Archive for December, 2015

What the Roman’s did for us…

Posted on: December 16th, 2015 by c4c-admin-account No Comments

A brief history of the Roman Empire’s currency

Money has us all going a little stir crazy at this time of year. Looking for those extra coins under the sofa or behind the cupboards to help Christmas go that little bit further. But, how would you feel if what you were looking for in the bottom of your purse or back pocket wasn’t extra coinage, but 3 cows and a sheep? Well, in many cultures thousands of years ago, cattle and livestock was the appropriate exchange for goods and services. This was how the Romans went about it until the first coins were produced in late 4th century BC in Italy.

Coin from Roman Times


The Romans expanded such a vast empire that the coins and currency was produced only in Italy to ensure wide circulation of Roman coins. However, it was not coins, but rather a system of bronze weights that were used as currency. It was only as the Roman Empire expanded and claimed more artifacts from war that they started to use precious metals as coins to represent currency. It is alleged that the first Roman coins were small bronze coins created in 326 BCE in Neapolis, followed by the first silver coins produced in the 3rd century. The weights of coins were drastically reduced following the financial excess of the Punic war. At this time, gold coins were minted for the first time.


As the Roman Empire grew, so did the amount of silver taken from their enemies and the attainment of silver mines in Macedonia. Silver then replaced bronze as the most frequently used currency. This transcended into warfare when Lucius Cornelius Sulla, commander of the army Mithridates, minted silver and gold coins to pay his army. An action followed by Julius Caesar.


After winning in war in 44 BC, Julius Caesar had his portrait featured on Roman coins. This was the first image of a living persons portrait to be stamped onto gold and silver coins in history. Marcus Junius Brutus, a politician of the late Roman Republic, equally used his portrait on one side of the coin and two daggers on the other side after the killing of Ceasar as a mark of victory. Following suit, the production of coins began to multiply throughout individual cities across the empire that were convertible into Roman currency, now using copper and zinc rather than gold and silver.

Coins with Caesar


The uses of pictures on coins became so popular that placing an image containing an image, chosen by leaders, show an incredible insight into the colourful Roman history. It often depicted anything from current events, images of leaders and royal family history to images that reflect victory, peace or even as simple as a horse and chariot. However, it still remained that the portrait of a leader was pressed on one side.

With such an incredibly rich history reflected through a means of currency makes it all the more spectacular and gains insight into the fascinating world of the Romans.

Unfortunately, we cannot exchange cows, chickens and sheep for you this Christmas but if it’s exchanging your unwanted currency or simply to talk to a member of our friendly team then don’t hesitate to call us on 0161 635 0000 or contact us via our website. Merry Christmas!