A very frequent phenomenon in the Roman currencies of the Republic and the first decades of the Empire is the one of the called pieces covered, this is, with the interior generally of copper or lead. One is accusations that present/display a vile metal bore, covered by a thin film of silver: at first sight the currency seems of precious metal, but its intrinsic value is net inferior. However, although very coarse pieces of this type exist, obviously work of falsarios, in their immense majority presents/displays a notable taken care of in the manufacture and requires technical precision. It induces to think in emissions of the State, puttings in circulation at moments of necessity.

Complicity of the state?

Pliny the Young person gathers in his Epistulae that in year 91 BC, Drusean Libyan M. made fix to the Senate the conditions of the circulation of subaerati (denarios covered) in the proportion of a denario with copper alloy by each seven of good silver. Unlike which he maintains Pliny, the most recent studies on the subject conclude that it is not possible to be affirmed that the State authorized by law the emission of covered currencies of silver. Surely it resorted to this procedure because it allowed numerous benefits (or saving): the technique at issue it needed an expert manual labor, that in any case in Rome was the responsibility of slaves, and therefore was decidedly economic. The metals that the bore of these currencies constituted could be of copper, lead or iron, then very cheap. However, in those times the silver had the highest cost, around the triple that in our days, so that was remarkable the advantage economic to use it in reduced proportion. Certainly, that outside the own State the one in charge to emit currencies adulterated (with official character or no, that has little importance) constitutes a phenomenon of great relevance and economic and legal interest, that anticipates in certain sense the fiduciary currency, which takes its value more from a symbol, the governmental seal, that of its intrinsic value. The currencies covered they were not, nevertheless, an invention of the Roman talent, whose great practical sense we have emphasized and shown in several occasions, but that also circulated, although sporadically, in the Greek world, generally very kind to the purity of the metal. Herodoto (Histories, III, 56) it narrates, in effect, that Polícrates, in year 540 BC Mr. of Samos, a rich island of Smaller Asia besieged by espadanos, obtained the retirement of these giving lead currencies to them had with gold. In fact, one was a pure and simple fraud, since the sitiadores believed to have received authentic currencies to all the effects. Also in the hellenistic world, so confused e uncertain from the political and legal point of view, the examples abound with covered currencies (we remember the emissions again style in Athens at the time of magistrates Polemón and Alcetes). But doubt that does not fit the maximum producers of those were the Romans currencies. In circumstances of particular difficulty or uncertainty, the State resorted to the emission of currencies with the altered metal. Thus, in year 217 BC, year of the battle of Trasimeno, gained by Aníbal during the second Punic war. Augusto used as these currencies for its interchanges with the towns of India. Also they were emitted in the year 69, in which they followed one another dramatically not less than four emperors. On the other hand, Comfortable (years 180-192) he was the last one that guaranteed the emission of covered denarios. With Severe Septimio (years 193-211), no longer they were right to be, because a very serious economic crisis forced definitively to modify the law of the silver, whose effective amount in the denarios and their manifold (antonianos) was only of 50%. The minting of gold currencies was sporadic during Republic; for that reason the phenomenon of the covered ones of that metal only occurs in the Empire, period in which the golden ones were spread and the solids. In fact, many specialists put in doubt who exist covered of gold left the official mints, and tend a to consider these currencies like false to all the effects.

How obtains a covered currency?

The manufacture of a covered currency estimated a technical capacity that they only had expert craftsmen. Of Rome, where these currencies had the greater diffusion, the production procedure consisted, first of all, in preparing redondel of metal VII, of the required weight and diameter, because the covered one did not have to present/display difference some with the original one. Separate the copper, no other material admits the following phase of the process. To redondel polished well a lamina was superposed to him by hand of silver, taking pains to adhere it perfectly: the disc thus obtained took to the temperature of fusion of the silver, 960 degrees. To this temperature, also the copper, whose point of fusion is of 1, 080 degrees, began to be fused, which allowed a perfect adhesion of noble metal to vile, Other metals, like the iron, the lead or tin, would not admit this operation, because they found more to temperatures elevated (1, 535 degrees the iron) or much more bajaas (3 degrees 231 lead tin), reason why they were limited to bathe them in silver or gold fused, being coarser and hateful his finished the falsification,

So that dentated currencies?

In addition to the technique of the covered currencies, used other exists very during the Roman Republic: the dentated pieces (or aseri These present/display cort teethed that remembers the mountain range. In Rome, with one fr intermittent in produ sawed currencies appear from a denario independent characterized by the iconography of the wheel in most archaic, and they definitively finish towards 50 year BC Nobody, still, has been able to reasonably explain the reason for the stranger characteristic of these currencies. It has been wanted to see in the small cuts of edge a system to remedy an excess of weight in some cases, But when noticing themselves that the monetary one that it adopted east system used it for his whole production of denarios, it seems improbable that all the currencies of a same civil employee presented/displayed excess of weight. Others specialists have ventured the hypothesis that the gear with the purpose of making was adopted stop of esquileo of the currencies ( fraudulent system that consisted of trimming the edge in order to reuse the precious metal). But also this explanation was little credible due to some considerations: first of all, it has been verified which bronze currencies were even indented, metal of whose esquileo not it obtains advantage some; and in addition this practice, authentic plague at medieval time, very was not spread in the antiquity. In effect, who it mutilated the currencies, besides to commit an illicit act it incurred sacrilege, because in them it often appeared the figure of a divinity. According to a later hypothesis, the currency would have been indented to demonstrate that she was not covered, reasonable motivation, but that does not explain existence of denarios at the same time dentated and covered. There is one who, being based on a passage of Tacitus, considers that the gear made the currencies for the Barbarian towns more acceptable, with whom commercial relations stayed. Nothing authorizes, nevertheless, to grant special credit to this interpretation. The practice that occupies to us also it could be considered like a way to distinguish itself, adopted by some monetary ones, or like something related to the religious world, or even like a dark reference to celestial cults. The hypotheses can of be varied and outlandish, but no gets to clarify this peculiar edge in form of mountain range, but of which there is no doubt is that it prevents the falsifications.


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