The "radiate fraction" denomination, a.k.a. the "post-reform radiate."

Diocletian's coin reform of c. 294 introduced two new base-metal denominations, the very common large "follis" (a.k.a. "nummus") and the smaller "radiate fraction," also known as a "post-reform radiate." The first radiate fractions looked very much like the previous aurelianus (a.k.a. antoninianus). The size was the same and the radiate head was similar, so they can be hard to tell apart. (How to tell them apart is discussed here.)

Radiate fractions are much less common than folles and aureliani, but are not more expensive because there is little demand and there are enough of them to satisfy it. There are only four types. 

What's new?  2020, May 11:  Galerius as Augustus and comments about the same type as Caesar.

The most common type, CONCORDIA MILITVM (to the right for Diocletian, and below) is dated by RIC to c. 295-7. The author selected those dates because the denomination was part of the coin reform which began c. 294, probably with the follis denomination being introduced first. We don't know when they got around to adding in this denomination. However, it is scarce enough and from so few mints that we know it did not endure long. 


It is not certain how the reform pegged its values of the denominations. Some, but not all, authors think these new radiates were 2 denarii and five of these made one follis of 10 denarii (prior to Diocletian's Edict of Maximum prices). Where did the old aurelianus fit in?  I think it was also originally pegged at 2 denarii which explains seven things. The radiate fraction

Of the fifteen active mints, eight did not issue it. Seven did: Ticinum (none here), Rome, Carthage, Heraclea, Cyzicus, Antioch, and Alexandria. Most examples are from Alexandria, Egypt, which accepted this low-quality coin more readily than other regions because they had no other denomination of lower value than the follis. Also, Alexandria was the only mint to issue the denomination after Diocletian's Edict on Maximumum Prices of 301. Some pieces belong to the Second Tetrarchy and some even later, until 307 (Severus II as Augustus).

   (Links are to paragraphs further down the page.)


The first two VOT types are dated in RIC VI to "c. 303" (i.e. at the beginning of Diocletian's twentieth year), but I'm doubtful. Why would these mints not issue the denomination promptly at the same time it was begun elsewhere? Are we supposed to think they waited six years before issuing the denomination? Also, vows on coins are usually vows taken (suscepta) for the next ten years (see a page on vows here). Vows for ten years are usually at the beginning of the reign and vows for twenty after ten years when the original vows are renewed for twenty. The vow-number XX would be normal after nine or ten years of reign for Augusti (or, the senior Augustus, Diocletian) and vow-number X for the vows at the beginning of the reign of the Caesars, that is, closer to 294-5 and the coin reform than to 303 (Galerius as Caesar, the third coin and here). So these ought to be as soon as the reform occured and this denomination appeared. Then there would be no long gap between when they appear elsewhere and when they appear at Carthage. At Carthage, the obverse legend for Maximian (it was in his territory) is IMP C M A MAXIMIANVS PF AVG (Here). That is a long legend typical of earlier in his reign. Why would Carthage bring the denomination back after other mints had long abandoned it? Even Alexandria, the mint where it was most common, gives no evidence of minting radiate fractions in the interval after c. 296-297 until the Second Tetrarchy began in May 305. In my opinion, the Carthage radiate fractions should be dated just like the others, to c. 295-297, that is, as soon as the denomination was added to the coinage. The few radiate fractions from Alexandria after July 305 (for the Second Tetrarchy and then for Severus II as Augustus and Constantine as Caesar) stand alone in time and mint.
 


Alexandria.  The greatest selection of rulers and the examples that are easiest to find are from Alexandria:



Diocletian
21 mm. 3.21 grams.
IMP C C VAL DIOCLETIANVS PF AVG


  Γ
ALE

RIC Alexandria 46a "c. 296-7"


 

 





Maximian
22-20 mm. 3.64 grams.
IMP C MA MAXIMIANVS PF AVG

  Γ
ALE

RIC Alexandria 46b "c. 296-7"



 

 



Galerius as Caesar
22-21 mm. 2.64 grams.
GAL VAL MAXIMIANVS NOB C


 A
ALE

RIC Alexandria 48b "c. 296-7"

Sear IV 14417

Compare to the next coin.
 


Galerius as Augustus (Second Tetrarchy)
22 mm. 2.75 grams.
IMP C MAXIMIANVS PF AVG

   Δ
 ALE

RIC VI Alexandria 59b "305-306"

Sear IV 14531

[Compare to the previous coin.]

 

They are so similar it raises questions about their dates, supposedly nine years apart. The one as Augustus must be from after May 1, 305 because Constantius as Augustus and Severus II as Caesar are in the issue (which make it a Second Tetrarchy issue). It does not look like a portrait of Maximian, which it would if it were First Tetrarchy.  The one above as Caesar is likely from the time of the coin reform, about nine years earlier. If the coin reform were not a factor, we might date the one as Caesar to just before his change to Augustus (1 May 305) and the one as Augustus to just after, making it a continuous run of coins of this denomination. Many "issues" (really "groups") in RIC have more than one obverse legend for some emperors. Could this be one such group, or must be agree that this denomination was issued for a couple of years, discontinued, and then resumed eight years later with no change of control marks?

