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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ BritainView Options:  |  |  |   

Ancient Coins of Britain

Before the Roman invasion, Britain was populated by Celtic tribes with well-established cultural and economic links with continental Europe. Although Julius Caesar conducted the first Roman campaign in Britain in 55 B.C., the conquest did not begin until A.D. 43, during the reign of Claudius. The British tribes initially opposed the Roman legions, but by 84 the Romans had decisively conquered southern Britain and had pushed into what is now southern Scotland. In 122 they fortified the northern border with Hadrian's Wall, which spanned what is now Northern England. In 142 Roman forces pushed north again and began construction of the Antonine Wall, but they retreated back to Hadrian's Wall after only twenty years. Following the conquest, native Britons were subject to the Roman governors but mostly kept their land, and a distinctive Romano-British culture emerged. The Roman Empire retained control until its departure about A.D. 430.Romanization of Britain


Belgic Celts in Britain, Atrebates, Verica, c. 10 - 43 A.D.

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At the time of Caesar's invasion of Britain, the Atrebates, "the settlers," covered Sussex, Berkshire, west Surrey, parts of Hampshire, north-east Wiltshire.
SL86748. Gold quarter stater, Little Horse Rearing type; Bean VERC1-2, Cottam ABC 1199, Van Arsdell 466-1, Hobbs 1179, SCBC 124, NGC EF, strike 5/5, surface 3/5 (2400434-001), weight 1.19 g, maximum diameter 9.2 mm, die axis 225o, Calleva mint, c. 10 - 40 A.D.; obverse COM F in linear rectangle tablet, pellet in annulet above and below; reverse horse prancing right, VI above, exergual line below; ex Stephen Album auction 21 (15 Jan 2015), lot 1 (realized $900 plus fees); $900.00 SALE PRICE $810.00
 


Romano-British Empire, Carausius, Mid 286 - Spring or Early Summer 293 A.D.

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The plural AVGGG refers to Diocletian, Maximian and Carausius in a futile attempt to appease the legitimate mainland rulers.
RA73502. Billon antoninianus, Webb Carausius 192, RIC V-2 164 (S), Hunter IV 52, Cohen VII 325, SRCV IV 13716, Linchmere -, Carausian Hoard -, Burton Latimer -, Bicester -, VF, green patina, marks and scratches, edge crack, slightly off center, weight 2.737 g, maximum diameter 25.1 mm, die axis 180o, Londinium (London, England) mint, c. 292 - early 293; obverse IMP C CARAVSIVS P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, late reign tetrarchic portrait; reverse SALVS AVGGG (the health of the three emperors), Salus standing right feeding snake, held in her right hand, from a patera in her left hand, S-P flanking across field, MLXXI in exergue; from the Charles Peters Carausius Collection; scarce; $260.00 SALE PRICE $234.00
 


Anglo-Gallic, Edward III, 1372 - 1377

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This type and similar billon Anglo-Gallic coins looked silver when issued, but after some use turned black, hence their nickname, "black money." They were usually hastily and poorly struck, heavily circulated and worn, and seldom hoarded. Surviving examples are now rare and mostly low grade.
WO86745. Billon denier au leopard, Elias 95 (RR), Duplessy Féodales 1095A, SCBC 8090, Poey d'Avant 2793 (Edward I), Boudeau -, aVF, well centered on a tight flan, uneven strike with parts of legend weak, areas of light corrosion, weight 0.683 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, 2nd type; obverse + EDVARDVS : REX, leopard passant left above AnGL' between lines, rosette below, all within inner circle, double pellet stops; reverse + DVX : AQITAnIE, cross pattée, within inner circle, double pellet stops; very rare; $250.00 SALE PRICE $225.00
 


Romano-British Empire, Carausius, Mid 286 - Spring or Early Summer 293 A.D.

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The quantity of PAX coinage issued by Carausius probably exceeded the entire output of all his other types combined. The type was an appeal by the usurper Carausius for peace with the "official" emperors. Diocletian and Maximian did not recognize Carausius as emperor, nor did they reciprocate his desire for peace.
RA73492. Billon RIC V-2 141 (R), Webb Carausius 164, Bourne Carausius 16, Burton Latimer 22, Hunter IV 51 var. (transverse scepter), SRCV IV -, VF/F, dark green patina, nice portrait, bumps, scratches, weight 4.571 g, maximum diameter 23.7 mm, die axis 180o, Londinium (London, England) mint, c. early 293 - mid 293; obverse IMP C CARAVSIVS P F AVG, radiate and draped bust right, late reign tetrarchic portrait; reverse PAX AVGGG (the peace of the three emperors), Pax standing left, raising olive branch in right hand, long scepter in left hand, S - P across fields, MLXXI in exergue; from the Charles Peters Carausius Collection; rare; $225.00 SALE PRICE $203.00
 


Romano-British Empire, Carausius, Mid 286 - Spring or Early Summer 293 A.D.

