Gold and silver coin standards in the Roman empire

Author
West, Louis C. (Louis Caulton), 1882-1972
Series
Numismatic Notes and Monographs
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American Numismatic Society
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New York
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Worldcat Works

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Open access edition funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities Open Book Program.

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GOLD AND SILVER COIN STANDARDS IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE

By Louis C. West

INTRODUCTION

The three centuries from Augustus to Diocletian witnessed great changes in the political, social, and economic life of the Roman Empire. At the same time, important changes were taking place in the imperial coinage. It must not be forgotten, much as we may criticize the financial policy of the Empire during these three centuries, that the government did succeed in maintaining its gold coinage as a medium of exchange throughout the entire period. For over two-thirds of this period it also maintained a silver currency in which its subjects had confidence. At no time in its history, unless perhaps at the middle of the third century, did the Roman government subject its gold coinage to as sudden and drastic a reduction as that which occurred in this country in 1933. And when we look askance at the depreciated denarius of a Septimius or a Caracalla we should not forget that 60% of the value of our silver dollar is confidence rather than worth. 1 These facts do not mean, unfortunately, that the history of the gold and silver coinage of the Roman Empire or of its monetary policy is easy to understand. The importance of study of the imperial coinage was emphasized by George Finlay nearly a century ago: "In reviewing the various causes which contributed to the decline of the wealth and to the diminution of the population of the Roman Empire, it is necessary to take into account the depreciation of the coinage, which frequently robbed large classes of the industrious citizens of a great part of their wealth, reduced the amount of property in the empire, produced confusion in legal contracts and anarchy in prices… The evils which must have resulted from the enormous depreciation of the Roman coinage at several periods can only be clearly understood by a chronological record of the principal changes—by remembering that each issue of a depreciated currency was an act of bankruptcy on the part of the reigning emperor…"

To make the problem more difficult, the literary and epigraphical evidence is rare and sometimes unreliable. Often the interpretation of the evidence is a matter for lengthy disputes. It hardly needs to be said that there is no ancient account either of the money or of monetary policy. All our evidence, aside from the coins themselves, is composed of more or less casual statements found in documents, both on stone and papyri, or in the literature that has been preserved.

As evidence from other sources is so often contradictory and confusing, the purpose of this paper is to determine the official ratio of gold and silver from an examination of the weights of all imperial gold and silver coins. 2 It is fortunate that so many Roman coins are still extant. In addition to almost countless thousands of varieties of subsidiary coins, there has survived a surprising number of gold coins. The tables which form part of this work list approximately nine thousand whose weights are available, and there are many more about which that information is lacking. 3

The question whether the gold coinage was sufficient to serve its purpose as a medium of exchange is now impossible of definite answer. It is sometimes said that gold coins were of little monetary importance during the third century. Mickwitz 4 disagrees with this, but believes that earlier coins were generally used in this period and that new coins were struck only in comparatively limited numbers. This hardly seems a fair inference from the numbers now extant. Of more importance than the quantity of gold in circulation is the velocity of its circulation, but on this subject nothing, unfortunately, is known.

Until the time of Elagabalus the metrology of gold coins may perhaps best be studied by means of frequency tables. By grouping coins according to their weights, the intent of the mint officials may be discovered as well as changes in standard. 4a These successive changes may be briefly summarized. Augustus first struck the aureus at the rate of forty, then possibly of forty-one 5 and, at the close of his reign, of forty-two to the pound. The next great change occurred in A.D. 63 or 64, when Nero reduced the standard to forty-five to the pound. 6 Here it stayed, with a few exceptions, until the time of Macrinus in A.D. 218. These exceptions are as follows: the Spanish mint of Galba apparently did not accept the new standard of Nero, although Galba's mint at Rome issued the lighter coins. Early in his reign Domitian definitely abandoned the Neronian standard. His heavier weights were maintained, with indifferent success to be sure, until Trajan's second year. Both Didius Julianus and Caracalla made efforts to reduce the standard to fifty to the pound,—a change apparently followed by the mint at Rome operated by Elagabalus, but not adopted by the Antioch mint of the same ruler. 7

For about half of the third century, statements as to the standards adopted by the various rulers are little more than guesses. 8 Under Gordian III the standard seems to have been reduced to seventy to the pound; under Trebonianus Gallus to eighty to the pound; under Valerian and Gallienus there seems to have been a further decline and then apparently an increase in weight which under Claudius II seems to represent sixty to the pound. Aurelian made an effort to improve weights, as did Probus, who seemingly attempted a standard of fifty to the pound. This attempt was unsuccessful, for the coinage of Carus falls to a standard of seventy to the pound. Diocletian's earlier coins were on this same basis, his later coins on the basis of sixty to the pound. The change to a heavier standard was too optimistic, for when Constantine finally stabilized the currency he replaced the aureus with the solidus, which was struck at the rate of seventy-two to the pound.

While the aureus was the head of the monetary system, the denarius, which was the chief silver coin, was of far greater practical importance. Tariffed at twenty-five to the aureus, it represented in the first century at least, a good day's wage; in fact it was more than the basic army pay fixed by Augustus and Tiberius, a wage that had no allowance for food or clothing. 9

In discussing the denarius, there is not only the matter of weight to be considered, but there is the progressive lowering of the percentage of silver in the coin also. 10 The practical importance of this progressive debasement of the denarius depends upon whether or not the Roman government considered it more or less a token coin, and was both willing and able to exchange it at a fixed rate for the aureus. Ordinary commercial convenience demanded that there be a fixed ratio between the two coins. The moment the general public had reason to believe that this fixed ratio was to be abandoned, there would have been financial chaos.

The Roman pound contained twelve ounces, each of which contained twenty-four scruples or grammata. The theoretical (not the actual) weights for coins struck at the respective numbers to the pound of metal are as follows:

Pieces to pound Weight in grains Weight in metric grams Weight in Roman scruples
40 126.4 8.186 7.2
41 123.3 7.987 7.0
42 120.4 7.796 6.857
45 112.4 7.277 6.4
50 101.2 6.549 5.76
60 84.3 5.457 4.8
70 72.2 4.678 4.114
72 70.2 4.55 4.0
80 63.2 4.093 3.60
90 56.2 3.638 3.20

Table A summarizes the facts that indicate the ratios between gold and silver under the various rulers from Augustus to Diocletian.

Pliny's statement that under Augustus the ratio of gold to silver was 1 : 12½ may be compared with the figure of 1 : 11.97 found from the coins. 11 Similarly, the theoretical ratio of 1 : 11.72 for Nero's reformed coinage may be compared with the figure of 1 : 11.26 found from the coins. Nero's change represented an increase of about 6% in the relative value of silver.

The deviation of the ratios based on the weights of the coins from the ratios found from the figures given by Pliny is approximately the same both for Augustus and Nero. Later ratios found up to the time of Marcus Aurelius indicate that 1 : 11.72 continued to be the theoretical ratio. It is noteworthy that Domitian's currency reform meant no appreciable difference in the relative value of gold and silver. Some change, however, seems to have taken place in the reign of Commodus. His aurei seem slightly

Table A—Part 1 The Ratio of Gold to Silver from the Coin Weights 12
Based On
25 denarii to aureus 15 antoniniani to aureus
Augustus 43/30 1 : 11.69
III viri 1 : 12.20
others to 11 A. D. 1 : 11.97
Tiberius 1 : 11.82
Caligula 1 : 11.94
Claudius 1 : 12.33
Nero 54/63 1 : 11.66
64/68 1 : 11.26
Galba Rome 1 : 11.26
Spain 1 : 10.98
Otho 1 : 11.71
Vitellius 1 : 11.44
Vespasian 1 : 10.71
Titus 1 : 11.19
Domitian 81/82 1 : 10.94
82/96 1 : 11.0
Nerva 1 : 10.81
Trajan 98/99 1 : 10.97
100/17 1 : 11.04
Hadrian 1 : 11.26
Pius 1 : 11.49
Marcus 1 : 11.49
Commodus 1 : 10.02
Pertinax 1 : 10.84
Didius 1 : 10.72
Septimius 1 : 10.90
Caracalla 211/15 1 : 11.03
215/17 1 : 12.22 1 : 11.59
Macrinus 1 : 11.07 1 : 10.71
Elagabalus Rome 1 : 12.03 1 : 12.04
Antioch 1 : 9.4
Table A—Part 2 Ratio of Gold to Silver Using Actual Weights of Silver and Estimated Weight of Gold Coins 13
Number of aurei to pound Assuming 25 denarii to the aureus Assuming 15 antoniniani to the aureus No. of antoniniani in contemporary aureus No. of antoniniani in a pound of gold
Alexander Severas 50 1 : 11.9 (Assuming ratio of 1 : 14)
Maximinus 50 1 : 12.10
Pupienus, etc. 50 1 : 11.76
Gordian III 60 1 : 12.15
Philip 70 1 : 13.4
Decius 70 1 : 13.0
Trebonianus, etc. 80 1 : 13.0
Aemilianus 80 1 : 12.8
Valerian and Gallienus 70
80
90 1 : 13.9 210 18900
Claudius 60 540 32400
Aurelian, prereform 60 540 32400
reform 50 600 30000
Tacitus 70 300 21000
Probus 60 510 30600
Carus 70 420 29400
Carinus 60 390 23400
Diocletian 70
60 1 : 14.4 (25000) 14
heavier than those of Marcus, while his denarii show a decided decrease in weight. This decrease in the denarius was accompanied by equally pronounced decreases in the weights of the eastern imperial drachmae. In view of the fact that none of these decreased weights were adopted either by Pertinax or Septimius it would seem probable that Commodus attempted to correct the effect of his own extravagance and the financial disturbances caused by his father's wars by a drastic cut in the weight of the silver coin.

In the period from A.D. 193 to 215 the ratio between gold and silver, as shown by the coins, remained somewhat less than it had been earlier in the second century, but it still seems within the range of possibilities for the Neronian ratio of 1 : 11.72.

With the introduction of the antoninianus by Caracalla in A.D. 215 and the simultaneous decrease in weight of the aureus there is a change in the ratio of gold and silver. This apparently is the first indication of a decided fall in the relative value of silver to gold. It may be mentioned that during the fourth century the relative value of silver sank still further, until the ratio reached 1 : 18. 15 Macrinus did not adopt the new weights of Caracalla for his gold but coined on the pre-reform standard (see Table B). Under Elagabalus as under Galba we find two distinct weights in the gold aureus, one on the reformed standard of Caracalla in the mint at Rome, the other issued by the mint at Antioch on Cara- calla's pre-reform standard. Perhaps it is an accident due to the small number of coins involved that the denarii issued at Antioch are considerably lighter in weight than the denarii issued at Rome. The fact that the ratios found by using the weights of the antoniniani and denarii issued at Rome are practically identical and that they are in reasonable accord with the ratio for the period A.D. 215 to 217 would seem to indicate that the Antioch ratio may be disregarded.

After Alexander and Maximinus the antoninianus became the common silver coin and the denarius ceased to be issued in commercial quantities, though some were coined later and the coin itself did not disappear entirely from circulation. If one assumes that Alexander, Maximinus, Pupienus and Balbinus coined their gold on the basis of 50 to the pound then the ratio of gold to silver for these three reigns is 1 : 12½ or 1 : 13.

For the rest of the third century we must depend upon conjecture. Contemporary references indicate no pronounced depreciation in the market value of the denarius until the time of Valerian. From that time until the appearance of the Edict on Prices we are handicapped by an almost complete absence of references to money outside of Egypt. A price of 200 denarii for an altar, that is found in a monument dated A.D. 279/80, is almost the only instance. 16

It was under Valerian and Gallienus that the public lost confidence in the silver coin. While the better coins of these two rulers contained about 40 and 50 percent of silver respectively, the poor coins of Gallienus had only about 6 per cent of silver. It must have been at this time that an official revaluation of the antoninianus took place, for with political and financial conditions as they were, no government could have maintained the historic relationship. Modern analogies show that when monetary values are undergoing pressure from depreciation, those values slip gradually, but when the climax is reached, the actual debâcle comes quickly. This catastrophe seems to have happened under Gallienus. Unlike the German financial crash after the World War of 1914–18, which reached its climax and was corrected in a period of about six months in 1923, the Roman financial collapse was not finally corrected until some sixty years had passed.

If one assumes that the relation between gold and silver remained at 1 : 14 for the period from A.D. 260 to the time of Diocletian, and also assumes that the value of the so-called silver coin was affected by its silver content, which would be true in its market valuation, even if the government thought otherwise, one can estimate the number of antoniniani to the current aureus and also to the pound of gold for each ruler. 17 That these ratios are at least approximately correct may be inferred from the statement in Diocletian's Edict that a pound of gold was worth 50,000 denarii (= 25,000 antoniniani of the third century). 18

From a modern analogy, a possibility not elsewhere discussed may be suggested. Our own government maintains in theory at least a mint ratio of 1 : 16 (actually 1 : 15.998) which for many years has been far different from the ratio shown by the market price of the two metals. About the time of the first World War with gold at $20 an ounce and silver at $0.60 an ounce the market ratio was about 1 : 34. Since then gold has risen and silver has fallen, so the present market ratio is about 1 : 90. If this double ratio existed in the Roman Empire, it would help to explain the fall in the value of the subsidiary coinage when people lost faith in the solvency of their government.

