Glossary of Ancient Coin Terms

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Term Definition
Aegis a small cloak decorated with a gorgon's head in the center.
Aes non-precious metal used for the production of coins.
Akakia a scroll-like object with knobs on its ends. Replaced the mappa as a symbol of imperial authority.
Aspergillum a whisk or sprinkler associated with religious rituals, it appeared on coinage as a symbol of the Roman priesthood of the Pontifices.
Aspron Trachy The electrum (white gold) concave coin.
Augustus title conferred on Octavian by the senate in 27 BC as part of the constitutional settlement following his victory at Actium. This title was equivalent to the English term 'emperor'.
Biga a chariot drawn by a team of two animals, usually horses.
Billon low grade alloy of silver.
Binio a double unit, this term is most often applied to the gold multiple aurei coinage of the 3rd century.
Brockage a mis-strike resulting from a coin becoming lodged in the reverse, or upper die, during minting. The next coin would receive two obverse impressions; one from the obverse die; the other from the lodged coin. The impression from the lodged coin would be incuse (recessed). Brockage coins with two reverses are much rarer because a lodged coin in the lower die is visible during placing of a new coin blank.
Bust a portrait which includes the head and shoulders.
Caduceus the wand of Mercury, having snakes and wings as ornamentation.
Caesar originated with the family name of Julius Caesar, taken by the adopted Augustus. It then passed to Tiberius and Caligula by adoption; and to subsequent emperors on their accession, adoption, or nomination as heir-apparent.
Celator coin die engraver in ancient times.
Chalmys The purple mantle worn by the Emperor. It fastened at the right shoulder with a pin and a decorative cloth.
Christogram the Christian monogram, consisting of the Greek letters Chi and Rho (XP = Chr{ist}).
Cippus a short round pillar.
Cista a basket used for the housing of sacred snakes in connection with the initiation ceremony into the cult of Bacchus (Dionysus).
Colobium A short tunic worn as an undergarment.
Congiarium a public distribution of food or money.
Conjoined two or more heads placed side by side.
Consul title given to the two leading magistrates of the Roman republic, elected annually.
Contorniate late Roman aes medallions which appear to have been minted in Rome in the late 4th and 5th centuries.
Cornucopiae the horn of plenty, usually overflowing with fruits.
Cuirassed wearing armor, of leather and/or metal, which covers the upper body and shoulders.
Curule chair folding camp-stool.
Decastyle used to describe a building with ten columns.
Decursio used to describe rapid military maneuvers, especially equestrian.
Diademed wearing a tied ribbon or string of pearls on the head.
Die the stamp from which a coin blank receives it's design through the process of striking.
Distyle used to describe a building with two columns.
Divitision A long belted tunic with close fitting sleeves.
Draped wearing a cloak over the shoulders.
Electrum alloy of gold and silver (at least 20%) of varying purity.
Equestrian mounted on horseback, or relating to horse riding.
Exercitus 'army'.
Exergue the small space on the reverse of a coin below the principle device. Commonly abbreviated as ex.
Fasces bundle of rods bound together which, when accompanied by an axe, symbolize the authority of the highest Roman magistrates.
Field the area surrounding the principle obverse or reverse element.
Flan the metal blank struck between two dies to mint a coin.
Fourree a plated coin with a base metal core, usually covered by silver but sometimes gold. This usually indicates a counterfeit but some may have been produced with official mint dies.
Globus Cruciger orb.
Graffiti letters or marks scratched into the surface of a coin in ancient times.
Head a portrait without the person's shoulders showing.
Helmeted wearing a helmet, usually of a ceremonial nature.
Hexastyle used to describe a building with six columns.
Hybrid a coin which has an obverse and a reverse die incorrectly combined.
Imperator traditionally the honorific which was granted to a Roman commander by his troops after a victory.
Incuse a design which is recessed into the surface of the flan.
Janiform two heads joined back to back, usually in the manner of the god Janus.
Jugate heads side by side, in profile, usually of an emperor and empress.
Labarum a Roman military standard, ornamented with the Christian monogram from the time of Constantine the Great.
Laureate wearing a wreath of laurel leaves.
Legend the principal inscription appearing on the obverse and reverse of a coin.
Legionary eagle the principal standard of a Roman legion. Normally fixed to a spear, the eagle was usually silver, this metal being visible at the greatest distance.
Lituus a short curving staff used in religious ceremonies.