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Apparently unpublished and possibly unique. This type with the obverse legend IMP CARAVSIVS P F AVG and a C mintmark is common. With this ...P AVG obverse legend it is rare. Regardless of the obverse legend, it is apparently unpublished with this MC mintmark and we do not know of any other specimens.
RA73254. Billon antoninianus, apparently unpublished, RIC V-2 200 (R) var. (C in ex.), Webb Carausius -, Hunter IV -, SRCV IV -, Linchmere -, Burton Latimer -, et al. -, VF, green patina, earthen encrustations, marks, edge crack, small patina chips, weight 3.815 g, maximum diameter 21.9 mm, die axis 0o, Camulodunum (Colchester, England) mint, c. 287 A.D.; obverse IMP CARAVSIVS P AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, early reign moustache portrait; reverse COMES AVG (companion of the Emperor), Victory standing left, raising wreath in right hand, palm frond in left hand, nothing in fields, MC in exergue; from the Charles Peters Carausius Collection; possibly unique!; $200.00 (€170.00) ON RESERVE


Romano-British Empire, Carausius, Mid 286 - Spring or Early Summer 293 A.D.

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Although the exergue is off flan, we are confident this coin is from the unmarked mint and the exergue is blank. This long necked portrait variant is unique to the unmarked mint. This type is unpublished in the numerous references we examined but we do know of one other example, Auktionshaus Felzmann auction 156 (28 Jun 2016), lot 287.
RA73273. Billon antoninianus, cf. RIC V-2 470 (S - C / [ ]), Webb Carausius 521 (same), SRCV IV 13628 (same); Hunter IV -, Bourne Carausius -, Linchmere -, VF, green patina, some legend weak, porous, tight flan, some scratches, weight 4.289 g, maximum diameter 23.0 mm, die axis 180o, unmarked mint, c. mid 292 - mid 293; obverse IMP C CARAVSIVS P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, late reign tetrarchic portrait type, long necked variety; reverse MONETA AVG, Moneta standing left, scales in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, S - P across fields, nothing in exergue; from the Charles Peters Carausius Collection; extremely rare; $220.00 SALE PRICE $198.00
 


Romano-British Empire, Carausius, Mid 286 - Spring or Early Summer 293 A.D.

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Hilaritas, the personification of rejoicing, is usually depicted as a matron, standing with a cornucopia in her left hand and a long palm frond on the ground in her right. Green branches were a sign of gladness and for special occasions, both public and private, it was the custom in ancient times to ornament streets, temples, gates, houses, and even entire cities, with branches and leaves of trees. This tradition carries on today in the form of wreaths and Christmas trees.
RA73255. Billon antoninianus, apparently unpublished, cf. RIC V-2 243 (R) (IMP C CARAVSIVS P AVG), Web Carausius 295 (same), SRCV IV -, Hunter IV -, Linchmere -, et al. -, aVF, broad flan, green patina, some legend weak, reverse off center and double struck, weight 4.098 g, maximum diameter 24.7 mm, die axis 180o, Camulodunum (Colchester, England) mint, c. 288 - 291; obverse IMP CARAVSIVS AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, middle reign portrait type; reverse HILARITAS AVG, Hilaritas standing left, long palm frond in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, C in exergue; from the Charles Peters Carausius Collection; very rare; $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00
 


Romano-British Empire, Carausius, Mid 286 - Spring or Early Summer 293 A.D.