There are several minor problems which should be mentioned, even though it is impossible to attempt any definite answers. In view of the very large percentage of alloy in the so-called silver coins during the thirty year period beginning with Valerian, it is reasonable to assume that gold coins became more and more the chief element in the monetary system. It is strange that the first indication of this is found in the fourth century, when for a long period the good silver coin (then called the siliqua) was apparently too limited in quantity to serve commercial needs adequately. However other instances of debased coinages have shown that badly debased coins can circulate above their real value until a time of panic, and that such periods of panic are short-lived. 19

It would be interesting to know how the Roman government put gold and silver coins into circulation. Did it ever permit private owners to bring gold and silver bullion to the mint for coinage? Did the operator of a mine leased from the government have to sell to the government at a fixed price, or did he have to depend on private buyers of gold and silver bullion as a market for his product? If we assume that there was no right given to private owners of gold and silver to ask coinage of it at the mint, the only way the government could put coins into circulation, unless it simply gave them away, was in payment of obligations (wages and purchases of supplies) over and above the amount of coins it had collected in taxes or as replacements for older worn coins. This immediately raises the question as to the nature of the bullion market. Large quantities of gold and silver always seem to have been available to the makers of gold and silver plate. It would be interesting to know how they obtained it.

Another point of interest is the degree of control exercised by the central government over the rates of exchange between its own coins, as well as between those coins and the numerous local subsidiary issues. The probability is that very strict control was exercised, but direct evidence is rare. Outside of Egypt, where the local coinage was successfully isolated, there is the statement by Epictetus that the "coinage of Caesar" must be accepted, presumably at its face value, whether the seller wants to or not. 20 A few years later, Hadrian laid down regulations controlling the use of imperial and local coins for small purchases at Pergamum. 21 Here, probably for local reasons, he seems to have limited the use of imperial denarii. Still later, Septimius Severus regulated exchange at Mylasa in an effort to enforce the legal relationship between imperial and local issues. 22

Something should be said concerning the tables that form a large part of this paper.

A.) Weights are given in grains troy to permit more easy classification, but in essential places the metric gram equivalent is also given. The tables are shown with gradations of one grain, both to permit more convenient checking of the inferences based on weights that are made here, and also to permit their possible use for other purposes.

B.) As will be readily appreciated, the chief difficulty in such a study as this is the lack of dependable information. Only one volume of Mattingly and Sydenham's "Roman Imperial Coinage" gives any weights; satisfactory catalogues of great museum collections are practically nonexistent; auction catalogues vary in accuracy and for many important collections omit weights entirely. Articles in scientific journals are sometimes no better. Thus in the account of the gold hoard found at Italica, to mention but one example, weights are so inexact that they could not be incorporated in the tables used here.

Much of what is worthwhile in this monograph is due to the help and encouragement of others. In the first place, I am deeply indebted to Professor A. C. Johnson of Princeton, to the late E. T. Newell, President of the American Numismatic Society, and to the very efficient staff at that institution. To Dr. David Magie, to Dr. W. K. Prentice, both of Princeton, to Harold Mattingly, Esq., of the British Museum, I am indebted for suggestions and criticisms. None of these, however, are in any way responsible for errors or for opinions here expressed.

Table B The Gold Aureus 23
Number of aurei Point of concen. Number at this point Per Cent –1 to +1 Per Cent –2 to +2
Augustus 43/30 33 124 16 78.8 96.9
III viri 87 123 17 42.5 65.5
Others 750 121 260 71.3 88.5
11/14 40 119 35 60.6 83.8
Tiberius 160 119 35 60.6 83.8
Caligula 68 119 28 77.9 92.4
Claudius 363 118 112 68.9 90.6
Nero 54/63 169 117 51 73.2 85.7
64/68 268 112 58 53.4 67.5
Galba Rome 69 112 11 60.9 78.1
Spain 14 118 7 78.6 92.1
Gaul 3
Otho 58 112 12 50.0 81.0
Vitellius 83 112 18 55.4 67.5
Vespasian 666 112 113 56.3 74.2
Titus 88 111 17 45.4 77.3
Domitian 81 12 113 Average
81/84 53 118 12 52.8 71.7
82/96 125 116 26 49.6 71.2
Weights are given in grains
Number of aurei Point of concen. Number at this point Per Cent –1 to +1 Per Cent –2 to +2
Nerva 64 115 12 51.6 76.6
Trajan 98/99 24 113 Average
Rest 468 111 102 54.5 78.4
Hadrian 578 111 135 54.0 75.4
Pius 758 111 240 61.1 80.6
Marcus 578 111 222 77.5 95.3
Commodus 79 112 25 81 90
Pertinax 43 111 15 83.7 93
Didius 17 103 7 64.7 82.3
Septimius Severus 523 112 87 52.6 76.7
Caracalla 211/215 58 112 12 44.8 65.5
216/17 21 100 4 38.1 57.1
Macrinus 83 111 22 50.6 69.9
Elagabalus Rome 39 98 Average
Antioch 27 110 4 66.7 74.1
Table B—Continued The Gold Aureus—Continued 24
under over
Totals 31 31/40 41/50 51/60 61/70 71/80 81/90 91/100 101/105 105
105 Alexander Severus 5 1 2 5 61 26 5
11 Maximinus 1 2 3 2 3
2 Balbinus, etc. 2
95 Gordian III 1 1 17 65 10 1
45 Philip 2 1 25 12 1 1 3
96 Decius 1 16 51 24 2 1 1
52 Trebonianus 1 3 13 10 13 11 1
53 Volusianus 2 7 7 5 4 13 15
4 Aemilianus 2 1 1
205 Valerian 13 70 71 24 16 6 4 1
280 Gallienus, sole 62 21 24 35 49 42 20 18 5 4
16 Claudius II Gothicus 7 8 1
92 Aurelian 1 2 10 24 22 16 5 12
76 Tacitus 18 30 6 15 5 2
144 Probus 1 2 1 17 33 53 21 16
108 Carus 1 2 53 38 13 1
150 Carinus 1 37 66 34 10 2
Table C Gold Quinarii Weights in Grains
50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63
48 Augustus 2 1 1 4 8 18 10 3 1
48 Tiberius 1 3 9 19 7 9
6 Caligula 1 1 2 1 1
1 Nero 1
1 Vespasian 1
1 Domitian 1
3 Nerva 1 1 1
9 Trajan 1 1 2 2 3
25 Hadrian 1 1 2 4 5 6 3 1 1 1
22 Pius 1 2 5 5 4 3 1 1
6 Marcus 1 1 1 2 1
4 Commodus 1 1 1 1
174

After Commodus all gold coins appear in the regular tables

Table D Average Weights in Grains of Silver Coins 25
Denarius Antoninianus Syrian drachma Caesarea drachma
No. Wt. No. Wt. No. Wt. No. Wt.
Augustus 43/30 100 58.0 92 56.2
III Viri 206 60.06
Other 65 57.93
Tiberius 34 56.29 7 53.04
Caligula 13 56.91 56.5 8 53.9
Claudius 33 58.3 52.6 20 56.2
Nero 54/63 19 54.6 264 56.2 69 55.4
64/68 278 50.46 64 55.2 4 54.2
Galba Rome 36 50.46 64 56.5
Spain 28 51.84
Otho 32 52.01 52 56.2
Vitellius 81 51.27
Vespasian 304 47.99 356 55.6 87 52.9
Titus 129 49.68 20 55.2
Domitian 81/82 24 49 92 55.7 50 52.7
83/96 248 51 p.c.
Nerva 113 50.18 52 57.2 48 51.5
Trajan 98/9 70 49.6 52 56.2 41 51.2
100/117 598 49 p.c. 664 54.2 217 52.1
Hadrian 786 50 p.c. (?) 40 51.2 84 48.2
Pius 1002 51 p.c. 33 44.3
Marcus 840 51 p.c. (?) 1 49.5 85 50
Commodus 335 44.89 11 45.63 34 37.89
Pertinax 13 48.14
Didius 6 44.18
Septimius Severas 257 48.39 143 50.4 72 47.7
Caracalla 32 49.2 32 77.30 84 50.8 14 44.5
Macrinus 36 49.17 1 79.3 64 51.4 6 50
Elagabalus (Rome) 68 47.06 42 78.7 68 50.3
(Antioch) 17 41.20
Alexander Severas 91 47.60 2 38.19
Maximinus 41 48.38
Balbinus, etc. 1 49.2 21 71.76
Gordian III 5 51.2 1587 68.3 76 47.90 4 31.79
Philip 1199 64.5 264 46.95
Decius 1954 62.0 232 47.19
Trebonianus 26 {550 54.11} …. 148 47.03
Volusianus …. …. … 36 45.41
Aemilianus 43 53.5
Valerian 1266 52.9
Gallienus
Claudius Rome Homo 47.3
Other Homo 52.6
Aurelian Pre-reform 1151 53.8
Reform 828 58.2
Tacitus 16 63.26
Probus 210 57.5
Carus 24 57.86
Carinus 65 61.10
Diocletian Pre-reform Reform 560 47.68
Table E Fineness of Silver Coins
Denarius Antoninianus Caesarea Syria Alexandria
No. % No. % No. % No. % No. %
Augustus
Tiberius 16.0
Caligula
Claudius 25.1
Nero 3 16.4
Galba 4 92.6
Otho 1 98.15 1 16.4
Vitellius 2 83.7
Vespasian 8 84.7 1 56.5 2 18.0
Titus 3 81.3 16.4
Domitian 9 91.2
Nerva 3 90.7 17.0
Trajan 98/99 1 92.8
no date 11 83.8 1 62.5 1 57.2 1 17.0
Hadrian 15 84.1 1 64.1 5 15.7
Pius 16 80.0 3 16.2
Marcus Aurelius 13 75.3
161/171 16.0
170/178 4.2
178/180 8.0
Commodus 10 71.1 1 15.0
Pertinax 2 76
Didius 1 81
Septimius 13 57.3 2 10.2
Caracalla 4 60.2 3 58.9
Macrinus
Elagabalus 5 49.6 3 42.8 1 7.5
Alexander Severus 12 40.5 2 5.8
Maximinus 2 45.5 1 5.0
Balbinus, etc. 1 49.
Gordian III 22 41.7 2 6.0
Philip 14 43.7 1 5.0
Decius 13 41.9 1 7.0
Trebonianus 4 35.2 1 7.5
Volusianus 5 60.9
Aemilianus
Valerian poor 2 40.0 1 7.5
3 17.4
Gallienus poor 4 50.9 1 4.0
14 6.4
Claudius 7 3.46 37 2.4
Rome Homo 1.7/2.4
Tarraco Homo 2.5/2.7
Siscia Homo 2.75/3.0
Antioch Homo 8.75
Aurelian Pre-reform Reform 18 3.37 - 2.0
14 4.01
Tacitus 4 4.8 - 1.0
Probus 12 3.35
Carus 1 4.0
Carinus 1 5.0
Diocletian Pre-reform Reform 1 94.3 3 3.0 1 1.81

