Understanding the several popular denominations used in the Roman Empire is not very challenging.
Coins from various eras can be differentiated by their sizes or look, as will be covered here.
Similar to today, gold, silver, and copper or bronze were the primary metals.
However, it should be noted that this is a very difficult topic that causes many people headaches. The Romans experienced periods of recession, depression, and inflation, just as we do today (often more quickly than we do!).
As a result, during the lengthy history of the Empire, many sizes, metals, and values of coins were used.
The initials AV, AR, and AE, which are frequently encountered in a coin’s description or in a catalog, are the first to cause newcomers difficulty.
They only alludes to the metal utilized in the ways depicted in the table below. In another post you will find how much actually could buy with a Denarius. Find the post here
AV, AR and AE : Metal Designations
A bronze Antoninianus is what is meant by “AE Antoninianus” (often abbreviated to just AE Ant). A silver denarius is known as a “AR Denarius.”
Many beginning collectors begin with the ordinary bronze pieces from the fourth century, both the follis and AE grades, but eventually move on to the lovely silver and/or the huge copper/bronze pieces from the early third century AD and earlier.
The most popular denominations, the metal from which they were crafted, and the approximate period of their most widespread use are mentioned in the table below.
Relative Coin Values
The table below illustrates how different coin denominations were related to one another from the time of the Empire until the start of the fourth century.
Although the values have varied throughout time, as can be seen from the descriptions below, this table will remain accurate for the most of the Empire’s history (some changes occurred during the period of the Republic).
Since As fractions are uncommon, they won’t be covered here.
|Aureus||25 silver denarii|
|Denarius||16 copper asses|
in Circulation c.300 AD
|Quinarius||8 copper asses|
in Circulation c.400 AD
|Bronze (silver wash)|
|Sestertius||4 copper asses|
|Dupondius||2 copper asses|