Thoughts on Itty bitty Trebonianus Gallus ant?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Finn235, Mar 18, 2021.

  1. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Going through the latest haul from a CNG large lot of mostly mid-grade antoninianii, I spotted this one which I initially assumed to be a barbarous radiate

    trebonianus gallus BI ant 15mm 1 3g.jpg

    Enough of the legend is present to read -VS GALLVS AVG, so definitely Trebonianus Gallus.

    Problem is, it's only 15-16mm across, and weighs only 1.31g! Completely normal for the Rome mint in ~268-270, but unheard of in the early 250s! Compare to a "normal" Gallus antoninianus:


    Radiate "quinarii" were a thing after Aurelian's reforms, but the extremely rare imperial quinarii of this period are laureate:

    (Note that the diameter and weight are right on the money)

    I'm wondering if this coin is:

    1) Some sort of barbarous imitation or counterfeit
    2) An exceptional case of negligence at the mint
    3) An originally full weight issue that was "clipped" during runaway inflation during the 260s
    4) A quinarius flan struck with antoninianus dies

    Any ideas welcome! Has anyone else seen such an underweight antoninianus from prior to 260?
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  3. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Very curious. I believe that T-Bone tended to have relatively nice silver for his ants, so this would have to be non official.
    Despite the high quality portrait, I would think it's too small and too bronze for a regular imperial issue.
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  4. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Sort of a "limes" antoninianus? I assume it's a barbarous copy for local use.
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  5. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    I think the prototype is a bit early to be considered a "barbarous radiate" in the strict sense. A better description might be a routine counterfeit from the period just preceding the barbarous radiates, under different political and economic circumstances. Here are a few similar items for comparison:
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  6. romismatist

    romismatist Well-Known Member

    Weird but cool! It looks like the coin is silver under all that dark patina and the bust size looks the same as the regular antoninianus, so my guess would be that it was clipped. Still, it was easier to do this in the Middle Ages with the thin silver coins they used then, and more difficult with the thicker antoninianii. Maybe someone in the 4th century found the coin, shaved off some silver and tried to pass the core off as a siliqua???
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  7. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Wow, that is a weird item, for sure! The die diameter is roughtly ant-sized, I'd say. What's the metal like? Could be a damaged fourrée core maybe?

    Here's a T-bone fourrée:
    tbone fourree.jpg
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  8. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Not official; it's too small and too crude.

    It's supposed to be a Libertas issue with a star in the field.

    Trebonianus Gallus, AD 251-253.
    Roman AR antoninianus, 3.95 g, 21.3 mm, 12 h.
    Rome, 3rd emission, AD 252.
    Obv: IMP CAE C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust, right.
    Rev: LIBERTAS AVGG, Libertas standing left, holding pileus and scepter; star in right field.
    Refs: RIC 38; RSC 63a; RCV 9634; Hunter 8.
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  9. Harry G

    Harry G Well-Known Member

    Interesting coin!

    I would guess it is a barbarous coin, made with genuine dies (?), and overstuck on a denarius?
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  10. Choucas

    Choucas Well-Known Member

    In my opinion it could be official, but clipped. See how the die is much larger than the flan. Also, the dark colour looks like tarnished billon (even though I could be wrong - I don't have the coin in hand). There seems to be silvery colour underneath. Indeed, coins of Gallus are quite silver-ish when they are well preserved and/or well cleaned but a tarnish like that isn't really unseen on ants of that period.

    As for the style, it is difficult to say for sure whether the dies are official or not in my opinion, the fact that most of the coin and the design are missing don't really help. If I had to make a guess, I would say official : the lettering, the design features and the portrait don't look too weird for an official. I think that the "crudeness" of this coin could actually be the result of its poor condition.
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