End Notes

4a
See Hill, Num. Chron., 1924, 76ff., for a concise account of this method.
1
As bullion it has a market value of about 40 cents. (February, 1941.)
2
A study of this material by the present author appeared in the American Journal of Philology, Vol. LXII, pp. 289–301. For the sake of comparison, some of the various ratios determined by different scholars for the imperial period are cited:
1 : 13,—Mattingly, Roman Coins, 128. Based on the Neronian reform (A.D. 63/64) of the silver and allowing for the debasement of the denarius.
1 : 7.3,—Heichelheim, Klio, XXV (1932), 124. Based on the Jewish poll tax in A.D. 72/73 (Wilcken, Grundzüge, II. 61).
1 : 10,—Mickwitz, Geld und Wirtschaft, 56. Based on Trajan's reform (A.D. 99/100).
1 : 8.2,—Kubitschek, Quinquennium, 103. Based on Lucian, Pseudologistes 30 (Antoninus Pius?).
1 : 5.86,—Kubitschek, Quinquennium, 105. Based on CIG. 5008, 5010 (A.D. 241/4).
1 : 7.82; 1 : 9.76; 1 : 6.50,—Giesecke, Geldwesen, 222. For the three periods into which he divides the coinage of Aurelian (A.D. 270–275).
1 : 8 or 1 : 9,—Heichelheim in comment on P. Giess. Univ. Bibl. 22 and in Klio, XXV (1932), 124 (A.D. 284–305).
1 : 7.8—Giesecke, Geldwesen, 222. Based on Diocletian's reform (A.D. 294).
1 : 20.8,—Mickwitz, Geld und Wirtschaft, 69. Based on Diocletian's edict (A.D. 301).
1 : 13½,—Heichelheim, Klio, XXIX (1936), 131. Based on P. O. 1653 (A.D. 306).
3
Information about weights has been gathered from museum catalogues, auction catalogues, articles in various numismatic and archaeological journals, publications of specific hoards, and from the unpublished collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Numismatic Society, Princeton University, and the private collection of the late Mr. E. T. Newell. It is unfortunate that such works as those by Strack give no weights. Blanchet enumerates about 12,000 gold coins in his work on Gallic and German hoards and mentions other hoards where no numbers are given. Of only a small part of these can weights ever be had.
4
Geld und Wirtschaft, 65.
5
See Ondrouch, Der rӧm. Denarfund von Vyskovce, 9.
6
See for both Augustus and Nero, Pliny, H. N. XXXIII. 3, 13.
7
See Table B.
8
See Table B.
9
Tacitus, Ann. I. 17.6: 26.
10
See chiefly Hammer, Die Feingehalt der griechischen und rӧmischen Münzen (Zeit. für Num. 1908), 97 ff. Other analyses are given by Mickwitz, Geld und Wirtschaft, 40; Ondrouch, loc. cit.; Mattingly, BMC passim.; all later statements here as to fineness of coins are based primarily on Hammer.
11
Pliny, N. H. XXXIII, 3.13.
12
The method of figuring the ratio of gold to silver may be illustrated by the coins of Tiberius. His denarius weighed 56.29 grains (Table D). Multiply by 25 (the number of denarii to an aureus), then divide by 119 (the weight of the aureus given in Table B). The result, 11.82, appears in Table A as the ratio.
13
The procedure here is the same as before except that no definite point of concentration can be found for these gold coins and that weights based on the number to the pound are used.
14
This assumes that an antoninianus was worth two denarii at this time (Edict Dioclet. XXX. 1). This also disregards the difficulty presented by the seemingly different price of gold in line 2 of the same section of the Edict, which might well be a charge for drawing gold rather than a price for bullion.
15
See Preisigke, SB., 6086.
16
IGRR, IV, 893.
17
See the last two columns of Table B Part 2.
18
Edict Dioclet. XXX 1a.
19
As in Central Europe after 1919.
20
Discourses iii. 3.3.
21
Dittenberger, OGIS., 484. See Broughton's translation, Econ. Survey, (ed. Frank), IV. 892 ff.
22
B.C.Η., XVIII (1896), 523. See Broughton's translation, op. cit. pp. 896 f.
23
Coins in this table, as in the others here, have been arranged by weights (in grains). The "point of concentration" is the weight where most coins are found. In the first line the figure under Per Cent –1 to +1 shows the percentage of the 33 coins occurring in this group that weigh between 123 and 125 grains (inclusive); the next column the percentage between 122 and 126 grains. This is an excellent check on the accuracy of minting and also on the accuracy of the frequency table. The ratio of the gram to the grain is 1 : 15.43.
24
Because no frequency table properly shows the variation in weights from Alexander on, the coins have been shown in groups of 10 grains (about 5/8 of a gram).
25
Note 3 applies here as well as to the gold coins. Under each heading there are shown where possible the number of coins and the average weight. In a few cases indicated by the letters "p.c." the weights have been distributed on a frequency table and the point of concentration rather than the average weight shown. The Egyptian tetradrachm has been purposely omitted as it requires special treatment. Other eastern tetradrachms have been reduced to drachms in order to show more clearly their relationship to the denarius. The weights used for Claudius have been taken from Homo, Essai sur le règne de l'empereur Aurélien.
26
The average weight of the antoninianus includes coins of both emperors. The weights of the Syrian drachma are of each man separately.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Weights used in this paper have been taken from the following sources. Other works are mentioned in the notes.

Catalogues of Public and Private Collections

Babelon, J. La collection de monnaies et médailles de M. Carlos de Beistegu i. Paris, Les Beaux-Arts (pref. 1934).
Cardosa, Anibal. Catálogo general descriptivo de la Colección Numismática. Museo Nacional de Historia Natural. Tomo I, Numismática Antigua. Buenos Aires, 1919.
Edwards, Jonathan. Catalogue of the Greek and Roman coins in the numismatic collection of Yale college. New Haven, 1880.
Elmer, Georg. Weifert Collection. Wien, 1929.
Grose, S. W. Catalogue of the McClean Collection of Greek Coins, Fitzwilliam Museum. Cambridge, 1923–1929.
Collection R. Jameson. Tome II. Paris, 1913.
Macdonald, George. Catalogue of Greek Coins in the Hunterian Collection, University of Glasgow. Glasgow, 1899–1905.
Mattingly, Harold. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum. Vols. I–IV. London, 1923–1940.
Montélhet, Achille. Catalogue du Médaillier. Musée Crozatier, Ville du Puy. Tome deuxiéme, Empire romain. Paris, 1913.
Voetter, Otto. Sammlung Bachofen von Echt. Wien, 1903.
Voetter, Otto. Collection Ernst Fürst zu Windisch-Grätz. Bd. VI. Wien, 1904.

Dealers' Auction and Fixed Price Catalogues

Ball Sales, February 9, 1932; Nos. 2, 6, 9; Lager Kat. Nos. 2, 14, 28, 39.Basel Münzhandlung Sales, Nos. 3, 6, 8, 10.Bement Collection (Naville sale, No. VIII).Bom Sale, 1870.Braunschweiger Münzverkehr Nos. 2, 4.Cahn Sales, Nos. 59, 60, 65, 66, 68, 71, 75. Caruso Collection (Canessa Sale, June 28, 1923).Ciani Sale, April 28, 1925.Egger Sales, 3, 9, 41, 45, 46; Lager Kat. Nos. 15, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 53, 55.Gallet Collection (J. Florange Sale, May 28, 1924).Godart Collection (J. Florange Sale, June 14, 1923).Haeberlin Collection (Cahn Sale, No. 75).Hamburger Sale No. 96.Helbing Sales, April 9, 1913; March 22, 1926; April 12, 1927; Oct. 24, 1927; March 20, 1928; June 20, 1929; Jan. 31, 1930.Hess Sales, Dec. 18, 1933; March 7, 1935; No. 194.Hirsch Sales Nos. 24, 25, 26, 30, 31, 33.Kiehn Lager Kat. No. 7.Meuss Lager Kat. No. 27.Naville Sales (Ars Classica) Nos. 2, 3, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17.Petrowicz Collection (Naville Sale No. 10).Prix Collection (Helbing Sale No. 63).Ratto Sale, April 4, 1927.Redder Sale, No. 27.Riechmann Sales Nos. 20, 33; Lager Kat. Nos. 1, 25.Rosenberg Sale No. 69.Santamaria Sales, Jan. 16, 1924; Jan. 24, 1938.Schlessinger Sale, No. 11.Schulman Sale, Oct. 9, 1933.Trau Collection (Hess Sale, May 22, 1935).

Periodicals

Atti e Memorie dell' Istituto Italiano di numismatica, Vols. III–IV, 1919–21. Berliner Münzblätter, N. F., Jhg. XXXV, 1914. Bonner Jahrb. 111–112. Buletinul Societatii Numismatice Romane, Anul XIV, 1919. Bull. Arch. du Comité des travaux hist. et scient. 1932–33. Bull. hist. et scient., Auvergne, 1939. Bull. soc. pour conserv. monum. hist, d'Alsace, 1926. Fundberichte Schwaben, 1913. Museo Ital. di Antichità Class, Vol. 2. Notizie degli scavi di antichità, 1935. Numismatic Chronicle, 1897, 1902, 1907, 1912, 1924, 1931, 1933, 1939. Numismatische Zeitschrift, 1893, 1902, 1908, 1914, 1922, 1930, 1931. Revue belge de numismatique, 1931. Revue numismatique, 1889, 1898, 1903, 1904, 1912. University of Colorado Studies, XXV. Viestnika Hrv. Arh. Drustva, 1896, 1900. Wiltshire Arch. and Nat. Hist. Magazine, 1937-38. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 1880. Zeitschrift für Numismatik, 1898, 1914, 1928, 1930.

Other Publications

Alfӧldi, Andreas. "The first gold issues of the Tetrarchy at Siscia." (In The Numismatic Chronicle, 5th Series, Vol. 9, 1929.)
Babelon, E. Traite des monnaies grecques et romaines. Tome III.
Bahrfeldt, Max v. Die Rӧmische Goldmünzenprägung während der Republic und unter Augustus. Halle, 1923.
Blanchet, Adrien. Études de Numismatique. Paris, 1892–1901.
Festschrift zu O. Hirschfelds 60 Geburtstage.
Homo, L. Essai sur le règne de l'Empereur Aurélien. Paris, 1904.
Hultsch, Friedrich. Griechische und Rӧmische Metrologie. Berlin, 1882.
Markoff, Alexis. Les monnaies de Rois Parthes. Paris, 1877.
Mattingly-Sydenham. The Roman Imperiai Coinage.
Mommsen, Theodore. Geschichte des rӧmischen Münzwesens. Berlin, 1860.
Ondrouch, V. Der rӧmische Denarfund von Vyškovce aus der Frühkaiserzeit. Bratislava, 1934.
Paruck, F. D. J. Sasanian Coins. Bombay, 1924.
Prokesch Osten, M. Le Comte. Les Monnaies des Rois Parthes. Paris, 1874–75.
Rohde, T. Die Münzen des Kaisers Aurelianus, seiner Frau Severina und der Fürsten von Palmyra. Miskoloz, 1881.
Sydenham, E. A. The Coinage of Caesarea in Cappadocta. London, 1933.
Waddington, W. H. Recueil Général des Monnaies Grecques d'Asie Mineure, Tome I, Fasc. I–IV. Paris, 1904–1925.
Weber, S. H. An Egyptian Hoard of the Second Century, A.D. (Numismatic Notes and Monographs No. 54, New York, 1932.)
Wruck, W. Die syrische Provinzialprӓgung von Augustus bis Traian. Stuttgart, 1931.

Unpublished Collections

American Numismatic Society.
Metropolitan Museum of Art.
E. T. Newell.
Princeton University.

CONVERSION OF GRAINS INTO GRAMS

Grs. Gms. Grs. Gms. Grs. Gms. Grs. Gms.
10 0.648 41 2.656 72 4.665 103 6.674
11 0.712 42 2.72 73 4.729 104 6.739
12 0.777 43 2.785 74 4.794 105 6.804
13 0.842 44 2.85 75 4.859 106 6.868
14 0.907 45 2.915 76 4.924 107 6.933
15 0.972 46 2.98 77 4.989 108 6.998
16 1.036 47 3.045 78 5.054 109 7.063
17 1.101 48 3.11 79 5.119 110 7.128
18 1.166 49 3.175 80 5.184 111 7.192
19 1.231 50 3.24 81 5.248 112 7.257
20 1.296 51 3.304 82 5.312 113 7.322
21 1.36 52 3.368 83 5.378 114 7.387
22 1.425 53 3.434 84 5.442 115 7.452
23 1.49 54 3.498 85 5.508 116 7.516
24 1.555 55 3.564 86 5.572 117 7.581
25 1.62 56 3.628 87 5.637 118 7.646
26 1.684 57 3.693 88 5.702 119 7.711
27 1.749 58 3.758 89 5.767 120 7.776
28 1.814 59 3.823 90 5.832 121 7.84
29 1.879 60 3.888 91 5.896 122 7.905
30 1.944 61 3.952 92 5.961 123 7.97
31 2.008 62 4.017 93 6.026 124 8.035
32 2.073 63 4.082 94 6.091 125 8.10
33 2.138 64 4.146 95 6.156 126 8.164
34 2.202 65 4.211 96 6.22 127 8.229
35 2.267 66 4.276 97 6.285 128 8.294
36 2.332 67 4.341 98 6.35 129 8.359
37 2.397 68 4.406 99 6.415 130 8.424
38 2.462 69 4.471 100 6.48 140 9.072
39 2.527 70 4.536 101 6.544 150 9.72
40 2.592 71 4.60 102 6.609 160 10.368

