Glossary of Terms for Ancient Coins Roman & Rome

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Ancient Coins - Glossary of Terms
 
AE: Used to indicate a bronze coin; used in describing ancient coins made from copper, bronze, or orichalcum Roman type of brass, yellowish in colour. AE1 thru AE4: The smaller the number, the larger the coin. AE1 = 25+ mm diameter; AE2 = 21-25 mm; AE3 = 17-21 mm; AE4 = less than 17 mm.
 
AE with larger numbers after the AE e.g. AE18, AE26: For ancient coins designated as AE17, AE23, and AE26, for example, the number indicates the approximate diameter of the coin in millimeters.

Antoninianus: Double denarius coin. Roman emperor  Caracalla 211-217 CE. introduced as a pure silver coin but soon debased to 3 percent silver. Depiction of emperor's portrait with a radiate crown is it's uniqueness.

Anepigraphic  Without an inscription or legend on the reverse side of the coin.
 
AR: From Latin argentum silver; indicates a silver coin e.g. AR denarius, AR antoninianus.
 
As pl. ases or asses: The earliest coins issued in what is now central Italy were cast bronze pieces known as Aes Grave weighing about 320 grams, first issued around 289 BC. Prior to this time, there were bronze coins per se, known as Aes Rude, but these were essentially irregular lumps of bronze that may have served more of a bullion purpose.
 
AV or AU: From Latin aurum gold; indicates a gold coin e.g. AV solidus
 
Aureus pl: aurei: A gold coin.
 
Billon: A low-grade silver alloy, which might contain less than 5 percent silver. During periods of currency debasement, good silver coins were often replaced with coins of low grade silver perhaps 20 to 40 percent silver, and then billon, before the silver was removed entirely.
 
Commemorative coin: Coin issued to commemorate an event or a person.
 
Crenate: To mill the edge of a coin
 
Cast coin: A coin made by pouring molten metal into molds.
 
Colony: word colonus is a Latin word for cultivator or farmer. Colonia literally means the collective of farmers.
 
COS: Consulship. Found on the inscriptions of many coins of the Imperial Period.
 
Denarius pl: denarii: The basic unit of exchange in ancient Rome, from about 210 BC until about 250 AD. The denarius was a silver coin, of which the weight and fineness varied somewhat depending on which emperor was presiding over the affairs of the Imperial treasury.
 
Dupondius pl: dupondii: Dupondii minted from the first century and thereafter can be identified by the yellowish-golden colour of orichalcum.
 
Electrum: Naturally occurring amalgam of gold and silver.
 
Epigraphy: Study of ancient  inscriptions.
 
Exergue: The space at the bottom of a coin on the reverse side, sometimes separated by a line.
 
Flan  Blank: disc of metal of proper size, quality and weight to make a coin.
 
Follis pl. folles: A bronze or billon coin first issued under the reign of Diocletian. A copper coin of of Byzantine empire.
 
Incuse: Stamping a recessed image into the surface of a coin as opposed to image rise in relief.
 
Ingot: A bar or lump of precious metal to a standard weight.
 
Legend: Inscription in a circle around the outside of the coin.
 
Mint mark: Symbol or letters in the design of coin to indicate the mint of its origin.
 
Obverse: Front or head side of the coin, usually with an image of a portrait or symbol of the issuing authority.
 
Orichalcum: A yellowish brass, used in the coinage of dupondii, sestertii, and semis.
 
Punch: A tool to stamp a design on a planchet a flat piece of metal  or coin blank
 
Quadriga: A chariot being pulled by a team of four animals (usually horses).
 
Reverse: Back or 'tail' side of the coin, usually denotes the value of the coin.
 
S.C.: Abbreviation of Senatus Consulto with the approval of Roman senate. Part of the legend on the  ancient roman empire coins to denote the approval of the senate for the issue of those coins.
 
Sestertius pl: sestertii: The largest regular-issue coin of the Imperial period. Usually made of orichalcum, but sometimes made of bronze.
 
Solidus pl: solidi: A gold coin which was first struck under Constantine The Great around 310 AD.
 
TR P: Tribunicia Potestate = the tribunican power.
 
Uniface: Coin stuck with design on one side only.
 
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