Understanding your Roman treasure coin starts with what may seem like its unlikely connection... to cattle. One of the Latin words for money is pecunia, which originates from the Latin word for cattle. In Roman times, cattle provided sustenance, and were vital necessity to almost every culture. With cattle you could buy all of life’s necessities, and measure your wealth compared to others. But trading cattle for goods became increasingly cumbersome in the soon sprawling Roman Empire. In response, crude, shapeless heavy coins were cast in bronze in the 5th Century BC.
Sometime during the 3rd Century BC, Roman coins began to carry images of animals, tridents and shields. Next came the coinage which was to be the forerunner of all coinage to come. Called Aes Grave (heavy bronze), the coins were still cast, but were circular.
Later, around 211 BC, Romans issued the first coins that were uniquely their own. These are the Follis, Denarius, Sestarius and Quinarius. At last, Roman coins as we think of them were produced - struck coinage which came to be recognized throughout the Empire. These coins bear the image of the Emperor, legends on the obverse and reverse, and deities, military images, personifications and other fascinating images on the reverse. Struck in bronze, silver and gold, these small links to centuries past tell the story of the rise, expansion and fall of one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known.