Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Coinage of Carausius and his Colleagues

In this months edition of Spink's Numismatic Circular is an article of particular interest to Carausius students and collectors, but will probably also be of interest to readers of this blog. This article by R J Bourne covers the issues that name the legitimate emperors, Diocletian and Maximianus as colleagues of Carausius and were minted in Britain by Carausius. A useful update to the very out of date RIC V and thoroughly recommended. It contains a new list of known examples with a large number of illustrations. However, even since publication, some new types have emerged and the author is already preparing a addenda to this listing.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A Jugate Bust from London

Jugate busts from London are not common. I recently came across this example of Severus II in an auction catalogue and I thought I would share it with you. The Trau collection was sold at auction in Vienna in 1935 and contained a number of Roman rarities. This coin, lot number 3695 was estimated at 80 Austrian schillings and sold for 135. As you can see from the catalogue entry, it was not exactly highlighted, which might be indicative of the rest of the sale rather than the quality of this coin. The RIC entry for this type (RIC VI London 75) gives the reference specimen as in the Vienna collection, which might be a coincidence or it could be that the coin was bought for the collection from this sale. RIC records it as R3, notionally meaning up to ten examples had been recorded.

Friday, 11 December 2009

A Well Travelled CLARITAS!

This coin (RIC VII London 102) was minted in London, moved to France at some point in the last 1700 years and recently travelled to the USA and back! A scarce coin, only three occur in the four major hoards I have studied, and also highlights an interesting variety. One of the two examples in the Bourton on the Water hoard (#1449) is described as with spread chlamys. I have also been alerted to another spread chlamys example and this is illustrated on Lech Stepniewski's "Not in RIC" site. He suggests that it should be listed as a new type after RIC 104. At present I have simply recorded the the variant in my notes but will be giving serious consideration to listing it as a new type. It will be interesting to try and find out if the two "variants" are from the same or different dies ..............

Monday, 30 November 2009

Unclearly a CLARITAS!

Continuing my CLARITAS theme, here is one I acquired a month or so ago. The obverse is not so bad but the reverse is horrendous and difficult to photograph - particularly as my usual photographic set-up is temporarily out of commission. However, the reverse legend clearly (pun intended!) starts with a C and appears to continue with an L - the rest is pure conjecture. This means that this coin confirms the existence of RIC VII 127 and 128 with the B4 bust type. Completely expected, but unpublished until now. I would be delighted to hear from anybody who has a better example.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Two T-F Issues of London

Recently I was asked:

"How do I differentiate between the two London Mint T-F issues. For example this SOLI INVICTO COMITI coin of Constantine I.
Obverse: CONSTANTINVS P AVG Laureate and cuirassed right
Reverse: SOLI INVIC-TO COMITI Sol standing left, chlamys draped behind left shoulder
T-F across fields and in exergue PLN

Now, this coin with identical descriptions is listed in RIC VI as London 127 (rare), year 310 AD (ref "VG 45")and RIC VII London 93 (R1) year 316-317 AD. (ref only as "London")

So I wonder, do you know what the visible differences are between these two ?"

So, how do you tell? The answer is weight, die diameter and style. If you had one of each together, the differences stand out a mile. If you just have one on their own, it can be a little more difficult. Size, by which I mean die diameter – the distance from one side of the beaded perimeter to the other – is key. The earlier coin is 21mm, the later one 19mm. My examples of the earlier mintmark weigh between 3.25g and 5.6g. The later issue usually weighs in at between 2.5g to 3.8g, so there is some overlap but wear and flan thickness can usually explain this. Finally, and the most difficult to explain is style – sometimes I cannot tell the difference and much prefer to go by die diameter and weight as supporting evidence. Having several examples of each issue, all I need to do is compare a coin against my “large” issue and my “small” issue.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Clearly a CLARITAS!

