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Marcus Antonius Legionary issue - but AE Bronze?

Prieure de Sion

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Mark Antony. 32-31 BC. Ae Denarius (bronze, 1.95 g, 16 mm), contemporary imitation. Legionary issue, mint moving with Antony in Greece (Patrae?). ANT AVG-III VIR R P C War galley under oar right with triple ram prow and scepter tied with fillet. Rev. [LEG-?], legionary eagle (aquila) between two standards (signa). Cf. Crawford 544/14; CRI 349 for prototype.


Today I bought this AE bronze imitation (?) of Marcus Antonius at an auction. Actually, I only know the imitations and fourrees made of silver. I hadn't noticed that the imitations were also available in bronze? Is it an imitation - or were there also "cheap small change" in the form of bronze coins in addition to the silver denarii?

Unfortunately, it is very late in Germany now - I will go to sleep first. But then let's have a look. A first quick search on Acsearch didn't reveal any other specimens - but as I said, it's late - I'll have a proper look tomorrow after dark.

Maybe someone here knows more? Have you ever seen such a bronze imitation of the legionary issues? 

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8 hours ago, Prieure de Sion said:

A first quick search on Acsearch didn't reveal any other specimens - but as I said, it's late - I'll have a proper look tomorrow after dark.

There are a few on acsearch.info





The question is whether they were produced as AE or whether they are the cores of Fourrees. The sharpness speaks IMHO for the first possibility.

Edited by shanxi
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Good morning, now I've finally slept in....  😄 


7 minutes ago, shanxi said:

There are a few on acsearch.info

What is a crowd? Have you discovered these 3? Or even more? What search terms did you use? I search with "Mark Antony Legionary AE" - but only find two. Or did you just search for "Mark Antony" and then scroll until you found some?


9 minutes ago, shanxi said:

The question is whether they were produced as AE or whether they are the cores of Fourrees. The sharpness speaks IMHO for the first possibility.

That is the question.

I looked at the ones you found and the ones I found - ok, they're just pictures - but I didn't see any remnants of silver residue. Also, as you say, the stampings are too sharp.

Let's assume they were issued as AE.

Were they then contemporary imitations / forgeries? But if so - as AE? I think at the time, everyone would have known that these "legion denarii" of silver were issued by Marcus Antonius and not AE. The new owner must have said suspiciously, "Hey, what are you giving me there, they are usually made of silver"?

And most of the AE imitations are also much lighter and smaller than the silver denarii. 

In short, from my point of view, the AE "denarii" are not at all suitable as forgeries or imitations.

Hence the question - could it be that these were in real circulation as "small change"?

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For the sake of argument, I'll add my denarii duo. If you look at the middle coin linked above by @shanxi, an interesting possiblity emerges. It is base, apparently, but the color suggests a high-tin bronze or similar alloy that may well have looked whitish when new. Cast base counterfeit denarii of the 2nd and early 3rd centuries (so-called "limes" denarii) stand out to us now but clearly they must have been less obvious when newly manufactured. I will go so far as to suggest that these counterfeit Antony denarii may have been made at a much later time than their protoypes. Because Antony's official denarii were slightly debased (in keeping with the eastern silver of his day), they remained in circulation longer than other republican and imperatorial silver as the imperial coinage was repeatedly debased.

Edited by DLTcoins
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Very cool coin! I love imitations. 😋

I vote for fourrée core. There were multiple methods of producing fourrées, not all of which entail a “softness” in the underlying AE core. Striking a foil-wrapped flan typically has that result, but other fourrées were produced by striking the core first and plating the silver on after, e.g. by dipping the core in molten silver or melting powdered silver onto the core. I’ve also wondered about wrapping a struck core with foil and heating it, though I haven’t seen this method discussed.

I think these other methods aren’t known to have come about before Imperial times, but that’s quite uncertain. @Valentinian has at least one very sharp fourrée core on his Republican fourrée page (the Licinius Crassus). Also, @DLTcoins may well be right that these Antony counterfeits were made in Imperial times, in which case there’s no obstacle.

Here’s one with remaining silver. Without the surface corrosion, it seems the devices would be plenty sharp:


The plating seems very thin here, which argues in favour of plating after striking.

Overall I think fourrée core is the best explanation. There are plenty of fourrée Antony denarii around, but as you point out, there seems to be no plausible reason why a base metal version of these denarii would have been needed. What would Sherlock say? 😁

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