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6. A Description of the Coin Types Minted at Ostia

Although the mint at Ostia was only in operation for approximately five years, a large number of different types of coins were produced. Coin production can be seen to have taken place in two periods namely a) from the inception of the mint in 308/9 to October 312 AD and b) from October 312 to the closure of the mint around May 313 AD. At some stage in the life of the mint gold, silver and bronze coins were all produced but today all but the bronze are exceedingly rare.

Table 1: Gold coins of the first period 308/9 to October 312 AD
Type
Date AD
Reverse
Obverse
Double
308/9

AETERNAE MEMORIAE - Eagle on domed shrine with no columns and the doors open.

a)
Aureus
308/9
VICTORIA AETERNA AVG N - Victory giving a globe to Maxentius (Plate 9)
b)
Aureus
308/9
CONSERVATOR VRBIS SVAE - Roma holding Victory on a globe.
c)
Aureus
308/9
TEMPORVM FELICITAS AVG N - the she-wolf and the twins
c)
Aureus
310-312
MARTI VICTORI COMITI AVG N - Mars with Victory, crowning Maxentius
c)
Aureus
310-312
PAX AETERNA AVG N - Maxentius with a soldier, Roma and Africa
c)
Aureus
310-312
VICTORIA AETERNA AVG N Victory inscribing either VOT/V or VOT/IS/X on a shield
c)
Aureus
310-312
VICTORIA OMNIVM GENTIVM AVG N - Maxentius receiving Victory on a globe from Mars
c)

a) Romulus and DIVO ROMVLO N V BIS CONS
b) Maxentius and MAXENTIVS P F INV AVG
c) Maxentius and MAXENTIVS P F AVG

The authenticity and the weight of the double in the above table is uncertain as the only known example was stolen in 1831. All the coins carried the mintmark POST and the average weight of the aurei was around 5.4g. This was slightly higher than the weight of the aurei produced in the other mints.

In the second period, October 312 to c. May 313 AD, Constantine introduced the gold solidus which had a reduced average weight of 4.5g. At several mints, multiples of the aureus and the solidus were produced up to multiples of 10X. At Ostia, solidus 'doubles' and solidus 'halves' were produced weighing 8.35 and 1.9g respectively.

Table 2: Gold coins of the second period October 312 to c.May 313 AD
Type
Mintmark
Reverse
Obverse
Double
POST*
PRINCIPI IVVENTIS - Prince holding spear and globe
a)
Solidus
POST
IOVI CONSERVATORI AVGG - Jupiter on throne holding a thunderbolt
b)
Solidus
POST
PRINCIPI IVVENTVTIS - Prince holding sphere and globe
c)
Solidus
POST
SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI - Legionary eagle between two vexilli
d)
Solidus
POST
VICTORIA CONSTANTINI AVG - Victory holding a wreath
d)
Half
POST*
PRINCIPI IVVENTVTIS - Prince holding sphere and globe
e)
Half
POST
PRINCIPI IVVENTVTIS - Prince holding sphere and globe
f)

a) Constantine and IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG
b) Licinius and LICINIVS P F AUG
c) Constantine and CONSTANTINVS P F AVG
or Maximinus and MAXIMINVS P F AVG
d) Constantine and CONSTANTINVS P F
e) Licinius and IMP LICINIVS P F AVG
f) Licinius and LICINIVS AVG

Silver coins were only minted in the first period in 308/309 AD, and all bore the legend MAXENTIUS P F AVG. The weight of the coins was c.3.1g and the mintmarks known are POSTD and MOSTA to MOSTD, those carrying POSTD probably being minted first. It could well be that the mint was set up originally to produce only gold and silver coins and that bronze issues first appeared at the same time that MOSTA to MOSTD was being used on silver coins.

Three types of silver coins are known from the Ostia mint:

a) MARTI PROPAG IMP AVG N - Mars holding a sceptre and facing a female, in between them the she-wolf and the twins. The mintmarks are POSTD, MOSTB, MOSTC or MOSTD.
b) MARTI PROPAGATORI AVG N - Mars giving a Victory on a globe to Maxentius. The mintmark is POSTD.
c) TEMPORVM FELICITAS AVG N - The she-wolf and twins; the mintmarks MOSTA and MOSTB.

