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The late Roman siliqua denomination


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Posted (edited)

We have had threads on the silver siliqua denomination before. This thread is to announce a new web page on the denomination:

http://augustuscoins.com/ed/siliqua/siliqua.html

The top coin on the page is this one, with a common type:

Cs24siliquaVOTISXXXmmSIRM2233.jpeg.c25c8166ad683a45bc332ed49a3efaad.jpeg 

Constantius II, a pre-reform siliqua from before 355. Go to the page to read about it and the evolution of the denomination. (Again, the page is:

http://augustuscoins.com/ed/siliqua/siliqua.html   )

Show us some siliquae!

 

 

Edited by Valentinian
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  • Valentinian changed the title to The late Roman siliqua denomination

Your pages are always very helpful @Valentinian. Looks like I will have some reading to do this afternoon! Nice Constantius II and I also really like your Theodosius II miliarensis shown on your page!

Here is a siliqua with a nice 135 year old provenance.

E28698B0-F67E-4E39-AB5D-2B7D22AABEEC.jpeg.a0543da9629e05a35b62327844724bff.jpeg

Roman Empire
Julian II, AD 360-363
AR Siliqua, Lugdunum mint, struck ca. AD 360-361
Wt.: 2.23 g
Dia.: 18 mm
Obv.: FL CL IVLIA NVS P P AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right
Rev.: VICTORIA DD NN AVG, Victory advancing left, holding wreath and palm frond
Ref.: LVG. RIC VIII 212; Lyon 259; RSC 58†c, IRBCH 1424
Ex Harptree Hoard (1887)

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Posted (edited)

Great page as usual.

Eugenius Siliqua, 392-394image.png.88368d591197a6796953144eb84abcb3.pngTrier. Silver, 1.72g. Pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right; D N EVGENI-VS P F AVG. Roma seated left on cuirass, holding reversed spear and Victoriola on globe; VIRTVS RO-MANORVM; TR PS in exergue (RIC IX, 106(d); Ghey 78, this coin). From the Vale of Pewsey (Wiltshire) Hoard 2020, Portable Antiquities Scheme: BM-7D34D9.

Edited by John Conduitt
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Posted · Benefactor

How exciting! It looks great. I admit that I'm not generally a big fan of late Roman coins (especially LRB's), and gave up on my original "one coin per emperor" ambitions quite some time ago, but I do make an exception for siliquae. (I also like the argenteus denomination, not to mention solidi, but they're much less affordable than siliquae, usually costing about 3x and 10x as much.)  I've posted my siliquae here recently in other threads -- all of them the "reduced" type -- so I'll wait to do so again until my new example, a Constantius II from the East Harptree hoard, arrives.  Soon, I hope!

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"Be careful handling them; they are thin and some have weak, crystalized, metal, and many have flan cracks which makes breaking them a distinct possibility."

 

This is never said enough times.

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Posted (edited)

Another great page, @Valentinian!  Among other things, I really like this imitation you have there:

image.png.90d56ae0ceac818febc195d83a45079f.png

Also nice to see my old Procopius again.  (Except: damn, I shouldn't have sold it!  😆 Glad I wasn't the one to break it, at least!  Yikes.  As you know it was already broken when it came to me.)

Here are two of my favourite siliquae.  The first one, a Valens from Aquileia, is actually quite scarce:

image.jpeg.7b0505c773e14f3a0a6218cbef2bc630.jpeg

 

This Gratian from Arles (Constantina) has also resided in my collection for a long time:

image.jpeg.966541b939f994da67c4ccdc1a9f93ea.jpeg

Both have toned further since those old photos.

Edited by Severus Alexander
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Posted (edited)

My big-eyed Constantine III (407-411 AD) AR Siliqua

Obv: D N CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Draped bust right

Rev: VICTORIA AAVGGG; Roma seated left holding Victory on globe and spear; SMAR in exergue

Size: 15.4mm, 1.8gms

677562160_ConstantineIIISiliqua3.jpg.5c68cf1379e4427ae51f217435669819.jpg

 

Edited by O-Towner
Add size, weight
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Posted (edited)

DN GRATIANVS P F AVG VRBS - ROMA, Roma holding Victory.

2.10g Trier mint, 367-375 AD. 

