY 1.87gr.....!!:nailbiting:
    There seems to be no signs of it being a fouree....Edge looks good...The general consencus of other experts is that its genuine..maybe silver crystallization?..Some thought its maybe a quinarius but I cannot pinpoint it!?...I have it tagged as...
    Commodus AR Denarius.Rome mint 186 AD 1.87gr 17mm
    Obverse-M COMM ANT P FEL AVG BRIT, laureate head right
    Reverse- P M TR P XI IMP VII COS V PP, Concordia standing front, head left, holding standard in each hand.CONC MIL (below)

    It is quite a rare coin I think and the only other I could find was on but had a hefty weight of 3.4gr...!!

    Thoughts anyone??

    Pishpash, Alegandron, Paul M. and 4 others like this.
  6. curtislclay

    curtislclay Well-Known Member


    That is Cohen 53, 8 spec. in Reka Devnia hoard, so scarce but not really rare. I don't doubt that it is authentic.

    The decisive criterion for a quinarius is not weight but the diameter of the circle of dots on each side of the coin: denarii c. 17-18 mm, quinarii c. 13 mm.

    Some 15 years ago I had a long argument with a VCoins dealer who was hoping that his underweight Commodus denarius was a quinarius and was unwilling to yield to my contention that it was undoubtedly just a denarius!
  7. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    @curtislclay....Thank you!...
    ......Thats really good news. Is there any way of finding the actual coin from the hoard??

    .....I completely agree which is why I had it tagged as a Denarius.....
  8. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    I have a very lightweight denarius of Commodus, too:
    Commodus 177/180-192 AD. AR Denarius (17-18mm; 1.73 gm; 12h), Rome 186-189 AD. Obv: M COMM ANT PFEL AVG BRIT, laureate head, right. Rev: FORTVNAE MA-NENTI; C V P P in ex, Fortuna holding horse by the bridle and Cornucopiae seated to left on sella. RIC 191a, RSC 168a. The extreme light weight indicates a mint error(?) or ancient counterfeit. Any comments? CoomodusFortuna.jpg
    Andres2, Pishpash, Alegandron and 7 others like this.
  9. curtislclay

    curtislclay Well-Known Member

    Workers may have made off with say 20,000 of the denarii in the hoard, but the authorities took possession of the remaining 81,000 and divided them between the local museum (Varna on the Black Sea, 12,261 coins) and the capital Sofia (68,783 coins).

    However for the past 50 years at least, Sofia has been refusing to show its RD coins to numismatists, leading to the suspicion that the museum staff or other government officials have been stealing them and selling them off! I know nothing certain about how many coins are still in Varna and whether numismatists are allowed to consult them.
  10. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    Someone once pointed out to me that the split between Sofia and Varna suggests theft at Varna because of the relative lack of rare coins in the Varna count. For example, of the 54 total Pertinax denarii, only one was at Varna. A random or careful split would suggest something more like ten. There is also the question of why there were zero coins of Pescennius Niger reported in the hoard. There are explanations that do not involve theft but the situation looks bad.
    Paul M. and Spaniard like this.
  11. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    Thanks to everyone who wrote in. I didn't realize that Commodus tried to goose the economy with lightweight denarii toward the end of his reign. Do you think that helped lead to his demise?
  12. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE

    Commodus' Wife - Lightweight Denarius, too

    RI Crispina m Commodus 177 CE AR denarius 2.29g Juno stdg RIC-283.JPG
    RI Crispina m Commodus 177 CE AR denarius 2.29g Juno stdg RIC-283
  13. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE

    He just THOUGHT he was a tough-guy!
    He was just a LIGHTWEIGHT (Denarius)

    RI Commodus 177-192 CE AR Denarius 17.7mm 2.42g Apollo Plectrum Lyre RIC 218 RSC 25 BMCRE 292 R
  14. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    2.29 grams for this one!

    Commodus CONC COM Concordia denarius.jpg
    Commodus, AD 177-192.
    Roman AR denarius, 2.29 g, 17.2 mm, 7 h.
    Rome, AD 191.
    Obv: M COMM ANT P FEL AVG BRIT P P, laureate head, right.
    Rev: CONC COM P M TR P XVI COS VI, Concordia standing left, holding patera and scepter.
    Refs: RIC 219; BMCRE 296-97; RCV 5631; MIR 808; Cohen 45.
  15. Orange Julius

    Orange Julius Well-Known Member

    Here's one that I bought really early in my collecting. I've gone back and forth between it being authentic and not over the years... It's really worn so it looks a bit cast but the edges look legit. It's very light weight.

    I shot this photo in cloudy sunlight so it's a bit washed out looking in the photo.

    192 AD
    RIC 254

    1.85 grams

    PMONNEY Flaminivs


    PMONNEY Flaminivs

    It is not rare to find denarii Under-weight of Commodus. They often are genuine.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page