EGYPT Valerian I 253-60 AD tetradrachm year 7 (259 AD)


EGYPT, Valerian I, 253-60 AD, tetradrachm, year 7 (259 AD), Alexandria mint, Obverse: laureate bust R, ?????????????????????, Reverse: eagle standing R, head turned L, palm on wing, wreath in beak, L Z, billon, 21mm, 10.68g, E3705, VF

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The coinage of Roman Egypt was entirely fiat based. The tetradrachm was not worth a tetradrachm, the drachms were not worth a drachm.

Gallienus, son of Valerian I, was raised to co-Emperor by his father. In the midst of war between Rome and several enemies he carried out major reforms of administration, the military, and the economy. As was frequently the case in that century, he was assassinated by members of his staff while fighting against a rebel.

During the early centuries of the Roman Empire Egypt was considered the personal property of the Emperor. There was a tendency to run it as an extractive business in which profits were not reinvested. The coinage was debased to keep it in the country and to make it harder for the populace to make a living. The reference we use on this web site for coins of Roman Egypt is Alexandrian Coins, by Keith Emmett.

The Romans, as they were building their empire, preferred to let the local coinage arrangements remain in place. As they developed their political system into the Cult of Personality that was the Empire, they started putting imperial portraits on the local coins. Later, as the Empire began to shrink, they preferred to centralize their coinage operations, eliminating local control. There were also allied and client states, some of which, at times, issued coins celebrating the alliance or subservience.

Ancient Coins includes Greek and Roman coins and those of neighbors and successors, geographically from Morocco and Spain all the way to Afghanistan. Date ranges for these begin with the world’s earliest coins of the 8th century BC to, in an extreme case, the end of Byzantine Empire, 1453 AD.