Author Topic: Constantine II anepigraphic from Trier  (Read 1186 times)

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Offline Victor

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Constantine II anepigraphic from Trier
« on: March 30, 2016, 09:39:22 AM »
This is an unofficial anepigraphic copying a Trier coin. Though RIC only lists left facing examples, right facing exists also-  here’s an example

The style is pretty good, but the bust does not look quite right, especially the cuirass and drapery.

Constantine II
Circa A.D. 326
15x16mm    1.7gm
ANEPIGRAPHIC; laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right.
CONSTAN/TINVS/CAESAR; legend in three lines; star above; P (TR) on fourth line.
Cf. RIC VII Trier 489

Offline romeman

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Re: Constantine II anepigraphic from Trier
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2016, 08:47:12 AM »
Nice example! A double die-matched one was sold by Beastcoins a few years ago (attached). My database only includes four examples of left facing Constantine caesar unofficial "RIC 489", but 13 examples of right facing bust.

All of these copies are considerably smaller than the official ones produced in 326. Find data are sparse, but it appears that the copies were made long after the official ones, perhaps ten years later or more. By that time, most of the official ones - at around 3g weight - would have been removed from circulation due to the reduction on size and weight of the official coinage. So why produce copies of them after they were gone?

Questions, questions ...

Offline Victor

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Re: Constantine II anepigraphic from Trier
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2016, 06:24:16 PM »
Find data are sparse, but it appears that the copies were made long after the official ones, perhaps ten years later or more.

I find this hard to believe, without some real unequivocal proof. Hoards often contain coins separated by a few years; even a decade or two. For example, the Grassmoor hoard contained 1422 coins minted between A.D. 317- 340 and one Victorinus outlier. There were a few unofficial coins, they listed 40, but there were probably more. Most of the unofficial coins copied official issues from around the mid 320's; but the last coins in the hoard came from around A.D. 340. There is no real reason to believe that the unofficial coinage was struck much later than the issues they copied, despite the cutoff date of 340.

Perhaps there is some incontrovertible evidence of which I am not aware though.

Offline romeman

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Re: Constantine II anepigraphic from Trier
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2016, 02:22:06 PM »
Nothing is certain under the sun, but I will give my reasons for dating these articular imitative dynastic medallettes to well after the originals were produced.

All 24 imitatives with Rome mint mark known to me copy Constantine augustus and Constantine caesar (11 of these are figured in my 2013 paper). None copy Crispus. The type is the 329 type (you need to read my 2013 paper on these to know what this is), with SMRS mint mark for Constantine augustus and SMRT for Constantine caesar, with wreath also for Constantine caesar, and with legend CONSTAN/TINVS  IVN/NOB C.

The official 329 issue was very large but lacks Crispus. The small 326 issue, very rare today (4 known exmples, all figured in my 2013 paper), has the mint mark SMRA and the legend CONSTAN/TINVS/CAESAR, and includes Crispus. This issue was not copied, presumably because it was unknown to the copiers whereas the 329 issue was huge and readily available.

I have found one obverse die that was used for barbarous imitative reverses that are mint marked both Rome and Trier. This shows that these Rome and Trier imitatives were produced in the same workshop at the same time, and this time cannot have been before 329. There are some imitatives that differ in style and fabric, showing that there were more than one workshop, but most examples appear to come from a single workshop. How do I know? I don’t know, but most are stylistically closely knit.

Multiple die matches show that most of the imitatives mint marked both Rome and Trier were struck in a single bout. This can only have been after the official medallettes were issued in 329. But how long after 329?

In 329, the regular coinage was the Providentiae coinage, with a weight of c. 3.2g and a PRD of 18-19mm. The dynastic medallettes of both 326 and 329 were of similar weight and size. Although the dynastic medallettes were not proper coins, hoards show that they were used with the regular coinage and were accepted as such.

The imitations of Rome and Trier are considerably smaller and lighter than both the Providentiae coinage and the two-standards GLORIA coinage. Not until 336 (or 335 at the earliest) was the standard reduced to the size and weight of the imitative dynastic medallettes.