      (Later issues from Alexandria are below.)
 


Carthage.  Carthage had VOT XX for the Augusti and VOT X for the Caesars.



Diocletian
21 mm. 2.86 grams.
IMP C DIOCLETIANVS PF AVG


VOT
X•X
 FK    (Felix Karthage)
in wreath

RIC Carthage 37a "c. 303" [but, see above for a different date]

 



Maximian
23 mm. 3.23 grams
IMP C MAXIMIANVS PF AVG

VOT
X•X
 FK    (Felix Karthage)


RIC Carthage 37b "c. 303" [but, see above for a different date]



Constantius as Caesar
23 mm. 3.88 grams.
VOT
  X
 FK

RIC Carthage 35a "c. 303" [but, see above for a different date]

 

 

 


Galerius as Caesar
22 mm. 3.55 grams.
GAL VAL MAXIMIANVS NOB C
VOT
  X
F  K

This example has his own vow-number.

RIC Carthage 35b "c. 303"  (But see the alternative date above.)

 

 

Rome. Rome has the rare CONCORDIA AVGG type (which is not illustrated here) and the two types of Carthage. The difference is in the letter(s) below the vow-number. Carthage has "K" and an officina number in Greek. Rome has just the officina number in Greek.


Maximian [repeated from above]
21 mm. 3.29 grams.
IMP C M A MAXIMIANVS PF AVG

VOT
X•X
  A

RIC Rome 75, "c. 297-8"


 

 

 


Constantius as Caesar, with vow-number approriate for the Augusti.
FL VAL CONSTANTIVS NOB C
VOT 
X•X
   Γ

RIC Rome 87a "c. 297-8"

 

 

Galerius as Caesar, with vow-number approriate for the Augusti. 
20 mm. 3.18 grams
MAXIMIANVS NOB CAES

VOT
X X
  [?] possibly Z (would be 7, numbers went up to 9)


RIC Rome 88b "c. 297-8"

 



 


Heraclea. The Heraclea mintmark was a "H" in the middle field for "Heraclea," with an officina number in Greek.
 


Diocletian as Augustus
21 mm. 2.78 grams.
IMP C C VAL DIOCLETIANVS PF AVG


  HB

RIC Heraclea 13

 

 


Maximian as Augustus
21 mm. 2.67 grams.

IMP C M A MAXIMIANVS PF AVG

  HΓ

RIC Heraclea 14

RIC notes [p. 522] that, at Heraclea, the western rulers are radiate and cuirassed without drapery, but the eastern rulers are also draped (as Diocletian above). 

 


Cyzicus.  The Cyzicus mintmark used a "K" in the middle field for "Kyzikos," with an officina number in Greek.
 


Constantius as Caesar
20-19 mm.
FL VAL CONSTANTIVS NOB CAES


  KB
RIC Cyzicus 18a "c.295-9"
Sear IV 14104


 

 

 
 

Antioch. Antioch used the mintmart ANT in exergue, with symbols including the officina number 1-7 in Greek in the middle field,

 

Constantius as Caesar 
19 mm. 2.68 grams.
FL VAL CONSTANTIVS NOB CAES


   *
   Δ
 ANT

RIC Antioch 61a "c. 296" 



Ticinum.  There are radiate fractions from Ticinum, but none are illustrated here.

 


The radiate fraction revived. Apparently radiate fractions were only issued two or three years and died out. However, the denomination was revived for a short while at Alexadria, Eyypt, which minted it for the Second Tetrarchy (Galerius and Constantius as Augusti and Severus II and Maximinus II as Caesars) and then for Severus II as Augustus (306-307) and Constantine as Caesar (306-307). 


Constantius as Augustus (Second Tetrarchy, 305-306)
21-19 mm. 3.12 grams.

IMP C CONSTANTIVS PF AVG

  B
ALE

RIC Alexandria 59a



[Repeated from above]
Galerius as Augustus (Second Tetrarchy)
22 mm. 2.75 grams.
IMP C MAXIMIANVS PF AVG

   Δ
 ALE

RIC VI Alexandria 59b "305-306"

Sear IV 14531

Severus II as Augustus (after the Second Tetrarchy)
21-20 mm. 3.68 grams.
IMP C SEVERVS PF AVG

   Γ
ALE

RIC VI Alexandria 84 "306-early 307"

Sear IV 14682

 




Constantine as Caesar, July 306-July 307 (after the Second Tetrarchy)
20 mm. 
FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB CEAS

  Δ
ALE

RIC Alexandria 85 "306 - early 307" 


 

 

 

Go to the page, "Introduction to Roman Coins of the First Tetrarchy."

Go to the page "Roman Coins of the Second Tetrarchy."

There is a page of links to pages on coins of the tetrarchies


Go to the Table of Contents for this whole educational site.