Imitation coins abound in Roman provinces under Julio-Claudians

Ancients Today: Issues filled need brought about by coin shortages in the west
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 08/19/16
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A final category of imitations is the derivative issue. Though the illustrated Nero as is fairly far removed from the Roman original, this seems to have been the result of the engraver’s inexperience or carelessness rather than any desire to create something distinctive.

The same cannot be said for the silver “denarius” made somewhere in Western Europe — perhaps in modern Germany, north of the Rhine. It imitates a denarius of Augustus, showing on its obverse the emperor’s portrait and on its reverse the standing figures of his grandsons Gaius Caesar and Lucius Caesar, both of whom hold spears and shields.

The style of engraving is so far removed from the original that it could never have been intended to pass as an official coin of Rome. Instead, it can only be seen as a singular work of art in which Augustus’ designs have been completely — and purposefully — reworked. Indeed, it reminds us of the much older “Celtic” tradition in which the designs of Greek coins were re-envisioned by engravers with their own, distinctive, approach to art. 

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