The Badian Collection: Coins of the Roman Republic

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About the Collection

Since 2001, the Special Collections and Archives department of the Rutgers University Libraries has been the home to a significant Roman numismatic collection, the Ernst Badian Collection of Roman Republican Coins. This collection was created by the late Professor Ernst Badian (d. 2011), who donated it to Rutgers. The collection is composed at this time of more than 1200 coins, documenting the emergence of coinage and a money economy in Rome and developments down through the late Republic (280 to 31 B. C. E.). The collection begins with examples of cast bronze coinage, used in the earliest stages of monetization. The Republic moved to struck coins, some made of silver as the standard metal for coins. The denarius, half-denarius and quinarius all were struck from silver. Smaller denominations continued to be struck from bronze. Early coins found in the collection often imitate examples from the Greek colonies in southern Italy (Magna Graecia). The movement to silver denominations, like the denarius, unique to Rome, also is documented. There also are examples of brockage, an error caused when a coin adhered to the die and was struck a second time.

Coins in the collection also document the political aspects of striking coins unique to Rome. Young politicians served as official moneyers (tresviri monetales). They put their names on coins and selected motifs that conveyed messages about their families' histories and the virtues they claimed these had. The most common message was the importance of military virtues. Patriotic images like the helmeted head of Rome and the she wolf appear together with images of deities. Reflecting affairs in Italy and beyond, changes in money weights and the addition of victory motifs show the fortunes of a rising empire. This includes evidence of the difficulties of the Republic during the Second Punic War, when Hannibal campaigned in Italy. An unusual use of gold as an "emergency" coinage during the Second Punic War is represented among the coins at Rutgers. The collection also documents financial pressures that caused debasement of currency in the same period. Victories were commemorated with special coins and the use of images of trophies won by the armies of the Republic.

Then collection thus illustrates comprehensively the progressively heated political climate of the later Republic, and the various fortunes of charismatic leaders such as Marius, Sulla, Crassus, Pompey, Julius Caesar, Lepidus and Marc Antony, as well as those of numerous other ambitious families and individuals.

How the collection is organized

The Badian collection has been organized with reference to the important numismatic works of Dr. Edward Allen Sydenham and Dr. Michael H. Crawford. Sydenham's typology, detailed in his Coinage of the Roman RepublicCatalog link, has been used to order and identify the collection, and the physical coins have been sorted into numerical order according to this typology. Crawford's more recent Roman Republican CoinageCatalog link (RRC) has been referred to, and identifiers from both works have been meticulously assigned to each coin (excluding those few which fall outside the scope of these works).

Upon donation, many of the coins were accompanied by hand-written identifying notes by produced by Dr. Badian himself. In order to preserve this scholarship, these notes have been digitized and transcribed, and are included with each digital coin record. A sample of these notes may be viewed here.

Note: click on the Catalog link icon to access the citation page for works available in the collections of the Rutgers University libraries.

The development of this digital collection and web portal has been supported by a grant from the Loeb Classical Library Foundation. The Foundation awards fellowships to qualified scholars to support research, publication, and other projects in the area of classical studies.