Carausius II

Lot 23. “Carausius II” Æ 19mm. Uncertain (British?) mint, circa AD 354-358. Overstruck on GLORIA EXERCITVS type BI Nummus. DOMNO C[ARAVSIVS], diademed, draped and cuirassed bust to right / CON[…]IVS CEN, warrior spearing fallen horseman; unclear mintmark in exergue. P.J. Casey, Carausius and Allectus: British Usurpers, p. 144, 1 and pl. 9, 4 (this piece) cf. pp. 163-167 for discussion of this issue; Cf. C.H.V. Sutherland, “Carausius II”, “Censeris”, and the Barbarous FEL. TEMP REPARATIO Overstrikes in NC Vol. 5 (1945), No. 3/4 , pp. 125-133. 2.18g, 19mm, 2h.

Very Fine. Very Rare. Overstruck on GLORIA EXERCITVS type.

This coin published in P.J. Casey, Carausius and Allectus: British Usurpers, pl. 9, 4;
Ex Morton & Eden, Auction 83-84, 1 December 2016, lot 454;
Ex John Casey Collection.

Roma Numismatica > “In 1887 Sir Arthur Evans published a remarkable copy of a Roman FEL TEMP REPARATIO Æ found at Richborough bearing the obverse legend DOMINO CARAVSIO CES (NC Vol. 7, pp. 191-219). Evans argued that the coin was not merely a barbarous imitation but that of an otherwise unrecorded fifth-century ruler of Southern Britain named Carausius. The coin published by Evans had an emperor on galley reverse type and a garbled version of the name Constantius (which was misread as Constantine by Evans) on the reverse. This led Evans to conclude that this new Carausius was associated with Constantine III, either as an independent usurper bidding for recognition or as an actual nominee of the legitimate emperor.

The matter was reopened by C.H.V. Sutherland in 1945 who was able to publish further specimens found at Richborough as well as others of uncertain provenance. The new specimens were all “falling horseman” types, like this present coin, however they all shared a similarity of style with the Evans specimen, as well key characteristics such as the garbled name of Constantius on the reverse. Though their legends were incomplete, there was enough evidence for Sutherland to conclude that Carausius was the probable name indicated on three of the new specimens he published. Sutherland rejected Evan’s attribution of this coinage to the 5th century and established they were struck during the 350s, a view later supported by Kent who argued they can almost certainly be assigned to the years 354-8 (NC Vol. 17, pp. 78-83).

Much of the subsequent scholarship, including Kent and more recently Casey, has focused on the potential existence of a ‘Carausius II’ and has neglected one of Sutherland’s discoveries almost entirely. Amongst the coins included in his 1945 article was one found at Richborough bearing the name of a different potential ruler entirely, whose name can be read as Censeris or perhaps Genseris (DOMINO CΛ[…] CENSERIS). This name apparently appeared again on an example sold in Roma Numismatics Auction XXVII, lot 764 which is similar in style and typology to the specimens published by Sutherland.

Sutherland was convinced that both represented issues by minor rulers claiming to be colleagues of Constantius II and might be attributed to the period of (or the aftermath) of the usurpation of Magnentius when Constantius did not hold total control over Britain. There is no historical evidence however for the existence of either person or a semi-independent dominium. Even the historian Ammianus Marcellinus is silent on the matter despite providing what appears to be a comprehensive account of events in Britain during this period. Furthermore, Kent’s highly technical and convincing arguments for isolating the dating of these issues to the years 354-8 place them during a period when Constantius held undisputed control over the empire and his agents were particularly active in punishing dissidents in Britain.

Whilst sceptics might disregard these issues as being merely copies, Casey notes that they exhibit a degree of originality which goes well beyond their prototypes (Carausius and Allectus: The British Usurpers, London, 1994, p. 167). If these coins are simply copies then why attempt to engrave the names ‘Carausius’ and ‘Censeris’? Why engrave DOMINO rather than the abbreviation we find on the originals and replace the reverse legend with something different entirely? These questions remain unsettled and the case for Carausius and Censeris remains unproven.”

Thank you Roma Numismatica for image and auction text. Please see here