Imitative/Countermarked Roman coinage coinage
following the conquest of Britain by Claudius

Last updated: 20 December 2019


Introductory Notes:

1. Large quantities of imitative Roman aes coins - some of poor quality but also some of reasonably good quality - were produced in Britain during this period using spurious dies.

2. In order to help relieve pervasive coin shortages, quantities of reasonably well made imitative coins were occasionally accepted by Roman officials for circulation.

3. Many coins were countermarked to indicate their official status and in some instances to denote re-valuation of coinage denomination.


ANNOTATED EXEMPLARS
Imitative/Countermarked coins from my collection


IMITATIVE CLAUDIUS SPES SESTERTIUS WITH DEVALUATION COUNTERMARK


Pangeri 85d, (30mm, 15.2gm)
Countermarked DV (denoting half value) on obverse.

Enlargement of DV countermark:

This is a devaluation countermark indicating this coin is re-valued as a Dupondius (half value) due to its very low weight. Note edge chisel mark on the obverse at approx. 3 o'clock which is always present on DV countermarked coins.


IMITATIVE CLAUDIUS OB CIVES SERVATOS SESTERTIUS WITH COUNTERMARK


BMCRE, Vol. I, CLAUDIUS, SESTERTIUS, Rome, No. 120, 41-45AD (38mm, 29.2gm)
Obverse depiction: Claudius, laureate head facing right
Inscription: TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG PM TRP IMP
Countermarked PROB
Mattingly note - Cmk. in oblong incuse in front of neck and face; end of legend obliterated
Reverse depiction: Civic Oak Wreath
Inscription in four lines:
EX SC
O      B
C  I  V  E  S
SERVATOS

(within Civic Oak Wreath)

Enlargement of PROB countermark:

PROB (Probatum = approved) countermark. I believe this to be an irregular issue coin (struck from locally made unofficial dies). Note the flattened and bulged area on the reverse resulting from the very heavily struck countermark on the obverse which was carelessly positioned almost off the flan. The inscriptional lettering on the reverse is somewhat uneven and not very well formed.


TIBERIUS AGRIPPA NEPTUNE AS WITH CLAUDIUS COUNTERMARK


Agrippa Obverse & Neptune reverse As
BMCRE, Vol I, Tiberius, No. 168 (RIC, Vol I, No. 58)
Plate 26
Reverse: Claudius Countermark TIAV (A and V ligatured) in oblong incuse over head of Neptune

"In hand" enlargement of countermark:


Neptune reverse
As, BMCRE, Vol I, Tiberius, No. 168 (RIC, Vol I, No. 58)
Plate 26
Reverse: Claudius Countermark TIAV in oblong incuse over head of Neptune

Mattingly lists TIAV as the usual Countermark employed by Claudius for these coins. They were issued for extended circulation in Britain by Claudius following his Victory there. These were the common Roman denominations used as legal tender in Britannia - evidently for a very long time, for many are found in very worn condition.


CLAUDIUS TRIUMPHAL ARCH SESTERTIUS WITH NERO COUNTERMARK

Evidently Nero also Countermarked and issued Claudius aes coinage in order to extend the supply of money in Britain after the death of Claudius.


BMCRE, Vol. I, CLAUDIUS, SESTERTIUS, Rome, No. 123, 41-45AD (35mm, 22.3gm)
Obverse depiction: Claudius, laureate head facing right
Inscription: TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG PM TRP IMP
Countermarked NCAPR in oblong incuse rectangle behind head (unknown mark on head)
Reverse depiction: Triumphal arch surmounted by equestrian statue of Nero Claudius Drusus
Inscription: NERO CLAVDIVS DRVSVS GERMAN IMP

Enlargement of NCAPR countermark:



This coinage was usually countermarked NCAPR - which is interpreted different ways by collectors and researchers, with the most popular and frequently used interpretations being Nero Caesar Augustus Probavit or Nero Caesar Augustus Populo Romano. It appears these coins were produced at the Rome mint, circulated then countermarked and subsequently re-issued for use in Britain.


REFERENCE RESOURCES

The Countermarks found on Ancient Roman coins - A brief Introduction - Richard Baker (PDF)

Coinage of Britain during the Roman Occupation by Peter R. Thompson - The Ormskirk & West Lancashire Numismatic Society

Museum of Countermarks on Roman Coins - Roman Coins & More - Roman Numismatic Gallery

The copying of Bronze Coins of Claudius in Roman Britain (PDF) - Ph.D dissertation of Robert Frederick Ernest Kenyon, Institute of Archaeology, University College, London, April 1992 - a 535 page PDF document, which is a very comprehensive body of work that covers, in exhaustive detail, all aspects of this coinage including production, circulation, counter marking, etc.

Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum (BMCRE), Volume 1 (Augustus to Vitellius) by Harold Mattingly - an online 1923 edition archived copy. The introductory chapters include a great deal of essential reference material relating to this coinage. I personally use my 1983 (revised) printed edition.


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