Distinguishing Similar Roman Republican Coins
Part II - Anonymous Victoriati

        Kenneth L. Friedman and Richard Schaefer

In the first of this series of articles (published in the September 2009 issue of “The Celator”), we noted that Michael H. Crawford’s indispensable Roman Republican Coinage, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1974 (“RRC”) leaves some classification uncertainties. This article is a guide to classifying the anonymous victoriati.

The Introduction of the Victoriatus

Up until about 211 BC, Rome’s silver coins were similar in weight and silver content to the staters (didrachmas) of Magna Grecia (southern Italy and Sicily).Until the Second Punic War (218 BC - 200 BC), the production of these silver coins was rather modest, reflecting a use in trade with the cities to the south rather than a full internal monetization of Rome. The exigencies of the war with Carthage created a much greater need which was met by the extensive minting of didrachmas known as quadrigati (the reverse showed Jupiter driving a four horse chariot, a quadriga). After the terrible defeats at Cannae and Trebia, Rome was forced to lower the quadrigati’s weight and fineness.Some of the last quadrigati weigh less than five grams and are less than 50% silver. With Rome’s success in the siege of Syracuse, the wealthiest of the Sicilian cities then under Hannibal’s control, Fortuna’s wheel rotated quickly and dramatically to Rome’s favor, creating a large influx of wealth, much in the form of silver brought back from Syracuse. Rome, with its masses of citizens and socii (allies) under arms, was swiftly becoming a fully monetized economy and the sudden availability of enormous quantities of silver led to the creation of a new monetary unit, the denarius, a coin of, perhaps, one and a third times the weight and silver content of a traditional drachma of Magna Grecia.1

First issued c.211 BC, the denarius was struck on the weight standard of four scruples (1 scruple equals about 1.12 grams). However, Rome recognized the continuing need for coins on the old didrachma/drachma standard (probably for the purchase of supplies from, or other trade with, or outright bribery of, the cities and aristocracy of Magna Grecia and/or payment of allies from the cities serving with the Roman army).Therefore, at roughly the same time, Rome created a second new coin called a victoriatus, struck on a three scruple standard. Victoriati bear the head of Jupiter on the obverse and Victory erecting a trophy on the reverse with ROMA in the exergue.2   While the denarius and its fractions were good silver (often reaching 98% fineness), the victoriatus was a debased coinage throughout its production c.211-170 BC. It averaged about 70% silver (but with considerable variation) and, unlike the denarius, bore no indication of value. Thus intrinsically a victoriatus was worth roughly half a denarius (75% x 70% = about 50%).  But if one didn't know it was debased and so judged simply by weight, one would have thought it worth 3/4 a denarius (3 scruples compared to 4 scruples).  In hoards, victoriati are almost never found mixed with denarii, but rather by themselves.  This indicates its debased nature was well known in the Roman world.  On the other hand, victoriati were made for forty years, so Rome must have felt they had some success.

All of the victoriati (and the double and half victoriati) are technically anonymous as none bear the name of any moneyer. However many of the later issues bear monograms or symbols that tie them to corresponding companion issues of denarii.  We treat here 14 fully anonymous issues, meaning issues not only with no moneyer’s name but also without any symbol or monogram.  These are Cr. 44/1, 53/1, 67/1, 70/1, 71/1c, 83/1b, 89/1b, 90/2, 91/1b, 92/1b, 93/1c, 95/1c, 96/1 and 166/1.  Those that have been paired by Crawford to issues with symbol or monogram (being similar except for the omission of the symbol or monogram) are noted in the list below.  For example, 91/1a is the victoriatus with symbol torque, so 91/1b is denoted as “91/1b (No Torque)”.  Crawford describes the obverse of each of these 14 coins as “Laureate head of Jupiter r. border of dots.” and the reverse of each as “Victory r., crowning trophy; in exergue, ROMA. Line border.” 3

The Diagnostics

In dividing the anonymous victoriati into 14 separate issues, Crawford has followed the work of D’Ailly and Mattingly. In examining the victoriati the critical features that distinguish the types are primarily (a) Jupiter’s hair and (b) the features of the trophy. Weight is of almost no help because all but Cr. 166/1 are based on 3.2 grams standard. Cr. 166/1 is substantially lighter at approximately 2.7 grams.