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Salus was the Roman goddess of health. She was Hygieia to the Greeks, who believed her to be the daughter of Aesculapius, the god of medicine and healing, and Epione, the goddess of soothing of pain. Her father Asclepius learned the secrets of keeping death at bay after observing one snake bringing another snake healing herbs. Woman seeking fertility, the sick, and the injured slept in his temples in chambers where non-poisonous snakes were left to crawl on the floor and provide healing. This coin, dedicated to the health of the emperor, probably indicates the emperor was at the time suffering from some disease, and sacred rites had been performed for his recovery.
RA73269. Billon antoninianus, RIC V-2 994 (S) var. (...P F AVG), Web Carausius 1117 var. (same), Linchmere 812A var. (same), King Carausius -, Burton Latimer -, et al. -, gF/aF, broad flan, reverse weak, corrosion, weight 3.501 g, maximum diameter 22.3 mm, die axis 225o, unmarked mint, c. 288 - 291; obverse IMP CARAVSIVS P AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, middle reign portrait type; reverse SALVS AVG (the health of the Emperor), Salus seated left feeding serpent and holding long staff, no field marks or mintmarks; from the Charles Peters Carausius Collection; scarce; $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00
 


Romano-British Empire, Carausius, Mid 286 - Spring or Early Summer 293 A.D.

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In 288 or 289, Maximian prepared an invasion of Britain to oust Carausius, but it failed. A panegyric delivered to Constantius Chlorus attributes this failure to bad weather, but notes that Carausius claimed a military victory. Eutropius says that hostilities were in vain thanks to Carausius' military skill, and peace was agreed. Carausius began to entertain visions of official recognition. He minted his coins acknowledging and honoring Maximian and Diocletian.
RA73266. Billon antoninianus, RIC V-2 33 (R2), Webb Carausius 37, Hunter IV - (p. cci), SRCV IV-, Carausian Hoard -, Burton Latimer -, Linchmere -, Bicester -, VF/F, nice green patina, nice portrait, earthen deposits, struck with a worn reverse die, reverse slightly off center, weight 3.232 g, maximum diameter 23.2 mm, die axis 0o, Camulodunum (Colchester, England) mint, c. 289 A.D.; obverse IMP CARAVSIVS P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, middle reign portrait type; reverse FIDES MILITM (the loyalty of the soldiers), Fides standing holding two ensigns, F-O in fields, ML in exergue; from the Charles Peters Carausius Collection; rare; $190.00 SALE PRICE $171.00
 


Romano-British Empire, Carausius, Mid 286 - Spring or Early Summer 293 A.D.

Click for a larger photo
Salus was the Roman goddess of health. She was Hygieia to the Greeks, who believed her to be the daughter of Aesculapius, the god of medicine and healing, and Epione, the goddess of soothing of pain. Her father Asclepius learned the secrets of keeping death at bay after observing one snake bringing another snake healing herbs. Woman seeking fertility, the sick, and the injured slept in his temples in chambers where non-poisonous snakes were left to crawl on the floor and provide healing. This coin, dedicated to the health of the emperor, probably indicates the emperor was at the time suffering from some disease, and sacred rites had been performed for his recovery.
RA73274. Billon antoninianus, RIC V-2 162 (R), Web Carausius 181, Bourne Carausius -, Linchmere -, Burton Latimer -, Bicester -, Carausian Hoard -, aVF, dark patina, nice portrait, weak legends, scratches, corrosion, weight 3.683 g, maximum diameter 24.9 mm, die axis 180o, Londinium (London, England) mint, c. late 289 - 291; obverse IMP CARAVSIVS P F AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right, middle reign portrait type; reverse SALVS AVG (the health of the Emperor), Salus standing left, with right hand feeding snake rising from altar at her feet, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, B - E across fields, MLXXI in exergue; from the Charles Peters Carausius Collection; rare; $190.00 SALE PRICE $171.00
 




  



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REFERENCES

Allen, D. Catalogue of Celtic Coins in the British Museum. (London, 1987-1990).
Allen, D. The Coins of the Ancient Celts. (Edinburgh, 1980).
Coins of England & the United Kingdom, Standard Catalogue of British Coins. (London, -).
Cottam, E., et al. Ancient British Coins. (Chris Rudd, Norfolk, UK, 2010).
de Jersey, P. Celtic Coinage in Britain. (London, 1996).
de la Tour, H. Atlas de monnaies Gauloises. (Paris, 1892).
Hobbs, R. British Iron Age Coins in the British Museum. (London, 1996).
Nash, D. Coinage in the Celtic World. (London, 1987).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 1: Europe. (London, 1978).
Sills, J. Gaulish and Early British Gold Coinage. (London, 2003).
Van Arsdell, R. Celtic Coinage of Britain. (London, 1989).


Catalog current as of Wednesday, February 21, 2018.
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