The first Roman monetary system developed in central Italy, where rich bronze mines could be found. The standard unit of payment was the as which was subdivided into 12 unciae. One of the larger subdivisions was the quadrans or teruncius, a quarter of the as, 3 unciae thus. The three pellets on this quadrans are indications of value and stand for those 3 unciae.
The early bronze coins of central Italy were cast. Considering their size – this piece weighs more than 62 grams and weighs, as mentioned, only one quarter of an as – minting would have been impossible. In the years to come the weight of the as and its subdivisions would be repeatedly reduced; the reasons were on the one hand the unhandiness of these heavy coins, on the other hand Rome's increasing demand for bronze for means of warfare. Approximately at the beginning of the 2nd century BC the weight of the as had dropped so far that all Roman coins could be minted.