Wednesday, March 29, 2017
The Emergence of Silver Coins in Ancient Rome
A respected presence in the Wisconsin dermatology community, Dr. Steven Armus serves as head of Native Prairie Restoration and guides a company that combines environmental and horticulture expertise. An outdoors enthusiast, Dr. Steven Armus also enjoys activities such as coin and stamp collecting.
One of the early centers of coinage was ancient Rome, which first produced coins in the 4th century BC, which supplanted the cumbersome “aes rude” bronze weight system. More portable and created from metals obtained from throughout an expanding empire, the Roman coin had a widely recognized value extending beyond borders.
The first example of a figure on a Roman coin was under Julius Caesar, who selected his own profile as a fitting image. This was followed by Brutus, who also placed his image on one side, with a pair of daggers representing the assassination of Caesar on the back.
As Rome relied more on its coins for financing expansion, more coins were placed in circulation and the amount of silver in even high-value pieces dropped from pure to 50 percent to as low as two-percent silver. These low-silver-content coins were given a fine silver finish, but this did not prevent the hoarding of more valuable pure silver pieces. Starting under Marcus Aurelius, the coins were stamped in ways that indicated the specific silver content, which was typically five to 10 percent.