I have rather a soft spot for CLARITAS types of London. They are quite scarce and can be found for Constantine the Great, Crispus and Constantine II, although as a type it was supposedly the reverse of choice for Constantine II. Occasionally, they can be found lurking amongst the usual SOLI INVICTO COMITI types in hoard groups and can be bought at the SOLI price. Not often, though! I recently spotted this little coin on eBay at a starting price of 1€. I was, of course, hoping that no-one else had spotted it. Unfortunately, there was one other alert person around and the price went up to 50€. The coin is unlisted in RIC VII, should come after RIC 101 and is number 134 in my preliminary list. I know of two other examples. However, the interesting thing about this example is the reverse legend that is REIPVBLICE (sic) rather than REIPVBLICAE CLARITAS. This doesn't seem to be caused by the engraver running out of space so probably just a typo!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

An Unlisted BEATA Type

An interesting coin that I have recently acquired. Described correctly on eBay as an unlisted type, it attracted very little interest and I was able to obtain it very reasonably. Although "unlisted", a previous example of the type was included in the Spink "Vogelaar" auction of 24 September 2008 as part of lot #126. It should be placed after RIC 223 and is a previously unknown bust type for this obverse legend. I will be including this coin and many other previously unpublished types in the second part of my London Mint listing that will be published in Spink's Numismatic Circular in the first half of 2010.

Monday, 5 October 2009


A rare reverse from London. This example is RIC VI 241 with the obverse legend:
Unlisted in RIC, but known from a number of examples, is the same type with the obverse legend:
Two examples of SPES REIPVBL were discovered in the Sarzeau hoard. One of each obverse legend type, they are linked by a reverse die match and are illustrated in the hoard report.

Monday, 28 September 2009

A Very Rare Emission from London

Just came across an example of a very rare London emission. The *T/*F//PLN issue of around mid 310 AD is recorded in RIC referring mostly to examples known from the Boursies hoard. I cannot ever recall seeing one offered for sale or any reported in recent hoards. Looking through CHRB Volume 12 (see June below) at the weekend, I noticed that one was recorded in the Prestwood B hoard and is illustrated. A Constantine with the reverse COMITI AAVVGG. The whole hoard of over 700 coins was acquired by the Buckinghamshire County Museum but there is no mention of it on the Museum website. If anyone knows of any other examples of this mintmark please let me know.

Friday, 18 September 2009

The Arrangement of the London Mint BEATA Issues in RIC VII Part II

To add to the previous post about the BEATA issues, for completeness, I think I should repeat an earlier discussion post by Curtis Clay about RIC VII 215-6:
  • "RIC 215-6 are the last listings for the BEATA TRA-NQVILLITAS type of RIC 199-216, not a new variant with BEAT only. So the introduction, p. 96, names two versions of this type only, BEATA TRANQVILLITAS and BEAT TRANQLITAS, with no mention of the alleged BEAT TRANQVILLITAS version of RIC 215-6. The same in Voetter's Gerin cat., pp. 156-8; no BEAT TRANQVILLITAS, though RIC 216 with this alleged legend is stated to be very common (c3)! According to RIC, BEATA TRANQVILLITAS does not occur for Constantine II in this issue, but Voetter no. 5 indeed lists it for him. Voetter 5 is clearly the same as RIC 216, with BEATA not BEAT"
To support this the Hunter catalogue records two examples of RIC 216 both “but reverse BEATA”. Page 236, #2 and #3. Therefore, simply a typo, a missing A in RIC! Therefore, the reverse legends of both RIC 215 and 216 should read BEATA TRANQVILLITAS.

The Arrangement of the London Mint BEATA Issues in RIC VII Part I

I have posted the following information on an online discussion group some time ago but I have recently revisited it and thought it worthwhile posting here. A while ago I was studying the BEATA issues and came across an apparent discrepancy in RIC. The catalogue of RIC VII (pages 110-115) gives the following sequence of the BEATA/BEAT issues :
  • P/A//PLON (BEATA) then PLON (BEATA) then F/B//PLON (BEAT) and finally PLON (BEAT).
But the text (page 96) gives the following order:
  • PLON (BEATA) then P/A//PLON (BEATA) then F/B//PLON (BEAT) and finally PLON (BEAT).
The reference referred to in the notes of the text, Bruun's "The Disappearance of Sol from the Coins of Constantine" supports the order of the issues given in the text. This is a significant error in RIC and I can’t recall coming across anyone noting this error before. I think that RIC 199-219 should really be placed between RIC 237 and RIC 238 assuming that the text is correct rather than the catalogue. If this reordering is correct, it would make more sense as RIC 217-219 could then be explained by the crossover from the longer to the shorter reverse legends.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Another Interesting Licinius Obverse Legend

