Vetranio -- Roman emperor, AD 350. Vetranio

All six copper coin types. A guide for collectors.

Vetranio was Augustus (emperor) in the Balkans from March 1, 350 until his abdication December 25, 350.

Vetranio became emperor during the reign of the eastern co-emperor Constantius II in order to halt the eastward advance of the usurper Magnentius who had defeated and killed the western co-emperor Constans (brother of Constantius II) in Gaul at the beginning of 350 AD. Magnentius rapidly moved east and took Rome and Aquileia (at the top of the Adriatic sea). Constantius II was unable to personally respond because he was in the far eastern part of the empire. Vetranio, who was magister peditum in the Balkans, promoted himself to the rank of Augustus, declaring it was in support of Constantius II. Vetranio successfully held the Balkans until Constantius II was able to return and accept his abdication on Christmas Day, 350, after which he lived in retirement. For a longer biography (off site), see the on-line encyclopedia of Roman emperors, De Imperatoribus Romanis.

The coins: Vetranio issued only six AE coin types; three are AE2's (c. 23 mm in diameter) and three are AE3's (c. 18 mm). All were new types, not carried over from existing types. Only two mints struck coins for Vetranio. The primary mint was Siscia (modern Sisak in central Croatia) and some coins were struck at Thessalonica (on the coast of Greece). Four of the six types were also struck for Constantius II and three for Constantius Gallus, which proves that some types initiated by Vetranio were continued after his reign, because Gallus did not become Caesar until 15 March 351, after Vetranio abdicated.

All the coins minted in the name of Vetranio were minted by Vetranio. Vetranio also minted coins for Constantius II, but Constantius II did not return the favor.

The obverse legend for Vetranio is:  DN VETRA - NIO PF AVG (at Siscia) or DN VETRAN - IO PF AVG (at Thessalonica) [The same legend only with a different break.]

The following table is derived from RIC, Roman Imperial Coinage, VIII by John Kent, with rarity ratings modified by me in light of recent finds. 
Failmezger (Roman Bronze Coins from Paganism to Christianity, 294-364 AD) assigns one number per type and emperors are distinguished by a prefix: V = Vetranio, Cs = Constantius II, G = Constantius Gallus.

This page lists and illustrates the six types of Vetranio issued in his name.
For images of these and additional coins in the names of Constantius II and Gallus see here.


Size Reverse legend and type
Ruler(s) in whose name it was issued
RIC numbers for this type. Failmezger number.
Additional comments
Coin image (Image sizes are proportional to coin sizes).
RIC number of this particular coin.
Its diameter, weight, and die axis.
Emperor standing front, holding in each hand a standard with ch-rho.
Vetranio, Constantius II, and Gallus.
Common for Constantius II. Scarce for Vetranio and Gallus.
Siscia (numerous RIC numbers): Constantius II 270-289, 301-310, 347A;
Vetranio 271-290; Gallus 303, 308
Thessalonica: Constantius II 130, Vetranio 131-2, Gallus 167
Sirmium (all with "III" in left reverse field): Constantius II 21, 28. Gallus 22, 29.
Failmezger 415
This type was issued simultaneously with the HOC SIGNO VICTOR ERIS type.
First series: "A" behind bust, 22-24 mm, c. 5.11 grams at Siscia, 21-23 mm and
c. 5.20 grams at Thessalonica.
Second series only at Siscia: "A" behind and star in front of bust, 21-23 mm.
c. 4.65 grams. [Reduced weight]
Both series have "A" in the left field of the reverse.

Vetranio, RIC Siscia 285 (A behind and * in front of bust)
23 mm. 4.56 grams. 12:00.
"In this sign, you will be victorious" [Which God told Constantine before the
Battle of the Milvian Bridge, Oct 28, 312.]
Emperor standing holding standard with chi-rho,
to r. is Victory, crowning him with wreath and holding palm branch
Vetranio (scarce) and Constantius II (scarce) at Siscia.
Continued later for Constantius II and Gallus (rare)
at both Siscia and Sirmium.
(Sirmium had not been minting during the reign of Vetranio).
Siscia (numerous RIC numbers)
Cs 272-291, 304-311; V 275-292; G 306, 312.
Sirmium (all with "III" in left reverse field): Constantius II 23, 30. Gallus 23, 31
Failmezger 416
The series marks are as for CONCORDIA MILITVM above.
Scarce and expensive for Vetranio because it is an important early
Christian type. Nevertheless, it is readily available from the Siscia mint.
RIC says (p. 344) "This manifest declaration of the vision of Constantine
before his victory over Maxentius is the clearest possible indication of
Vetranio's loyalty to Constantius." 
Vetranio RIC Siscia 287 (A behind and * in front of bust)
21 mm. 5.06 grams. 12:30.

Emperor standing front, holding standard with chi-rho, resting left on shield
Vetranio only, rare
RIC Thessalonica 126-7
Failmezger 417

Only this one mint, this one issue.
There are two minor obverse varieties,
one laureate (126) and one pearl-diademed (127)

Vetranio, RIC Thessalonica 126
23 mm. 4.71 grams. 12:00.
Emperor standing front, holding standard with chi-rho and reversed spear.
Vetranio, Constantius II, and Gallus, all rare. Constantius II less so.
Julian II as Caesar, very rare.
Siscia: Cs 293, 355, 386, V 294, G 356, J387-389
Failmezger 418
"Third series." No obverse letters in the field,
18-19 mm., c. 2.20 grams.
Vetranio, RIC Siscia 294
19 mm. 2.64 grams. 12:30
Emperor standing right holding spear and globe, kicking captive.
Vetranio and Constantius II, both rare.
Siscia: Cs 295, V 296
Failmezger 419 lists it for Gallus also. [This might be in error; it is not in RIC.
Readers, please show me an example.]
"Third series." No obverse letters in the field.
18-19 mm., c. 2.20 grams.
Vetranio, RIC Siscia 296
20-18 mm. 2.37 grams. 6:00
Emperor front, holding standard with chi-rho, resting left on shield
Vetranio only. Rare.
RIC Thessalonica 138
Failmezger 420
Only this one mint, this one issue.
17-19 mm and c. 2.60 grams

Vetranio. RIC Thessalonica 138
18 mm. 2.56 grams. 6:00

Vetranio has long been considered a "rare" emperor. However, in the 1990s many coins of the first two AE2 types were discovered. Because coins of Vetranio are much scarcer than those of other emperors of the period, they remain relatively expensive. A search on will find many examples the first two types (some under Vetranio but often in the name of Constantius on the coin), but might not find the other four, which are much less available.

For more:  Go to a page with these images and additional images of these types in the names of Constantius II and Constantius Gallus.


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