Loros A rectangular piece of cloth, or scarf, by which the Emperor is symbolically projected as the visible representative of Christ.
Manus Dei the 'Hand of God'; a Christian image which appears on some coins from the late 4th century onwards in the form of a right hand holding a diadem above the head of the Emperor to indicate divine sanction of the Emperor's authority.
Maphorion The veil worn by the Virgin.
Mappa A roll of cloth tossed into the stadium to start the games.
Mint mark letters and/or symbols indicating the place of mintage of a coin, and sometimes the workshop (officina) responsible for the coins production.
Modius a measure of wheat or any dry or solid commodity, containing the third part of an amphora. In form it resembled an inverted bucket standing on three legs. The god Serapis is usually shown wearing it on his head, as god of the corn supply as well as of the underworld.
Moneyer the official responsible for issuing coins.
Mule a coin which has an obverse and a reverse die incorrectly combined.
Nimbate wearing a nimbus or halo surrounding the head.
Nimbus Cruciger halo with cross.
Octastyle used to describe a building with eight columns.
Officina a monetary workshop within a mint.
Orichalcum brass, a yellowish alloy of copper and zinc, used extensively during the Imperial period principally for the production of the sestertius and dupondius.
Palladium an ancient sacred image of Athena (Minerva).
Parazonium a short sheathed sword (or large dagger), usually worn at the waist.
Pater Patriae honorific title meaning "Father of the Fatherland"; conferred by the Roman Senate. 
Patera a broad, flat bowl or dish used for drinking or for pouring libations.
Pileus the cap of Liberty.
Planchet alternative name for a flan (q.v.)
Pontifex Maximus meaning 'Chief Priest'; adopted by Augustus upon the death of Lepidus in 13 BC and assumed by all later emperors upon their accession. The practice continued until AD 383 when it was abandoned by Gratian.
Potent Term used to describe a cross with a bar at the end of each arm.
Potin A low grade alloy of silver.
Quadriga a chariot drawn by a team of four animals, usually horses.
Radiate wearing a spiky crown, symbolic of the sun-god Sol.
Serratus serrati were Roman Republican denarii with notched or serrated edges.
Signum a military standard.
Simpulum a sacrificial vessel in the form of a ladle with a long handle.
Standard a military ensign (signum) borne by a signifier as an emblem of a cohort within a legion.
Tessara a square tablet marked with points; it represented gifts such as corn, oil, or money. An attribute of the personification Liberalitas. Liberalitas.
Tetrastyle used to describe a building with four columns.
Togate (figure) wearing the Roman toga.
Trachy The Greek term for a concave coin; also termed a scyphate.
Tribuniciae potestatis tribunician power which each Emperor was given upon his accession. Renewed each year upon the anniversary of the first conferral, or on 10 December from the reign of Trajan. The tribunician power gave the Emperor immunity from prosecution; the right to introduce legislation; and to veto laws, elections, or the actions of other magistrates. Due to this power being renewed each year, it is possible to date a coin to a particular twelve month period by the number following the tribunician power (TP) on a coin.
Trident a three pronged fishing spear, associated with Neptune.
Triga a chariot drawn by a team of three animals, usually horses.
Tripod a three legged stand, usually serving to support a seat or large bowl.
Triskeles a device comprising three human legs joined at the hip and radiating from a central point.
Trophy the arms of a vanquished enemy set up to commemorate victory over them.
Turreted wearing a crown in the form of a city wall with towers or battlements.
Variety variant of the coin that has been described in the catalog number which has been cited, often abbreviated as var.
Vexillum military standard consisting of a square shaped piece of cloth bearing a device suspended from a cross bar attached to a pole.
Vota a vow made to a god in order to obtain a divine favor stipulated in advance.
   
Augustus 013484

Augustus 'Capricorn with Globe' Denarius
Silver, 3.56 grams; 20.16 mm. Spanish mint. 18-16 BC. Obverse: bare head right. Reverse: Capricorn flying right with cornucopiae and rudder on globe, AVGVSTVS below. RIC I 126; Cohen 21; BMC 346; Sear (2000) 1592. Good very fine.

more info
Augustus 013484


Main Roman Coin Book and Other References:

RIC = Mattingly, Harold    The Roman Imperial Coinage
BMC = Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum
RSC = Seaby, H A    Roman Silver Coinage
RCV = Sear, David R    Roman Coins and Their Values
Cr = Crawford, Michael    The Roman Republican Coinage
SB = Sear, David R    Byzantine Coins and Their Values
S = Coins of England and the United Kingdom
WW = Wildwinds.com (reference & attribution site)



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