(Sutherland and Carson in "Roman Imperial Coinage Vol. VI" make mention of a silver coin that was probably cast from a follis carrying the inscriptions IMP C MAXENTIVS P F AVG and VICTORIA AETERNA AVGG, and the mintmark MOSTQ)

The bronze coins (folles) carrying the mintmarks MOSTA to MOSTD and the obverse inscription IMP C MAXENTIVS P F AVG, were probably produced in 308/309 AD. In 301 AD, Diocletian issued the edictum de maximis pretiis rerum venalium whereby he tried to regulate the maximum prices of a whole range of goods based on the denarius communis. An approximate 'valuation' would suggest that 10 folles were equivalent in value to 50 denarii communes and to 2 denarii argentii, based on the amount of silver they contained. At the turn of the 4th Century, the weight of folles produced in the eastern and central mints was within c.10% of 11g. But by 308/309 AD the weight had fallen to between 6 and 7g. At Ostia however, the weight of the folles was between 6.0 and 6.75g in the early days of the mint, falling to 5.5 to 6.75g in the period up to October 312 AD. Further reductions in weight occured at all the mints in 312/313 AD, so in the period of Constantine the coins minted at Ostia weighed 3.5 to 4.5g.

In this early period at Ostia (308/309 AD) five different types of coins were minted:

a) AETERNITAS AVG N - Castor and Pollux holding bridled horses, with the mintmarks A and C.
b) AETERNITAS AVG N - as above, with the addition of the she-wolf and twins between Castor and Pollux. Mintmarks A to D are known. (Plate 10)
c) AETERNITAS AVG N - the she-wolf and the twins with mintmark D.
d) VICTORIA AETERNA AVG N - Victory advancing left - mintmark C.
e) VICTORIA AETERNA AVG N - Victory advancing right - mintmark C.

In late 309 AD the Greek letters incorporated into the mintmarks were changed from A to D, to P to Q. One group of coins minted by Maxentius during this later period (up to October 312 AD) was a series of commemoratives to Maximianus (his father), Galerius (his father-in-law), Constantius (his uncle) and Romulus (his son).

Table 3: Commemoratives from period late 309 to October 312 AD
Type
Mintmark
Reverse
Obverse
Follis
S
AETERNA MEMORIA Eagle on domed hexastyle temple with right door open.
a)
Follis
PSTQ
As above (Plate 11)
b) c) g) h) i) k) l)
Follis
ST
As above
d)
Follis
T
As above
j)
Follis
PSTQ
AETERNAE MEMORIAE As above but no pillars on temple. (Plate 12)
l)
Half
PSTQ
AETERNAE MEMORIAE As above.
j)
Half
PSTQ
AETERNAE MEMORIAE As above.
l)

a) DIVO MAXIMIANO SEN AVG
b) DIVO MAXIMIANO PATRI MAXENTIVS AVG
c) IMP MAXENTIVS DIVO MAXIMIANO PATRI
d) DIVO CONSTANTIO COGN MAXENTIVS AVG
e) IMP MAXENTIVS DIVO CONSTANTIO COGN
f) DIVO CONSTANTIO ADFINI MAXENTIVS AVG
g) IMP MAXENTIVS DIVO CONSTANTIO ADFINI
h) DIVO MAXIMIANO SOCERO MAXENTIVS AVG
i) IMP MAXENTIVS DIVO MAXIMIANO SOCERO
j) DIVO ROMVLO N V FILIO MAXENTIVS AVG
k) IMP MAXENTIVS DIVO ROMVLO N V FILIO
l) DIV ROMVLO N V BIS CONS

All the remaining bronze coins produced in this period up to October 312 AD carry the obverse inscription IMP MAXENTIVS P F AVG. Most are folles weighing 5.5 to 6.75g but two are halves weighing 2.75 to 3.25g.

