A Coinage of Claudius

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There’s something appealing with carrying around a piece of history. To carry around a piece of history that is almost 2,000 years old. Knowing that you have something on your person that is way older than anything you might come in contact with on a day to day basis, unless you work in a museum.

Although my main interest is George Orwell, I also love Ancient Rome. The Julio-Claudian family/series of Emperors is my specialty, especially after seeing the BBC series of I, Claudius and reading the books by Robert Graves. It wasn’t too long before I started looking at coins that I could possibly buy online, from respectable dealers. Hopefully rather cheap coins.

What I bought can be seen in the photo above. It’s of the Emperor Claudius and it’s build up of green patina allowed me to get it relatively cheap, at $60 back in 2003. I didn’t care about how it looked, just as long as I could make something out. The idea of the coin impressed me and made me wonder where it had been for the past 2,000 years. Probably in the ground for the majority of that time, but who had owned it before me? Who did it pass hands to as Roman after Roman bought goods and services?

It took me awhile to figure out which coin it was, after I had totally forgotten the information when I first paid for it. I am fairly confident it is number RIC 113 of the various Claudius coinage. This is what it looks like all cleaned up:

claudius coin RIC113

It was struck in either 42 or 43 AD, making it not quite but almost 2,000 years old. 1,972/3 years old, as of this writing, to be exact. It’s complete description is thus:

Ref Claudius AE As, RIC 113, Cohen 47, BMC 202.  Claudius Æ As. TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG P M TR P IMP P P, bare head left / LIBERTAS AVGVSTA S-C, Libertas standing facing with pileus, extending left hand. Cohen 47.

From the moment I received my coin in the mail to about February 2013, I carried it around with me in my pocket or coin purse. After I had it for about ten years, I decided to try and set it into some sort of self-made jewelry so I could wear it on a necklace. I bought some thin wire and various wire bending tools at the local Big Box Crafts Store and put together a weird looking thing where wire basically enveloped the coin, like the flight patterns of protons in an illustration of atoms. It looked odd, but it worked.

I wore it like that for the next year and a half until I decided to re-do the wiring. I had never liked how one couldn’t see the coin; it was engulfed by thin pieces of wire. So I unwrapped the wire and made it into this:

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That odd monstrosity took me two hours. I’m not very good with making jewelry and I refuse to use glue. I will probably re-do it as I research a bit more, but at least one can see the head. Of course some will cry sacrilege on how I am treating a coin like this, but the truth of the matter is that Roman coins are not rare. They are practically everywhere in the United Kingdom and throughout other parts of Europe, where the old Roman Empire used to cover. If it had cost a ton of money and was more pristine, I would carefully display it.

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