Around 290 BC the Roman Republic began to strike its first actual coins. Coinage was put under the control of the state; responsible for the emissions were the tresviri monetales, a college of three men. They issued silver didrachms and small bronze coins like this litra.
However, the earliest issues were not yet minted in Rome itself but in the southern Italian region of Campania. They bore the inscription ROMANO (of the Romans); later coins showed the legend ROMA (Rome). A possible explanation for this is that the Romano-issues were meant for circulation in southern Italy only, while the Roma-coins were also used within the city of Rome itself. The coin motifs remained the same. The obverse of this litra depicts the head of Mars, the god of war; on the reverse is the bridled head of a horse.