Roman coin dating

Julian lasted only two years before dying while campaigning against the Persians, and this tedious series of Constantines came to an end.It can be easy to confuse coins of Constantius II with those of Constantius Gallus.After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Eastern Empire continued the Roman traditions for another 1,000 years.Two types of coins from the Byzantines are often found in uncleaned lots; folles from the early Byzantine Empire and scyphate (cup-shaped) coins from the later Byzantine Empire.The skills I’ve picked up from cleaning a few thousand of these little bronze nuggets find their only useful outlet there, and my ego benefits greatly from having student after student come up with a coin they considered an unidentifiable slug and return to their friends with an attribution as to type or emperor. The constantly repeated question is “How do you do it?” My less-than-helpful answer is always “pattern-matching”.

This alone will help you ID coins of Constantine (the Great) vs. For the purpose of ID’ing the person on the coin don’t pay too much attention to the titles (“FL”, “IVL”, etc…).

The fact is that the great majority of these coins are from a handful of Emperors, and these Emperors showed little variety in the designs they placed on their bronze coinage.

The gold issues demonstrate a great deal more artistic effort (and no, you will never find one of those in these lots).

Eighty percent of the coins you will come across fall into an identifiable set of Emperors and reverses and this guide is pointed toward helping identify those coins.

OK – so only George Foreman has shown less originality in naming his sons.* It probably won’t surprise you that Constantine named his daughter “Constantia” (if you find one of her coins, call me at ‘203 790-1669’ - they are rarer than political scruples).


  1. Many coins are seen dated with a split year e.g. 11/12 AD which means the TRP numeral placed the coin from 10 Dec 11 to 9 Dec 12. From the time of Septimius Severus, 1 January was used regularly. When TRP with numeral is used, it is the best dating device found on Roman coins. TRP with no numeral was the form.

  2. Reading and Dating Roman Imperial Coins by Zander Klawans has been the starting point for more Roman collectors than perhaps any other book of the last half century and the fact that it is still in print is a testament to it's value. Many new collectors and even advanced students of Latin shy away from attempting to.

  3. To many collectors new to Roman coins, this is just a denarius of Trajan AD 97-117 with an image of a Roman soldier on the reverse. For the purposes of dating this coin, this is the most important title on the coin, as it tells us the coin cannot have been issued prior to AD 116 and thus the coin was issued in AD 116 or.

  4. Jul 8, 2016. Now we realize that Pliny gave a relevant date, but named the wrong denomination. In his day the denarius was the silver denomination, and had been for over 200 years, so he used that term. Now we think his date was for the first silver Roman coins, but they were not denarii, rather didrachms in Greek.

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