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Numismatics and Coins / erotic tokens and coins

erotic tokens and coins

Ancient Greece

The ancient Greeks
generally did not have trouble viewing naked human bodies. Nudity in the ancient world was regarded as a natural aspect of life. This has been evidenced by the number of preserved art and craft artifacts - sculptures, ceramics, as well as coins. Rare, however, are  representations of characters in sexual positions, such as Satyr and Nymph on archaic Greek coins from Macedonia and from the island of Thassos.

Ancient Rome

In Roman times direct representation of sexual themes on coins is not known, although nude figures on coins were common. Besides standard coins Romans also issued special metal tokens called tesserae which were distributed on different occasions and served as an entrance ticket.

A special type of tessera were the 1st century rare erotic tokens called spintriae originally minted from bronze. One side depicts an act of love, always between a man and a woman, the other side bears a Roman numeral in a wreath. There are preserved coins bearing the numbers I to XVI, with numbers higher than XIII being very rare.

Today we can only guess about their purpose. Some experts say that their main function was to enter a public house and to enjoy the services displayed on the token. By depicting particular sexual acts people allegedly overcame language barriers between nations throughout the Roman Empire, for example, a Syrian sailor who had just arrived in Rome and did not know a word of Latin, knew exactly what he could expect entering such an establisment. Other experts claim, however, that these were special gambling chips, similar to today's erotic cards, or chips used in some period board games.

Similar to the erotic tokens are tokens used as circus tickets or food vouchers. These usually carried a portrait of the emperor on one side and a numeric designation on the other, perhaps the value of the chip.

1-8 of 8 total

Rome, erotic token Spintria X, 1st century, tin replica

Catalog number: 01

Your Price: 6.00 €

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Material: Tin. Size circa 23 mm.

The rare Roman erotic tokens dating back to the 1st century, called Spintriae, were originally struck from an alloy of brass/bronze. One side of the token depicts the sexual act – always a man with a woman, while the other side bears a Roman numeral within a wreath. The numbers I to XVI are known, with numbers exceeding XIII being very rare. We do not know today why the tokens were made. Some experts claim that the main function was to gain admission to brothels and draw the service depicted on the token. It is thought that the depiction of the service was to overcome the language barrier between the peoples of the Roman Empire; for example, a Syrian sailor who just arrived in Rome without knowing a word in Latin would know exactly what to expect based on the illustration. Some theorise they were special gaming tokens similar to contemporary erotic cards or numerical tokens used in some board games. These erotic tokens had a parallel in the Roman tokens serving as admission tickets to the circus and the then meal vouchers. The latter mostly bore the portrait of the emperor on one side. Yet it was unthinkable to depict the emperor on a token with erotic motifs, and the reverse side of the Spintriae therefore bears a numerical designation, perhaps the value of the token. According to the currently prevailing opinion, they were indeed tokens for sexual services, which were distributed for free, although not as extensively as the tokens for bread and circuses.

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Rome, erotic token Spintria XII, 1st century, tin replica

Catalog number: 03

Your Price: 6.00 €

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Material: Tin. Size circa 23 mm.

The rare Roman erotic tokens dating back to the 1st century, called Spintriae, were originally struck from an alloy of brass/bronze. One side of the token depicts the sexual act – always a man with a woman, while the other side bears a Roman numeral within a wreath. The numbers I to XVI are known, with numbers exceeding XIII being very rare. We do not know today why the tokens were made. Some experts claim that the main function was to gain admission to brothels and draw the service depicted on the token. It is thought that the depiction of the service was to overcome the language barrier between the peoples of the Roman Empire; for example, a Syrian sailor who just arrived in Rome without knowing a word in Latin would know exactly what to expect based on the illustration. Some theorise they were special gaming tokens similar to contemporary erotic cards or numerical tokens used in some board games. These erotic tokens had a parallel in the Roman tokens serving as admission tickets to the circus and the then meal vouchers. The latter mostly bore the portrait of the emperor on one side. Yet it was unthinkable to depict the emperor on a token with erotic motifs, and the reverse side of the Spintriae therefore bears a numerical designation, perhaps the value of the token. According to the currently prevailing opinion, they were indeed tokens for sexual services, which were distributed for free, although not as extensively as the tokens for bread and circuses.

