Roman republican copper-alloy coins (275-270 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) these coins were cast rather than struck and are made from copper-alloy (bronze). The different sizes reflect the different denominations of coin. The largest denomination was the as, which 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 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.