Aes grave (heavy bronze) is a term in numismatics indicating bronze cast coins used in central Italy during the 3rd century BC, whose value was generally indicated by signs: I for the as, S for semis and pellets for unciae. Standard weights for the as were 272, 327, or 341 grams, depending upon the issuing authority.
The semis, literally meaning half, was a small Roman bronze coin that was valued at half an as. During the Roman Republic, the semis was distinguished by an ‘S’ (indicating semis) or 6 dots (indicating a theoretical weight of 6 uncia). Some of the coins featured a bust of Saturn on the obverse, and the prow of a ship on the reverse.
Initially a cast coin, like the rest of Roman Republican bronzes, it began to be struck from dies shortly before the Second Punic War 218-201 BC. Following the Augustan Coinage reforms of 23 BC the Semis became the smallest Orichalcum (brass) denomination, having twice the value of a copper Quadrans and Half the value of the copper As. Its size and diameter corresponded directly to the quadrans, so its value was attained from brass having double the value of copper. The coin was issued infrequently and it ceased to be issued by the time of Hadrian 117-138 AD. In the early Imperial period, a Semis could buy a Cerae (wax writing tablet).
Pegasus flying right, S below (mark of value); all on raised disk
Pegasus flying left, S below (mark of value); all on raised disk
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