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Rome, erotic token Spintria XIII, 1st century, tin replica

Catalog number: ETC04

Your Price: 6.00 €

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Material: Tin. Size circa 23 mm.

The rare Roman erotic tokens dating back to the 1st century, called Spintriae, were originally struck from an alloy of brass/bronze. One side of the token depicts the sexual act – always a man with a woman, while the other side bears a Roman numeral within a wreath. The numbers I to XVI are known, with numbers exceeding XIII being very rare. We do not know today why the tokens were made. Some experts claim that the main function was to gain admission to brothels and draw the service depicted on the token. It is thought that the depiction of the service was to overcome the language barrier between the peoples of the Roman Empire; for example, a Syrian sailor who just arrived in Rome without knowing a word in Latin would know exactly what to expect based on the illustration. Some theorise they were special gaming tokens similar to contemporary erotic cards or numerical tokens used in some board games. These erotic tokens had a parallel in the Roman tokens serving as admission tickets to the circus and the then meal vouchers. The latter mostly bore the portrait of the emperor on one side. Yet it was unthinkable to depict the emperor on a token with erotic motifs, and the reverse side of the Spintriae therefore bears a numerical designation, perhaps the value of the token. According to the currently prevailing opinion, they were indeed tokens for sexual services, which were distributed for free, although not as extensively as the tokens for bread and circuses.

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Rome, erotic token Spintria V, 1st century, tin replica

Catalog number: ETC05

Your Price: 6.00 €

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Material: Tin. Size circa 23 mm.

The rare Roman erotic tokens dating back to the 1st century, called Spintriae, were originally struck from an alloy of brass/bronze. One side of the token depicts the sexual act – always a man with a woman, while the other side bears a Roman numeral within a wreath. The numbers I to XVI are known, with numbers exceeding XIII being very rare. We do not know today why the tokens were made. Some experts claim that the main function was to gain admission to brothels and draw the service depicted on the token. It is thought that the depiction of the service was to overcome the language barrier between the peoples of the Roman Empire; for example, a Syrian sailor who just arrived in Rome without knowing a word in Latin would know exactly what to expect based on the illustration. Some theorise they were special gaming tokens similar to contemporary erotic cards or numerical tokens used in some board games. These erotic tokens had a parallel in the Roman tokens serving as admission tickets to the circus and the then meal vouchers. The latter mostly bore the portrait of the emperor on one side. Yet it was unthinkable to depict the emperor on a token with erotic motifs, and the reverse side of the Spintriae therefore bears a numerical designation, perhaps the value of the token. According to the currently prevailing opinion, they were indeed tokens for sexual services, which were distributed for free, although not as extensively as the tokens for bread and circuses.

More info

Rome, erotic token Spintria VI, 1st century, tin replica

Catalog number: ETC06

Your Price: 6.00 €

Are you interested? Preorder now!

Material: Tin. Size circa 23 mm.

The rare Roman erotic tokens dating back to the 1st century, called Spintriae, were originally struck from an alloy of brass/bronze. One side of the token depicts the sexual act – always a man with a woman, while the other side bears a Roman numeral within a wreath. The numbers I to XVI are known, with numbers exceeding XIII being very rare. We do not know today why the tokens were made. Some experts claim that the main function was to gain admission to brothels and draw the service depicted on the token. It is thought that the depiction of the service was to overcome the language barrier between the peoples of the Roman Empire; for example, a Syrian sailor who just arrived in Rome without knowing a word in Latin would know exactly what to expect based on the illustration. Some theorise they were special gaming tokens similar to contemporary erotic cards or numerical tokens used in some board games. These erotic tokens had a parallel in the Roman tokens serving as admission tickets to the circus and the then meal vouchers. The latter mostly bore the portrait of the emperor on one side. Yet it was unthinkable to depict the emperor on a token with erotic motifs, and the reverse side of the Spintriae therefore bears a numerical designation, perhaps the value of the token. According to the currently prevailing opinion, they were indeed tokens for sexual services, which were distributed for free, although not as extensively as the tokens for bread and circuses.

More info

Rome, erotic token Spintria III, 1st century, tin replica

Catalog number: ETC07

Your Price: 6.00 €

Are you interested? Preorder now!

