Map of Aes Signatum Finds

Vecchi 2014 arrived!  V exciting.  My histogram now has reported weights of 43 currency bars.  But more fun:

aes signatum findspots.JPG

This let me draw the above map.  I added Lavinium from Molinari 2011 to his listed findspots.  BUT I’m sure I’m missing others.

Here’s the list with GPS coordinates used (approximate of course):

San Marinella 42.03333 11.85
Ariccia 41.71667 12.66667
Mazin 44.45333 15.96583
La Bruna 43.2354 12.3742
Tor Marancia 41.85291 12.50021
Città di Castello 43.47 12.23139
Via Tiberina 42.0976 12.5771
Vulci 42.41889 11.63167
Velletri 41.68667 12.7775
Ceveteri 42 12.1
Castelgandolfo 41.74675 12.65059
Vicarello 43.61238 10.46515
Alba Fucens 42.0746 13.40539
Bomarzo 42.48831 12.24188
Terni 42.56194 12.64139
Lavinium 41.66163 12.47843


Ariminum’s heavy pound

Ariminum was Roman colony founded 368 BCE.  Gorini 2010 gives a full study to the coinage and places its first aes grave series in the period from 264-241 BCE i.e. the First Punic War.  He also says that the series is based on a pound of 380g.  That’s MUCH heavier than the Roman pound (whatever we think it was, probably c. 325 plus or minus 5).  I thought, that can’t be right, so I re-looked at the data.


I might be inclined to suggest a target weight for the Ariminum pound c. 355-360, still heavier than the Roman, but not so extreme.

Why would a colony choose to use a heavier measure?  Accident? Intent?  Why use a base 10 instead of base 12 fraction system?!


This plate from Marchi 1839 suggests that there was a still larger denomination, unrecorded by Gorini 2010 and other recent commentators.  Is that a horse head? Inspired by RRC 13/1?


Dolphins up, Dolphins down

I’ve been thinking about the manufacture of aes signatum.  The bars clearly have an up and down along one short end.  ‘Up’ being my shorthand for the fill edge, where the bar has been broken from the casting sprue.

This got me to observe this about known RRC 12/1 specimens (all illustrated with fill edge up).

specimen in trade (ex Goodman collection)


Other specimens:




I cannot readily determine the orientation of the specimen illustrated in Vecchi 1978, but up dolphin seems most likely from the photos.

Concerning but not decisive.  If you look back at previous Vecchi images of amphora/spearhead. You’ll notice that on have amphora up and the other amphora down.

Tuscan Hoard of 1778


BM 2010,5006.525 cf. 524 (Bulls) and 526 (Shield) all watercolors from the collection of Charles Townley.  All public domain images now.  Also I think because of the quality of the depiction of the edges of the specimens in these drawing it should be possible to determine into which collection these specimens passed.  As far as I can tell from an initial comparison, these are not held in the major CRRO museums or illustrated in Thompsen 1957 or Vecchi 1978.  (RRC 5/1, RRC 7/1, and RRC 12/1)

Letter from James Byres to Townley, 9th December 1778:
‘…the most uncommon purchase I have made is of four of the earliest Etruscan Ase, which I have long thought of mentioning to you, as I believe they are unique, at last I never heard of any but three that could at all compare with them. One of the Treasury of St. Genevieve at Paris and two, but much inferior belonging to the Marquis Oliviero del Abate, at Pesaro. They are of an oblong form, about six inches and a quarter long by about three inches and half broad, of different thicknesses, weighing from four to upwards of five pounds each. On one of them is on each side a Bull, good work. on another, on one side are two Dolphins and two Tridents. On the other side. Two Cocks, the other two. have shields represented on each side of them. all very good work. The great Ase at Paris. I’m told, weighs about three pounds. those of the Marquis Olivero are octagon and only weight about two pounds each, which makes me think that mine are of a prior date. they were found last Autumn in Tuscany, in the Foundry where they had been cast, for along with them I got some broken pieces of Ase and several unform’d lamps of Brass.They have occasion’d a good deal of Speculation amongst the curious. I have had proposals made me from Paris. Germany and from the Cardinal Zelada. To part with them, but choose they should be placed in England, and if not in the British Museum, in the hands of some person who knows their value; I esteem them at one hundred pounds. I have a few other Ase, which altho’ known, are rare, which I would throw in with them…’ (TY7/686)