Just like buses, nice coins often come in pairs - unfortunately in this case I didn't catch the second one! In the recent VCoins auction, lot #53 was a coin of Licinius I with the unknown, for London, obverse legend IMP LICINIUS AVG. The title of this post links to the auction record. It seems to be from the second T/F//PLN issue again and would sit between RIC 98 and 99. This obverse legend does occur at Lyons and Trier at around the same time, but is rare at those mints.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

A Scarce Obverse Legend of Licinius

This coin arrived today! A little "sleeper" in a group of three T/F//PLN coins. The other two were Constantines of the first T/F issue but this one is of Licinius from the later reduced weight T/F issue. Many thanks to Tony who alerted me to this coin.
Obverse IMP LICINIVS P AVG Laureate bust, draped and cuirassed.
Reverse SOL INVIC-TO COMITI Sol standing left as usual.
Weight 3.17g and die diameter 19mm (est.)
Unlisted in RIC but known from the single example in the Gaulle III hoard and the two examples in the Bourton-on-the-Water hoard. The two BoW examples were obverse and reverse die matches.
This shortened form of obverse legend for Licinius is quite scarce and this is only the second example I have, the other being RIC 42.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

New CLARITAS Coin - Part Four

Dr J.S. Vogelaar has kindly reminded me that the "new" Claritas coin referred to below was actually mentioned in RIC footnote London 119, though not very clearly. The footnote refers to Maurice. I have checked in my Maurice, Volume II, page 49 and he does record the longer PF legend for this mintmark, citing examples at Vienna and Milan. However, RIC notes that the Vienna coin could not be found and that the Milan example was found to be a later mintmark, RIC 148. Of course RIC 148 is incorrectly listed under the crescent mintmark whereas it should appear in the following crescent/star mintmark.
Hope that's all clear then ............

Monday, 20 July 2009

MSN - A new mintmark for London?

It has been known for some time that there were two coins in existence with the mark MSN in the exergue (one in the Fitzwilliam, one from the Appleford Hoard) but, until now, it had been assumed that these were simply the result of a die engraver’s error. While completing the last letter of MSL, the engraver reverted back to the last letter of the previous MLN issue. This is much like we might write the year 2008 on a cheque during the early weeks of 2009 – a common example of the influence of previous activity. This theory does, of course, assume that these issues were in the sequence suggested by RIC.
Earlier this year, at a coin fair, I acquired an example of Licinius I with MSN in the exergue. This coin would, like a coin in the Fitzwilliam, be RIC 79 if it had MSL in the exergue. A further two coins have also come to light during my investigations.
I have now been able to compare images of four of the five MSN coins for die matches. The Appleford hoard Constantine coin is a reverse die match with the French Constantine coin. The obverses of these coins are not a match. A Waddington hoard coin, despite its poor condition, can be identified as both an obverse and a reverse die match for a French hoard example and a reverse die match with the Appleford specimen. The reverse die of these coins do not, however, match my Licinius reverse which is clearly struck from a different die. I have been unable to obtain an image of the Fitzwilliam coin as it has not been possible to locate the coin in the collections. These results are summarised in an article in the July edition of Spink's Numismatic Circular.
We have, therefore, at least two dies with MSN in the exergue, thus increasing the likelihood that this is a deliberate mintmark rather than simply a die engraver’s error. To misquote Oscar Wilde, “One die error looks like an accident, two looks like sheer carelessness, three looks like a new mintmark!” We shall await a further example with interest.