As will be seen in the illustrated coins, Jupiter’s hair can be (i) “perpendicular” (generally perpendicular to the wreath, (ii) “biperpendicular” (with both an upper ascending half and a lower descending half generally perpendicular to the wreath), (iii) “confused” (neither parallel nor perpendicular). The trophies vary widely. Some have and some omit greaves. Some feature a skirt behind and below the shield. Some of the trophies have a base (sometimes no more than a horizontal line immediately above the exergual line, sometimes a more elaborate part of the trophy). All of the trophies have a spear and a sword (or part of one) attached behind the shield. We call the long line that projects from the top left above the shield, passing diagonally behind it and projecting to the bottom right a spear. A second, shorter line starts on the left below the spear, passes behind the shield, and then appears on the right. This second line usually, but not always, features a hilt to the left and a scabbard to the right of the shield so we call it a sword. Normally the spear and shield cross, so the sword scabbard is above the spear on the right however, on a few issues, the spear and sword are parallel. The hilt and scabbard are sometimes missing or so cursory as to defy identification. On Cr. 83/1b, for example, they have become merely large dots. In describing items to the left or the right of the trophy, we use the convention of the viewer’s left or right.

CR. 44/1

These victoriati are difficult to describe because they probably cover several issues rather than one and we have, therefore, divided them into groups. Their common characteristic is an inelegant head, taller than wide, with a stern look. The beard is disorganized, and Jupiter’s hair is usually confused (Figs. 1, 4 and 7) although occasionally almost perpendicular (Figs. 2 and 5) or biperpendicular (Fig. 3). The majority of reverses exhibit a trophy with greaves but no skirt and no base (Group A below). Two smaller groups, however, have a base (Groups C and D). A third small group has a skirt, occasionally with a small bar underneath, but neither greaves nor base (Group B). Finally, a tiny group (two dies) has neither base nor skirt nor greaves (Group E). On all reverses, the wing is engraved with simple feathers of a single line.

RRC 44/1


All the known Groups are:

44/1 Group A. - Greaves on trophy but no skirt or base.



Fig. 1


44/1 Group B. - Skirt on trophy but no greaves nor base .


Fig. 2


44/1 Group C. - Base and skirt on trophy but no greaves (Fig. 3 and 4); sometimes short line below skirt (Fig. 5).


Fig. 3

Base and skirt on trophy but no greaves. 

Sometimes the base may be an inverted V-shape as shown here, and Group D (Fig.6)).


Fig. 4

Second example with base and skirt on trophy but no greaves.  


Fig. 5

Sometimes short line below skirt. 


44/1 Group D. - Base and greaves on trophy, but no skirt .


Fig. 6


44/1 Group E. - Trophy with neither base nor skirt nor greaves.


Fig. 7

Trophy with neither base nor skirt nor greaves.

CR. 53/1

Both obverse and reverse exhibit fine style. Jupiter’s head is well-engraved with great detail. The hair is usually biperpendicular, although in a few cases it is perpendicular (Fig. 8). On the great majority of dies the head is squarish, but a few are somewhat elongated (taller than wide) (Fig. 10). The overall impression is elegance. If Jupiter looks powerful or arrogant, it’s not Cr. 53/1.

On the reverse, the trophy almost always has no base; a few dies have a small one (Fig.8). Victory’s wing is finely detailed; there are some very small feathers at the top of the wing, and the long feathers almost always are two dimensional (not simply isolated lines) (most clearly seen on Figs. 9, 10 and 12). Under the shield, about 3/4 of the dies show a skirt without greaves. Sometimes the skirt has interior pleats (Figs. 11, 12), but other times only the sides and hem (Figs. 9, 10). On this latter group the skirt is often simply two vertical lines each crossed at the bottom by a short horizontal line (Fig. 9) On roughly 1/4 of the dies there is no skirt but instead a pair of greaves (Fig. 8).

