Jump to content


Recommended Posts

Numismatists have long noticed the appearance of the letter P on two types of antoninians produced in the second part of the year 268 (PAX AVG AND ORIENS AVG) during the reign of Postumus. Although the meaning of this mark still remains a mystery today, it is nevertheless certain that it corresponds to a significant monetary devaluation of the title of silver and the weight of these coins. Analysis of many specimens show a decrease in weight from 3.35g to 2.93g, and the percentage of silver contained in these same specimens decreased by 15%-7%. So what could it means ?


1) Some see it as a form of secret sign, perhaps addressed to tax collectors in order to allow them to easily identify the intrinsic poor quality of the coins concerned, covered at the time with a thin film of silver, and then avoid accepting them as much as possible. The problem with this hypothesis is that the mark is very visible and could be discerned by tax collectors as well as by the common user, so distrust would have been generalized about them. The second problem comes from the fact that under Victorinus, the V mark is in no way associated with a modification of the alloy on the PAX AVG series. The two signs should logically fulfill an identical function and meaning, the simultaneity of the appearance of the letter P on the antoninians of Postumus is undoubtedly not linked to the decrease in their silver rate.


2) We know that in 264 AD, we saw the development on the antoninians of Gallienus of the initial or the first two letters of the city where these coins were produced, R for Rome and SI for Siscia (and in 266 M for Milan ). We also noticed that we find on some coins of Postumus produced in 268 the letters CA to designate the mint of Cologne (Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium). So logically scholars sought to discover if a certain city whose name begins with the letter P was on the route of the army of Postumus during this period of time and could have served as a temporary workshop to pay the troops of the emperor. Unfortunately, serious investigations have so far not made it possible to find a hypothetical locality (beginning with the letter P) located in the vicinity of the army route and in which the campaign monetary workshop would have been temporarily established. Same conclusion for his successor Victorinus.


3) Could the mark P possibly refer to the expeditionary corps of troops serving under Postumus? The Legio XXII Primigenia was created by Caligula and stationed in Germania Superior, in the fortress of Mainz, with the aim of guarding and protecting the border of the Rhine. It is also quite possible that the emperor chose to take with him this military troop, one of the two most important of his army, since the other important legion of his army, the XXX Ulpia, is blocked at this time precise due to an invasion of Germanic tribes. 

Exactly one year later, in the last months of the year 269 AD, during the reign of the Emperor Victorinus, we also notice the appearance of a letter in the left field of the reverse PAX AVG, this time the V; In the case of the hooked-nosed emperor, this PAX AVG reverse  certainly has a direct link with the attack and capture of the city of Autun that same year. It has been shown that the majority of the army used for this attack most likely came from the XXX legion Ulpia victrix stationed in Germania Inferior, not far from the mouth of the Rhine. The monetary letter V issued on this occasion could therefore have a connection with the first letter of the nickname VLPIA or even VICTRIX of the said legion.


4) Even a child would also notice that the two mysterious marks obviously correspond to the first letter of the cognemen of these Gaulish leaders. So the most plausible explanation for the appearance of the mystery mark could be a combination of the last two hypotheses discussed above. But there’s only another last problem: my latest acquisition. It’s an antoninianus of Victorinus with the reverse PAX AVG, but with the letter P in the left field. After discussing it with others specialist of Gallic coinage, the consensus is that the coin is definitely official. It leaves us with three possibility: 1) a new mystery… 2) a damage die (die clash) giving the illusion of a « P » 3) an alcoholic and nostalgic engraver of the Belle Époque of Postumus… Anyway, until I find another die-matching specimen, the question remains unanswered.


Just for fun, please show me your coins with letters in the fields. Who knows, maybe we can cover all the letters of the Roman and Greek alphabets?

  • Like 20
  • Smile 1
  • Cookie 1
  • Clap 1
  • Mind blown 1
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

During the reign of Gallienus, the Rome mint introduced a system of putting officina marks on coins. This may have been for purposes of quality control, helping to trace irregularities in coin weights and alloys. Here are examples from each officina.

