Rome, Late 3rd Cent. Antoninianus (5% silver)

Date: c. 268 - 300 CE
Roman Empire

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Item Description:

These Roman coins are called antoniniani (singular: antoninianus) by modern scholars, although their true name in ancient times is not known. They were introduced by Emperor Caracalla in 215 CE as a higher value replacement for the denarius, despite the fact that their silver purity was much lower, and because of this an antoninianus is sometimes called a double denarius.

Of course, lowering the silver content of currency, a process called debasement, was not without consequence in ancient Rome. It quickly led to runaway inflation, leading the Roman government to produce even more coins with even less silver to compensate. Although the Roman antoninianus was originally minted at about 40% purity, by the 270s the coins were less than 5% silver and almost entirely made from bronze.

This was a contributing factor to the Crisis of the Third Century, a tumultuous period spanning from 235 to 284 CE that almost caused the collapse of the Roman Empire. In addition to a failing economy, the empire grappled with internal political strife, military coups, and relentless invasions from external forces. By 268 CE Rome had split into three separate states: the Gallic Empire in the west, the Palmyrene Empire in the east, and the Roman Empire proper. Chaos erupted as at least 26 different claimants to the title of emperor emerged, only ending in 284 when Diocletian reasserted the power of Rome's central government.

The coins on this listing were all issued during the late 3rd century, when silver purity had dropped to around 5% or below.

Each coin comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.

Your order will include:

  • The historical item(s) shown above
  • Glass top leatherette display box
  • Information card and Certificate of Authenticity

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