Friday, 3 July 2009

New CLARITAS Coin - Part Three

Just to round this topic off for now, I have been able to check the reverse die of this new CLARITAS coin against the four examples I already know of for this issue and can confirm that it does not match any of the existing dies.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Coin Hoards From Roman Britain Volume XII

The long awaited Coin Hoards from Roman Britain volume XII is now available. The “blurb” below gives a rough précis of the contents but for London Mint enthusiasts, the inclusion of the Langtoft , Ravenstone and Prestwood B Hoards is a real selling point. The Langtoft Hoard of almost 2,000 coins discovered by metal detectorists in 2000 was sold at auction in 2002 by DNW in London – only 54 coins were retained by the Yorkshire Museum or the finders. Some coins from the hoard are still available through the trade, having been sold in large groups. The hoard included well over 500 London Mint coins and so the full report by Craig Barclay is a valuable reference source.

The Ravenstone hoard of 469 coins, 275 from the London Mint included an extremely rare S over star/P mintmark CLARITAS similar to the one reported recently on this blog. This hoard was returned to the finder and its ultimate disposition is unknown. So, maybe some of us have already got coins from this hoard! If anyone knows where this hoard ended up, please let me know ............

The Prestwood “B” hoard of 735 coins included 438 examples from the London Mint and again includes some very scarce types, including two unlisted in RIC. This hoard was retained in its entirety by the Buckinghamshire County Museum.

All in all, this volume is thoroughly recommended and is available from Moneta:

Coin hoards from Roman Britain Vol. XII edited by Richard Abdy, Eleanor Ghey, Celine Hughes and Ian Leins

“The twelfth volume of Coin Hoards from Roman Britain presents 57 hoards with terminal dates from AD 244 to the end of the Roman period. This is the companion volume to CHRB XI, which contained the earlier hoards discovered between 1997 and 2001. CHRB XII also includes later hoards found up to April 2003. More recent addenda to these hoards have been included where possible.

The volume includes the Chalgrove II hoard of 4,957 radiates, with its important find of the second known coin of Domitian II. The recognition of an additional Gallic usurper has expanded our knowledge of this less well understood period of Roman history. The latest hoards included in the volume, Patching and Oxborough, are accompanied by discussion of the significance of these hoards for the monetary history of the late Roman to early Medieval transition.

Richard Abdy, Eleanor Ghey and Ian Leins are curators of Roman coins in the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum. Celine Hughes is a former intern of the department.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The Early Unmarked Coins of London

Following on from my previous post, there is a lively discussion going on at on the early unmarked coins of London and, in particular, the intermediate group first proposed by Bastien. Since RIC VI was published in 1967, there has been a significant amount of research on these series and a number of significant articles have been published. The following are amongst the most important:

Bastien, P. & Vaselle, F. - Le trésor monétaire de Domqueur (Somme) Wetteren, 1965.

Bastien, P. - Some comments on the Coinage of the London Mint, AD 297-313 NC 1971, p.152-156.

Amandry, M.- Un follies inédit de Dioclétien pour l’atelier de Londres BSFN, April 1980, p.677-679.

Bastien, P. -Atelier Continental sans Marque Le Monnayage de l’Atelier de Lyons, Wetteren 1980, p.125-128 (pl.LXIX).

Burnett,A.M. & Robinson,P.H. - The Upavon, Wilts, hoard. CHRB, Vol.V, BM 1984, pp.90.

Stewartby - Early Tetrarchic Coins of London from the Market Stainton Finds NC 1998, p.89-102 (pl.28,22).

Besly, E. - A Hoard of Tetrarchic nummi from Bridgend, South Wales NC 2002, p.169-215 (pl.31-42).

Drost, V. & Gautier, G. - Le Trésor de Larré (Morbihan) : une thésaurisation mixte de la 1re Tétrarchie (terminus 300 après J.-C.) Trésors Monétaires XXIII, 2009, p.1-33 (pl. 1-10).

Essentially. the current thinking is that as well as the “unmarked continental mint” with its plain laureate busts, there is a further group of plain laureate busts attributable to London with its distinctive small, neat lettering – as opposed to the big, irregular letters with slender down-strokes of the Lyons style. Stewartby gives these London plain busts the designation Class Ib with the LON issues being assigned to Ia. There then follows a new series designated as IIe that comes before the IIa class described in RIC VI as "with small head on tall neck".
Class IIe are all cuirassed but have busts that are reminiscent of the Lyons style. Stewartby is careful to point out, however, that there is no definitive break between IIe and IIa and goes so far as to describe a series IIea into which ambiguous coins can be placed.