INDEX OF TABLES

Table
A The Ratio of Gold to Silver 8
B The Aureus 17
C The Gold Quinarius 20
D Weights of the Silver Coins 21
E Fineness of Silver Coins 24
F The Aurei of Augustus 42
G The Aurei of Tiberius 48
H The Aurei of Caligula 49
J The Aurei of Claudius 52
K The Aurei of Nero 59
L The Aurei of Galba, Otho, Vitellius 63
M The Aurei of Vespasian 68
N The Aurei of Titus 71
O The Aurei of Domitian 75
P The Aurei of Nerva 76
Q Silver Hoards, Augustus to Alexander 83
R The Aurei of Trajan 89
S The Aurei of Hadrian 96
T The Aurei of Pius 101
U The Aurei of Marcus 107
V The Aurei of Commodus 112
W The Aurei of Pertinax and Julianus 113
X The Aurei of Septimius 120
Y The Aurei of Caracalla 125
Z The Aurei of Macrinus 126
AA The Aurei of Elagabalus 129
AB The Aurei of Alexander 133
AC The Aurei of Maximus, Pupienus and Balbinus 136
AD The Aurei of Gordian III 138
AE The Aurei of Philip 141
AF The Aurei of Decius 143
AG The Laureate and Radiate Aurei of Philip, Decius and Trebonianus 148
AH The Aurei of Trebonianus, Volusianus, Aemilianus 150
AJ The Aurei of Valerian, Gallienus 162
AK The Aurei of Claudius II 167
AL The Aurei of Aurelian 172
AM The Aurei of Tacitus and Florianus 175
AN The Aurei of Probus 177
AO The Aurei of Carus, Carinus, Numerianus. 179
AP Silver Hoards of the Third Century 192
AQ The Aurei of Diocletian 196

THE COINAGE OF THE INDIVIDUAL EMPERORS

AUGUSTUS

The aurei of Julius Caesar are said to have been issued on the basis of 40 to the pound, and the denarius at 84 to the pound. Since the Roman pound is usually equated with 327.45 grams or 5057 grains, the theoretical weight of Caesar's aureus is 8.186 grams (126.4 grains or 7.2 Roman scrupulae), 1 and of the denarius 3.89 grams (3.42 Roman scrupulae). Without making any allowance for the cost of minting, which may or may not have been deducted from the weight of the coins, the ratio of gold to silver was 1 : 11.91, assuming that the aureus was freely exchanged for twenty-five denarii in silver. 2

From the death of Caesar to about 30 B.C. Octavian seems to have retained the Julian standard for his gold and silver issues. Thirty-three aurei from this period are remarkably uniform in weight; of these twenty-six, or 80%, fall within a range of 123 to 125 grains or within 2% of the theoretical standard. 3 From the weights of the aureus and denarius of this period, a ratio between gold and silver of 1 : 11.7 is found.

Augustus is said to have issued lighter aurei after 30 B.C. on the basis of 42 to the Roman pound. 4 If the denarius was unchanged at 84 to the pound, the ratio of gold to silver becomes 1 : 12.5. However, the available evidence does not support the theory that the new aureus was issued at this rate, which would imply a norm of 120.4 grains (7.79 grams). Omitting the issues struck by the tresviri between 19 and 15 B.C. and the Augustan aurei struck after A.D. 11, the weights of 749 aurei which are ascertainable from published descriptions show a definite peak or norm at 121 grains (7.85 grams) with 71% of the entire number falling between 120 and 122 grains and with 88% falling between 119 and 123 grains. Since the theoretical weight of aurei on the basis of 42 to the pound is 120.4 grains, it is difficult to believe that Augustus would have consistently issued gold somewhat overweight with consequent loss to the government. If, however, these aurei were issued at the rate of 41 to the pound, each should weigh 123.3 grains. Therefore the aurei of this period have a point of concentration slightly less than 2% below the theoretical weight, 5 and this would seem more reasonable from the practical standpoint. On this basis the theoretical ratio of gold to silver would be 1 : 12.2. If the actual coins are considered, with the weight of the aureus taken as 121 grains, and the weight of the denarius as 57.9 grains (based on the ascertain- able weights of sixty-five examples), 6 the ratio of gold to silver is found to be 1 : 11.97. 7

The point of concentration at 121 grains found from the table of frequencies may be compared with the average weights given by Mattingly: 8

Number of coins Mint Grams Grains
23 Rome 7.95 122.67
28 Spain 7.83 120.85
44 Lyons 7.84 121.02
20 Eastern 7.78 120.14

The average weight of 752 aurei from all mints is given by Bahrfeldt 9 as 7.80 grams or 120.3 grains. It will be noticed that neither of these scholars makes any attempt to divide the coins chronologically.

Individual types are sometimes found in sufficient numbers to establish an approximate norm. 10 For example, Cohen 136 dated 15/12 B.C. and Cohen 42 dated A.D. 2/11 show the following results:

Weight in grains Cohen 136 Cohen 42
117 1
118 3
119 5 4
120 5 19
121 15 36
122 14 7
123 2 6
124 1 3

It will be noticed that there is a tendency toward lighter weights in the later group.

The aurei issued by the tresviri at Rome between 19 and 15 B.C. seem to be based on a weight of 123 grains. The minting was somewhat careless and the weights show a rather wide spread. Only 65.5% of a total of 87 coins fall within a range of 121 to 125 grains. This carelessness of the moneyers may have been one of the reasons which led Augustus to do away with their rights over the coinage. Using the average weight of 206 denarii struck by the tresviri, the ratio of gold to silver is 1 : 12.2, but if the point of concentration in the following table is used, the ratio is 1 : 12.4.

The denarii struck bv the tresviri. 11

Weight in grains Number
48 1
49 2
50 3
51 6
52 4
53 7
54 7
55 9
56 18
57 22
58 18
59 29
60 27
61 31
62 12
63 6
64 2
65 1
66 1
Total 206

After A.D. 11 the Augustan aureus is definitely lighter in weight, and it may be that it was now issued on a basis of 42 to the pound, or at a theoretical weight of 120.4 grains. The point of concentration seems to be 119 grains or about 1% below the theoretical weight. Of coins whose weight is ascertainable, 90% fall within a range of 117 to 121 grains.

Both gold and silver issues of Augustus were of exceptional purity, the intention apparently being to issue both as near pure metal as was possible.

The history of the mints under Augustus may be summarized as follows:

  • 31–23 B.C. Gold and silver coined at a travelling mint; about 29 B.C. at Ephesus and Pergamum.
  • 23 B.C. Silver issued at Emerita.
  • 19–18 B.C. Gold and silver issued at Ephesus.
  • 19 B.C. Gold and silver coinage resumed at Rome.
  • 15 B.C. The mint at Lyons opened and the coinage of gold and silver ceased at Rome.
  • 14 B.C. The Roman mint for gold and silver reopened.
  • 12 B.C. The Roman mint again closed and Lyons became the sole source for gold and silver.

Grenier says that gold and silver issues almost cease after 10 B.C., 12 while Frank 13 states that the issue of gold and silver from 9 B.C. to A.D. 32 amounted only to 5% of the total amount coined between 30 and 10 B.C. Both statements are based on the number of different types issued at various periods and disregard entirely the fact that one type (as Tiberius 15) might have been issued over a period of many years and others issued for some particular short-lived purpose. Likewise there seems no confirmation for the statement by Warmington that "at first the Romans sent out (to India) under Augustus very fine pure gold and silver coins, but at the same time tried the effect of bad coins." 14

When Octavian laid down his exceptional powers in 27 B.C. the military coinage of the East was given up, and requirements were met by provincial issues of silver and bronze which were controlled by the princeps. It seems that official rates of exchange between the local issues and the Roman coinage were fixed by the central government, while the right to make such exchange seems to have been leased to local banks.

Twenty-three tetradrachms from Syria have an average weight of 14.57 grams. 15 This is equivalent to 3.64 grams for the drachma or about 4% below the average weight of the denarius. Weights of the silver coins issued by contemporary Persian rulers afford an interesting comparison with the eastern Roman issues and with the denarius. The average weight of 141 tetradrachms and of 138 drachms struck by Phraates IV (B.C. 37/2) is 13.21 and 3.61 grams respectively. 16 Under Phraates V (B.C. 2/A.D. 4) 28 tetradrachms and 22 drachms average 11.77 and 3.64 grams respectively while under Vonones I (A.D. 8/12) 11 tetradrachms and 22 drachms average 11.51 and 3.68 grams. Five silver obols struck by Phraates IV average 0.69 grams. It will be noticed that the Persians, even with the change in government in the third century, maintained the weights of their silver drachmae with practically no change.

Of the literary references to gold and silver money, one, often quoted, deserves particular mention. Dio lv. 12, supposedly written in A.D. 229, is commonly used as evidence that the aureus was worth twenty-five drachmae or denarii. This section of Dio, which is devoted to the reign of Augustus, is preserved only in late epitomes made by Zonaras and by Xiphilinus. Both say that among the Romans twenty-five drachmae are worth one gold nomisma (= aureus), and both use the present tense of the verb. Zonaras, however, does not ascribe that valuation to Dio but adds a phrase not in Xiphilinus: "among the Greeks, Dio says that twenty drachmae are exchangeable for a gold nomisma." One may ask why Dio is made to say that among the Greeks the relationship is such and such when he was a Greek and was writing in Greek for people who knew what the relationship was. If the clause was actually written by Dio to explain monetary terms and relationships of the time of Augustus (over 200 years before his own time), why is it given in the present tense, particularly since there is no point to the statement if the relationship was still true when the sentence was written? On the whole it seems reasonable to assume that the equation of one aureus with twenty-five drachmae was inserted by a copyist at a time when the drachma had disappeared from the currency and was a word of antiquarian interest only. Whether this suggestion is accepted or not, there is sufficient

Table F Augustus Aurei
Rome East East East East Spain iii viri Lyons Lyons Lyons Lyons Lyons
Grains 43/30 31/29 29/27 27/20 20/18 19/15 19/16 15/12 11/9 8/2 2/11 11/14
112 1
113 1 1 1 1
114 1
115 1 1 1 1
116 1 1 2 1
117 2 2 1 3 2 2 1 1 3
118 2 6 1 3 12 3 11 2 3 6 6
119 7 8 16 17 7 12 14 12 10 13
120 17 9 22 12 35 12 39 19 18 23 10
121 1 13 11 19 21 48 10 42 40 35 31 4
122 4 6 3 9 6 16 7 13 9 6 10
123 6 5 7 4 4 5 17 3 1 6 1
124 16 1 2 5 13 3
125 4 1 10
126 2 5
127 3
doubt about the passage to prevent its proper use as evidence for monetary relationships either in the time of Augustus or in the time of Dio.

End Notes

1
With the Roman pound at 327.45 grams or 5057 grains.
2
This is the ratio in de Ruggiero, Dizion., ii. 1633.
3
These decreases from the theoretical weights may represent the cost of minting: see Mickwitz, Systeme des rӧm. Silbergeldes im IV. Jhdt., 57.
4
Based on Pliny, Nat. Hist., xxxiii. 3, 13.
5
Ondrouch (Der rӧm. Denarfund von Vyskovce, 9) says that from B.C. 9 to A.D. 60 the basis was forty-one to the pound.
6
BMC., i, lii. Edwards (Yale Collection, 85) gives 3.3 and 3.62 grams; Berl. Münzbl. (1914, 120) gives 3.30, 3.30, 2.45, 3.0, 3.75; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 3.78, 3.59; Naville Sale 10 gives 4.0, 3.55, 3.77; Helbing Sale of Mar. 12, 1927, gives 3.9, 3.6, 3.9, 3.6, 3.85, 3.7, 3.55, 3.8, 3.95, 3.6, 3.9, 3.9, 3.6, 3.2, 3.85, 3.4; Helbing Sale of Oct. 24, 1927, gives 3.75, 3.6, 3.6, 3.75, 3.85, 3.5, 3.90; Princeton University has of the III Viri: 3.65, 4.08, 3.68, 3.40, 3.10, 3.63; of Spanish mints 3.79, 3.63, 3.54, 3.74, 3.86, 3.83; of Roman mint 3.78, 3.63; of Lyons 3.78, 3.83, 3.76, 3.78, 3.91, 3.80, 3.71, 3.79, 3.66; of Eastern 3.67, 3.60, 3.66, 3.65, 3.54, 3.66, 3.75, 3.76; Naville Sale 17 gives 4.00, 3.69, 3.87, 3.84, 3.68, 3.88, 3.52; Bonner Jahrb. (111/112, 419) gives 3.63, 3.65, 3.56, 3.54; Notizie degli Scavi (1935, 366) gives 4 averaging 3.50; Bull. Soc. Num. Romare (1919, 127) gives 3.80, 3.60, 3.95, 3.90, 3.75, 3.60 for period B.C. 44 to 27; 3.45, 3.70, 3.80 for moneyers; 3.60, 3.75, 3.95, 3.75, 3.70, 3.75, 3.85, 3.75, 3.90, 3.80, 3.70, 3.75 for later; Viestnika Hrv. Arheal. Drustva (1896, 22) gives 3.75, 3.72, 3.70, 3.76, 3.68; Museo Ital. di Antich. Class. (ii, 290) gives 3.50, 3.62.
7
Using Bahrfeldt's average weight of the aureus, the ratio is almost 1 : 12.2.
8
BMC. i, li. Hultsch (Griechische und rӧmische Metrologie, 306) gives 7.90 to 7.78 grams.
9
Die rӧm. Goldmünzenprӓgung wӓhrend der Republik und unter Augustus , 185.
10
Frank (An Economic Survey of Ancient Rome, v, 21) assumes without justification that the number of coins in each type was about equal.
11
Chiefly from BMC. and E. J. Haeberlin Coll. (Cahn-Hess Sale, July 1933).
12
Econ. Survey, ed. Frank, iii, 510.
13
American Journal of Philology, 1935, 336.
14
Commerce between Roman Empire and India , 292.
15
Wruck, Die Syrische Provinzialprӓgung. The high is 15.40 grams, the low 13.55 grams. Egger Sale 46 gives 14.68.
16
Sammlung Petrowicz; BMC.; Naville Sale, 12; Prokesch-Osten, Monnaies des rois parthes; Markoff, Monnaies des rois parthes.