1329223462_Gratiansiliqua.png.4a875f550a686e71bfebe485a5ae9748.png

This is my first siliqua (Valens), a metal detecting find from the UK (eBay).

Untitled.png.b9561b3a0cab7b19ee03ee4087050ad4.png

 

Edited by JayAg47
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Great site @Valentinian This is one that was not pictured in your great site.

Constantius II Ar Light Miliarense Thessalonika 350-355 AD Obv Bust right  draped and cuirassed wearing pearl and rosette  diadem. Rv Soldier standing facing head right holding spear and shield RIC 160 4.25 grms 22 mm Photo by W. Hansenconbis16.jpg.705a9b2395ef2bec14d671b2c4bc9e0f.jpg

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Oh yes, siliquae. I have a few.

Here's my Flavius Victor, Constantine III and Eugenius:

No photo description available.

No photo description available.No photo description available.

 

I much prefer them over the miserable AE4s that were around during the death throes of the Western Empire. Aren't these the precursors to the British sceattas and pennies?

I am in the market for siliquae of Jovinus and Maximus of Spain btw. I have not given up on my one-per-ruler ambitions. I will never own Saturninus, but i have reasonable hope for getting to 170 rulers.

 

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24 minutes ago, GregH said:

Aren't these the precursors to the British sceattas and pennies?

Yes, and the pre-decimal UK "pounds shillings and pence", currency names, written £SD (LSD), reflected this heritage, with LSD originating from Librae, Solidi and Denarii. The later copper pennies had "penny" on them, but prices were still marked with the D for denarii, e.g. 2s 6d for "two shillings and sixpence".

The LSD system was really germanic (and later pfennig == penny) rather than directly roman, but obviously inspired by it.

I wonder what the late romans called the silver coins themselves?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, GregH said:

Aren't these the precursors to the British sceattas and pennies?

Possibly for sceattas, since they seem to have followed clipped siliquae, although sceattas first appeared in northern continental Europe, not Britain, and most clipped siliquae come from Britain. But sceattas were not the precursors to pennies - those came via Carolingian deniers (copied by Offa). The Franks took their inspiriation from the denarius.

Arcadius Clipped Light Siliqua, 395-402image.png.5aad54076b7098db532533931d525b45.pngMediolanum. Silver, 11mm, 0.66g (clipped down from 15mm, 0.95g). Pearl diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right; DN ARCADI-VS PF AVG. Roma seated left on cuirass/throne holding Victory on globe and inverted spear; VIRTVS ROMANORVM (RIC X, 1227). Found in Yorkshire.

Edited by John Conduitt
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9 minutes ago, John Conduitt said:

But sceattas were not the precursors to pennies - those came via Carolingian deniers (copied by Offa)

I thought "sceatta" is a modern name, with these first post-Roman silver coins most likely called "penny" at the time?

So then in terms of British silver we'd have denarius -> siliquae (whatever these were called) -> new silver sceatta/penny -> Offa denarius/penny

Obviously with a couple of breaks in there.

The name denarius seems to have been well entrenched, first surviving the denomination itself to become a unit of account (denarius communes), then being revived by Charlemagne. I remember as a kid being able to buy a small chocolate bar at the railway vending machine for "2d".

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Heliodromus said:

I thought "sceatta" is a modern name, with these first post-Roman silver coins most likely called "penny" at the time?

So then in terms of British silver we'd have denarius -> siliquae (whatever these were called) -> new silver sceatta/penny -> Offa denarius/penny

Obviously with a couple of breaks in there.

The name denarius seems to have been well entrenched, first surviving the denomination itself to become a unit of account (denarius communes), then being revived by Charlemagne. I remember as a kid being able to buy a small chocolate bar at the railway vending machine for "2d".

I think it's more complex. The names and the units take different routes. While you're correct chronoligically, the 'family tree' isn't linear. We have:

1/3 solidus -> Merovingian tremissis -> thrysma -> sceatta/'penny' (debased thrysmas). This line goes from the Romans to continental Europe and then across to England, before being ended by Offa.

Denarius -> dernier (revived by the Carolingians) -> Offa’s penny. This also goes to continental Europe before the idea was imported by Offa.

