Rare! Imitation of a Roman Imperial coin, struck in Sri Lanka, ca.5th century AD (VRBS ROMA obverse, wreath or wheel reverse)

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Bust left (derived from the VRBS ROMA coins), stylized imitative legends around / Wreath (or wheel). 13mm, 0.87 grams. Mitchiner ACW #5165ff (this type is unlisted).

This obverse imitates the VRBS ROMA AE3's while the reverse can imitate any of the late Roman issues of the 4th century, many of which included a large wreath on the reverse. Clear and nice coins like this one are difficult to find. Very rare unpublished type.

Late Roman bronze coins and their local Sri-Lankan imitations, are found in Sri Lanka. It seems likely that enterprising Roman traders brought demonetized and worn small Roman coins from the Roman Empire (where they had almost no value) and brought them all the way to Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka the native coinage was crude, scarce and probably carried a much higher intrinsic value than in Rome or India. It is not inconceivable that all the Roman coins encountered in Sri Lanka come from only a few (if not one) such shipment of obsolete Roman coinage. If this is true, such trades might have taken place some times in the early 5th century CE. When more coins were needed (but not available), locally made imitations of these Roman coins were minted. The Sri Lankans obviously had no experience in minting coins - these are extremely crude and poorly made, never found well-struck and in high quality. They fascinating and unusual, showing stylized and misunderstood Roman designs. They probably remained in circulation for hundreds of years, until ca.8th century CE. The coin offered here comes from a group of coins sold by CNG - these coins were probably freshly minted, as numerous coins in this group were struck with the same sets of dies, and it is likely this piece dates to the 5th century CE.