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Research Coins: Printed Auction

 
Triton XXII, Lot: 788. Estimate $500.
Sold for $1600. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Anonymous. 211-208 BC. AR Victoriatus (16.5mm, 3.32 g, 2h). C/M series. Uncertain mint in Sicily. Laureate head of Jupiter right; C to left / Victory standing right, placing wreath on trophy; M between, ROMA in exergue. Crawford 71/1a; Sydenham 112; RSC 36a; BMCRR Italy 252-6; RBW 300. EF, lightly toned.


From the Alan J. Harlan Collection. Ex Numismatica Ars Classica 29 (11 May 2005), lot 270; Astarte II (5 March 1999), lot 154.

In around 218 BC, shortly before the appearance of the silver denarius, mints in the Roman Republic began to strike silver coins bearing on the obverse a bust of Jupiter and on the reverse a figure of Victory placing a wreath upon a trophy. Known as a victoriatus in Latin or tropaikon in Greek, this coin was primarily issued to facilitate payments in Greek-speaking southern Italy, where its weight was roughly equivalent to a drachm or half nomos. Rome at this time had a great need for coinage, as the Second Punic War then raged across Italy, and the city needed silver to pay her allies. This function is demonstrated by the hoard evidence, which shows that their circulation was generally limited to southern Italy, and later Cisalpine Gaul and Spain.

The victoriatus was generally struck in less pure silver than the denarius, rarely meeting the same 90% standard, yet it generally followed the same overall pattern of debasements. Despite this, it proved to be an important coin for the budding empire. Though the type was discontinued around 170 BC, the coins themselves continued to circulate, eventually becoming worn enough to function in the marketplace as quinarii. Accordingly, even into the early Imperial period, the silver quinarius was also sometimes refered to as a victoriatus.