Table 4: Folles produced up to October 312 AD
Type
Mintmark
Reverse
Follis
Q
ADLOCVTIO AVG N -Maxentius addressing troops
Follis
PSTQ
AETERNITAS AVG N - Castor and Pollux
Follis
ST
AETERNITAS AVG N - wolf and twins facing right. (Plate 13)
Follis
PSTQ
AETERNITAS AVG N - wolf and twins facing left. (Plate 14)
Follis
ST
AETERNITAS AVG N - Fides with standard in each hand.
Follis
PSTQ
FIDES MILITVM AVG N - as above (Plate 15)
Follis
T
MARTI COMITI AVG N - Mars with branch, shield & spear
Follis
T
MARTI COMITI AVG N - Mars with spear and trophy.
Follis
T
MARTI COMITI AVG N - As above, also holding shield
Follis
TQ
SAECVLI FELIC AVG N - wolf and twins
Follis
PT
SAECVLI FELICITAS AVG N - wolf and twins.
Follis
PT
VICTORIA AETERNA AVG N - Victory advancing left. (See Plate 16)
Follis
PSTQ
VICTORIA AETERNA AVG N - Victory advancing right.
Follis
Q
VICTOR OMNIVM GENTIVM AVG N - Maxentius receiving Victory from Mars.
Follis
T
VIRTVS AVG N - Maxentius on horseback plunging spear over two of the enemy.
Follis
Q
VOT OPTATA ROMAE FEL - Victory inscribing on a shield.
Half
PSTQ
VICTORIA AETERNA AVG N - Victory inscribing VOT/X on shield in two lines. (Plate 17)
Half
PSTQ
VICTORIA AETERNA AVG N - Victory inscribing VOT/XX/FEL in three lines. (Plate 18)

From October 312 AD through to the closure of the mint in 313 AD, folles continued to be minted weighing between 3.5 and 4.5g. The mintmarks used were MOSTP to MOSTQ and the obverse inscriptions on the coins read either IMP C CONSTANTINVS P F AVG, IMP MAXIMINVS P F AVG or IMP LICINIUS P F AVG.

Four issues were minted carrying the obverse images of either Constantine, Maximinus or Licinius:

1) GENIO POP ROM - Genius with modius on head, holding patera and cornucopiae.
2) SOL INVICTO COMITI - Sol holding globe close to body.
3) SOL INVICTO COMITI - Sol holding globe up.
4) S P Q R OPTIMO PRINCIPI - Legionary eagle between two vexilli.

With the reverse image, the head is always facing right. The figure can be either A) laureate and draped, B) laureate wearing a cuirass, C) laureate and draped with a cuirass or D) laureate and draped with a cuirass but seen from the rear. (See the following four tables)

Table 5: GENIO POP ROM
Obverse image
Mintmark
 
Obverse image
Mintmark
Constantine - A)
P
 
Maximinus - B)
T
Constantine - B)
PST (Plate 19)
 
Maximinus - C)
T
Constantine - C)
PSTQ
 
Licinius - B)
Q
Constantine - D)
P
 
Licinius - C)
Q

Table 6: SOLI INVICTO COMITI - (Globe close to body)
Obverse image
Mintmark
 
Obverse image
Mintmark
Constantine - B)
PSTQ (Plate 20)
 
Maximinus - C)
T
Constantine - C)
SQ
 
Maximinus - D)
T
Constantine - D)
PSTQ
 
Licinius - B)
PSQ
Maximinus - B)
STQ
 
Licinius - C)
TQ

Table 7: SOL INVICTO COMITI - (Globe held up)
Obverse image
Mintmark
 
Obverse image
Mintmark
Constantine - B)
PS
 
Maximinus - C)
ST
Constantine - C)
PT
 
Licinius - B)
Q
Maximinus - B)
T
 
Licinius - C)
Q

Table 8: SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI
Obverse image
Mintmark
 
Obverse image
Mintmark
Constantine - B)
PSTQ
 
Maximinus - C)
T
Constantine - C)
PSTQ
 
Maximinus - D)
T
Constantine - D)
PSQ
 
Licinius - B)
Q
Maximinus - B)
ST
 
Licinius - C)
Q

Five other types of folles were produced in this late phase of the mint bearing Constantine on the obverse. One coin type carried the image of Maximinus on the obverse.

