How to Record a Coin


The main difference between recording a coin (or jetton, token etc) and any other object is that for a coin there is an extra form to complete, in addition to the standard finds form, findspot form, and so on. Coins are standard, mass-produced objects, and the numismatic forms are set up to capture this standard information in a standard way so that it can be easily searched.

This summary Guide will ultimately cover the main points common to the recording of all coins.

Period-specific numismatic guides, with detail on each period’s denominations, mints, rulers and so on, can be found using this link (select the correct period from the left-hand menu).

How to take a die axis measurement

  1. Hold your coin so that the design on one face is the right way up (the less clear one is best).
  2. Put your finger and thumb, or arms of calipers, at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock (top and bottom).
  3. The top of the less clear face will be at 12 o’clock.
  4. Rotate the coin about the vertical axis you have created, and look at the other face.
  5. Where is the top of the design on the other face? This is what you record as the die axis measurement. So if it is upside down, the top will be at 6 o’clock.
  6. If you want to check you are doing it right, look at a modern coin. Modern UK coins have a die axis measurement of 12 o’clock. Modern US coins have a die axis measurement of 6 o’clock.

Iron Age and Roman coins – top tips from Sam and Andrew

Sam Moorhead and Andrew Brown, the Iron Age and Roman Coin Advisers, issued a revision sheet to FLOs in June 2018 to complement the Iron Age and Roman coin training. Attending a training day is vital for both FLOs and volunteers, and copious notes are provided on the day.

Detailed help on denominations, rulers, mints and so on can also be found in the on-line coin guides: and

Some key points from Sam and Andrew’s revision sheet are given below.

It is important that the database records are consistent, so that our data is accessible and can be searched or edited as easily as possible. It is much better and far less time-consuming to have good records from the outset.

Which fields to use, and which to avoid

Find form

Don’t use ‘Classification’, ‘Sub-classification’ or ‘Inscription’ – these are only for non-numismatic objects. Put this kind of information in the fields in the numismatic form.

Periods – use ‘Roman’ for Roman Republican coins. Use ‘Greek and Roman Provincial’ for Greek coins (see below for these, and

Don’t bother with the ‘Sub-period from/to’ drop-downs for Iron Age and Roman coins.

Notes – this is only for information that doesn’t fit in anywhere else. Sam or Andrew may add some text in the Notes box.

Find of Note – do use this if the coin is unusual

Measurements – you only need to give diameter and weight, not thickness unless this is unusual. Weight should be recorded to a hundredth of a gram (two decimal places).

Method of manufacture – this will normally be ‘struck or hammered’, but look out for cast coins.

Secondary identifier – please add Sam or Andrew if they have seen the coin, or an image of it.

Workflow – even if you can, please don’t publish a record to green-flag level; leave it at yellow.

Numismatic form

For Iron Age coins, try to select Geographic Area, Tribe, Ruler as best as possible, although this is often difficult. We hope to improve this with a revised version of the database.

For late Roman coins, use broad ranges for uncertain types (e.g. Radiate, Uncertain Ruler 260-296).

If you are uncertain of the Mint, leave this blank. (Remember, usually CON = Arles/Constantia, not Constantinople.)

Do use the qualifiers ‘Probably’ and ‘Possibly’ – they are your friends! ‘Probably’ means over 50% certain, ‘Possibly’ less than 50% certain.

Don’t use abbreviations in the obverse and reverse description fields.

Do use [ ] for the missing parts of an inscription. We are recording what remains, not what would have been on the coin when it was struck.

If the inscription is unreadable, enter ‘Illegible’. If there never was an inscription, leave the field blank.

For Roman mintmarks, follow the basic guidelines here: If mintmarks are missing, enter [ ] (e.g. []//[] or -//TR[P]). If there never was a mintmark, enter  -//-

NB. S C in the exergue on early Roman coinage is not a mintmark. It is part of the reverse inscription, and so should be described with it (e.g. PAX AVG, S C)

Depending on your coin, try to fill in the following fields so that we get the best possible record at the outset: BMC (Hobbs) and/or ABC number; RIC or RRC number; Reece period; 4th-century reverse type; Republican moneyer; regular, contemporary copy, clipped, etc;

If possible, add the die axis measurement (this cannot always be established from an image).

