From time to time you will come across an ancient coin with a hole in it. Coins that were holed in ancient times are intriguing. Why was this so? It takes a lot of time and lessens the metal content of the coin and its value, so why were these ancient coins holed? Sometimes Roman and Greek coins were used as decorations by both males and females. Ancient people through the ages also used holed coins to nail them to a door or wall. This ritual is to praise the ruler or the God illustrated on them or in hope of gaining protection from the ruler or ancient god.
Many holed coins have been used as decorations or as a souvenir. Some may have been purposely defaced. In some cases, holed coins with lower value may have been used simply as piece of metal. The following are types of Holed Coins.
Several late Roman bronze coins have multiple holes. One significant theory is that armoured soldiers may have threaded them onto their weapon, where they can provide a mixture of decoration and extra protection. Their value as currency was low, so this is feasible.
Silver Antoninanus of Severina composed of two different holes. This is a stylish choice of jewellery. It consisted of two smaller holes at opposite ends of the coin. It could have been put together with other coins to form necklaces. Certainly, two holes would not be enough for a simple pendant.
Some coins demonstrate a hole which has not been passed through. One of the best examples is the Centenionalis of Constantius II. This Corinth has holes found on both sides. There’s no proof being revealed, but they do have a split attempt. They are in various positions, so the hole-borer could not have accepted them to fasten together.
There is usually some roughness and sometimes abnormality on the shape of the hole, sometimes by the warp of the metal around it. There may be an indication of a slight flaw of workmanship. Bronze coins were drilled the most because of their cheaper value but gold and silver ones were also drilled by more wealthy individuals.
Most of the ancient coins have been restored by plugging the hole. The plug is typically the same metal as the coin. Fixes are most common in the most precious coins such as gold coins with plugged holes.
This Silver Siliqua Coin of Constantius II has been plugged with the use of silver- appearing metal, and the outcome of the repair is reasonably coarse. It may have been both repaired and holed at same time. This is a thin coin from the 4th century and weighed only 0.3 grams and known as “Papal-Byzantine” from the byzantine empire which was after the Roman imperial times.
Another popular use of coins was in decoration on clothing or leather bags. Ancient Roman soldiers used holed coins in their uniforms and another use has been in leather bags where the coin would not be holed but would have a plug soldered to the coin and a hole inserted to add to a leather item.
In Africa they would add a slug to a leather bag and hammer the end flat to make the coin fix permanently. Below is a unique leather bag from Morocco with coins from different times hammered permanently.
Coins were also minted with holes deliberately in them. France’s 1921 25 centime had a hole as well as Japanese coins like 5 and 50 Yen. The most famous coins minted with a hole were Ancient Chinese coins that had squares cut into the centre instead round shape.
The reason being they were easier to string when the hole is square. Coins were cast poured in crude a method and when making the coins a square rod was placed in the center so they would not roll around and be an even size.
The Chinese were among the first to make coins in 770 BC. They were a blade shape and not round like newer coins, however in 350 BC they made round coins. History stated that in one year, 220 million coins were made which was a record for ancient times. Also, in Chinese Mythology the round coin represents the universe and the square hole represents China, the centre of the universe.
Why would anyone consider a fake for decoration? It is the best way to make use of it since once it is identified it cannot be used as currency.
One of the best examples of contemporary fake is a Republican Denarius, where you can notice the silver coating that has worn off to disclose the base metal underneath. It would have been a surprise if this is only becoming noticeable when the hole was first produced!
Sometimes holed coins are established with metal loops through the holes. The first coin of this type is a diminutive Bronze of Honorius during 5th century and it has a brass circle through its hole.
Although the coin is seriously patented the brass round is not. It does not look innovative but might not be antique. This is the type of loop you might anticipate from a proficient metal worker from the time since this coin was struck.
Holed coin collecting is popular and continues to gain popularity. People are always facinated by how the drilled artefact was worn and some people even make board game from these. Since the 1990s dozens of countries mint coinage with a hole in centre.
The United States also have holed coins, many draped bust dollars were minted between 1799 to 1800 and these coins had holes so that a leather necklace could thread through them and they were worn as concealed necklaces.
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