For other uses, see Follis (disambiguation).
A follis of Galerius as caesar.

The follis (plural folles; Italian: follaro, Arabic: fels) was a type of coin in the Roman and Byzantine traditions.

Roman coin

Caesar Constantius II on a follis AE3 of Heraclea of the year 325.

The Roman follis was a large bronze coin introduced in about 294 (actual name of this coin is unknown [1]) with the coinage reform of Diocletian. It weighed about 10 grams and was about 4% silver, mostly as a thin layer on the surface. The word follis means bag (usually made of leather) in Latin, and there is evidence that this term was used in antiquity for a sealed bag containing a specific amount of coins. It is also possible that the coin was named Follis because of the ancient Greek word "φολίς" meaning a thin layer of metal which covers the surface of various objects, since originally, this coin had a thin layer of silver on top. The follis of Diocletian, despite efforts to enforce prices with the Edict on Maximum Prices (301), was revalued and reduced. By the time of Constantine, the follis was smaller and barely contained any silver. A series of Constantinian bronzes was introduced in the mid-4th century, although the specific denominations are unclear and debated by historians and numismatists. They are referred to as AE1, AE2, AE3 and AE4, with the former being the largest (near 27 mm) and the latter the smallest (averaging 15 mm) in diameter. Namely:

over 25 mm 21 – 25 mm 17 – 21 mm under 17 mm

Fourth century folles represent the largest category of coin finds in the United Kingdom.[2]

Byzantine coin

40 and 5 nummi of Anastasius.

The follis was reintroduced as a large bronze coin (40 nummi) in 498, with the coinage reform of Anastasius, which included a series of bronze denominations with their values marked in Greek numerals. A 40 nummi coin of Anastasius is depicted on the obverse of the Macedonian 50 denars banknote, issued in 1996.[3]

The fals (a corruption of follis) was a bronze coin issued by the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates beginning in the late 8th century, initially as imitations of the Byzantine follis.


  1. Describing ancient coins — accessed on 5 November 2011
  2. An introduction to Roman coins — accessed on 13 January 2014
  3. National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia. Macedonian currency. Banknotes in circulation: 50 Denars. — accessed on 30 March 2009.


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