For Iron Age coins, don’t use the ‘Celtic Coin Index number’ or the ‘Coin hoards of Iron Age Britain number’ fields.

Uncertain identifications and difficult coins

If you are uncertain, it is far better to state this uncertainty than have a guess at precise dates, emperors etc. If in doubt, ask – don’t be shy! The Coins Advisers are here to help. It is far quicker to ask them than to post a coin on the Forum – the Forum is not the right place to get a coin identified.

If you are uncertain about any aspect of a coin, please try and complete as much of the database record as you can and add an image (see below). Send this to both Sam and Andrew, for identification or editing. Your record will need at minimum an image, diameter, and weight, but if you think there are parts of legends or types you can see, especially those that don’t reproduce well on the photo, add these to the record so that we can see how you reached your ID.

You will also, of course, have to add all the information about find circumstances – finder’s name, findspot, date of discovery and so on. There will be a lot of information that only you can provide, so add all of this before sending to Sam and Andrew.

Use of abbreviations

Don’t abbreviate anywhere within the coin records – not in the Object Description field, nor in any of the numismatic form’s fields. Abbreviations of numismatic data are often hard to understand and are extremely difficult to search for. (You can use the normal ones, such as mm for millimetres, g for grams, p. for page, fig. for figure, pl. for plate and no. for number).


All records should have images added, so that the Finds Advisers can check, edit and publish them. Coin images are orientated in a different way to non-numismatic objects – the designs on both obverse and reverse are shown the correct way up, and the relationship between the two is recorded through the die axis measurement.


Please do remember to add a coin reference (e.g. an RIC number) to a record, if you have it.

Editing a finished record

Please don’t edit records that have been green-flagged by a Coins Adviser, unless this is to add or correct things other than the identification (such as measurements, finders’ names, findspot, etc). If there is a problem with the identification of a green-flagged record, please alert Sam or Andrew. This is because a green-flagged record has been checked by Sam or Andrew, and editing it may introduce errors.

Descriptions for Iron Age coins

The Object Description field is the only field which appears in the search results, so it is very important. Put all information about that particular coin in the Object Description box.

Be consistent in your descriptions. Each record of an Iron Age coin should contain the following information in the Description field (where possible):

  • Metal
  • Denomination
  • Region or ‘tribal’ affinity
  • Date of issue
  • ABC type
  • Obverse type
  • Reverse type
  • Reference (e.g. ABC, Hobbs)


A gold Iron Age stater of the North Eastern region / Corieltavi, dating to the period c.50-20 BC, South Ferriby type. Obverse: Wreath, cloak, and crescents. Reverse: Lunate horse left, star below, ‘anchor’ face above, pellet rosette beneath the head, and single forelegs. As ABC, p. 92, no. 1743; BMC (Hobbs) nos. 3148-3178 (cf. no. 3162 for the obverse).

A cast copper-alloy Iron Age potin of the Kent Region / Cantiaci, c.150-100 BC, ‘Thurrock Chicken Head’ type. Obverse: Bird-like head of Apollo left with open mouth. Reverse: Degraded bull left. As ABC p. 33, no. 126.

An Iron Age silver unit of the East Anglian region / Iceni, attributed to Antedios, c.AD 10-30, ‘Antedios Antd D-Bar’ type. Obverse: Two opposed crescents crossed by five alternating plain and pellet lines. Reverse: [AN]TÐ, Horse right with large oval head and pellet eye, S below head, two pellets below tail, pellet ring above horse, pellet triangle and a diagonal row of three pellets above the monogram. As ABC, p. 87, no. 1645; BMC nos. 3856-3959.

A gold Iron Age uninscribed stater, Gallo-Belgic import of the Ambiani, dating to the period c. 60-50 BC, ‘Gallic War Uniface’ type. Obverse: plain. Reverse: Sinuous horse facing right, single pellet below, pellets above. As ABC, p.28, no.16.

Remember to include if a coin is incomplete:

A base and incomplete silver stater of the South Western region / Durotriges, dating to the period c.60-20 BC, probably Cranborne Chase type. Obverse: Wreath, cloak, and crescents. Reverse: Disjointed horse left, body of crescents, four vertical legs, pellet below, many pellets above. Cf. ABC p. 111, no. 2169.

