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Victoriatus

The Victoriatus was issued by Rome, initially as Greek city state and then as a trade coin in its expanding empire. The name victoriatus is an ancient term, attested by several contemporary texts and inscriptions. This coin was also known as a tropaikon (due to the trophy on the reverse) among Greek speakers. Its relationship to the weight of drachm made it ideal for commercial transactions with Rome’s Greek neighbors. Eventually as Rome grew in power the need for the victoriatus lessened and eventually disappeared from commerce.

With Rome’s successes in the later stages of the Second Punic War against the armies of Hannibal during the siege of Syracuse we see a large influx of wealth much in the form of silver. As a result of these military successes large numbers of citizens and allies from the surrounding city states were under arms in support of Rome and there was an immediate need for larger quantities of coinage. It is during this period that the Roman denarius came into being and the victoriatus remained for purposes of trade with Greek and Southern Italian merchants.

While the denarius and its fractions were good silver (often reaching 98% fineness), the victoriatus was a debased coinage throughout its production c.221-170 BC. It averaged about 70% silver (but with considerable variation) and, unlike the denarius, bore no indication of value. Thus intrinsically a victoriatus was worth roughly half a denarius.  But if one didn’t know it was debased and so judged simply by weight, one would have thought it worth 3/4 a denarius.

Denomination Victoriatus
Metal Silver
Coinage Period c. 221 – 170 B.C.
Mint Roman Republic
Weight ~3.33g
Grading Service NGC and PCGS
Obverse Laureate head of Jupiter
Reverse Victory with trophy, ROMA

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