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Which Ancient / Medieval Coins Have The Most Historical Significance In Your Collection And Why?

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 Posted 11/22/2022  5:37 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add erafjel to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Firstly, what an excellent idea for a thread! An interest in history is one of my main motivations for collecting coins, so finding the history behind particular coins is something I spend a lot of time researching.

Secondly, what great coins that have already been presented here! I will try to find something that matches but has not yet showed up.

But for now, it is @Yokozuna's post and question that occupies my mind:

Quote:
... tell me what the value of this coin was in 357 A.D.? Was it a cent, like a dime, or could it have bought me a hot dog at the VII-XI?

Prices and the value of money in 4th century Rome are far from clear. What is known is that there was hyperinflation, millions of % if counting in denarius communis (the good old silver denarius, a day's pay for a legionary in the 2nd century AD, which in the 4th century was purely a money of account - if even that). A number of monetary reforms repeatedly gave new values to the bronze nummi, the smallest coins, like the one you have. Still, they were not worth much, and it was common to pack them in sealed bags of 100 or more for daily transactions (a bag like that was called a follis).

In the following, I base my calculations on Harl's "Coinage in the Roman Economy." It will still be rather speculative, given how little we actually know for sure about prices during the period in question. But it can give an idea, and it is an interesting exercise if nothing else, to try to calculate the price of a "calidum canis" in Rome in 357 AD.

I have no source for what the price of a hot dog would be, but let's take something for which there is data: In the mid 4th century, a normal price for a modius (8.6 liter or 1 peck) of wheat was 1/30 of a solidus (a 4.5 gram gold coin). The rate of exchange between the solidus and the nummi in the late 350s was around 3,000. So: 1 peck of wheat = 100 nummi.

Now let's, quite speculatively I admit, say that the price relation between hot dogs and wheat was the same as today. The price of wheat varies quite a bit, but around 2 $/peck seems reasonable. A hot dog is about 4 $ (I guess that varies too, but let's not get too picky, we're doing this for the fun of it!). So, there we go: 1 hot dog/calidum canis = 200 nummi, or two bags of 100 coins, please .

I will post a coin in this thread too, I promise . I just have to decide which one ...

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 Posted 11/24/2022  10:09 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add erafjel to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
As promised, a contribution to the thread with an actual coin, not just blabbering.

Louis I, Francia/Frankish Kingdom, denier, 822-40. Inscription: HLVDOVVICVS IMP / XPISTIANA RELIGIO.



Louis I, son of Charlemagne, succeeded his father in 814 and ruled the Frankish kingdom until his death 840. Due to his piety he usually goes by the name Louis the Pious.

The historical significance here is twofold:

Firstly, Louis was the last of the Carolingian kings to rule the whole of the vast Frankish kingdom, stretching from Rome and the Mediterranean to the North Sea, and from the Atlantic to what is today Austria. He decided that after his death, the kingdom should be split among his three sons, in a western, a middle, and an eastern part. Following his death in 840, his sons immediately began fighting over the parts (Louis had not divided the kingdom equally, his favorite son Lothair would have the larger, middle, part). After enough fighting they came to an agreement and in the treaty of Verdun 843, the three new kingdoms West Francia, Middle Francia, and East Francia were established. West Francia eventually became France; Middle Francia became Lorraine, the Low Countries and northern Italy; East Francia became the larger part of the Holy Roman Empire and later Germany. Lorraine became a fighting ground for armies from the neighboring West and East kingdoms/nations over the centuries, latest and hopefully for the last time, during WW2. Had the pious Louis known that he was laying the foundation for a thousand years of battles, he might have acted differently.

Secondly, this is an early example of a coin minted according to Charlemagne's monetary reform of (around) 780. It stated that one livre (pound, as a weight measure) was divided into 20 sous, each in turn divided into 12 deniers (each containing 1/240 of a pound of silver). This division lasted for over a thousand years until the decimalization of French money in 1793. As is well known, the system spread to other countries as well. In Britain, the 1 pound = 20 shillings = 240 pence division lasted until 1971 (still using d to denote the penny, originating from denier; the sign for pound comes, of course, from the word livre).
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 Posted 11/24/2022  10:34 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Bob L to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great additions.
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