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Rare and Debased/Fourree Roman Silver Denarius of Lucius Verus

Rare and Debased/Fourree Roman Silver Denarius of Lucius Verus


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1353070
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This piece is a Roman silver denarius minted circa late 168- early 169 A.D., Rome mint, and is a rare to scarce issue, as it is the last issue minted by the Rome mint in the name of Lucius Verus. This coin is very fine/about very fine (VF/VF-), is 2.5g., and is approximately 19mm. This coin shows the image of Lucius Verus facing right, wearing an olive wreath, and around is the legend L VERVS AVG-ARM PARTH MAX. The reverse shows a draped and seated Aequitas-Moneta facing left, holding scales in her right hand to the front, and behind is a cornucopia, and around is the legend TRPVIIIIMDV-COSIII. Lucius Verus was joint emperor with Marcus Aurelius, circa 161-169 A.D., and the coin offered here was likely minted in the period shortly before or during the death of Verus early in 169 A.D.; and according to the BMC reference (British Museum Catalog), this coin was minted as the last issue of Lucius Verus by the Rome mint. Both emperors at this point in time were outside of Rome, and were beginning to be engaged in a bitter campaign in Germania in securing the empire. In the prior six years, both emperors were engaged in a protracted war in Parthia and Armenia, and as a consequence, by 169 A.D., the imperial treasury was severely drained of funds. In addition, a serious plaque brought back from the east swept through the legions and the general population, which reduced taxes and revenues to the empire. The coinage also became slightly debased, from an average of circa 3.0-3.2 grams, circa 161-169 A.D., to about 3.0 grams for a silver denarius, circa 169-170 A.D. (See D.R. Walker, "The Metrology of the Roman Silver Coinage III", 1978, p. 125.) The coin offered here is rare to scarce due to the reasons noted above, and is among the rarest issues of Lucius Verus produced by the Rome mint, as this issue was minted over a short period of time, and there was a severe lack of metal from which to mint coinage. This may also explain why this coin also appears to be a "fourree", meaning it is an ancient coin with a base metal core and a precious metal exterior. The coin offered here appears to have a core that is a debased silver, and may contain a high concentration of tin and/or lead. One can see sections primarily on the obverse of this coin that show minute cracks where the outer layer is peeling away from the inner core, and in addition, sections of the edge of the flan under high magnification show a thin outer layer for both sides of the coin. It may be that Marcus Aurelius himself ordered the Rome mint to produce a coin of this type for the impending campaign in Germania, but what is known for certain is that this coin is a high quality "fourree", and was likely intentionally and officially produced by the Rome mint, and if this was the case, this was an extremely rare circumstance in the history of Roman coinage. A coin of extreme historical interest, and one of the best recorded examples. References: BMC 481-2, RIC 595, Sear 1544. Ex: Harlan Berk Ltd., Chicago, Ill., circa 1980's. I certify that this coin is authentic as to date, culture, and condition: