Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by ancient coin hunter, Feb 9, 2020.
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I chuckled out loud when I got to the part where they said that 1300 pounds of coins (probably pushing 80-100,000 pieces?) Would be sent to the museum for "everyone to enjoy".
Read: About 100 would be put up for display, and the rest left to develop bronze disease in the museum store rooms.
Anyone join me in doubting whether the author of this article knows the difference between Constantine and his father Constantius? The photos look like larger folles and certainly Constantine had some ones but the one close up photo is a Constantius and coins never put in circulation would strike me as more likely Maximianus and his Caesar. Yes it will take a while to study so many coins but I would be first interested in hearing how many different mints were represented. If the coins were all made in the same place at the same time, this could suggest the form of 'mint sacks' in that time. I hope they counted each pot full. It would be interesting to know if each contained exactly the same number.
A hoard of Colosseum sestertii? One can dream ...
The photos show the coins with dirt over any silver. Whether they are cleaned in a manner that will destroy the silver remains to be seen. I would expect that quantity of coins will be roughly cleaned in batches or just placed in the basement of the museum as they are.
The OP article says it was found by workers "digging a ditch to run electricity to a park" whereas in 2016 the articles about it said, "Workmen were doing routine work on water lines under a street." That difference probably doesn't matter. But is is relatively old news.
I actually wouldn't be surprised if they did. It's not as if they looked like fabulous buried treasure! If they had been gold coins, my opinion might be different.
I would like to see images of those cleaned coins that wound up on display in the local museum to see what that coating of silver looked like. I am not sure that when we see silvered folles for sale today we are seeing what the Romans of circa 300 AD saw.
@kevin McGonigal - how much silvering remains after 1700 years in an amphora which looks like groundwater had leaked in and covered the coins with a soil-like crud. Probably the silvering wore off quickly as coins started to circulate. I don't think any citizens at the time would have been terribly impressed with these coins, though admittedly they are a bit better than the radiates of the 270's and 280's with kind of a hefty feel.
Edit: Also Diocletian's Edict of Maximum Wages and Prices went into effect in 301, indicating that the issuance of folles did not curb the runaway inflation at the time.
"The Edict of Maximum Prices was an attempt to control runaway inflation and poverty in the Empire. The penalty for exceeding the prices of the Edict was severe: death. Not satisfied to execute just the seller, Diocletian decreed that the buyer was to be executed as well."
Yes, at about 10 grams of bronze they were approximately the equal of the earlier Aes pieces or their provincial equivalents. Older citizens might have recalled those coins still in circulation up until about 265 AD and felt somewhat confident upon their return. Those first folles of Diocletian and Constantius must seemed impressive to the Romans when they did heft them in hand.
Well, yes a return to the good old days! (Oops, that tagline showed up 60 years later - Make Rome Great Again!)
The folles had a small, but significant amount of silver in the alloy and on the surface. Because silver was worth, by weight, 100 times as much as copper, even 1% silver would double the intrinsic value (making a 10-gram coin as valuable as a 20-gram pure copper coin). There is some evidence that eastern folles had higher silver content than others. Maybe there are articles on this. I personally had a follis of mine analyzed at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. It was a 9.43-gram "XXI" Diocletian follis from Alexandria. The interior tested as 3.96% silver, not counting surface silvering, which adds about a percent.
If that one coin were representative (a sample size of one is too small!), then the intrinsic value of a XXI follis would have the intrinsic value of a 50-gram pure copper coin.
I wonder if you could tell us the source that circa 300 AD the ration of silver to copper was 100 to 1. At the time of the Augustan coinage enactments the ration was about 41 grams of copper to one of silver. The As of that period weighed about 10 grams, sixteen of them to an almost 4 gram .95 fineness denarius. I understand that the ratio would vary some depending on the quantity of silver mined, spent, looted etc. but going from 41 to 100 to one would seem to imply that silver had more than doubled its value over copper. I also have to wonder about the average Roman circa 300 AD being able to determine the fineness of an any alloy. He might determine a coin's value by its weight, an easier measure to determine than the fineness of an alloy. What I am trying to determine for myself in another tangential study is how could the average consumer determine the intrinsic (not token) value of the coinage in circulation at any period of Imperial Rome, other than by weight, which admittedly is only one component of the value of a coin. If you have any sources on this could you please share them with us? Thanks.
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