TIBERIUS

The gold coins of Tiberius show a decrease in weights as compared with those of Augustus, but the distribution is somewhat different. More coins of Tiberius than of Augustus are found above the point of concentration. This may be shown:

Augustus Tiberius
Weight in grains Number Weight in grains Number
120 216 118 33
121 275 119 35
122 89 120 29
123 59 121 20

The results shown by tabulating the weights of Cohen type 15, the most common of the gold coins of Tiberius, do not exactly agree with those shown when all the gold coins of Tiberius are considered together:

Weight in grains Number of Cohen 15
115 3
116 5
117 16
118 18
119 24
120 26
121 11
122 2

It should be pointed out that this particular coin seems to have been struck over a period of about twenty years.

Mattingly 17 gives the average weight of twenty-nine aurei as 119.69 grains (7.76 grams), while Bahrfeldt 18 gives the average of forty-two as 7.72 grams.

However if 119 grains is considered the point of concentration for all the gold issued by Tiberius, it is found that nearly 84% of the coins fall within a range of 117 to 121 grains. Even though more of the coins than seems normal weigh over 119 grains, this figure of 84% represents good coinage.

The weight of 119 grains indicates a decrease of about 3% below the theoretical weight on the basis of 41 to the pound, or about 1% below the theoretical weight of forty-two to the pound. The latter standard, therefore, seems to be the basis for the coinage of Tiberius.

The average weight of thirty-four denarii indicates a decrease of about 6½% below the theoretical weight. Using the weight of 119 grains for the aureus and the average weight of the denarius (56.3 grains, 3.67 grams), 19 the ratio of gold to silver is 1 : 11.82. Wruck 20 gives the average weight of a few tetradrachms from Tarsus as 15.05 grams, while Sydenham 21 gives the weights of seven drachmae from Caesarea as 56, 55, 54, 53.4, 53, 51.4 and 48.5 grains or an average of 3.44 grams. The coins from Caesarea are therefore about 10% lighter than those from Tarsus. In Persia 56 tetradrachms and 18 drachms issued by Artabanes III (A.D. 10/40) average 12.30 and 3.63 grams respectively. 22

Problems connected with the coinage apparently were as disturbing to Tiberius as to Augustus. Like Augustus, Tiberius divided the right of coinage with the Senate, keeping to himself the sole right to mint gold and silver, but giving the Senate sole control, in theory at least, over the subsidiary coinage. Like Augustus again, Tiberius had his imperial mint for the coinage of gold and silver at Lyons, 23 and this was kept in operation all through his reign. 24

Augustus had made an experiment in local issues of base metals in the West; but disturbed, it is claimed, by the nationalistic movements in Gaul and Spain during his own reign, Tiberius attempted to reverse that policy, 25 forcing the western provinces, except Spain perhaps, to depend on subsidiary coins issued by the imperial and senatorial mints. By this action all commercial activity seems to have been hampered because of the insufficiency of the supply of small coins. Some attempts to correct this situation resulted in a few issues of local unofficial coins. 26

In the East conditions were different. A mint at Caesarea in Cappadocia began issuing silver, mostly drachmae, on the Syrian system. This mint, which was imperial, continued in operation until the time of Gordian III. 27 At Alexandria, Tiberius added to the coinage by issuing a new silver tetra-drachm containing about 16% of silver. 28 It is proposed to discuss this Egyptian coinage in a separate monograph.

Some of the contemporary references to the aureus and denarius are of interest. Germanicus when in the East apparently ordered that the customs dues at Palmyra should be levied in denarii and that when the charge was smaller than a denarius, it should be levied in Roman asses. 29 This provision remained in force for over a century. Celsus 30 says that there were seven denarii in an ounce, which makes eighty-four to the pound. Tacitus 31 tells of soldiers asking a wage of one denarius a day, a demand that was refused. Matthew 32 speaks of a jar of nard worth 300 denarii. Suetonius 33 mentions aurei in connection with a story about Tiberius, while Strabo says 34 that both gold and silver were coined in Lyons.

As a matter of interest, all the references to money that occur in the New Testament are gathered together here:

  • Talent: Matthew xviii: 23f; xxv: 14f.
  • Piece of gold (χρυσός): Matt, x: 9; James v: 3.
  • Piece of gold (χρυσίον) : Acts iii : 6; xx: 33; I Peter i: 18.
  • Stater: Matt. xvii: 27.
  • Two-drachma piece (as a tax) : Matt. xvii: 24.
  • Piece of silver (ἀργύριον): Matt. xxvi: 15; xxvii: 3, 5; xxv: 18; xxviii: 12; Mark xiv: 11; Luke ix: 3; xix : 15; xxii : 5; Acts vii : 16; viii : 20; xix : 20. Denarius: Matt, xxii: 19; Mark xii: 15; vi: 37; xiv: 5; Luke xx: 24; vii: 41; x: 35; John vi: 7; xii: 5; Revel. vi: 6.
  • Drachma: Luke xv: 8.
  • Assarion: Matt, x: 29; Luke xii: 6.
  • Lepton: Mark xii: 42, which seems to say that two lepta equal one quadrans; Luke xii: 59; xxi: 2.
  • Quadrans: Math, v: 26. This relates the same incident told in Luke xii: 59 which seems to give the lepton and the quadrans equal value.

It will be noticed that the terms used for the silver and copper coinage are a mixture of Greek and Latin words. Seemingly imperial coins circulated freely side by side with the strictly local coinages.

Table G Tiberius Aurei
Grains 14/15 14/23 15/16 16/37 26/37
109 1
110
111 1
112 1
113 1 1
114
115 1 2 3
116 1 2 5
117 2 1 14
118 2 7 5 19
119 3 4 27 1
120 1 1 3 24
121 5 1 13 1
122 2 1 3
123 1

End Notes

17
BMC., i, li.
18
Bahrfeldt, Die rӧm. Goldmünzenpragung, 185; Hultsch (Metrol., 308) says 7.78 to 7.74 grams.
19
BMC., i, lii for 16 coins averaging 3.76 grams; Edwards (Yale Coll.) gives 3.84, 3.26, 3.11, 3.7 grams; Berl. Münzbl. (1914, 120) gives 2.85, 2.95, 3.50, 3.55, 3.60; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 3.82, 3.80, 3.67; Cardoso (Cat. Buenos Aires, 96) gives 3.50; Naville Sale 17 gives 3.77, 3.75; Princeton Univ. has 3.86; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.74, 3.65; Bonner Jahrb. (111/112, 419) gives 3.64, 3.59, 3.54.
20
Wruck (Die syrische Provinzialprӓgung) calls them Syrian; Egger Sale 46, gives 14.68.
21
Sydenham, Coinage of Caesarea.
22
Sammlung Petrowicz; Naville Sale 12; Cahn Sale 71; BMC.; Markoff, op. cit.; Prokesch-Osten, op. cit.
23
Mattingly, Roman Coins, 112.
24
Sydenham (Coinage of Nero, 29) believes that Lyons also became a senatorial mint in A.D. 54, an idea not accepted by Mattingly.
25
Mattingly, Roman Coins, 195; Momigliano, Claudius, 40; Jullian (Hist. de la Gaule, iv, 286) says the reason was a belief that a uniform coinage would help commerce. Van Nostrand (Econ. Survey, iii, 209) says that twenty-seven Spanish towns coined copper under Tiberius, six more than under Augustus.
26
Sutherland, Romano-British Imitations of Brorze Coins of Claudius I (Numismatic Notes and Monographs No. 65).
27
Mattingly, Roman Coins, 196.
28
Amer. Jour. Archaeology, xxxviii, 49. Frank (Econ. Hist., 399) says it contained 25% of silver.
29
IGRR., iii. 1056.
30
Celsus, V, 17, 1.
31
Tacitus, Ann., i, 17; 26; Matt. (xx, 2) indicates a denarius was a day's pay.
32
Matt., xiv, 5.
33
Suet., Claud., 5.
34
Strabo, iv, 3, 2, (p. 192), dated A.D. 18.

CALIGULA

The sixty-eight aurei of this reign show a point of concentration at 119 grains, exactly the same as under Tiberius. But the quality of Caligula's coinage, if one may judge from the comparatively few coins, shows an improvement over that of Tiberius. More than 92% of the coins of Caligula fall within a range of 117 to 121 grains, as compared with 84% of the coins of Tiberius.

Mattingly gives an average weight for the aurei of Caligula of 119.23 grains (7.72 grams) 35 , while Bahrfeldt gives an average of 7.70 grams. 36 The average weight of the denarius shows a slight increase over that of Tiberius, being 56.91 grains

Table H Caligula Aurei
Lyons Rome
Grains 37/38 37/38 39/40
110
111
112 1
113
114
115 1
116 1
117 4 2 1
118 5 9 4
119 12 8 8
120 3 2 2
121 1 1 1
122 1
123
124 1
(3.69 grams). 37 As indicated by the coins, the ratio of gold to silver is 1 : 11.94.

Wruck gives 14.65 grams as the average weight of the Syrian tetradrachm, while Sydenham gives weights of 59, 55.5, 53.2, 50.9, 50.3, 47.5 grains for the drachmas and 113 for the didrachm of Caesarea. The Caesarea drachm, therefore, averages 3.49 grams, the Syrian drachm 3.66 grams, the latter being almost exactly the weight of the denarius.

In his handling of the coinage Caligula reversed some of the policies followed by Tiberius. 38 Soon after his accession in A.D. 37 he closed the mint at Lyons and reopened the imperial mint at Rome.

End Notes

35
BMC., i, li based on 29 coins.
36
Die rӧm. Goldmünzenprӓgung, 185, based on 29 coins.
37
BMC. (i, lii) based on 11 coins gives 57.77 grains (3.72 grams). Cardoso (op. cit., 101) gives one at 2.2; Naville Sale 17 gives one at 3.53; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.54; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 3.68.

CLAUDIUS

Included here with the coins of Claudius are those of Nero Drusus, of Agrippina (in part), and of Nero as Caesar. The point of concentration is a little lower than in the two preceding reigns, being found at 118 grains (7.65 grams). About 91% of the total of 363 coins are found within a range of 116 to 120 grains, representing an excellent quality of workmanship. Bahrfeldt suggests that there was a change in weights about A.D. 45, 39 but the present tables give no clear indication of such a change.

Mattingly gives the average weight of 104 aurei as 117.82 grains (7.63 grams), while Bahrfeldt gives an average of 7.71 grams for eighty-six coins issued between A.D. 41 and 45, and of 7.67 grams for fifty-six coins issued between A.D. 46 and 54. 40 However, a difference so small, less than 1%, is inconclusive, for it is less than a normal variation in striking to the same standard.

According to Mattingly twenty-nine denarii average 57.77 grains (3.75 grams), 41 but weights from other sources slightly increase this average. Elmer believes that about A.D. 51, 42 there was a decrease in the theoretical weight of the denarius from the Augustan standard of one eighty-fourth of a pound to one-ninetieth of a pound but the evidence for this is not convincing. Wruck gives 13.65 grams as the average weight of the Syrian tetradrachm, while Sydenham gives the weights of ten didrachmae of Caesarea, ranging from 117.5 to 103.3 grains with an average of 113.1 grains (7.33 grams). The Syrian drachma was equal therefore to 3.41 grams, the Caesarea drachma to 3.67 grams.

In Persia 43 71 tetradrachms and 52 drachmae struck by Gotarzes (A.D. 40/51) average 12.72 and 3.67 grams respectively, while 66 tetradrachms and 12 drachmae struck by Vardanes I (A.D. 41/45) average 12.51 and 3.58 grams. Eight tetradrachms struck by Vonones II (A.D. 52/55) average 13.86 grams, while five drachmae struck by Meherdates (A.D. 49/50) average 3.59 grams.

On the basis of 118 grains for the aureus and 58.3 grains for the denarius, the ratio of gold to silver is 1 : 12.33.

It has been said 44 that four-fifths of the coins issued by Claudius were debased, but for this statement there seems to be no satisfactory evidence. A contemporary writer, Scribonius Largus, 46 says there were eighty-four denarii in the pound.

