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 – "Honor majestic" A word related to the priestly arts. The Senate granted this title to Octavian, who then adopted it. It placed him above the rest of the state as protector of Rome. Used by emperors that followed him. Shown as AVG on coins.


Barbarian – At the height of the Roman Empire, Romans looked at everyone outside their domain as strange and uncivilized foreigners.


Caesar – Heir to the throne, junior emperor. First used by Octavian to advertise his connection with Julius Caesar, and then used by later rulers. Shown as C or CAES on coins.


Centurion – Soldier in charge of a century of men (80 men), smallest unit in the Roman army.


Citizen – Any male 15 or older who was a free man within the Roman republic. Citizenship gave voting, religious and social rights along with required military service.


Consul – In the empire, the Office of Consul was the highest in the Senate, sometimes held by the emperor himself. While there was no political power attached to the position, it commanded respect. Shown as COS – on coins, followed by numbers indicating times office held.


Emperor – "A man who rules an empire." Comes from the Latin word imperator.


Germanicus – A title honoring military successes in Germany. Shown on coins as GERM.


Gloria Exercitus – "Glory to the Army," first used by Constantine the Great.


Imperator – Commander, leader. Title of honor awarded to a victorious general. Later, granted to emperors for military victories. Shown as IMP on coins.


Legion – A Legion was made up of 10 cohorts (480 men to a cohort) or 4,800 men.


Magnus – "The great"


Optimate – Conservative faction in the Senate.


Optimus Maximus – "The greatest and the best"


Praetor – A leader; literally means "goes before" or "leads."


Praetorian Guard – Usually the emperor’s personal bodyguards.


Praetorian Prefect – Commander of the Imperial Guard, usually the best legal mind in the government and responsible for the emperor’s safety.


Prefect (Praefectus) – Overseer, civil or military officer. Title given to a person of standing in the Roman world.


Princeps – First citizen, leader or best leader.


Province – An area outside Italy ruled by Rome.


Senate – A council of senior men selected from civil offices who directed the Roman state.


Tribunicia Potestas – Tribune of the people. Gave emperors veto power and right to convene the Senate. Shown on coins as TRP, usually followed by numbers. Indicated renewal.


Usurp – To seize control by force or illegal means, as of the Roman Empire or a portion of, such as Gaul.


Vota – Vows taken by the emperor upon taking office.

The First Copper Penny

The First Copper Penny

The first coin authorized by the new United States Congress was a one-cent coin. Because there was not yet a government mint, more than one version of the coin was struck. The design (believed to be suggested by Franklin) shows the sun and a sundial on the obverse, with the words FUGIO and the date 1787. Centered on the reverse is the motto WE ARE ONE, surrounded by the words UNITED STATES and ringed by a chain with 13 links.

The Year of the Steel

The Year of the Steel

The 1943 steel cent, also known as a steelie, was a variety of the U.S. one-cent coin which was struck in steel due to wartime shortages of copper. Due to wartime needs of copper for use in ammunition and other military equipment during World War II, the US Mint researched various ways to limit dependence and meet conservation goals on copper usage.

The Birth of Big Zinky

The Birth of Big Zinky

When the price of copper rose in 1982, the mint was forced to make a midyear change from solid bronze (about 97% copper) to copper-plated zinc. You can find cents dated 1982 made out of both metals. The only way to reliably tell them apart is to weigh them on a sensitive scale. Copper cents weigh 3.11 gm, zinc ones are 2.5 gm. The last copper penny was minted in Denver on October 22, 1982.