The Victoriatus and United States Half Dollar

The victoriatus was a silver coin minted during the time of the Roman Republic, originally minted around 221 BC. The obverse of the coin featured the bust of Jupiter, while the reverse featured a man placing a wreath above a trophy. Beneath the trophy is the inscription “ROMA.” This coin was released as a coin worth one-half a denarius and was made of debased silver. This debased silver contained more impurities, saving money for the Republic by using less silver in the coinage.

Roman Coins at the Fitzwilliam Museum

The Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge boasts of being the “finest small museum in Europe.” Its history dates back to 1816, when Viscount Richard Fitzwilliam left his library and art collection to the university, along with funds to house and preserve them. Since 1848, it has stood on Trumpington Street in central Cambridge on the southern end of the university grounds. The museum is closed Mondays, but is open from 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday through Saturday, and 12 pm to 5 pm on Sundays. Admission is free to the public.

The Fitzwilliam’s Department of Coins and Medals is one of the five main departments of the museum. It oversees a massive collection of almost 195,000 coins, tokens, bills, medals, and related items, ranging from ancient Greek coinage to modern credit cards. The department has also acquired an extensive library of works on numismatics over the years, including books and pamphlets, periodicals, auction catalogs, and the personal papers of prominent numismatists.