To produce tiny imitations with a weight less than half of the current regular coinage would have been a bit pointless and bordering to stupid. I don’t think the “barbarians” (or rogue Romans) producing the imitations were the least stupid. They produced the imitations when these could mix with the current coinage and be used as such. (Note that the even smaller “minimi” copying the Gloria coinage were produced after the death of Constantine, at a time when the regular coinage was in a state of flux and any little bronze piece apparently could be regarded as money.)

To my knowledge, there is no indication from hoards that these small imitations were produced before 336. On the contrary, the available evidence indicates a production date of 336 or later.

But I still don’t get it why small imitatives of the dynastic issue would form such a significant part of the imitations. The same workshop/s also produced Gloria imitations (I have hybrids both ways), but that coinage was the current one, whereas the dynastic types were produced many years earlier.

In short, the imitatives of this type can be dated with some confidence, but we will probably never have an idea why they were produced at all.

Offline Victor

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Re: Constantine II anepigraphic from Trier
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2016, 03:40:37 PM »
You bring up some good points, but I wonder if, at only 24, you have too small a group of coins for statistical purposes. Plus, if these all come from mostly the same workshop as you believe, it is even harder to date based on size, as it is not surprising that the same workshop might be consistent in its manufacturing process, be it smaller, lighter etc. So a sample of this size and fairly homogenous makeup perhaps says less about unofficial coinage and more about the specific individuals that struck it.  However, I completely disagree that imitations were produced to mix with official coinage. Some could of course mix in, but many were not even close. I focus mainly on unofficial Siscian VLPP's, and while they are often close in size, I have many examples that are 3-4 mm smaller than official coinage and sometimes a third lighter. There is some evidence that people were quite aware of the difference between unofficial and official coinage. There is some hoard evidence for this, most famously, the Maidenhatch Hoard which contained 193 coins from A.D. 330- 341,of which all but two were unofficial. I also remember a mini-hoard of about 52 imitations found near Carnuntum, which included 37 VLPP imitations. Of course many unofficial coins would, and surely did, pass for official; but I do not believe that most people that struck these coins intended for them to pass officially, or even cared if they did; though I am sure some were struck as counterfeits. So I do not believe that you can try to date unofficial coinage based on size. This used to be a popular theory, that the smaller a copy was, the later it was struck. Many believed that really small coins, like minimi, must surely have been struck in the "Dark Ages". This was discredited through hoard evidence.

Offline romeman

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Re: Constantine II anepigraphic from Trier
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2016, 07:14:15 AM »
Dear Victor,

Please note, as I stated, that my discussion above deals with the dynastic imitations. Not the VLPP or other groups of imitations. Each group (or workshop) has its own history and characteristics. Unfortunately, there are no serious studies published about the imitations, only scattered notes (like mine).

There is plenty of hoard material showing that during Constantine’s reign, imitations were freely mixed in with official coins (shown by hoards from Durrington, Lora del Rio (unpublished), Killingholme, Bikic-Do, etc.). These are hoards from within the empire, not from “barbarous” border areas. The hoards show that the imitations, no matter where they were produced, circulated within the empire as money, contrary to your statement. If, as you say, they were produced NOT to circulate with the regular coinage, it would be interesting to know where they were intended to be used.

I don’t have the publication here (I’m in south India at the moment) but I know that the Nether Compton hoard, closing at c. 340, included some 20 dynastic imitations among 22,500 coins almost exclusevely of the one-standard Gloria, Urbs Roma and Constantinopolis types, with only a few hundred other coins. This is pretty strong support that these dynastic imitations were produced 335-340. Or how would you interpret these data?

In general, we can assume that imitations were produced at the time when the coins they copy were circulating. They could accordingly be mixed in with the regular coinage and be used as such. That is precisely why the dynastic imitations are so interesting. They were produced a decade after the originals.

I might mention that my material of these includes 24 examples mint marked Rome and 54 mint marked Trier, and that the bulk of these appear to come from a single workshop. Not all of these dynastic imitations are in my personal collection which, however, includes close to one thousand imitations of coins from Constantine’s reign, all chosen for scientific potential.

Let me take the opportunity to thank you for running one of the most informative websites for Constantinian and other LRBs. You reach many more people than I do with my scientific publications, but both types of communication are necessary and they complement each other.

Best regards,

Lars