Of course, the denarius also took another route: Denarius -> antoninianus -> post-reform radiate. The debasement of coins seems to be why their pedigrees die out, without someone like Charlemagne intervening.

As I understand it, the Carolingians went back to the Roman era for their new system because they wanted to standardise and revamp their coinage from scratch. They invented the 1 pound = 20 shillings = 240 pennies ratio, based loosely on the Roman system.

The names pound, shilling and penny originate in Roman and Saxon units, but the coins they represented were not directly related. So Offa replaced sceattas ('pennies') with 'pennies', but the new pennies were based on deniers, not sceattas.

Edited by John Conduitt
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Posted (edited)

My most recently-purchased siliqua arrived yesterday, so here it is, with a couple of questions afterwards about the identification. I've seen a number of Constantius II siliquae from the East Harptree hoard offered, but I liked the toning on this one the best:

Constantius II (son of Constantine I), AR reduced Siliqua, Lugdunum (Lyon) Mint, 360-361 AD. Obv. Rosette-diademed (or pearl-diademed according to all dealers), draped, and cuirassed bust right, D N CONSTAN-TIVS PF AVG / Rev. Victory advancing left, holding wreath in right hand and palm frond in left, one wing visible, VICTORIA DD NN AVG; in exergue, mint mark LVG (Lugdunum). 17 mm., 2.06 g. RIC VIII 211 [or 214 if pearl-diademed]; RSC V 259b (ill. p. 131) [or 259a if pearl-diademed]; Sear RCV V 17948 (ill. p. 165) [applicable to both obv. types]. Purchased from Herakles Numismatics, July 2022; ex. Triskeles Auction 31, 27.03.2020, Lot 344; ex Spink Auction 16006, 26-27 Sep 2016, East Harptree Hoard Sale, Part of Lot 2929 (see https://www.numisbids.com/n.php?p=lot&sid=1689&lot=2929); from 1887 East Harptree hoard (one of 49 coins of this type in hoard; see article with inventory, “On a Hoard of Roman Coins Found at East Harptree, Near Bristol,” The Numismatic Chronicle (Vol. VIII, London 1888), pp. 22-46 at pp. 39-40; available at  https://archive.org/details/thirdnumismatic08royauoft/page/40/mode/1up).*

 image.jpeg.c4b0a486facc6f6482fecb391a8f509d.jpeg

The Spink lot of East Harptree Hoard Constantius II siliquae containing my coin, indicated with a black dot under it:

image.jpeg.606f6ec83323c40703fec8355798daee.jpeg

* "The East Harptree hoard was discovered in 1887 on the land of Mr. W. Kettlewell of Harptree Court, while a search for a new spring was being conducted. Mr. Kettlewell kindly made them available for study at the British Museum, and they were written up by John Evans for the Numismatic Chronicle of 1888, pages 22-46. The British Museum was given a few of the most interesting coins, and the rest were returned to the owner. Many years later they were given to the father of the consignor by Mr. Kettlewell's son, and they have remained in their packing ever since. Evans noted \The coins when found were to some extent coated in dirt, and with what was probably a little chloride of silver. When carefully washed and brushed their remarkably good preservation became apparent, and there were none but what could be attributed to the emperor under whom they were struck\\. The coins offered here are as they were when returned from the BM in 1887/1888. Many exhibit light deposit, which could be easily removed by a competent conservator, but at the expense of the mint bloom that is apparent on many. The overall quality is remarkable, and few, if any, are clipped. Large numbers look ordinary to the naked eye, but when tilted towards the light, or examined under magnification, reveal extraordinary quality." (See https://www.numisbids.com/n.php?p=lot&sid=1689&lot=2858 .)

Here are my questions, the first of which should be clear from my write-up: Spink, Triskeles, and Herakles all identified this coin as having a "pearl-diademed" bust on the obverse, and assigned it accordingly to the RIC number applicable to pearl-diademed examples of this type (RIC VIII 214, = RSC V 259a).  However, if I correctly understand the difference between pearl-diademed and rosette-diademed busts, the two can be distinguished by the fact the latter have not only a single large jewel at the top of the diadem, but also a series of smaller jewels further down towards the ear, joined by short double links. Whereas pearl diadems have either no jewels or a single jewel at the top. See, for example, the illustrations at https://www.forumancientcoins.com/dougsmith/glosshead.html (one of @dougsmit's pages) and https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=bust . By that standard, given that my coin has two additional jewels below the jewel at the top of the diadem, shouldn't it be classified as rosette-diademed, and catalogued as RIC VIII 211 ( = RSC V 259b)? Am I missing something?