In parts of the west, at least, a shortage of subsidiary coins led to the appearance of large numbers of local imitations. In Britain the condition lasted, it is said, until the time of Trajan, 47 and so great is the number of these local imitations that it seems their manufacture must have been tolerated, if not encouraged, by the central government. Apparently the same condition was true in Germany, for it is said that of the contemporary coins at Hofheim about 20% are imitations. 48

Table J Claudius Aurei
Grains 41/2 41/45 43/4 44/5 46/7 49/50 50/54 51/2 51/54 No Date
113 1
114 1 2 1 1
115 2 3 1 2 1 6
116 1 3 2 2 1 2 7 1
117 3 11 1 4 6 2 15 1 9 3
118 21 24 1 2 17 6 16 4 20 1
119 15 16 3 5 18 8 7 3 6 2
120 9 16 3 7 9 4 1 2 4 5
121 2 2 1 1 2 1 2
122 1 1
123
124
125
126

End Notes

38
Mattingly, Roman Coins, 113; Burns, Money and Monetary Policy, 101.
39
Bahrfeldt, op. cit., 185.
40
Hultsch (Metrol., 306) says 7.70 to 7.68 grams.
41
Berl. Mürzbl. (1914, 120) gives 3.55, 3.75; Naville Sale 17 gives 3.65, 3.47; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.76.
42
Elmer, Verzeichnis.
43
Sammlung Petrowicz; Naville Sale 12: BMC.; Prokech-Osten, op. cit.
44
Burns, op. cit., 167.
46
Scribonius Largus, p. 6, 16 (ed. Helmreich).
47
Econ. Survey, iii, 62; Sutherland, Romano-British Imitations.
48
Sutherland, op. cit., p. 3.

NERO

From a monetary point of view, the reign of Nero is divided into two parts, the dividing point being the year A.D. 63/64, when the currency standards were revised.

First Period. The point of concentration of the 108 aurei from this period seems to be at 117 grains, indicating a slight decrease from the coins of Claudius. The quality of the coinage is indicated by the fact that 85.7% of the coins fall within a range of 115 to 119 grains. Mattingly gives the average weight of forty aurei as 117.93 grains (7.64 grams), while Bahrfeldt gives 7.639 grams as the average of seventy-four coins. 49 Nineteen denarii are said to average 54.6 grains (3.54 grams). 50 Wruck gives 14.53 grams as the average of sixty-six Syrian tetradrachms 51 with a high of 15.54 and a low of 12.41 grams. Sydenham gives five tetradrachms of Caesarea with an average of 224 grains, nineteen didrachmae with an average of 111.8 grains and eleven drachmae with an average of 52.3 grains. 52 The Syrian drachma averaged, therefore, 3.64 grams, the Caesarea drachma 3.59 grams.

In Persia 73 tetradrachms and 27 drachmae issued by Volagases I (A.D. 51/77) average 11.89 and 3.53 grams respectively, while 9 tetradrachms and 7 drachmae issued by Artabanes IV (A.D. 59/67) average 11.84 and 3.49 grams. 53

Using the actual weights of the aureus and of the denarius, we find a ratio between gold and silver of 1 : 11.66.

It has been suggested 54 that all gold and silver minted between A.D. 54 and 63 was issued by the senate, but this idea has not found acceptance. 55

Second Period, A.D. 64 to 68. Apparently early in A.D. 64 Nero put into effect his reform of the currency. 56 The new gold aureus was issued on the basis of forty-five to the pound, equivalent to 112.4 grains, or 7.28 grams, or 6.4 Roman scrupulae, 57 while the denarius was issued on the basis of 96 to the pound, equivalent to 52.7 grains, or 3.41 grams, or 3 Roman scrupulae. Apparently the percentage of alloy was somewhat increased, 58 if indeed this is not the first time any appreciable amount of alloy is found.

The point of concentration in the weights of 268 aurei belonging to this period is 112 grains (7.27 grams), a decrease of 4½% from the pre-reformation. The quality of the coinage shows an even greater decrease, for only 67½% of the total coins fall within a range of 110 to 114 grains. The secondary peak found at 108 grains indicates either a sudden carelessness in minting, which is difficult to accept, or the mingling of two standards. There is no other evidence for a second standard in these four years; and it is unfortunate that a more exact dating of the numerous coins of this period cannot be made so that any pronounced change would become evident.

Mattingly gives the average weight of 37 coins as 112.8 grains (7.31 grams), while Bahrfeldt gives an average of eighty-two coins as 7.24 grams. The average weight of twenty-six denarii is given as 49.09 grains (3.18 grams) by Mattingly 59 while Mickwitz 60 gives the average weight of 278 denarii as 3.273 grams. Wruck gives the average weight of sixteen Syrian tetradrachms as 14.40 grams, 1% less than the tetradrachm of the pre-reform period. Sydenham gives one Caesarea drachma weighing 54 grains or 3.5 grams. 61

Using the actual weights of the aureus and of the denarius, the ratio of gold to silver appears as 1 : 11.26 62 which is to be compared with the theoretical ratio of 1 : 11.72.

The reason for this reform has been the object of much discussion. 63 According to some 64 it was actuated not by financial stress, but as part of a carefully-thought-out plan to unify the standards of coinage throughout the Empire, the new gold and silver weights being closely connected with the Eastern coinages (Cf. Table D). Others 65 emphasize the effort to adjust the coinage to changed market values of gold and silver, or as an attempt 66 to improve trade relations between the Empire and the Far East by reducing the bullion content of the coins chiefly used for that purpose. All of these ideas have been subjected to serious criticism, and as a matter of fact there seem to be at least two simpler reasons. Perhaps the alleged debasement of the silver was an effort to prevent its export out of the Empire by reducing its value as metal, and in this way to help insure an adequate supply of coinage at home. 67 Perhaps it was only an attempt to improve the wearing qualities of the coins. Even our modern "sterling" has 7½% of alloy, while our modern "coin" silver has 10% of alloy. Whether this change put the coinage on a single gold standard is, unfortunately, a question that cannot be definitely answered. Bimetallism in coinage involves two elements, free coinage and full legal tender, for both metals. While a statement by Epictetus, to be quoted later, implies the second element, we have not the slightest evidence that the government ever permitted private citizens to ask coinage of their gold or silver bullion. However, the maintenance of a pure gold coin circulating apparently at a fixed relation with a silver coin whose silver content was steadily decreased, implies that the silver was a purely fiduciary coin, maintaining its market value because of general faith in the political and financial stability of the government. It will be seen that the first evidence of serious distrust of the subsidiary coinage comes in the middle of the third century, when, under Gallienus, large parts of the empire were temporarily lost and pessimism about the future must have been general. 68

Mickwitz calls attention to the fact that finds in Germany, whose use of Roman silver was great, show that the new Neronian coins were kept in the Empire, and that the earlier heavier and purer pieces were sent out where they would buy more.

Perhaps the Germans simply refused the new coins. If this is so it would indicate that in the Empire both the old and the new denarii were expected to circulate on a parity and by count, not by weight. Mattingly 69 suggests that Nero may have called in the old coinage. However Table Q, analyzing coin hoards in connection with Trajan's reform of the currency, gives absolutely no indication of any such effort, and one is impelled to the belief that the government by fiat decreed that the old and the new denarii should circulate on a parity or at some fixed rate. But no premium for the old denarii fixed by the government, provided it was based on the actual value of the coins, would have been large enough to prevent the gradual absorption of the older coins in foreign trade if they were preferred by the barbarians.

In view of Nero's monetary reform, it is unfortunate that we have so little information about prices during the reign. Petronius has a general complaint 70 about rising prices, which he ascribes to a drought.

Some of the contemporary references to the gold and silver coins may be mentioned. Corbulo 71 seems to have re-enacted the older provision that the customs dues at Palmyra should be payable in denarii. Petronius speaks of a slave costing 300 denarii, 72 and in various places speaks of aurei. 73 Seneca 74 says that a man is in debt if he owes aurei, indicating payment by tale perhaps rather than by weight. Although the business records of Iucundus at Pompeii are in sesterces, there are numerous

Table K Nero Aurei
Grains 54/5 55/6 56/7 57/8 58/9 59/60 60/1 61/2 62/3 63/64 64/68
102 1
103
104 1
105 4
106 6
107 5
108 41
109 1 19
110 1 19
111 1 3 44
112 1 1 58
113 1 1 1 1 41
114 2 1 1 1 1 3 19
115 4 3 2 8
116 5 1 4 2 3 1 3 4 4 3
117 9 7 2 4 3 3 12 5 1 5 1
118 4 4 1 3 3 13 5 5 4
119 3 1 1 3 2 2
120 1 1 1
121
122
123 1
undated references to denarii to be found in that city. Didymus, who is quoted by Priscian, says that an aureus was worth twenty-five denarii.

A wax tablet from Pompeii, probably of A.D. 61 75 , mentions "HS N ∞ LD argentum probum recte dari stipulata est." (She stipulated that there be given 1450 sesterces of thoroughly good silver).

End Notes

49
It is unfortunate that the coins from Italica in Num. Zeit., 1902 cannot be used in the present tabulation, for the weights given are only approximations.
50
Montelhet (Musée Crozatier, ii, 48) gives one dated A.D. 51 at 3.18; Naville Sale 2 gives 3.54, 3.50, 3.37, 3.26; Naville Sale 17 gives 3.56.
51
Egger Sale 46 gives 14.21, 15.25; Num. Chron. (1931, 160) gives 216.6, 225.4, 222.4 grains.
52
In addition, Naville Sale 17 gives 7.22 grams.
53
Sammlung Petrowicz; Naville Sale 12; BMC.; Prokesch-Osten op. cit.; Markoff op. cit.
54
Num. Chron., 1919, 121.
55
Jour. Roman Studies, vii, 59ff.
56
Pliny, Hist. Nat., xxxiii, 3, 13. Pliny says the weights had been gradually reduced since the time of Caesar. Frank (Econ. Survey, v, 35) has confused the aureus and the denarius and so has made utter confusion of this reform.
57
BMC., i, xliv, apparently has an error in weights.
58
Hammer (Die Feinheit, 97) gives two coins with 94.3 of silver and one with 91%. Mattingly (Roman Coins, 124) says the alloy was about 10%. Mickwitz (Geld, 20) emphasizes the cutting of weight as against the cutting of quality, the latter being the distinguishing characteristic of Trajan's reform. Ondrouch (Vyskovce, 11), gives a coin with 86.7 of silver and another with 91.6% but no dates. One Alexandrian tetradrachm is given with 15.5% of silver by Hammer.
69
Edwards (Yale Coll.) gives 3.03, 3.19, 3.31; Berl. Münzbl., (1914, 120) gives one at 3.30; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives one at 3.08; Cardoso (op. cit., 107) gives one at 3.5; Ondrouch (Vyskovce, 12) gives 3.14, 3.14, 3.23, 3.30; Naville Sale 2 gives 3.53, 3.52; Princeton Univ. has 3.52; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.39; Fundber. Schwaben (1913, 86) gives two averaging 3.03.
60
Systeme, 42.
61
Ratto Sale of Apr. 4, 1927, gives 7.62 and 3.13 grams.
62
Rev. Num., 1898, 663; 1899, 18. Burns (op. cit., 412) gives the ratio as 1 : 10.6 as does Despaux (Les devaluations monetaires dans l'Histoire, 116); Frank, (Econ. Survey, v, 91) repeats Mattingly's statement that the real ratio was 1 : 13.
63
Mickwitz (Geld, 19) says it is unknown. He does not agree with Mattingly's idea about foreign trade.
64
Sydenham, Coinage of Nero, 16; Rev. Num., 1898, 659; Mattingly emphatically disagrees.
65
Mattingly, Roman Coins, 124.
66
Mattingly, loc. cit.; Burns, op. cit., 412.
67
Comparette, Amer. Jour. Numismatics, xlvii, 131, but Comparette seems wrong in his ratio of 1 : 9.
68
Rome never had a trimetallic system for copper always becomes a token coinage when both gold and silver enter the monetary system. This country tried unsuccessfully in 1853 to make the 3-cent piece a real rather than a token coin.
69
Roman Coins, 186.
70
Petronius, 44. The exact date of this seems uncertain.
71
IGRR., iii, 1056.
72
Petronius, 68.
73
Petronius, 30; 76; 137.
74
de Benef., v, 14, 4.
75
C.I.L. iv, tab. cer., 154.1.

GALBA

In no other period of seven months in Rome's history were so many coins or so many varieties produced. Galba issued gold at Rome, in Spain, and in Gaul. The point of concentration in the sixty-nine coins assigned to the Roman mint seems to be at 112 grains (7.26 grams) with 78.1% of the coins falling within a range of 110 to 114 grains. This indicates that the Roman mint was continuing the reformed standard of Nero. The point of concentration in fourteen coins assigned to the Spanish mint is 118 grains (7.65 grams) with over 92% of the coins falling within a range of 116 to 120 grains. This seems to indicate that the Spanish province did not like Nero's innovation, and that, if given time, the entire coinage of the Empire might have returned to the pre-Neronian standards. The three Gallic coins seem to follow the Roman rather than the Spanish standard, but the number is too small to permit any definite statement.

