Imperial Roman bronze coin of Emperor Constantine I

Andrew W. writes: I have a very interesting coin that I would like to know more about. I have asked a few people about it and all they can tell me is that it is Roman and has a picture of Constantine on it. The coin is about the size of a penny and it is made out of copper. On the front the coin has a head of a man facing to the right. There are words both to the right and left of the head. To the left in caps it appears to say CONSTHN. To the right it appears to read TINVSHVS.

On the reverse of the coin right in the middle is what looks like a wreath. At the bottom inside part of the wreath it has what looks like a six point star. To the right and left of the star are X’s. In the very center of the wreath is a dot and written across inside the top of the wreath is the letters VOT. Underneath the wreath it has the letters SMHA. I might be reading them upside down though. It could be VHWS. Around the outside of the wreath it says DNCONANTINHXHVC. Anything that you could tell me about this coin like when and where it was made and the value of it would be appreciated.

You have a bronze Imperial Rome AE3 (about 17 mm in diameter) of Constantine I, The Great (307-337 AD). There was so much revision of coinage in this period that the names of the many small denomination coins have been lost. Today, numismatists identify these coins by their size and type, AE=bronze 1-4= the size (like shoes, except the larger number means a smaller coin).< /P>

The obverse shows a laureate bust of Emperor Constantine I, the abbreviated Latin legend around is: CONSTANTINVS AVG. The reverse shows a laurel wreath around VOT. xxx (“votis” or a vow or prayer probably short for something like “votis incendimus aras”, that which has been vowed or promised. “I’m going to kick the barbarians out of Rome”, one on the top ten list). The legend around is D.N. CONSTANTINI MAX. AVG. ([so says] Emperor Constantine, the Great). In exergue (the place under a dividing line on a coin) are letters representing the Mint where the coin was struck, like a Mint Mark on a U.S. coin (yours the Sirmium Mint?).

Bronzes similar to these are often found in large numbers in archaeological digs and find their way into the numismatic market place. After all, small change is a very important part of any monetary system (imagine all the billions of Lincoln cents two thousand years from now). Approximate value range for average examples $10 – $35.