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New Video! Silvered Roman Coins


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Who doesnt like a nice silvered Antoninianus or Follis? In this new video, I explore a bit of the most recent theories on how the roman mints achieved this silvering effect.
Post your silvered coins, and remember to leave a like and a comment to help youtube push the video! 🙂

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Another fun video @Leo!

Of all my silvered coins I think this one probably maintains the most silvering.


Roman Empire
Diocletian, AD 284-305
AE Follis, Ticinum mint, struck AD 296-297
Dia.: 31 mm
Wt.: 8.63 g
Obv.: IMP C DIOCLETIANVS P F AVG. Laureate head of Diocletian right
Rev.: GENIO POPVLI ROMANI. Genius wearing mural crown holding patera and cornucopia
Ref.: RIC VI 33


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Definitely one of the no or very minute silvering remaining coins 

Nurmerian Ae Aurelianus Lugdunum 283-284 AD Obv Bust left radiate draped and cuirassed holdin spear over shoulder and carrying shield Rv Pax standing left holding olive branch and scepter. RIC 395 2.79 grms 22 mm Photo by W. Hansennumerian4.jpg.c6557eae179c810777a07fb52774ebb4.jpg

I have always wondered how some coins have almost intact silvering whereas others like this one have virtually none left. I do not see this coin having much circulation so I am left with the thought that the modern cleaning process may have inadvertently  stripped the silver from the coin or in this case turned it black. The other option is that some of the coins missed the silvering process all together. 

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Great video, @Leo. Thanks for sharing. 

Here is a silvered Follis I picked up last year.  🙂


Helena, Augusta. Follis (Bronze, 19 mm, 3.24 g, 6 h).
Thessalonica, Γ = 3rd officina, 326-328 AD.

Obv: FL HELENA AVGVSTA Draped bust of Helena to right, wearing stephane. Rev. SECVRITAS REI PVBLICE.

Rev: SMTSΓ Securitas standing left, holding olive branch in her right hand and fold of drapery with her left.

LRBC 823. RIC 159. 

Edited by happy_collector
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An informative video @Leo, thanks for posting!  I think there are a couple of additional factors that have coins looking the way they do in hand today (in addition to @kapphnwn's comment about cleaning):

- oxidized silver (from sitting in the ground for a long time) which can be black and not silver which makes the presence or absence of silver harder to see without cleaning and risking damage to the coin  e.g. this coin


- additional leaching of metals from the surface layer as the coins sit, buried over centuries - changes the composition of the surface - I think this can work both ways - enriching and depleting the silver layer

Here's a nice graph from G. C. Haines 1941 illustrating data from J. Hammer (1908) on the decline in silver content over time - more recent studies and techniques for analyzing the silver content may have improved on this view in details, but this is roughly correct.

Haines Decline of Silver.JPG

I will add a silvered Probus with high copper content from Lugdunum, January-August 2821177099705_ProbusPiaetasAnt.jpg.9b08fb0966529437c3048998f8fc9f86.jpg

and here's a Gallienus which at least gives an illusion of being much finer silver from Colonia Agrippinensis (Cologne) which supplied coinage for troops stationed on the frontier


Gallienus, AD 253-268, AR Antoninianus, Colonia Agrippinensis (Cologne) mint, 1st emission, AD 257-258 (Joint Reign)
Obv: Radiate and cuirassed bust right
Rev: IOVI VICTORI, Jupiter, holding Victory and scepter, standing facing, head left, on cippus (small low pillar) inscribed IMP/C E S in two lines (IMPerator Cum Exercitu Suo)
Ref: RIC V 21

Edited by Sulla80
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1 hour ago, Sulla80 said:

Here's a nice graph from G. C. Haines 1941 illustrating data from J. Hammer (1908) on the decline in silver content over time - more recent studies and techniques for analyzing the silver content may have improved on this view in details, but this is roughly correct.

I'm sure it is roughly correct, but seems a bit odd in a couple of regards:

1) Why is the silver content shown so low after Aurelian's reform? Weren't the XX:I radiates closer to 5% silver (graph makes it look more like 1%) ?

2) The debased-silver successor to the radiates was surely the debased-silver nummus. The 95% silver argenteus seems irrelevant. It'd be a bit like the US mint saying they've switched back to the gold standard since they issue some gold coins.


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 Several silvered 3rd century Antoniniani...

 1. nicely silvered Valerian


some remnants of silvering are  still retained in this Ant. of Tacitus (mostly reverse and in devices).


a little more silvering in this one of Tacitus...


a nice , fully silvered Diocletian - this one probably never got to circulate much at all...


silvered Probus Adventus Ant....





and another Gallienus/Virtus with full silvering.


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@Leo...Thoroughly enjoyed the video thanks.

This one is nicely silvered.


Licinius I AE3. AD 317. 19mmdia (some silvering remains)

Obverse-IMP LICI-NIVS AVG, Laureate, draped bust left, holding globe, sceptre and mappa

Reverse-PROVIDENTIAE AVGG, campgate, 5 layers, three turrets, no doors.

Mintmark MHTA. RIC VII 17 Heraclea 1st oficina (minted 317AD)

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Partial silvering remaining on my Aurelian:


Aurelian, 270 - 275 AD AE Antoninianus, Ticinum Mint, 21mm, 3.80 grams Obverse: IMP C AVRELIANVS AVG, Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust of Aurelian right. Reverse: ORIENS AVG, Sol standing left trampling bound captive seated on left, another bound captive seated on right, TXXT in exergue. RIC 154





Edited by MrMonkeySwag96
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Great Video ! Clearly presented !



Some silvered coin:



Antoninian, Lugdunum Mint
Obv.: IMP C M AVR NVMERIANVS AVG, Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right
Rev.: PAX AVGG, Pax left, holding olive branch and sceptre, A in right field
3.25g, 21.4x23.8mm
Ref.: Bastien 534, RIC 393 var.



Maximianus, AD 286-305
Æ Follis Siscia mint, AD 301
Obv.: IMP MAXIMIANVS P F AVG, laureate head right
Rev.. SACRA MONET AVGG ET CAESS NOSTR, Moneta standing left, holding scales in right hand, cornucopia in left; *-B, SIS in ex
RIC VI 134b
AE, 9.64g, 28.5mm



acitus (Reg. 275-276 AD)
Obv: IMP C CL TACITVS AVG, Bust of Tacitus, radiate, draped, cuirassed, right
Rev: AEQVITAS AVG / Aequitas, draped, standing left, holding scales in right hand and cornucopiae in left hand
Silvered, 20x22mm, 3.40g
RIC Va, p.328, 14



Antoninian, Antiochia
Obv.: IMP C M AVR CARVS P F AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right
Rev.: VIRTVS AVGG / XXI, Carus and Carinus standing with scepter, holding victory on globe, star above, Γ below
4.28g, 21.1mm
Ref.: RIC 125

Edited by shanxi
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