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Antoninianus of Carausius

The coin pictured here (enlarged) is a base metal antoninianus of Carausius, whose dates are AD 287 to 293. It was unearthed by Alan Johnson, who asked for a valuation.

On the obverse is a bust of the emperor together with a legend reading IMP C CARAVSIVS PF AVG. On the reverse, flanked by S and P, Pax holds in one hand a globe, on which stands the tiny figure of Victory; in the other hand is a transverse sceptre. Below Pax is MLXXI and if the whole of the legend was clear it would read PAX AVGGG.

In volume V of Roman Imperial Coinage this coin is listed as number 2. David Sear, in volume IV of Roman Coins and Their Values has this type as number 13667. It was struck at London, the type is very rare and the date of issue is AD 292-93. At this point I should mention that a huge range of coins of Carausius are now on record and many are very or extremely rare.


Carausius, an experienced Roman general, was given command of the fleet stationed at Boulogne and ordered to clear the sea of pirates. However, he turned to piracy himself and after landing in Britain he defeated the governor and proclaimed himself emperor. Carausius then managed to extend his rule over part of Gaul. Attempts by Maximianus to recover the lost territory failed. In AD 293 Constantius captured Boulogne and soon afterwards Carausius was murdered by his right-hand man, Allectus, who then took over as emperor. Allectus lasted until 296, when he was killed during a battle fought between his army and a greater force led by Constantius.


Alan’s coin is very rare but does have a number of defects. The obverse would grade about VF but is off centre and part of the surface has flaked off. The reverse is about Fine at best and only the end of the legend shows up. In its present condition a pre-sale auction estimate would be unlikely to be any higher than £40 – £60.

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