Material: Tin. Size circa 23 mm.

The rare Roman erotic tokens dating back to the 1st century, called Spintriae, were originally struck from an alloy of brass/bronze. One side of the token depicts the sexual act – always a man with a woman, while the other side bears a Roman numeral within a wreath. The numbers I to XVI are known, with numbers exceeding XIII being very rare. We do not know today why the tokens were made. Some experts claim that the main function was to gain admission to brothels and draw the service depicted on the token. It is thought that the depiction of the service was to overcome the language barrier between the peoples of the Roman Empire; for example, a Syrian sailor who just arrived in Rome without knowing a word in Latin would know exactly what to expect based on the illustration. Some theorise they were special gaming tokens similar to contemporary erotic cards or numerical tokens used in some board games. These erotic tokens had a parallel in the Roman tokens serving as admission tickets to the circus and the then meal vouchers. The latter mostly bore the portrait of the emperor on one side. Yet it was unthinkable to depict the emperor on a token with erotic motifs, and the reverse side of the Spintriae therefore bears a numerical designation, perhaps the value of the token. According to the currently prevailing opinion, they were indeed tokens for sexual services, which were distributed for free, although not as extensively as the tokens for bread and circuses.

More info

Rome, erotic token Spintria VIIII, 1st century, tin replica

Catalog number: ETC08

Your Price: 6.00 €

Are you interested? Preorder now!

Material: Tin. Size circa 23 mm.

The rare Roman erotic tokens dating back to the 1st century, called Spintriae, were originally struck from an alloy of brass/bronze. One side of the token depicts the sexual act – always a man with a woman, while the other side bears a Roman numeral within a wreath. The numbers I to XVI are known, with numbers exceeding XIII being very rare. We do not know today why the tokens were made. Some experts claim that the main function was to gain admission to brothels and draw the service depicted on the token. It is thought that the depiction of the service was to overcome the language barrier between the peoples of the Roman Empire; for example, a Syrian sailor who just arrived in Rome without knowing a word in Latin would know exactly what to expect based on the illustration. Some theorise they were special gaming tokens similar to contemporary erotic cards or numerical tokens used in some board games. These erotic tokens had a parallel in the Roman tokens serving as admission tickets to the circus and the then meal vouchers. The latter mostly bore the portrait of the emperor on one side. Yet it was unthinkable to depict the emperor on a token with erotic motifs, and the reverse side of the Spintriae therefore bears a numerical designation, perhaps the value of the token. According to the currently prevailing opinion, they were indeed tokens for sexual services, which were distributed for free, although not as extensively as the tokens for bread and circuses.

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7 DAYS OF PLEASURE erotic coins set - Pompeii

Catalog number: ETC9

Your Price: 39.00 €

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Ancient Roman sprintiae. SET of 7 bronze replica coins - ancient Roman erotic tokens in illustrated case including booklet in 9 languages.

Material: bronze
Coin size: 23 mm
Languages: EN, IT, FR, ES, DE, RU, CZ, CN, JP

The rare Roman erotic tokens dating back to the 1st century AD called Spintriae were originally struck from an alloy of brass/bronze. One side of the token depicts the sexual act - always a man with a woman while the other side bears a Roman numeral within a wreath. The numbers I to XVI are known with numbers exceeding XIII being very rare. We do not know today why the tokens were made. Some experts claim that the main function was to gain admission to brothels and ´draw the service´ depicted on the token. It is thought that the depiction of the service was to overcome the language barrier between the peoples of the Roman Empire. For example a Syrian sailor who just arrived in Rome without knowing a word in Latin would know exactly what to expect based on the illustration. Some theorise they were special gaming tokens similar to contemporary erotic cards or numerical tokens used in some board games. These erotic tokens had a parallel in the Roman tokens serving as admission tickets to the circus and the then ´meal vouchers´. The latter mostly bore the portrait of the emperor on one side. Yet it was unthinkable to depict the emperor on a token with erotic motifs and the reverse side of the Spintriae therefore bears a numerical designation perhaps the value of the token. According to the currently prevailing opinion they were indeed tokens for sexual services which were distributed for free although not as extensively as the tokens for bread and circuses.

More info

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