Not everyone is privileged to know the truth behind ancient coins. But long days and nights of research have revealed to me some of the least known secrets of the world of antiquity.
Naturally, the first thing I thought of was to reveal those secrets on the Internet and thereby gain my rightful measure of fame. So here at last, for the first time, (1)are those things They didn't want you to know .....
I advise you not to read the footnotes until you are a sufficiently advanced numismatist to be capable of understanding the subtle nuances of the study.
*** No Coins Were Damaged During The Making Of This Page ***
The Origins of Fairy-Tales Revealed
This coin reveals the ancient origins of our modern-day fairy tales. Here is Sleeping Beauty, her long beautiful hair pulled back and tied into a pony-tail, in the act of spinning at her spinning wheel, just before she was pricked by the needle that sent her to sleep. Before I revealed this coin from its uncleaned "crusty" shell, it was not known that the story was current this long ago. (2)
Here, the emperor Theodosius I receives homage from the King of the Monkey People. He will give the Monkey King an apple, which is being placed into his left hand by a servitor who is mostly out of the picture. This, of course, is no more than a charming fantasy, as the long-tailed Monkey People had not been discovered in Roman times. (3)
Everyday Scenes of Roman Life For All To See
On the coin of Probus to the left we see a Roman housewife dusting round the cornices with a
feather duster; and on the coin of Helena to the right she is sweeping up the dust into her long-handled dustpan. Cosy scenes of domestic life! (4)
As you can see on this coin of Julia Mamaea, Rome had its beggars too. And just as London beggars often have a pet dog, so in Rome this one had a pet goose who helped attract the attention of passers-by to the begging bowl. This unfortunate person had one leg shorter than the other, so needed a staff to help her get around. (5)
Ancient Sporting Memorabilia
Here we see a coin commemorating one of the first ever games of cricket. Overarm bowling had been invented (although, regrettably, cricket whites had not), but as yet the bowlers did not take a run-up. So, as shown on this coin of Gordian III, the bowler stood still during his delivery. This rather genteel style can't have lasted long – though the left-handed delivery of this particular bowler might have been good for a few deceptive breaks! (These used to be called "chinamen" but, of course, in Roman times they were far from sensitive to potentially racist terminology.) (6)
This is another cricketing scene. Here, the day's play is drawing to a close, and the umpire is just about to remove the bails to signify the end of play. He is draped from head to foot so that he will stand out from the players, who as you saw above are hardly clothed at all. (7)
This coin, once thought to be an ancient silver drachm of Apollonia, I can now reveal to be a quite modern token issued by a famous camera manufacturer! The prize-winning photo of a cow and her calf is commemorated in the token's design. This imposture was made possible by a spelling error on the token's die, and was revealed simply by me noticing the fact! Take that, Coin Forgery Discussion List! Here's one you missed! (8)
And this one just goes to show the length some people will go to, to try to convince you that a coin isn't a fake. And even though the maker has blazoned the word REAL across the coin, if we are to believe the numbers below, it is actually only nine tenths real! What the rest is, goodness only knows. Perhaps that's the part that has been removed. (9)
Ancient Secrets Unveiled
By careful study of the handshake shown on this coin, I was able to decipher the secret of a masonic lodge so ancient, so secretive, that only one member remains! Finding him was hard work, and gaining his trust was more so, but eventually he was glad to accept me as member no. 2 on payment of a really quite modest initiation fee of 2,000 pounds. (10)
New And Startling Coin Errors Discovered
Before I completed my ground-breaking research into ancient coin manufacture, it had not been realised that some coins were, in error, struck upside down! Here is an example. This simple mistake could easily have been avoided if only the makers had walked round to the other side of their anvil before striking the coin. (By the way, this coin is definitely genuine. My grandfather bought it on his travels in Europe, and he always told me it was a good one, and worth a lot of money.) (11)
Early Records of Entomological Studies
This remarkable study of a praying mantis (12) is on the reverse of a bronze coin consecrated to the memory of the late emperor Claudius Gothicus. As I'm sure you know, praying mantis females eat their mates after copulation. This is surely a veiled comment on the cause of the emperor's premature death!
Sources of Mystery Coins Revealed
Many coins are found on the market that appear to be bronze copies of silver denarii. These are called "limes" coins, meaning coins from the borders of the Roman empire. The theory is that the coins were produced to act as money far from the centre of the Empire, maybe even using official dies. Well, my diligent research has finally unearthed the truth about the origin of "coins of the limes." Just click on this link to see the actual source established at last – just south of London! What a pity that stopping to load up some more coins is clearly prohibited, and this promising site turned out to be a dead end.
The content of this page was last updated on 15 November 2006