This difference in standards is also shown by the average weights of thirty-eight coins given by Mattingly:

Mint Number of coins Weight in grams Weight in grains
Rome 25 7.26 112.06
Spain 10 7.69 118.72
Gaul 3 7.39 114.10

According to Mattingly thirty-six denarii from the Roman mint average 50.46 grains (3.27 grams), while twenty-eight from Spain average 51.84 grains (3.36 grams). 76 According to Wruck, sixteen Syrian tetradrachms average 14.64 grams, with a high of 15.20 and a low of 13.71 grams. 77

Hammer 78 gives analyses of three coins with 92.1% of silver, while Ondrouch 79 gives one with 94.1%.

In view of the shortness of the reign and of the wide difference in weights between the aurei from the Roman and Spanish mints, it is impossible to show a satisfactory ratio between gold and silver.

OTHO AND VITELLIUS

The fifty-eight aurei of Otho show a point of concentration at 111 grains, which is to be compared with the average weight of seventeen aurei of 111.71 grains (7.24 grams) given by Mattingly. Both weights indicate that Otho continued the reform standard of Nero. The average weight of thirty-two denarii is 52.01 grains (3.37 grams). 80 Thirteen Syrian tetradrachms, according to Wruck, average 14.57 grams with a high of 15.03 and a low of 12.95 grams. 81 Ondrouch 82 gives an analysis of one coin with 98.15% of silver.

The eighty-three aurei of Vitellius indicate a point of concentration at 112 grains, with over 67% of the coins falling within a range of 110 to 114 grains. Vitellius coined gold at three mints and Mattingly gives average weights for each:

Mint Number of coins Weight in grams Weight in grains
Rome 21 7.25 111.97
Lyons 4 7.32 112.95
Spain 10 7.32 112.95

The average weight of the denarius shows a wider range: 83

Mint Number of coins Weight in grams Weight in grains
Rome 27 3.23 49.78
Spain 11 3.53 54.38
Lyons 10 3.36 51.76

An analysis of two coins shows one with 80.8%, 84 and one with 86.5% of silver. 85

The coins of Otho indicate a ratio between gold and silver of 1 : 11.71, while those of Vitellius indicate a ratio of 1 : 11.44.

Table L Aurei
Galba Otho Vitellius
Grains Rome Spain Gaul
95 1
104 1 1
105 4
106 1 1 2
107 1 3 3
108 8 2 7
109 2 4 5
110 4 10 3
111 14 8 14
112 11 12 18
113 17 2 9 14
114 8 1 8 7
115 4
116 1 1
117 2 1
118 1 7
119 2
120 2

End Notes

76
BMC., i, lii. There is an error in the statement about the Gallic denarii. Ondrouch (op. cit., 12) gives 3.20, 3.24; Edwards (Yale Coll., 88) gives 3.18, 3.10; Berl. Münzbl., (1914, 120) gives 3.50, 3.45, 3.50, 3.25, 3.43, Cardoso (op. cit., 112) gives 3.5; Num. Zeit., (1914, 228) gives 3.14, 3.33; Num. Chron., (1939, 216) gives 3.46, 3.45, 3.15, 3.19; Naville Sale 17 gives 3.12, 3.28, 3.29, 3.52, 3.23, 3.28; Helbing Sale of Oct. 24, 1937, gives 3.2, 3.0; Princeton Univ. has 3.42, 3.34; Num. Chron., (1931, 164) gives 48.2 grains; Bonner Jahrb., (111/112, 419) gives 3.57 grams; Museo Ital. de Antich. Class. (ii, 290) gives one at 3.51.
77
Num. Chron., (1931, 164) gives one at 223.3 grains.
78
Die Feingehalt 97.
79
Vyskovce, 11.
80
Ondrouch (op. cit., 12) gives 3.03, 3.18, 3.23; Berl. Münzbl., (1914, 120) gives 3.30, 2.45, 3.58; Num. Zeit., (1914, 228) gives 3.36, 3.39; Naville Sale 17 gives 3.46, 3.36; Princeton Univ. has 3.13, 3.39; Helbing Sale of Oct. 24, 1927, gives 3.4; Num. Chron., (1931, 164) gives 51.6 grains; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.53. Notizie degli Scavi (1935, 366) gives one at 3.40; Museo Ital. (ii, 290) gives 3.36, 3.53, 3.66.
81
Num. Chron., (1931, 160) gives 215.8 grains.
82
Ondrouch, op. cit., 11. Hammer (op. cit., 112) gives one Alexandrian tetradrachm with 16.4% of silver.
83
Ondrouch (op. cit., 12) gives 3.09, 3.13, 3.16; Edwards (Yale Coll., 89) gives 2.83, 3.26; Berl. Münzbl. (1914, 120) gives 3.0, 3.25, 3.60, 3.25, 3.40, 3.45, 3.50, 3.43, 3.35, 3.40, 3.45; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 3.14, 2.17, 3.34, 3.27, 3.06; Naville Sale 17 gives 3.57, 3.88; Helbing Sale, 10/24/27 gives 3.1, 2.9, 3.15; Princeton Univ. has 3.17, 3.01; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.53; Num. Chron. (1931, 164) gives 48.7, 50.9 grains; Notizie (1935, 366) gives two averaging 3.40; Fundber. Schwaben (1913, 86) gives 4.98, 3.24; Mus. Ital. (ii, 290) gives 3.55, 3.60.
84
Hammer, 97.
85
Ondrouch, 11.

VESPASIAN

The aurei of Vespasian 86 indicate either poor minting control or, less likely, a difference in standards at different mints or times. It should be pointed out, however, that the table M seems to indicate a tendency toward heavier coins in the eastern mints. The distribution of the weights of the individual coins, disregarding those under or over the range shown here, is as follows:

Weight in grains Years
69/72 73/79 Total
108 27 39 66
109 13 24 37
110 29 49 78
111 55 83 138
112 35 78 113
113 35 89 124
114 9 32 41
115 5 10 15

If the totals are considered and if the point of concentration is considered to be 112 grains, then 56.3% of the total fall within a range of 111 to 113 grains and 74.2% within a range of 110 to 114 grains. These results are not appreciably changed if one takes 111 grains as the point of concentration in the earlier group and 112 grains in the later group.

Mattingly 87 gives the following average weights:

Mint Number of coins Weight in grains Weight in grams
Rome 86 112.24 7.27*
Tarraco 16 111.9 7.25
Lyons 40 112.15 7.26

The average weight of 304 denarii from various mints is 47.99 grains (3.11 grams), but no definite peak is shown. 88 Sydenham gives weights of twenty-four didrachmae of Caesarea that average 106.0 grains, and of six drachmae that average 53.7 grains. 89 According to Wruck, eighty-seven Syrian tetradrachms have an average weight of 14.43 grams with a high of 17.60 and a low of 12.50 grams. 90

Hammer 91 gives analyses of six coins, one each with 88.6, 88.1, 87.8, 80.1, 80.0, and 79.8% of silver, while Ondrouch 92 gives one each with 89.4 and 85.1% of silver.

Using the actual weights of the aureus and of the denarius, the ratio between gold and silver is 1 : 10.71.

In the struggle for control of the Empire, Vespasian had opened mints for gold and silver at Antioch (closed in A.D. 72), Alexandria (closed in 70 or 71), Ephesus (closed in A.D. 74), Byzantium, Tarraco (closed in A.D. 72 or 73), and Lyons (closed in A.D. 72 or 73). After his authority was established, Vespasian centralized the coinage of gold and silver at Rome. Though the Lyons mint was re-opened late in the reign, it was for subsidiary coins only, not for gold or silver.

Until the time of Vespasian the silver money of Rhodes circulated in Asia Minor, although actual coinage had ceased before then. 93

From a papyrus of A.D. 72/3 95 which indicates that the Jewish poll tax of two denarii was paid with 8 drachmae, 2 obols, an effort has been made to show a ratio between gold and silver of 1 : 7.3. 96 This ratio is so different from that shown by the relation of the aureus and denarius that it is patently wrong. It also disregards the fact that the Egyptian tetradrachm was a fiat coin.

An inscription from Cibyra 97 mentions both Rhodian drachmae and Roman denarii and states that the Rhodian drachma, very small and of low weight, was worth 10 asses, while the denarius was worth sixteen. This low valuation of the Rhodian drachma may indicate an effort to force these old silver coins out of circulation, but it should be pointed out that the donation recorded here was made in Rhodian drachmae. Suetonius has an interesting statement to the effect that Vespasian needed forty billion sesterces to restore the public credit. The meaning of this is far from clear. In the modern sense the government had no debts and could have no debts except unpaid current obligations. Even if one assumes that Vespasian owed a year's pay to the entire army, that debt would be only about one percent of the figure mentioned by Suetonius. In another way, the figure of forty billion sesterces is about eighty times the entire income of the government as estimated for the time of Tiberius. 98 As it stands the figure is so great as to be meaningless.

Table M Vespasian Aurei
Rome Lyons Asia Minor Syria Illyricum Alexandria Tarraco Rome Lyons Ephesus Rome Lyons
Grains 69/70 69/70 69/70 69/70 69/70 69/70 69/72 70/72 70/71 70/71 71/2 72/3
103
104 2
105
106 1 1 1
107 1 1
108 3 1 8 9 6 1
109 2 2 1 5 2 1
110 7 3 1 7 9 2 3
111 10 13 1 5 14 10 1 2
112 10 6 1 2 11 5 1
113 5 4 2 1 4 7 10 1 2
114 3 1 3 1
115 1 1 2 1
116 1 1
117 1 1
118 1 1
119 1
120 1
Table M—Continued
Ephesus Antioch Asia Rome Rome Lyons Rome
Grains 72 72 72/3 72/3 73 73 74 75 75/6 75/9 77/8 78/9
97 1 1 1 1
98 1
99 1
100
101
102
103 1
104 1 1
105 1 1 3 2
106 1 1 2 1 2
107 4 2 3 1
108 5 6 5 15 7
109 1 5 4 1 2 7 1 3
110 1 8 2 2 7 6 10 10
111 1 2 15 4 8 9 1 20 15 7
112 5 13 7 3 6 20 12 11
113 1 3 18 7 7 2 22 25 3
114 1 2 2 5 2 1 9 8 3
115 1 1 1 2 2 3
116 1 2 1
117 1 1 1

Pliny 99 says that the denarius was coined at eighty-four to the pound and the aureus at forty-five. Throughout the Natural History there are numerous prices given in asses, sesterces, and denarii, but none apparently in aurei. The Periplus, written no later than this time, speaks of both aurei and denarii. 100

In a Palmyrene inscription 101 of A.D. 70/71 fifteen gold censers are valued at 150 denarii.

End Notes

*
With a peak at 112.5 grains.
86
Kubitschek (Rundschau über ein Quinquennium), says that under the Flavian dynasty an aureus of about 7.4 grams was exchanged with 25 denarii of 3.41 grams and of about 90% purity.
87
BMC., ii, xiv; Hultsch, (Metrol., 306) gives the average as 7.30 grams.
88
Ondrouch (Vyskovce) gives 2.95, 3.12, 3.16, 3.16, 3.30, 3.30, 3.30; Edwards (Yale Coll., 89) gives 2.5, 3.11, 2.99, 3.56, 3.36, 3.17, 2.85, 2.83, 3.32, 3.46; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 3.17, 3.15, 2.69, 2.75, 3.42; Berl. Münzbl. (1914, 120) gives 3.35; Cardoso (op. cit., 116) gives 2.7, 3.2, 3.5, 3.0, 3.0, 3.2, 3.3; Naville Sale 17 gives 3.10 from Ephesus and 2.85, 3.43, 3.63, 3.05 from Rome. Helbing Sale 10/24/27 gives 3.25, 3.4; Fundber. Schwaben (1913, 86) gives sixteen that average 2.992 and one of Titus at 2.9; Notizie (1935, 366) gives seven of Vespasian and three of Domitian Caesar all averaging 3.40; Museo Ital. (ii, 290) gives 3.44, 3.94, 3.56, 3.50, 3.48, 3.54, 3.54, 3.56, 3.34, 3.55, 3.56, 3.40, 3.59, 3.58, 3.48, 3.58; for Titus Caesar 3.56, 3.60, 3.63, 3.59; for Domitian Caesar 3.49, 3.45, 3.50, 3.60, 3.45, 3.51; Princeton Univ. has 2.84, 3.06, 3.04, 3.10, 3.33, 2.91, 3.29, 2.90, 3.11, 2.94, 2.70, 3.15, 3.23, 2.85, 2.87, 3.38, 2.91. 2.90, 3.14; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.15, 2.88, 3.30, 3.19; Num. Chron, (1931, 164) gives 50.4, 50.3, 50.5, 49.7, 43.4 grains.
89
Egger Sale 46 gives a drachma at 3.01 and a didrachma at 6.94; Ratto Sale 4/4/27 gives 6.83, 6.86, 6.86, 6.93, 6.59, 6.67, 6.93; Ciani Sale of Apr. 28, 1925 gives 7.0, 6.45, 7.15, 6.55, 6.50, 6.95, 6.70, 7.20.
90
Egger Sale 46 gives 14.99; Windisch-Graetz Coll. gives 12.43; Num. Chron. (1931, 160) gives 217.1, 213.7, 207.5 grains.
91
Hammer. 97.
92
Vyskovce, 11; Hammer (op. cit. 112) gives a tetradrachm of Antioch with 56.5% of silver.
93
Chapot, La Province romaine proconsulate d'Asie, 342.
95
Wilcken, Grundzüge, ii, 61. This tax lasted at least until the time of Trajan.
96
Amer. Jour. Archaelogy, xxxviii, 50; Klio, 1932, 124.
97
CIG., 4380; IGRR., iv, 915, dated in A.D. 74; Laum (Stiftungen in der griechischen und rӧmischen Antike, ii, 162) gives the date as 73 A.D.
98
Econ. Survey, v. 45 and 37. Tenney Frank accepts Suetonius at face value.

