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Aes signatum consisted of cast lumps of bronze of measured quality and weight, embossed with a government stamp, used as currency in Rome and central Italy before the introduction of the aes grave in the mid 4th century BC. When exactly they were first made is uncertain. Popular tradition ascribes them to Servius Tullius, but due to the high quality of art found on even the earliest specimens, this seems very unlikely. A date in the midst of the 5th century BC is generally agreed on. Designs featured are that of a bull, an eagle, and other religious symbols. The earliest aes signatum bars were not cast in Rome proper, but in central Italy, Etruria, Umbria, and Reggio Emilia. They bore the image of a branch with side branches radiating from it, and were called Ramo Secco. They did not equate to a set weight standard, varying from about 600 grams to 2500 grams when complete. They were usually broken into subdivisions, and there are very few complete specimens surviving today. The surviving ramo secco bars are usually quarter, half or three quarter bars, or minor smaller pieces which could be classified as aes rudes.
Printed dictionaries and other books with definitions for Aes signatum
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A Daily Life Encyclopedia by James W. Ermatinger
The next phase in the fourth century bce was to cast bars of bronze, while in the third century it was to make them uniform in weight and marked with a sign, often a cow, elephant, or the name Roma (aes signatum). The next phase saw the ...
by Simon Hornblower, Antony Spawforth, Esther Eidinow
(Aes signatum in antiquity meant ordinary struck coinage, not, as some Italians suppose, the early Roman (and Italian) currency bars which have been misleadingly called aes signatum by numismatists from the 19th cent. onwards.) ...
The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia: The Century dictionary ... prepared under the superintendence of William Dwight Whitney (1903)
AEs signatum (stamped bronze), the first Roman expedient toward securing a regular coinage, legally sanctioned as early as 454 B.C. The pieces are approximately rectangular in shape, bearing on each side, in relief, a rude figure, as of a ...
The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia: The Century dictionary ... prepared under the superintendence of William Dwight Whitney ... rev. & enl. under the superintendence of Benjamin E. Smith (1911)
AEs signatum (stamped bronze), the first Roman expedient toward securing a regular coinage, legally sanctioned as early as 454 B.C. The pieces are approximately rectangular in shape, bearing on each side, in relief, a rude figure ...
The Century Dictionary (1914)
An Encyclopedic Lexicon of the English Language
AEs signatum (stamped bronze), the first Roman expedient 'toward securing a regular coinage, legally sanctioned as...
The aes signatum continued to be employed for sometime after a more advanced system of coinage had been adopted.
by John Eatwell
argentum, aes signatum, ad triumviros mensarios referamus. From these words it appears probable that mensarii were bankers in 727 an especially public sense, and controlled the payments and 726 MENGOTTI—MENSARIUS.
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