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Aurelian (270-275AD) Antoninianus


Aurelian (270-275AD) was the great restorer. He is the one who built the wall that still surrounds Rome today. He constructed that due to the swarm of barbarian invasions. His coinage reflects the first monetary reform that provides the bounce coming out of the low on our chart. The workmanship is greatly improved, and the coins take on a generally uniform look. They are marked “XXI” or “KA” and this states that the coins, although are still bronze, now contain 1/20th part silver. This reflects the official acknowledgment of this chemical process to create silver plated bronze coins. Now there is no return to silver coinage, just a claim that a tiny portion of the coinage is now silver mixed in with the bronze.

Aurelian’s reform is clearly extensive. The increases both the size and the weight of the antoniniani as they now took on a more uniform appearance. Aurelian officially adopted the silver-plating process and increased the size and weight of the gold coins from 5.5 g to 6.5 g. He made no attempt however to reintroduce any silver coinage. Additionally, he made an extensive production of coins bearing his wife’s portrait Severina. These coins however are approximately 3 times as common as those of his wife.

Aurelian is assassinated because of his reforms. The internal bureaucrats, corrupt as we see they are today, plot against him to prevent him from cleaning the house so to speak. So, we see clear parallels – (1) Rome split because of the monetary crisis just as did the USSR, and (2) the bureaucrats were running the government (BACKROOM DICTATORSHIP). Because it was the bureaucrats who killed Aurelian rather than a general, we have a brief period of the Interregnum where the Senate issued two bronze coins without the image of an emperor.

These are the bronze coins with the silver wash generally missing which have been in circulation so the condition is VF/XF.


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