A little while ago, my dad gave me about two dozen old bronze Roman coins he picked up while vacationing in Britain – they were rather corroded and clumped together, so I’ve simply kept them soaking in olive oil to let the dirt dissolve away.

They’ve now dried out, and I can look at them closely. The largest two are about as wide across as a loonie; the smallest is smaller than a dime, about a cm across. Most, unfortunately, are still featureless and will require further soaking and cleaning – but about half them contain surface shapes that are recognizably profiles.

One of them, I’ve done a bit of Googling, and have identified: the bust is of Valentian I, facing right, wearing a diadem made of pearls and a robe, and thus is from sometime between 367 and 375 AD (and is of type ‘AE3’, which means made of bronze and between 17 and 21mm); on the reverse, the emperor is walking to the right, dragging a captive by the hair, holding a labarum/staff/standard with a chi-rho on top, with the legend ‘GLORIA ROMANVM’. The bottom has the letters delta-SISCE, so it was minted in Siscia; it was minted in the fourth Siscean workshop. To the right of the staff are the letters A/R, and to the left is a round shape which resembles a Q more than an F; I don’t know what they mean, but they allow me to give the official numismatic identification of the coin: “RIC IX Siscia 14c, type xxx”.

I don’t have my digicamera handy, but do have a few links to show what it looks like: http://esty.ancients.info/ricix/type5Vi.html , http://www.dirtyoldcoins.com/natto/id/val/val065.jpg , http://www.treasurerealm.com/coinpapers/roman/IX/Siscia/Siscia.html , http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/ric/valentinian_I/t.html , http://www.dirtyoldcoins.com/natto/id/val.htm , http://www.coinsforever.com/pictures/1024.jpg , http://www.ancientimports.com/cgi-bin/lotinfo.pl?id=10854 .

Leave a Reply