There’s nothing in the coin world like the feel of holding an ancient gold coin in your hand, but unfortunately that’s not something that most will have the opportunity to do. Nevertheless, interest in the market has never been higher with modern commemoratives featuring ancient themes from architecture to gods, many of the coins being amongst the best released to market. There will always be a difference between a themed coin and one that accurately replicates the past, and Coin Invest Trust’s ‘The Coins of the Roman Empire’ fits firmly into the latter category.

First launched back in 2009, the coins were released in sets of four at a time, although they’re sold individually. Replicating some of the superb ancient designs struck by the Roman Emperors, the coins wind their way chronologically through the Empire, starting with the first, and perhaps the greatest of them all, Augustus himself. All but four of the coins carry profile portraits of the Emperors, the others depicting events. Sadly, they share a common obverse, the shield emblem of the issuing state, Palau. While it would have been nice to see this integrated into the design rather than take centrestage, the fact is that at just 11.8 mm in diameter, there simply isn’t room on the coin, so a necessary compromise.

The coins are struck in 0.9999 gold and are just 0.5g each in weight. This allows them to be sold for even less than a 1 oz silver commemorative, an important point when there are 24 coins in the set. Detail levels remain high, although new techniques developed by CIT being applied to the latest coins do surpass these. As the originals were relatively crudely struck anyway, this actually turns into a point in favour.

There are some real gems in this collection and it’s a fine set for the history buff. For a future set we’d like to see the hand-struck effect applied to the shape of the coin, much like the Monnaie de Paris’ brilliant From Clovis to Republic series. With CIT now rolling out its ground-breaking SmartMinting technology, we have no doubt that the minigold 0.5g format is in safe hands with the industrys biggest user of the size, one increasing in popularity. With a mintage of 15,000 each, all the coins are still available at the time of writing and well worth a second look. Whether CIT will ever do a set like this again is anybody’s guess, but we hope so, the Greek period having plenty of fine designs, for example. Prices hover around the €40-45 mark.


The Aureus was valued at 25 silver denarii and was about the same diameter, but heavier due to the differing densities of gold and silver. Julius Caesar standardised the weight at 1/40th of a Roman pound (8.18g), but as with anything in the financial world, they gradually got smaller and smaller until by the time of the Emperor Constantine, they were replaced by the Solidus in 312 AD, a coin weighing only 4.55 grams. However, regardless of the size or weight of the aureus, the coin’s purity was little affected. Analysis of the Roman aureus shows the purity level usually to have been near to 24 carat gold in excess of 99%.

Because the Roman government issued base-metal coinage but refused to take anything but gold or silver coinage in payment for taxes, inflation was rampant, Along with the debasement of the silver denarius which by the mid 3rd century AD was virtually devoid of actual silver, the aureus became worth more and more relatively speaking. In 301, one gold aureus was worth 833⅓ denarii; by 324, the same aureus was worth 4,350 denarii. In 337, after Constantine converted to the solidus, one solidus was worth 275,000 denarii and finally, by 356, one solidus was worth 4,600,000 denarii. While Constantine was responsible for replacing the aureus with the solidus, the latter was actually introduced by Diocletian in 301 AD, but only in small numbers.


A tale of two halves on the presentation front. The individual coins shipped in just a capsule with a certificate, much like most of CIT’s output until quite recently. If you want to collect a set, or even just a half set, there is a collectors box designed just for that purpose. Looking like a leather-bound book and emblazoned with a gilded emblem on the front, it includes two 12-coin layers that hold the encapsulated coins in place. Certificates can ba placed in the lid. We’ve seen these for sale for a reasonable €25.


$1 PALAU 0.9999 GOLD 0.5 g 11.8 mm B/UNC 15,000 NO / YES