Some reverses are similar to Cr. 44/1; indeed a few are indistinguishable (Fig. 11). And for a handful of obverses, the situation is the same. In reality, some long-lasting dies may have used for both Cr. 44/1 and Cr. 53/1. But check both sides; this will resolve the majority of cases. Any that remain uncertain (e.g., Fig. 11) may simply result from the probability that Cr. 44/1 and Cr. 53/1 are neither distinct nor integral issues.

RRC 53/1

 53/1 - Perpendicular hair, greaves and small base on trophy.

Fig. 8


53/1 - Skirt of two vertical lines each with short horizontal line at bottom.


Fig. 9


53/1 - Tall and wide head, simple skirt


Fig. 9


53/1 - Skirt with interior pleats


Fig. 11


53/1 - skirt with pleats, Long, two dimensional wing feathers


Fig. 12


CR. 67/1

The Cr. 67/1 victoriati are scarce but are rather easy to identify from the trophy having a skirt, greaves and base. The obverse shows a large placid head of Jupiter with short perpendicular or biperpendicular hair and a tufted beard (Fig. 13). Note that the spear is parallel to and above the sword

RRC 67/1

67/1 -Skirt, Greaves, and Base on Trophy.

67/1 photo missing

Fig. 13


CR. 70/1

The Cr. 70/1 victoriati comprise the third largest issue of this denomination and one of the best engraved. They display large aggressive heads of Jupiter with abundant perpendicular hair, below which are three short non-parallel curls. The trophy has a skirt and base but no greaves. Sometimes there is a short bar under the skirt. The trophy and Victory are big relative to those on other victoriati and Victory’s wing is well detailed and usually long. This inhomogeneous large issue can be subdivided into the following three groups:

 A. The trophy has a double skirt (Figs. 14 and 15).

B. The post is very thick so the base extends just a little past it. These dies always have a short bar under the skirt as in Group C below (Fig. 16).

C. No double skirt nor thick post. Sometimes a short bar under the skirt (Figs. 17 and 18).

 An obverse variant has a laurel wreath composed of only one row of leaves (Fig. 19); several of these dies appear in Groups B and C.

RRC 70/1

70/1 - double skirt

Fig. 14


70/1 - Double Skirt variation


Fig. 15


70/1 - Thick post


Fig. 16


70/1 - Narrow post, no double skirt, Short bar under skirt


Fig. 17


70/1 - Narrow post, no double skirt, no short bar under skirt


Fig. 18


70/1 -  wreath with single row of leaves obverse variant


Fig. 19


CR. 71/1c

Unlike the issues discussed so far, these coins present us with the first victoriati associated with a signed issue—in this case, C on the obverse and/or M on the reverse. The obverse of the Cr. 71/1c coins has a lovely head of Jupiter with perpendicular hair and tuft beard. The trophy has a skirt but no greaves and no spear end appears to the left of the shield. There is a small base to the trophy, sometimes just a bit wider than the post (Figs. 20 and 21). Cr. 71/1c is very rare.

RRC 71/1c

71/1c -small trophy base.

Fig. 20


71/1c -  Small trophy base variation


Fig. 21


CR. 83/1b

The Cr. 83/1b coins are scarce. On the reverse, the post has a bulbous base and the helmet has no crest. These two features uniquely distinguish these victoriati. The bulb often is the same thickness as the post, so look for a round bottom to the post and a line demarking the bulb top. The trophy has greaves but no skirt, and no sword protruding to the left of the shield. Jupiter’s head is rendered in a fine style with neat and compact perpendicular hair, and three wavy curls. The beard is composed of hair which is artfully grouped into bunches (Fig. 22).

