Republican 290-41BC

Roman Republican 290-41BC coins for sale.

Although Rome was founded in the 8th century BC, a true Roman coinage did not appear before the 3rd century BC. Until the 5th century BC, trade relied on rough, unworked bronze used by weight. During the 4th century BC, contact with Greek cities, who were already using coins, brought about the requirement for a Roman currency. True Roman coins were first produced in 269AD in the form of the ‘Aes Grave’, a series of cast bronze coins, ranging from the ‘as’ to the ‘uncia’, with the obverse depicting a deity and the reverse a ship’s prow. At the same time struck silver issues appeared, based on the Greek silver didrachm. By 190BC, the Roman coinage consisted principally of silver with Latin inscriptions and was struck in Rome and other authorised mints. The bronze coinage was reduced in standard, and therefore size, allowing it also to be struck rather than cast.

A relationship between bronze and silver first occurred around 211BC with the introduction of the silver denarius, equivalent to ten asses. Early types typically show the head of Roma on the obverse and the Dioscuri (the twins Castor & Pollox), on the reverse. Around the same time, the sestertius was introduced as a small silver coin valued at a quarter of a denarius, together with the quinarius (half denarius). As the Roman Empire expanded, local currencies were also used, including gold, but Roman coinage issued in gold was exceptional for the period. In 89BC the sestertius replaced the bronze ‘as’ as an accounting unit. After 80BC, striking in bronze was discontinued until the time of Julius Caesar.

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