Because Marcus Aurelius was in the unique position of ruling jointly with Lucius Verus, the following coinage focuses on the dichotomy and conflicting message of their imperial numismatics. What is presented is the ensuing departure after the minting of the imperial handshake (shown under the tab “Roman”). The following years suggest anything but the unity and harmony of two equitable emperors.

Please look below for a general outline of numismatic reform enacted by Marcus Aurelius.


Major Reforms of Coinage under Marcus Aurelius

-Boom in provincial mint production

-Precious metal mining declined from military campaigns, the Plague, and monetary appeasement of border peoples to buy off attacks

-Reduction in bronze coinage production and reliance on the silver denarius

-170-180: never before seen reduction in billon

-The denarius does not contain less than 2.5 g of silver during the reign of Marcus Aurelius

-Images of the Augusta roughly doubled from the ratio of Marcus’ predecessors and successors; the depiction of the imperial wife became more than a symbol of a bloodline into a matriarchal figure of Rome

-Antoninus Pius struck provincial coins mainly in bronze, while Marcus and Verus depicted the provinces (like the conquered Armenia) in silver and gold aurei.  In addition, Pius’ coinage depicted the willing relinquishment of spoilia by the province, while Marcus and Verus’ coins often depicted more violent encounters and piles of captured treasure

-Island minting reached its peak under Marcus Aurelius


Please clink on the links below or the tabs above to explore the coinage of Marcus Aurelius:

Coinage in Rome

Coinage in the Provinces