RRC 83/1b

83/1b - No Spear , Bulbous trophy base

Photo Missing

Fig. 22


CR. 89/1b

The obverse has a fine head with confused hair and three neat close curls below (Fig. 23). On the reverse, the trophy has a skirt composed of short vertical strokes, with no greaves below. There are usually five strokes, spreading out a little toward the bottom. Another distinctive feature is a base consisting of two dots (or short strokes) on either side of the post, but separated from it. The skirt and unconnected base are characteristic of the victoriati with symbol club (Cr. 89/1a). This issue is very rare.

RRC 89/1b

89/1b - No Club, trophy base with two separated short strokes

Photo Missing

Fig. 23


CR. 90/2

A cataloguer is not likely to encounter an example of Cr. 90/2 as these, too, are very rare. Jupiter’s face is handsome but elongated and his beard has with mostly tufts composed of small hooks. His hair is perpendicular with very long curls. The trophy’s sword does not protrude to the left of the shield. The trophy has a small skirt but no greaves or base (Fig. 24).

RRC 90/2

90/2 - elongated, narrow head

Photo Missing

Fig. 24


CR. 91/1b

These victoriati are easily catalogued because one or both of the greaves are unusually realistic; instead of lines, the greaves are narrow ovals with open space inside (Fig. 25). Jupiter's head has confused or biperpendicular hair with, at the bottom, three or four nearly parallel curls projecting backward about 45 degrees. If the greaves are not clear, one must check the curls carefully because the rest of the designs are close to Cr. 44/1. Cr. 91/1b is rare.

RRC 91/1b

91/1b - Greaves as narrow ovals, neck curls projecting back at 45o

Photo Missing

Fig. 25


CR. 92/1b

The reverse is engraved with little detail; there’s lots of open space. The trophy has a skirt, but no greaves and no base. Note the CROT victoriati (Cr. 92/1a) are opposite in having greaves but no skirt; nevertheless, the obverse style links the two issues. The head has rather a pained (or amused) look, abundant perpendicular hair, and three long, straggly curls. Jupiter’s laurel wreath ends in one leaf at top end (Fig. 26). This issue is rare.

RRC 92/1b

92/1b - No CROT

Photo Missing

Fig. 26


CR. 93/1c

These coins resemble Cr. 93/1b, the MP victoriati with small head. They have a small head with perpendicular hair, and three long, somewhat straggly curls. The trophy is very small with greaves, but no skirt and no base. Both Victory and the trophy look somewhat squashed (Fig. 27). This issue is rare.

RRC 93/1c

93/1c - No MP

Photo Missing

Fig. 27


CR. 95/1c

The rare Cr. 95/1c victoriati are die linked to the Cr. 95/1b by their obverse heads of the same unusual style. They are very elongated with biperpendicular hair and three long curls close together. One of the three Cr. 95/1c reverse dies known to the authors has the same reverse style as Cr. 95/1b (Cr. 95/1c illustration and Fig. 28) --- a trophy with greaves and a small base, but no skirt. However the other two known reverse dies display a different style --- a trophy with a skirt, but no greaves nor base (Fig. 29). But since their two obverse dies match two Cr. 95/1b obverse dies, they also belong to Cr. 95.

The research for this article has revealed that the two reverse dies with skirt are the same style as the Cr. 90/2 reverses. In fact, one of them (Fig. 29) is the same die as D’Ailly 831 (cited by Crawford as Cr. 90/2) in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Possibly Cr. 95/1c and Cr. 90/2 are part of the same issue. For the purposes of this article, however, they can be distinguished by their obverses. Cr. 95/1c has biperpendicular hair; Cr. 90/2 has perpendicular hair and very long curls.

RRC 95/1c

95/1c - No VB

Photo Missing

Fig. 28


95/1c - No VB variation with skirt but no greaves nor base 


Photo Not found

Fig. 29


CR. 96/1

These coins resemble Cr. 93/1b, the MP victoriati with small head. They have a small head with perpendicular hair, and three long, somewhat straggly curls. The trophy is very small with greaves, but no skirt and no base. Both Victory and the trophy look somewhat squashed (Fig. 27). This issue is rare.

RRC 96/1

96/1 - Incuse Roma

Fig. 30


Note that we have not classified the three anonymous Cr. 98/1 variants illustrated in RRC. They are simply sui generis, until more examples are available.