The second question relates to the fact that the Victory on the reverse of my coin is classified, again by all the dealers, as belonging to the "one wing visible" type. Which appears to be correct; I don't see any second wing beyond a hint of one next to Victory's right ear, which is similarly present in all the illustrations of the type I was able to find. However, the few illustrations I've been able to find on acsearch of the "both wings visible" type of reverse -- classified as RIC 211 / RSC 259b (the same numbers applicable to the rosette-diademed obverse bust type, implying that all examples with rosette diadems also show both wings on the reverse) --  all look exactly the same to me as the "one wing visible" type. Does anyone know of a "both wings visible" type that actually looks different and clearly shows a second wing?

 Many thanks.

 

Edited by DonnaML
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Another from the Vale of Pewsey.

Theodosius I Siliqua, 388-392image.png.ea72b5c15d827877c379f22071163c2a.png

 

Treveri. Silver, 1.68g. Pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right; D N THEODO-SIVS P F AVG. Roma seated left on cuirass, holding reversed spear and Victoriola on globe; VIRTVS RO-MANORVM; TRPS in exergue (RIC IX, 94b). From the Vale of Pewsey (Wiltshire) Hoard 2020, Portable Antiquities Scheme: BM-7D34D9.

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My six other siliquae in addition to the Constantius II example I just posted, without the write-ups. All are "reduced" siliquae, although I've seen it asserted that after the period when both sizes were issued simultaneously, it's no longer necessary to refer to them as "reduced," because they were the only siliquae being minted.

Julian II:

image.jpeg.5ffcbe1910ae2c8f670f3325cba9ef13.jpeg

Julian II from Vale of Pewsey Hoard:

image.jpeg.418b38d77b11ab5f350d5aa17a31fcde.jpeg

Valens from East Harptree Hoard:

image.jpeg.dfd61e390286eb3c1cf9c34cd55551cf.jpeg

Gratian, dealer's photo:

image.jpeg.06e2f87b0c563067ecb1999e09fe1b8d.jpeg

Photo provided on CT by previous owner:

image.jpeg.081a19916044a21da8468c2c3e578696.jpeg

Valentinian II:

image.jpeg.4d768d29ab8f37f63722c7bd3133c6b5.jpeg

Magnus Maximus, from Vale of Pewsey Hoard:

image.png.dc5c4ad61f9e6f0e4e598cd0aba173aa.png

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Here's an East Harptree siliqua. The photo captures none of the iridescence that coins from this hoard all seem to have, but which is somewhat present in the original auction photo (below).

Gratian Siliqua, 367-375

image.png.f397f52f96680c5c6da050ee0cc4d4b6.png

Trier. Silver, 18.25mm, 1.96g. Pearl diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right; DN GRATIA-NVS P F AVG. Roma seated left on throne, holding Victory on globe and sceptre; VRBS - ROMA; TRPS• in exergue (RIC IX, 27f). From the East Harptree (Somerset) Hoard 1887.

image02922.jpg

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2 hours ago, DonnaML said:

The second question relates to the fact that the Victory on the reverse of my coin is classified, again by all the dealers, as belonging to the "one wing visible" type. Which appears to be correct

No - I'm pretty sure that's as good as it gets for "both wings visible", since with victory in profile advancing left the near wing mostly obscures the far one.

Here's the "one wing visible" type , RIC 214

image.png.09f6360d1b137ca3c65cbca9f7413309.png

And for comparison here's another of the "both wings visible" type, RIC 210

image.png.f3e29c409cf763f10c636f0f52128549.png

There's actually two bits of the mostly obscured far wing shown in this type of depiction ,the top of the wing in front of her face, and the end tip poking out behind the near wing:

image.png.a9d32fc605ee17b9d333228d9d9b9630.png

Neither of these are my coins, but they are both also ex. East Harptree hoard.

 

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