Roman republican copper-alloy coin (3rd century BC)
Italy (exact provenance unknown)
Donated on 28th November 1889 by William John Belt Esq MA FSA
This large copper-alloy (bronze) disc is one of the oldest coins in the Society’s collection.
Known to antiquarians as ‘aes grave’ (heavy bronze) this type of coin was cast rather than struck and is made from copper-alloy (bronze).
A female figure (helmeted), variously identified as Minerva and Pallas Athena, is depicted on the obverse of the coin, and on the reverse, a kantharos. Known as an as, this coin is the largest of the aes grave coins and originally equated to 1 Roman pound (around 324g). Each denomination was a fraction of an as: the semis a half, triens a third, quadrans a quarter, sextans a sixth and the uncia was a twelfth.
The coin was donated as a part of the W. J. Belt FSA collection.
The Belt collection contains examples of each denomination: the heaviest coin weighs 397g, while the lightest weighs just 14g. The oldest in the collection date from 280-276 BC, while the newer examples date from 225-217 BC. As these coins were minted by cities or states (rather than Emperors) they show different motifs: these include Gods and Goddesses and an array of animals including horses, boars, dolphins, tortoises and sleeping dogs.