Roman Coin Denominations and their Values

by admin on May 9, 2012

Roman Coin Denominations

Roman coins were in circulation between the Middle of the Third Century BC until the middle of the third Century AD. The main denominations of Ancient Roman coins during this period include the following. Aureus (gold), the denarius (silver), the sestertius (bronze/brass), the dupondius (bronze/brass), follis (Bronze with silver wash), antoninianus (Silver/Bronze) and the as (copper). During Ancient Roman, Roman coins and their values were determined by their metal content and their size which differed with Romes ever changing economy

The least expensive Roman coins to collect are those that were created in the greatest number, which was during the Roman Imperial period from around 30 BC to 70 AD. This is probably a good time period to collect coins from as it is easiest to attribute or identify coins of this period. The coins are easier to read as they have inscriptions in Latin, and the emperor’s name can be found on the coin.

Coins from the Roman republic (T. Larcius: 510BC - Julius Caesar: 49BC) and the coins of the Byzantine Empire (Anastasius I: 496AD - Constantine XI: 1454AD) are more expensive. Also the Greek coins are more expensive as these were minted on small islands of Greece and used locally, hence they are rarely as less were made.

However, cheap Greek bronzes can be obtained starting at around $10 and cheap silver for about $20 or so; the high quality ones go for hundreds of dollars or more). It is therefore easiest to collect the Roman Imperial coins, unless you can afford to collect coins from other periods. Also the early Greek coins had no inscriptions whatsoever, or ones of a culture whose language you cannot read.

There were a number of different denominations used during the Roman Empire. These varied in metal content but were usually comprised of either gold, silver, copper or bronze.
The Roman economy was not stable and just like today they experienced recessions, depressions and inflation. Hence the denominations, their metal content and value varied quite considerably.

Here are the most common denominations, their metal content and when they were used.

In UseDenominationMetal Content
to c.200 ADDenariusSilver
to c.300 ADAs, Sestertius, DupondiusBronze/Copper/Orichalcum
3rd century ADAntoninianusSilver/Bronze
4th century ADFollis, AE1-4Bronze (silver wash)

Here are the values of the coins relative to other coins during their time.

Denomination Value
Quadrans [copper]1/4 copper as
Semis [brass]1/2 as
As [copper]1
Dupondius [orichalcum]2 copper asses
Sestertius [orichalcum]4 copper asses
Quinarius [silver]8 copper asses
Denarius [silver]16 copper asses
Antoninianus [silver]2 silver denarii
Aureus [gold]25 silver denarii

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