Introduction to Mint Marks
Mint marks are definitely cool. After all, they enable you to find in which city were your coins made. The Roman mints started to get used in the 3rd century’s later years (270 AD). From Diocletian’s time, these marks became regular.
On the very bottom of a reverse coin, that’s where mint marks are found, which is called an exergue. A line from the field might separate it, or maybe not. They might sometimes be located inside the little fingers that are standing on the reverse. It might be of the emperor, sun, Jupiter, or other god.
The first few letters of the city are present in the mint marks, but with different abbreviations. Therefore, in some coins we could witness a single letter, whereas other coins may have three or four letters, e.g ARL, from a city like Arelatum. A confusion is there sometimes, as the same letters may get used for two other cities, or it may be used for a workshop (city not indicated) or workshop not indicated (city indicated). In similar cases, advanced knowledge like the coin’s style is a requirement for the correct identification of the mint. Otherwise, you would have to move toward the RIC catalog.
The same is the case for coins that were existing before the mint marks were being used. But some of the emperors were stuck in particular cities during the time when only certain mints were being operated. Ideally, the help of literature will benefit a lot in the identification of where coins were produced, and the information will be easy to remember.
From England to Africa to Asia, the mints were spread everywhere. While some of them were only operational simultaneously, and some of them were opened for a very short time or either under the rule of a single emperor. Those used for the long-term were only the larger ones. While searching the internet, you’ll easily locate pictures concerning Roman architecture and other historical information for the cities where your coins may have been minted. An example of places does include: Carthage in N. Africa, London in England and Trier in Germany.
Reading the Mint Marks
When you know exactly where a certain coin was minted, then it becomes more interesting to collect. A number of familiar cities like Alexandria, Rome, and London possessed mints that made imperial coins in Rome.
In the below examples, you would witness what you will see on the coins which are real. The bold item is a city mark. Moreover, there are many combinations that you can see having the letters before or after the mark of the city.
However, it’s fairly easy to pick out the city when the table is marked with the mint mark and a little practice.
SMALA = (Sacra Moneta) Alexandria, 1st workshop
HT = Heraclea, 3rd workshop
TRS = Treveri, 2nd workshop
STR = same as above, Treveri, 2nd workshop
XXIR = Rome
SISB = Siscia, 2nd workshop
TT = Ticium, 3rd workshop
By the way, gold coins from the eastern mints usually had the letters OB attached after the city mark, OB comes from the word obryziacum, which was the technical term for pure gold. Silver coins would have a PS attached, which comes from the word pusulatum, meaning pure silver. So, you could see CONOB = pure gold of Constantinople.
|Mint Mark||City||Current Name|
|AL, ALE, ALEX, SMAL||Alexandria||Alexandria, Egypt|
|AMB, AMBI||Ambianum||Amiens, France|
|AN, ANT, SMAN||Antioch||Antakiyah, Syria|
|AQ, AQVI, AQPS, SMAQ||Aquileia||Aquileia, Italy|
|A, AR, ARL, CON, CONST, KON||Arelatum/Constantia||Arles, France|
|BA, SMBA||Barcino||Barcelona, Spain|
|C, CL||Comulodunum||Colchester, England|
|C, CON, CONS||Constantinople||Istanbul, Turkey|
|K, KAR, KART||Carthage||Near Tunis, N. Africa|
|CVZ, CYZ, K, KV, KVZ, SMK, CM||Cyzicus||Kapu Dagh, Turkey|
|H, HER, HT, HERACL, SMH||Heraclea||Eregli, Turkey|
|L, LN, LON, ML, MLN, MN||Londinium||London, England|
|LD, LG, LVG, LVGD||Lugdunum||Lyon, France|
|PLG, RPLC, RSLC, RPLG, RSLG||Lugdunum||Lyon, France|
|MD, MED||Mediolanum||Milan, Italy|
|N, NIC, NICO, NIK, SMN||Nicomedia||Izmit, Turkey|
|OST, MOST||Ostia Port of Rome||Rome, Italy|
|RV, RVPS||Ravenna||Ravenna, Italy|
|R, RM, ROM, ROMA, VRB ROM||Roma||Rome, Italy|
|SIS, SISC, SMSIS||Siscia||Sisak, Croatia|
|SD, SER, SMSD||Serdicia||Sophia, Bulgaria|
|SM, SIR, SIRM||Sirmium||Near Mitrovica, Kosovo|
|TE, TES, TS, THS, THES, OES||Thessalonica||Thessaloniki, Greece|
|TR, TRE, SMTR||Treveri||Trier, Germany|