Stewartby describes the Ib and IIe series combined as the “intermediate group” although it is not clear to me that this was Bastien’s original intention. In his 1971 NC article he seems to describe the IIe series alone as the “intermediate group”.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The Unmarked Continental Mint

Just before Constantius invaded Britain to defeat Allectus, a number of coins were produced at an “unmarked” continental mint. Although the location of the mint was unknown (possibly Bolougne), it is fairly certain that they were produced using workers from the Lyons mint (Bastien , RBN 1959). The style and bust types are identical to contemporaneous marked Lyons issues (LA and LB). Therefore, Sutherland, when compiling RIC VI included this issue in the Lyons mint section – numbers 14-21. Bastien in an annexe to a later work, Le Monnayage de L’Atelier de Lyons (Wetteren, 1980), - Annexe Atelier Continental Sans Marque pp.125-128 and Plate LXIX revisits this issue. He reaffirms his view that these coins were minted at an unknown continental mint prior to the invasion and concludes that, in reality, there are only four types in the issue, RIC 14a, 14b, 17a and 17b. The others listed under Lyons by Sutherland are erroneous, either unofficial or lightly struck LA or LB coins or unmarked London coins. He goes on to catalogue these four types each with two different versions; the first group with large heads (“effigies larges”) and the second with small heads (“petites effigies”). Examples of some of these coins are pictured on James Pickering’s website – see link left, and the picture above is an example of RIC VI (Lyons) 14b.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The La Chapelle-lès-Luxeuil Hoard

The La Chapelle-lès-Luxeuil (Haute-Saône) hoard of 15,518 Constantinian nummi was published in Volume XVIII of the Trésors monétaires series. It is the only hoard in the volume and is a useful addition to the library of London mint enthusiasts. The terminal date of the hoard is 342AD but unusually for a hoard of that date a significant portion of the hoard (15%) was minted prior to 325AD. It contains 245 coins from the London Mint, of which eight are unlisted in RIC. Interestingly for me, one of the RIC listed and illustrated coins is an example of the rare S over star/P issue (RIC 120) that is an obverse and reverse match to a coin that was once in my own collection but has since moved on.

The Trésors monétaires series published by the Bibliothèque nationale de France is a rich seam of information as many hoards of this period found in France contain a good proportion of London mint coins. The latest volume (XXIII) contains a significant early hoard of the first Tetrarchy that includes a rare LON issue and many unmarked examples. The Larré trésor contains a total of 44 coins from London and a further 15 of the unmarked continental mint. The terminal date is 300AD and the total number of coins found in the hoard was 929.

Monday, 18 May 2009

New CLARITAS Coin - Part Two

Thanks to Mark Wilson, I am now able to post an image of this coin. RIC does not record any CLARITAS reverses for this mintmark and it would sit between 118 and 119 in RIC and between 153 and 154 in my preliminary list.

Monday, 11 May 2009

The London Mint 313 to 318 AD

Some of you will know that I have recently produced an updated listing for the Constantinian issues of the London Mint for the period 313 to 318 AD. Essentially the first part of the period covered by RIC VII, it was published in the October 2008 edition of Spink’s Numismatic Circular.

It adds about 30% more types to those known when RIC VII was published and records the incidence of each type in four major hoards relating to the period.

I am pleased to report that thanks to James Pickering it is now available online. It is being hosted on his website, ROMAN COINS OF THE LONDON MINT: 296-325 AD. There is also a direct link to the article in the Links column on the left.


A new CLARITAS reverse of Constantine has recently come to light. It is from the rare S over star issue and has the obverse legend CONSTANTINVS P F AVG as opposed to the already known CLARITAS obverse legend of CONSTANTINVS P AVG of which I know of four examples.

This new coin was found by a detectorist in Sutton Scotney, Hampshire, here in the UK and was posted on the FORVM discussion board earlier this month. It has not yet been possible to compare reverse dies.