CR. 166/1

Both sides of the Cr. 166/1 victoriati are quite sloppy--a feature they share with the Cr. 167/1 anonymous denarii. Like the Cr. 167/1 denarii, these coins are light in weight (minted on a standard of about 2.7 grams for the victoriati and about 3.7 grams for the denarii). Jupiter’s head is small, with a projecting hair beard and confused semi-perpendicular hair that usually has a few wild strands. One small group does have neat biperpendicular hair(Fig. 32). The small trophy has a skirt but no greaves or base. The skirt usually is composed of five lines, but sometimes a cursory skirt looks more like two greaves with slanting ends on them. The wreath held by Victory is always below the spear (Fig. 31). The coins are common.

RRC 166/1

166/1 - Wreath Below Spearhead, jupiter with wild strands of hair

Photo Missing

Fig. 31


166-1 - Variation with neat hair 


Fig. 32


A reader with a computer and internet connection at hand will find it helpful to see some on-line examples. Several can be found at:


In addition, Crawford illustrates all these issues in his plates.

Our thanks go to(in alphabetical order) Phil Davis, Pierluigi Debernardi and Rick Witschonke for improvements to this article. Any remaining errors are ours.


1 This is, of course, a simplification as the staters of the cities of southern Italy and Sicily were not of a uniform weight standard and varied over time. As Rutter notes at page 8 of his Historia Numorum Italy (London, 2001), during the 3rd Century BC the most common weight standard of a nomos (i.e., a stater or didrachma) had been reduced from 7.8 to 6.6 grams (and thus a drachma of 3.3 grams). He continues, at page 9 by stating, “Some time before the outbreak of the Second Punic War in 218 all silver and gold coinage had ceased in the Greek cities, though in the area south of Campania there is little evidence from finds that the growing output of Roman silver had penetrated to any significant degree. With the arrival of Hannibal in South Italy, however, some communities threw off their allegiance to Rome and coined in all metals to finance their bid for independence.” This makes the comparison of the denarius and the victoriatus to Magna Grecian staters a bit tenuous but not without some meaning.

2 The reverse device is generally accepted as being derived from, and is certainly very similar to, the reverse of Tetradrachma of Agathokles of Syracuse struck between 310 and 304 BC at about the time of Agathokles’ siege of Carthage in 310 BC (See Sear, Greek Coins and Their Values coin 974 or SNG ANS 680). This is a rather nice illustration of the use of coinage as propaganda, asserting to the people of Magna Grecia that the Romans, too, were going to invade and defeat Carthage.

3 The one exception is Cr. 96/1 which describes the ROMA in the exergue as “incuse on tablet.” This is the only distinction Crawford makes in any of these coins.

Quick Finder Guide (follow from top to bottom)

1. ROMA incuse Cr.96/1

Image missing

2. Rev. bulbous trophy base and helmet without crest Cr. 83/1b


3. Skirt with greaves Cr. 67/1


4. Unconnected base and skirt of ~5 short vertical strokes Cr. 89/1b


5. One or both greaves are ovals; 3 or 4 bottom curls project backward Cr. 91/1b


6. Stern long head with perpendicular hair and very long curls Cr. 90/2


7. Placid long head with biperpendicular hair Cr. 95/1c


8. Light weight, small flan, sloppy engraving; wreath below spear; usually some wild hair strands Cr. 166/1


9. Squashed Victory and trophy; small head of Jupiter with three long, close straggly curls Cr. 93/1c


10. Aggressive large head in fine style, skirt and base Cr. 70/1


11. Reverse simply engraved with open space; trophy has skirt, but no greaves nor base; 3 diverging curls Cr. 92/1b


12. Fine head, perpendicular hair, small base, no spear left of shield Cr. 71/1c


13. Excellent detail on both sides, elegant (usually) squarish head, no base Cr. 53/1


14.  Having eliminated all the above issues, is the head tall with stern look and confused beard? Are the wing feathers isolated lines? If so Cr. 44/1