TITUS

The aurei of Titus show a point of concentration at 111 grains (7.19 grams). Of the coins shown in the table, 77.3% fall within a range of 109 to 113 grains. Mattingly 102 gives the average weight of 25 coins as 111.64 grains (7.23 grams) with no point of concentration evident. The average weight of 129 denarii 103 is 49.68 grains (3.22 grams). In 102 denarii weighed by Mattingly there was a well defined peak at 50 grains (3.24 grams).

Using the actual weights of the aureus and the denarius, the ratio of gold to silver is 1 : 11.19.

Wruck gives the average weight of five Syrian tetradrachms as 14.33 grams with a high at 14.48 and a low at 14.25 grams. Ondrouch gives analyses of three coins, one each with 84.5, 83.4, and 76% of silver. 104

Table N Titus Aurei
Rome Rome
Grains 79 80
102 1
103
104 1
105
106 2 1
107 2
108 2 7
109 6 10
110 2 6
111 4 13
112 4 11
113 6 6
114 1 3
115

End Notes

99
Pliny, Hist. Nat., xxxiii, 9, 46; cf. xii, 14, 62.
100
Periplus marts Erithr., viii, 49. On the date of the Periplus see Camb. Anc. Hist., x, 881. Dio Cassius (lxvi, 14, 5) mentions aurei in connection with Vespasian.
101
Prentice, Gk. and Latin Inscr., 352; Corp. Inscrip. Semit., 3923.
102
BMC., ii, xiv; Hultsch (Metrol., 306) gives an average of 7.29 grams.
103
Ondrouch (Vyskovce, 12) gives four weights: 3.20, 3.25, 3.28, 3.29; Edwards (Yale Coll.) gives 3.14, 3.4, 3.39, 3.24; Cardoso (op. cit.) gives 3.2, 3.0: Num. Chron. (1914, 228) gives 3.01, 3.34, 3.17, 2.93; Princeton Univ. has 2.90, 3.21, 2.91, 3.29, 2.83, 2.82, 3.12, 3.11, 3.49, 3.53; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.19, 3.41, 3.18; Num. Chron. (1931, 164) gives 54.9, 50.1, 49.4, 50.4, 49.2 grains. Fundber. Schwaben (1913, 86) gives one at 3.35 grams, while Notizie (1935, 366) gives 2 that average 3.45.

DOMITIAN

Domitian seems to have had ideas about the currency differing radically from those of his brother and father. Omitting the coins issued in A.D. 81 and those issued between A.D. 81 and 84, chiefly with the name of Domitia, the remaining aurei show an unsatisfactory point of concentration at 116 grains (7.52 grams). The twelve coins of A.D. 81 show no peak, while the fifty-three coins issued with the name of Domitia show a peak at 118 or 119 grains, forming the heaviest group of any issued during the reign of Domitian.

Mattingly 105 gives the average weight of three aurei dated in A.D. 81/82 as 111.9 grains (7.25 grams), and of forty minted between A.D. 82 and 96 as 117 grains (7.58 grams). Of course it is unsafe to draw inferences from the weights of three coins, though their average weight is in close agreement with the weight of the aurei of Titus. The twelve coins dated in A.D. 81 that appear in Table O average about 113 grains.

Mattingly gives the average weight of 29 denarii dated in A.D. 81/82 as 49.1 grains (3.18 grams), and of 144 denarii issued between A.D. 83 and 96 as 51.2 grains (3.32 grams) with a peak at 53 grains (3.43 grams). Mickwitz 106 gives the average of sixty denarii as 3.21 grams.

The distribution by weight of available denarii is as follows: 107

Weight in grains 81/82 81/84 83/96
Less than 44 6
44 1
45 1 4
46 1 1 9
47 6 11
48 3 1 19
49 4 34
50 1 22
51 3 46
52 5 27
53 3 24
54 1 12
55 1 10
56 3

The third group does not seem to bear out the statement of Mattingly that the point of concentration is at 53 grains. Nearly 71% of the coins in the present table fall within a range of 49 to 53 grains with a point of concentration at 51 grains.

According to Wruck, twenty-three Syrian tetradrachms average 14.43 grams with a high of 15.34 and a low of 12.21 grams. Sydenham gives the weights of seventeen didrachmae from Caesarea which average 104.5 grains and of two drachmae which average 53.75 grains. 108 The Syrian drachma averaged, therefore, 3.61 grams while the Caesarea drachma averaged 3.44 grams.

In Persia 52 tetradrachms and 24 drachmae issued by Pacorus II (A.D. 77/110) average 11.72 and 3.55 grams respectively. 109

Using the actual weights of the aureus and denarius, the two periods, that of A.D. 81/82 and that of 83/96, both show approximately the same ratio between gold and silver, namely 1 : 10.94 and 1 : 11.

The reasons for Domitian's return to the heavier standard current before the reform of Nero are difficult to see. The ratio of gold to silver was not changed. The change in weights should have reduced prices, yet Domitian substantially increased the base pay of the army. The change has been praised. One writer 110 says of Domitian: "he restored the currency and maintained it at a level of purity that it had seldom reached before and was never to reach again." The practical basis for this eulogy is not clear.

Hammer 111 gives an analysis of seven coins, one with 92.5, five with 91.4, and one with 86% of silver. Ondrouch 112 gives two analyses, one with 93.3, the other with 91.95% of silver. Martial 113 speaks of a price of one denarius for his book. An edict of A D. 93 issued at Pisidian Antioch 114 orders that the price of wheat is not to exceed one denarius per modius, while in Revelation 115 the price of one choinix of wheat, or of three choinices of barley, is given as a denarius.

Table ODomitian Aurei
Grains 81 81/4 82 83 84 85 86 88/9 90/1 92/4 95/6
99
100 1
101
102
103
104 1
105
106 1 1
107 1 1 1 1 1
108
109
110 2 2 1
111 2 1
112 3 1 1
113 1 4 2 1 1 1 2 1
114 1 3 1 1 1 3 1 2
115 3 1 1 10 6 1 1 1
116 1 5 2 7 7 4 5 1
117 6 3 1 1 1 1 3 3 2
118 2 12 3 2 1 3 1 2 5 1
119 10 2 1 1 3
120 5 1 2 2 4
121 1 1
122

End Notes

104
Ondrouch, 11.
105
BMC., ii, xiv. Frank (Econ. Survey, v, 91) says the coins of Domitian and Nerva are "apt to be slightly heavier" than those of Vespasian.
106
Arctos, iii, 3 quoting Weber.
107
Ondrouch gives 3.24, 3.30, 3.35, 3.36, 3.36; Edwards (Yale Coll.) gives 3.11, 2.98, 3.35, 3.33, 3.22, 2.96, 3.16, 3.32, 3.26, 3.35; Cardoso (op. cit., 126) gives 3.0, 3.2 as Caesar and 3.2, 3.2, 3.3, 3.0 as Emperor. The Table includes weights given by Montelhet, Musée Crozatier, ii, 79; Naville Sale 2; Helbing Sales of Mar. 4, 1927 and Oct. 24, 1927; Weber, An Egyptian Hoard; Naville Sale 17; Princeton Univ.; American Num. Soc.; Num Chron., 1931, 164. Notizie (1935, 366) gives 9 dated after 81 that average 3.47 and Fundber. Schwaben. (1913, 86) gives 3 that average 3.25.
108
In addition, Egger Sale 46 gives didrachmae at 6.88 and 7.01; Egger Sale 45 gives 7.23; Naville Sale 15 gives 7.22; Ratto Sale of Apr. 4, 1927, gives 6.93, 7.10, 7.0.
109
BMC.; Naville Sale 12; Prokesch-Osten op. cit., Markoff op. cit.
110
Jour. Roman Studies., 1930, 70.
111
Hammer, 97.
112
Vyskovce, 11.
113
Martial, i, 117; denarii also in ix, 32; ix, 100.
114
Amer. Phil. Assoc. Trans., lv, 5.
115
Revel., vi, 6.

NERVA

The sixty-four aurei listed here show a poor point of concentration at 116 grains (7.52 grams), with 75% of the coins falling within a range of 114 to 118 grains. Nerva therefore was maintaining the heavy standard of Domitian.

Mattingly gives the average weight of thirteen aurei as 116.64 grains (7.56 grams) with a peak at the same place. 116 The average weight of 113 denarii whose weights are ascertainable is 50.18 grains (3.25 grams). This compares with the average weight of 50.78 grains (3.29 grams) for fifty-three denarii given by Mattingly and with an average of 3.24 grams for twenty-four coins given by Weber. 117 According to Wruck, thirteen Syrian tetradrachms 118 average 14.83 grams with a high of

Table P Nerva Aurei
Grains 96 97/8
111 1
112 1 1
113 2 3
114 2 5
115 3 11
116 6 6
117 2 9
118 1 3
119 3
120 1 2
121 1
122 1
15.60 and a low of 13.39 grams. Sydenham gives the weights of twenty didrachmae from Caesarea which average 102.2 grains. 119

Mattingly gives the analysis of one coin with 89.1% of silver, 120 while Hammer 121 gives one with 91.7%, and Ondrouch 122 gives one with 91.2% of silver.

Based on the actual weights of the aureus and denarius, the ratio of gold to silver is 1 : 10.81.

End Notes

116
Hultsch (Metrol., 306) gives 7.45 grams.
117
Ondrouch (op. cit., 12) gives 3.20, 3.35, 3.64; Edwards (Yale Coll.) gives 3.33, 3.26, 3.21; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 3.40, 3.25; Cardoso (op. cit.) gives 3.0, 3.0; Montelhet (Musée Crozatier, ii, 90) gives 2.86, 3.17, 3.08, 3.13, 3.06, 2.90, 3.38, 3.16, 3.40; Naville Sale 2 gives 3.08, 3.34, 3.08, 3.15, 3.47, 3.14, 3.10, 3.32, 3.59; Helbing Sale of Oct. 24, 1927, gives 3.1; Princeton Univ. has 3.01, 3.32, 3.26, 3.32, 3.22, 3.42; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.20.
118
Egger Sale 46 gives 14.63.
119
In addition Naville Sale 15 gives 6.92; Ratto Sale of Apr. 4, 1927, gives 7.0, 7,0. 6.77.

TRAJAN

It seems probable that early in his reign Trajan reduced the weight of the aureus to the reformed standard of Nero, but unfortunately the weights of the twenty-four coins assigned to A.D. 98/99 give no clear point of concentration. The coins of A.D. 100 and later show a point of concentration at 111 grains with over 78% falling within a range of 109 to 113 grains.

Mattingly gives the average weight of four aurei issued in A.D. 98/99 as 117.25 grains (7.59 grams); of eleven restoration aurei of A.D. 107 as 111.9 grains (7.25 grams), and of 123 other aurei issued in A.D. 100 and later as 111.4 grains (7.22 grams). 123 This last group has a definite peak at 111 grains (7.19 grams).

According to Mattingly twenty-three denarii of the restoration series show an average weight of 47.48 grains (3.08 grams) and 464 other denarii an average of 49.64 grains (3.21 grams). This last group has a definite peak at 49 grains (3.17 grams). 124

The denarii whose weights are given in various sources may be classified as follows:

Number by chronological groups:
Weight in grains 98/99 100 101/2 103/11 112/14 114/17 Restor. Total
–38 1 1 2
38 2 2
39 1 1 1 3
40 4 2 2 1 9
41 1