Or if it is a contemporary copy or modified:

A plated contemporary copy of an Iron Age silver unit of the East Anglian region / Iceni, dating to c.AD 10-43, probably ‘Ecen Corn Ear’ or related type. Obverse: Double opposed crescents on vertical wreath. Reverse: Horse right with pelletal sun above, S below head, three pellets below. Cf. ABC p. 89, no. 1657.

Descriptions for Roman coins

The Object Description field is the only field which appears in the search results, so it is very important. Put all information about that particular coin in the Object Description box.

Be consistent in your descriptions. Each record of a Roman coin should contain the following information in the Description field (where possible):

  • Metal
  • Denomination
  • Ruler (and their dates)
  • Date of issue
  • Reece period
  • Reverse type
  • Mint
  • Reference (e.g. RIC, LRBC, etc)

If any aspect is not clear enough to read, please use ‘unclear’ (e.g. ‘Mint unclear’ or ‘Unclear mint’) rather than ‘Uncertain’, as ‘uncertain’ implies that not enough research has been done to identify a mint or a reverse type, rather than that you simply can’t read this particular one.


A copper-alloy Roman nummus of Valens (AD 364-375), dating to the period AD 364-367 (Reece period 19). SECVRITAS REI PVBLICAE reverse type depicting Victory advancing left holding wreath and palm. Mint of Arles. As RIC IX, p. 64, no. 9b.

A gold Roman aureus of Augustus (27 BC-AD 14), dating to the period c.9-8 BC (Reece period 1). C L CAESARES (in exergue), AVGVSTI F COS DESIG PRINC IVVENT reverse type depicting Gaius and Lucius Caesar standing resting hand on shield, spear behind each shield, above a simpulum to left and lituus to right. Mint of Lyon. As RIC I (2nd ed.), p. 55, no. 206.

A copper-alloy Roman radiate of Gallienus (AD 253-268), sole reign, dating to the period AD 260-268 (Reece period 13). FORTVNA REDVX reverse type depicting Fortuna standing left holding rudder and cornucopiae. Mint of Rome. As Cunetio, p. 116, no. 1215.

Remember, you might not be able to see everything on a coin, or the coin might be incomplete. In this case it is perfectly fine to demonstrate uncertainty (e.g. by using ‘possibly’, ‘probably’) but give as much detail as possible (and a photo!):

An incomplete silver Roman denarius of Hadrian (AD 117-138), dating to the period AD 117-138 (Reece period 6). Illegible legend, unclear reverse type depicting an unclear standing figure left. Possibly mint of Rome.

A copper-alloy Roman coin, possibly an as or dupondius of uncertain 1st to 3rd century AD ruler, dating to the period c.AD 41-260. Illegible reverse type. Mint unclear.

Also remember to include whether the coin is a contemporary copy:

A copper-alloy Roman barbarous radiate, probably copying a coin of Victorinus (AD 269-271), dating to the period AD 275-285 (Reece period 14). [PAX AVG] reverse type depicting Pax standing left holding branch and transverse sceptre. Prototype mint: Gaul mint I. Cf. Normanby, p. 206, no. 1907.

A copper-alloy Roman nummus, contemporary copy of the House of Constantine, dating to the period AD 355-361 (Reece period 18). [FEL TEMP REPARATIO] reverse type depicting a Soldier spearing a fallen horseman. Unclear mint.

Or if it is modified:

A clipped silver Roman siliqua of the House of Valentinian, dating to the period AD 364-378 (Reece period 19). [VRBS ROMA] reverse type depicting Roma seated left on a cuirass holding spear and Victory on a globe. Possibly mint of Trier.

Standard references for Iron Age coins

ABC – E. Cottam, P. de Jersey, C. Rudd and J. Sills, Ancient British Coins (Aylsham, 2010).

Hobbs – R. Hobbs, British Iron Age Coins in the British Museum (London, 1996).

Standard references for Roman coins

RRC -M.H. Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, 2 vols (Cambridge, 1974).

RICThe Roman Imperial Coinage, 10 vols (London, 1923–2007).

Cunetio – E. Besly and R. Bland, The Cunetio Treasure. Roman Coinage of the Third Century AD (London, 1983).

Normanby – R. Bland and A.M. Burnett, The Normanby Hoard and other Roman Coin Hoards, CHRB VIII (London, 1988).