At first, the Rome mint used a letter abbreviation for the Latin number of the officina, such as P, S, T, or Q (prima, secunda, tertia, quarta) for the first four officinae, and the Roman numerals V and VI for the fifth and sixth. They could not use the letter abbreviation for "fifth," quinta, because it would have been indistinguishable from Q for quarta, or for "sixth," sexta, because it would have been indistinguishable from S for secunda.

P (=Prima, meaning "first"):
Gallienus VIRTVS AVG Mars globe and spear antoninianus.jpg

S (=Secunda, meaning "second"):
Salonina AVG IN PACE Antoninianus 2.jpg

T (=Tertia, meaning "third"):
Gallienus FELICIT AVG antoninianus.jpg

Q (=Quarta, meaning "fourth"):
Salonina Pudicitia standing Antoninianus.jpg

V (="fifth"):
Gallienus PAX AVG Rome radiate head.jpg

VI (="sixth):
Gallienus AEQVITAS AVG.jpg


  • Like 17
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/13/2022 at 1:59 PM, Ocatarinetabellatchitchix said:

It leaves us with three possibility: 1) a new mystery… 2) a damage die (die clash) giving the illusion of a « P » 3) an alcoholic and nostalgic engraver of the Belle Époque of Postumus…

Or 4): an old die from Postumus' reign being reused under Victorinus. I wouldn't rule that possibility out.


My Postumus with "P:"


Postumus, Gallic Roman Empire, AR antoninian, 268–269 AD, Trier mint. Obv:  IMP C POSTVMVS P F AVG; bust of Postumus, radiate, draped, cuirassed, r. Rev: PAX AVG; Pax standing l., holding olive-branch and transverse sceptre; in field l., P. 21mm, 3.97g. Mairat 466–7; RIC V Postumus 318.


And the matching Victorinus with "V:"


Victorinus, Gallic Roman Empire, AE antoninian, 270–271 AD, Trier mint. Obv: IMP C VICTOR[INVS P]F AVG; radiate, draped, cuirassed bust of Victorinus r.  Rev: PAX AVG; Pax, standing l., holding branch and sceptre; in field l., V; in field r., star and palm branch. 19mm, 2.35g. Ref: Mairat 600–601.

  • Like 9
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Ursus said:

Or 4): an old die from Postumus' reign being reused under Victorinus. I wouldn't rule that possibility out.

You’re absolutely right. Under Gallic Empire, many « irregularities » have occurred:

official Victorinus FORT REDVX 


official (?) Tetricus I FORT REDVX (same reverse die)


local imitations FORT REDVX (same reverse die again)


(not my coins)



  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/13/2022 at 11:52 AM, Spaniard said:

C S across the fields? Anyone know the meaning?

No ... that's an annoying one to try to guess! For the most part these field marks are pretty easy to guess, being some sort of feel-good slogan such as T-F (temporvm felicitas), S-F (saecvli felicitas), R-F (roma felix), etc... then there are these others. Arles has a few of them (M-F, R-S, C-S - anybody have any guesses for these?). Perhaps Civitas Servatos for C-S, but that seems a bit too obscure. Rome used C-S also, perhaps at the same time as Arles.

Another interesting thing about the Arles C-S issue(s) is the date(s). RIC gives 317-318 AD, which it seems has to be wrong/incomplete. One problem is that the C-S mark includes an unlisted consular bust for Consatntine I on the SOLI type, which would have to date to a consular year of either 315 AD (COS IIII) or 319 AD (COS V). Another thing to note is that the C-S mark includes coins for the caesars, among other things ... A date of 315 AD would be too early for the caesars, but a date of 319 AD would really be too late for the nummus as a whole, and this mintmark would not really sit well following the P-?-A issues (P-*/u-A, P-captive-A). I'm thinking that perhaps the C-S field mark may have been reused at Arles - once in 315 AD (alongside use at Rome), and then again at the RIC date of 317-318 following PARL R-S.

On the topic of Constantinian  field mark meanings, does anyone have any guesses for Lyons' A-S, or London's P-A, F-B ?

Edited by Heliodromus
  • Like 3
  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...