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Antoninianus of Carausius

Coins of Carausius used to be quite scarce until detectorists started to dig up examples in just about every part of England. In a way this could have been expected, as the Roman province of Britannia was the main base of this usurper emperor. Over recent years I’ve seen a high number of examples; several have been extremely rare and a few of them were unique.

Pictured here is the latest one – a copper-alloy antoninianus – which came in from Steve Pulley. Sam Moorhead has for some years been working on a new corpus of coins of Carausius and the last time I spoke to him he said it was nearing completion. A large number of previously unknown type and varieties, mostly detecting finds, will be in the corpus. Steve has reported his find to Sam and the information that follows comes mostly from him.

The obverse has the laureate head of the emperor and a legend that probably reads IMP C CARAVSIVS P F AVG. On the reverse is the standing figure of Britannia clasping hand with Carausius, who is dressed in military attire, with a legend reading EXPE[CT]ATE [VENI?], which translates as “Come, long awaited one.”; below, in the exergue, is RSR. Sam told Steve that this is only the second specimen he had seen of this type.


Steve wondered if it would have any value in its present state of preservation. Its great rarity could be said to be a plus point but quite a high number of other coins of Carausius are also great rarities. The obverse legend is weak in places but this side is otherwise Fine; the reverse is better than Fine but it has been struck off centre and the end result is the loss of the last part of the legend. A more significant defect is the noticeable edge chip.

A significant minus point is its overall condition, which isn’t very good. I’d give Steve’s coin a wide pre-sale estimate of £80-120. It should reach the lower figure and with some competition in a saleroom it could go up to the higher figure or might even go past it.

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