Table 9: Other folles bearing the image of Constantine or Maximinus
Obverse
Reverse
Mintmark
Constantine - B)
HERCVLI VICTORI - Hercules holding apples and lion's skin.
S
Constantine - C)
MARTI CONSERVATORI - Mars facing right holding spear and shield.
T
Constantine - C)
MARTI CONSERVATORI - Mars facing left holding branch and shield.
T
Constantine - C)
SOLI INVICTO COMITI - Sol facing left, holding globe & trampling on enemy.
P
Constantine - B)
VICTORIA AET AVGGG NNN - Victory inscribing VOT/X in two lines on a shield.
P
Maximinus - B)
RESTITUTOR ROMAE - Roma giving globe to emperor, leaning on a sceptre.
S

Plate 9: Victory giving a globe to a
seated Maxentius in military dress.
Plate 10: Castor and Pollux holding bridled
horses with the she-wolf and twins between them.

Plate 11: An eagle with outspread
wings on a domed hexastyle temple.
Plate 12: An eagle with outspread
wings on a temple with no columns.

Plate 13: The twins with the
right facing she-wolf.
Plate 14: The twins with the left facing
she-wolf.

Plate 15: Fides holding a standard in
both hands.
Plate 16: Victory advancing left,
holding a wreath and a palm leaf.

Plate 17: Victory inscribing VOT/X
onto a shield in two lines.
Plate 18: Victory inscribing VOT/XX/FEL
onto a shield on three lines.

Plate 19: Genius with modius on head,
holding patera and cornucopiae.
Plate 20: Sol with right hand raised,
holding a globe close to the body.

Many other reverse types were produced. A list can be found in Appendix 1 in the summary of the article written by Jules Maurice in 1908.

When one takes into account the inscriptions on the reverse faces, the picture becomes even more complicated. Twenty six inscriptions are known, but from different dies, the inscriptions can be seen to be made up of different lettering and more obviously, different 'breaks' in the text. Plates 21 and 22 show two such differences in breaks in the text. (AET / ERNITAS A / VGN is also known)

Plate 21: AETE / RNITAS / AVGN Plate 22: AETE / RNITASA / VGN

On the obverse faces of the coins appear the images of Maxentius, Maximinus, Romulus, Licinius, Galerius and Constantine I. On Roman coins, portraits are most frequently shown facing to the right.(To the right of the coin). Left facing is standard in some periods, and at times, heads can be found facing in either direction. The following terms are used to describe the portrait:

Bare headed - showing nothing lower than the neck and no head gear.
Laureate - wearing a laurel wreath, tied at the back with ribbons that hang down behind.
Bust - if anything below the neck is shown, (e.g. shoulders) then the result is a bust.
Cuirassed - shows evidence of the wearing of military armour.
Veiled - usually describes the portrait of a deceased person.

Plate 23: A typical bare-headed, right
facing portrait of the head of Maxentius.
Plate 24: Laureate head with cuirassed
shoulders on a half follis of Maximinus.

Plate 25: Maxentius, helmeted,
wearing a cuirass and carrying
a spear and shield.
Plate 26: Bare headed Romulus
facing right.

Plate 27: Maxentius, laureate,
holding spear and shield.
Plate 28: Maxentius wearing a veil.

Plate 29: Maxentius, laureate,
wearing a cuirass and holding
a spear and shield.
Plate 30: Maximinus veiled
and right facing.

Plate 31: Laureate Maxentius
facing left.
Plate 32: Constantine, laureate and
wearing a cuirass.

A list of all the obverse and reverse inscriptions can be found in Appendix 1.


[et - 7-May-2005]