Alexis Tsipras, the newly-minted populist prime minister of Greece, is faced with an impossible task: making good on its massive debt obligations, while also alleviating some of the drastic austerity measures imposed to generate the necessary revenue. As the fate of the world economy rests uneasily on the finances of the Greeks, it’s worth noting that not quite a hundred years ago, Greece found itself in a similar financial pickle—and escaped in a brilliant fashion that would have made Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle proud.
Many are the tales of St. Valentine, the third-century priest martyred on February 14—what we now know as Valentine’s Day.
Records from that period of Roman history, the so-called Age of Chaos, are spotty, but this is what has been handed down to us: Continue reading
Coming Soon: A Numismatic History of Roman Silver Coinage
A Series of Five Boxed Sets
Rome: the greatest and most influential empire the world has ever known.
For almost four centuries, from the end of the Punic Wars in 201 BCE to the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 CE, the Roman Empire was at its zenith. There were ups and downs along the way, but during this long run, and for centuries afterward, Rome was always able to rebound from them and maintain a position of dominance.
This was due in no small part to the silver currency that underpinned its robust economy. Indeed, the entire history of the Roman Empire is revealed in its coinage. Coins were the newspapers of their day, used not only to exchange for goods and services, but to share information. The portraits, legends, and reverse iconographies describe the adoration of the emperors and their heirs and families, and communicate imperial agendas in the realms of politics, religion, domestic life and the military.
Subtler messages can be read beneath the surfaces of the coins. The devolving economic conditions over the Second and Third Centuries are refelected in the coins’ changes in size, weight, quality of manufacture, and fineness of silver, which was debased to the degree that by 270 CE, the coinage was bronze.
This series of boxed sets comprises a numismatic history of Rome, from the notorious Nero and the truculent emperors of the Flavian Dynasty, to the Antonines lauded by the historian Edward Gibbon, from the female-dominated Severan Dynasty, to the Crisis of the Third Century—and celebrates, in the words of Edgar Allan Poe, “the grandeur that was Rome.”
This series of boxed sets will soon be available. Contact us for details.
We are gearing up for our annual sojourn to Berlin, Germany for the World Money Fair. Please stop by our booth and say hallo!
It’s January, which means we’re heading to the Big Apple for the New York International Numismatic Convention. We’ll be at our usual booth, starting at high noon on Thursday, January 8. Hope to see you there!