Roman Coins

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Roman Coins
The first money in use among the Romans was nothing more than unsightly, heavy lumps of brass, which were valued according to their weight. Servius Tullius stamped these, and reduced them to a fixed standard. After his reign, the Romans improved the old, and added some new coins. The Roman coins that were in most frequent use, were the As, Sestertius, Victoriatus, Denarius, Aureus.

Common Roman Coins
The most common Roman coins were as follows:

  • The As was a copper alloy coin, stamped on one side with the beak of a ship, and on the other with the double head of Janus. It originally weighed one pound; but was afterwards reduced to half an ounce, without suffering, however, any diminution of value

  • Sestertius was a silver coin, stamped on one side with Castor and Pollux, and on the opposite with the city. This was so current a coin, that the word Nummus, money, is often used absolutely to express it

  • Denarius was a silver coin, valued at ten asses. It was stamped with the figure of a carriage drawn by four beasts, and on the other side, with a head covered with a helmet, to represent Rome

  • Victoriatus was a silver coin, half the value of a Denarius. It was stamped with the figure of Victory, from whence its name was derived. Being worth five Asses, it was called Quinarius

  • Libella, Sembella, Teruncius, were also silver coins, but of less value than the above. Libella was of the same worth as the As

    • Sembella was half a Libella and the Teruncius was half of a Sembella

  • Aureus Denarius was a gold coin, about the size of a silver Denarius, and probably stamped in a similar manner. At first, forty Aurei were made out of a pound of gold; but under the Emperors it was not so intrinsically valuable, being mixed with alloy

  • The value of the Aureus, which was also called Solidus, varied at different times. According to Tacitus, it was valued and exchanged for 25 Denarii

Roman Coins - Abbreviations
The Abbreviations used by the Romans to express these various kinds of money were as follows:

  • As, L. for the Sesterce
  • L. L. S. or H. S. for the Quinary
  • V. for the Denarius, X

Roman Coins - Sesterces
Sesterces were the kind of money in which the Romans usually made their computations.—1,000 Sesterces made up a sum called Sestertium. The art of reckoning by Sesterces was regulated by these rules:

  • First—If a numeral adjective were joined to Sestertii, and agreed with it in case, it signified just so many Sesterces; as decem Sestertii, 10 Sesterces
  • Second—If a numeral adjective, of a different case, were joined to the genitive plural of Sestertius, it signified so many thousand Sesterces; as decem Sestertium, 10,000 Sesterces
  • Third—If a numeral adverb were placed by itself, or joined to Sestertium, it signified so many hundred thousand Sesterces; as Decies, or decies Sestertium, 1,000,000 Sesterces
  • Fourth—When the sums are expressed by letters, if the letters have a line over them, they signify also so many hundred thousand Sesterces: thus, H. S. M̅. C̅. denotes the sum of 1,100 times 100,000 Sesterces
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