Dec 18, 2016

Online Coins of the Roman Empire complete

OCRE (Online Coins of the Roman Empire) is a joint project of the American Numismatic Society (ANS) and the Institute for theStudy of the Ancient World at New York University. OCRE launched in July 2012 with the aim of creating a digital corpus of Roman imperial coins that could replace the old volumes of the RIC (Roman Imperial Coinage).

At the time of its launch, the catalog only included the coins minted from Augustus to Hadrian. At the end of 2012, it had already incorporated those minted until the reign of Antoninus Pius. Now, at the end of 2016, the catalog is complete and encompasses more than 500 years of Roman monetary history between Augustus and Zeno (31 BC - 491 AD).

The catalog offers a complete record of each issue. In many cases, it also includes images from coins in some of the most important numismatic collections in the world, such as those of the American Numismatic Society, the British Museum or the Münzkabinett in Berlin, among many others. More images will be incorporated in the future until all coin types are illustrated.

The great advantage of OCRE over the RIC volumes is that it allows users to search using a wide variety of criteria, such as issuing authority, mint, obverse and reverse legend, type, metal, denomination, place of discovery, etc.

One of the most useful features of OCRE is its mapstool, which allows you to locate coins from the mint in which they are minted, see the mints active in the reign of each emperor and much more. It also includes information on the place of discovery of some coins.

In short, OCRE is an indispensable assistant for both researchers and collectors of Roman imperial coinage.

Oct 14, 2016

How were ancient coins made?

In the Ancient World, everything was made by hand, including coins that were minted in the millions using very simple tools. Coins were sometimes produced by casting in a mould, but this process was only usual for large pieces. The common method was to strike them with a hammer.

The basic tools for coin production were a furnace for heating the blank metal discs or "flans", tongs for handling them, a bench on which an anvil was mounted, and a pair of dies struck with a heavy hammer to impress the design into the flan.

The dies were produced of hard bronze or iron and contained an inverse version of the image to be struck on each side of the coin. They were engraved by skilled artisans known as engravers.

Teams of at least three workers were involved in the minting process. Using tongs, one worker would bring the flan from the furnace, another would hold the upper die in place and a third would strike it with the hammer. By repeating this process, an experienced team of workers could produce thousands of coins in a day and Roman mints had generally several teams working side-by-side fulltime. The high frequency of misstruck coins indicates that minting teams worked at very high speed.

As a result of this process, each ancient coin is unique.