THE GALLIC EMPIRE (260-274): A SIX SILVER COIN BOXED COLLECTION

THE GALLIC EMPIRE (260-274): A SIX SILVER COIN BOXED COLLECTION


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Ancient World: Roman: Coins: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1335381

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By the middle of the third century, the Roman Empire began to show signs of collapse. A parade of emperors took the throne, mostly from the ranks of the military. Years of civil war and open revolt led to an erosion of territory. In the year 260, in a battle on the Eastern front, the emperor Valerian was taken prisoner by the hated Persians. He died in captivity, and his corpse was stuffed and hung on the wall of the palace of the Persian king. Valerian's capture threw the already-fractured empire into complete disarray. He son and co-emperor Gallienus, was unable to quell the unrest.

Charismatic generals sought to consolidate their own power, but none was as powerful, or as ambitious, as Postumus. Born in an outpost of the Empire, of common stock, Postumus rose swiftly through the ranks, eventually commanding the Roman forces “among the Celts”--a territory that included modern-day France, Belgium, Holland and England. In the aftermath of Valerian's abduction in 260, his soldiers proclaimed Postumus emperor. Thus was born the so-called Gallic Empire. After nine years of relative peace and prosperity, Postumus was murdered by his own troops, and the Gallic Empire, which had depended on the force of his personality, began to crumble.

Claudius II Gothicus, who succeeded Gallienus after the latter's death in 268, set out to reunify the Roman Empire. While he won major victories over the hated Goths, earning him his nickname, he died of plague in 270. He short-lived successor, Quintillus, also failed to reunify the empire. It was left to Aurelian to bring the breakaway Gallic Empire back into the fold, which he did in 274.

The boundaries of the Empire may have approached what they once were, but the economy remained broken. Each of the many emperors who took the throne in the Third Century had to pay off the troops—which was accomplished by debasing the silver in the coins. The properties of silver are such that it can be mixed with other metals and still produce a silvery coin—up to a point. Once the fineness dips below 15 percent or so, the coins take on a gray or coppery appearance. In the days of Valerian, the coins were still silvery, by the time of Claudius II Gothicus, the fineness was just three percent.

This collection features coins form five of the Roman emperors in the days of the breakup of the Empire, as well as the founder of the Gallic Empire. Portrait and legend are on the obverse; reverses vary, but tend to feature personifications or military themes. The instability at the top had a dismal impact on the economy, a downward spiral of hyperinflation and currency devaluation that was reflected in the coinage. Later in this period, silver content dropped so low that coins had the appearance of bronze. These coins show typical grades.


Type 1:

Ruler: Valerian I

Year of Issue: 253-260 CE

Country: Rome

Denomination: Antoninianus

Material: Silver

Weight: 3-4.7 g

Diameter: 21.9-23 mm

Obverse: Portrait and legend.

Reverse: Various personifications or military themes


Type 2:

Ruler: Gallienus

Year of Issue: 253-268 CE

Country: Rome

Denomination: Antoninianus

Material: Silver

Weight: 1.6-5 g

Diameter: 17-24 mm

Obverse: Portrait and legend.

Reverse: Various personifications or military themes


Type 3:

Ruler: Postumus

Year of Issue: 260-268 CE

Country: Rome

Denomination: Antoninianus

Material: Silver

Weight: 3-4 g

Diameter: 20-23 mm

Obverse: Portrait and legend.

Reverse: Various personifications or military themes


Type 4:

Ruler: Claudius II Gothicus

Year of Issue: 268-270 CE

Country: Rome

Denomination: Antoninianus

Material: Billon

Weight: 2.3-4.5 g

Diameter: 17-21 mm

Obverse: Portrait and legend.

Reverse: Various personifications or military themes


Type 5:

Ruler: Quintillus

Year of Issue: d. 270

Country: Rome

Denomination: Antoninianus

Material: Billon

Weight: 1.7-3 g

Diameter: 16.8-22.5 mm

Obverse: Portrait and legend.

Reverse: Various personifications or military themes.


Type 6:

Ruler: Aurelian

Year of Issue: 270-275 CE

Country: Rome

Denomination: Antoninianus

Material: Billon

Weight: 2.7-3.7 g

Diameter: 21-23.5 mm

Obverse: Portrait and legend.

Reverse: Various personifications or military themes


Box measures: 7.25” x 5.5” x 1.25”

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