LRBC – R.A.G. Carson, P.V. Hill, and J.P.C. Kent, Late Roman Bronze Coinage (London, 1960).

It is also very helpful to have copies of:

R. Reece and S. James, Identifying Roman Coins (Seaby, 1986)

S. Moorhead, A History of Roman Coinage in Britain (Greenlight, 2013)

D. Sear, Roman Coins and Their Values (Spink).

On-line resources

BM Republican coins:

BM Collections:

OCRE (On-line Coins of the Roman Empire):

Anepigraphic nummi – a special case

Between the 26th of July 325 and the 25th of July 326, Constantine I celebrated his vicennalia, twenty years since his accession to power. To mark this event a series of dynastic coins were struck in gold, silver, and bronze around the Empire that commemorate Constantine I and his family. These issues are distinctive in that they carry no obverse inscription, instead naming Constantine or one of the Caesars (Constantine II, Constantius II, or Crispus) on the reverse.

Although rare, we currently have 50 examples of these ‘anepigraphic’ nummi on the PAS database. Because they need to have their reverse inscription recorded in three lines (e.g. CONSTAN/TINVS/CAESAR) we cannot at present search for them, as the database will not allow the forward stroke / to be used in a search. Because of this, they need to be recorded in a specific way.

When recording these types:

  • Do not leave the obverse legend box blank, or enter ‘No legend’, ‘None’, or similar. This works for other issues, such as reverses of commemorative VRBS ROMA or CONSTANTINOPOLIS nummi, which we can search for in other ways, but does not work for this type.
  • Do enter ‘Anepigraphic’ in the obverse inscription field, and remember to select the correct 4th-century dropdown for the reverse type.
  • Also use ‘Anepigraphic’ in the Object Description field.
  • It is essential to add good photographs (both obverse and reverse) to the record.
  • Give an RIC number if you can (see below for hints)

If you come across any on the database which do not include the word ‘anepigraphic’, please alert Coins Adviser Andrew Brown ().

With one possible exception, all our examples are from the mints of Rome and Trier. There is much variation in the recorded examples, some are poorly struck or from poor quality dies, and it is likely that many are contemporary copies.

They will largely all fall into RIC as follows:

(C I = Constantine I; C II = Constantine II; Cr = Crispus; Cs II=Constantius II)

Trier (RIC VII, pp. 209-210)

-//PTR, AD 326

RIC no. Ruler Bust Reverse  Mintmark
485 C I Laureate head right CONSTAN/TINVS/AVG, legend in three lines, a wreath above  P S
486 C I Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right CONSTAN/TINVS/AVG, legend in three lines, a wreath above  P
487 C II Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust left CONSTAN/TINVS/AVG, legend in three lines, a star above P
488 Cr Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust left CRISPVS/CAESAR, legend in two lines, a star above  P S
489 C II Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust left CONSTAN/TINVS/CAESAR, legend in three lines, star above  P S
490 Cs II Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust left CONSTAN/TIVS/CAESAR, legend in three lines, star above  P S
491 Cs II Laureate and cuirassed bust right CONSTAN/TIVS/CAESAR, legend in three lines, star above  P


Rome (RIC VII, p. 329)

Wreath//SMRP, AD 326

RIC no. Ruler Bust Reverse Mintmark
281 C I Rosette diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right CONSTAN/TINVS/AVG, legend in three lines P S
282 C II Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust left CONSTAN/TINVS/IVN NOB C, legend in three lines T
283 C II Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust left CONSTA/NTINVS/IVN NOB C, legend in three lines T
284 Cs II Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust left CONSTAN/TIVS/NOB CAES, legend in three lines Q


*//SMRP, AD 326

RIC no. Ruler Bust Reverse Mintmark
285 C II Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust left CONSTAN/TINVS/CAESAR, legend in three lines S
286 Cs II Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust left CONSTAN/TIVS/CAESAR, legend in three lines P Q

Greek and Roman Provincial coins

At the moment, coins from Mediterranean city-states of c. 500 BC-300 AD are recorded with a Broad Period, Period From and Period To as ‘Greek and Roman Provincial’ (although this may change at the next database re-vamp).

The detailed on-line guide to these coins can be found here:

Fill out as much of the database record as you can, add the images, then forward to Sam or Andrew for checking, editing and publishing.