Although silver coins have been investigated through the lens of geological provenance to locate argentiferous ore deposits exploited in their production, we consider that this avenue of research may be a cul-de-sac, especially for studies that rely heavily on deciphering lead and silver isotope signatures that may have been altered by the addition of lead and copper (and their associated impurities) during silver refining and debasement, and by ancient recycling of coinage. Instead, we focus our attention on mints, by analysing the compositions of over 1000 silver coins from the early 1st century BC to AD 100. We propose that lead from the west Mediterranean was used exclusively to refine silver at mints in the West, and that an unknown lead supply (possibly from Macedonia), used in the East by the Late Seleucid ruler Philip I Philadelphus and later Mark Antony, was mixed with western lead. Extensive mixing of lead and/or silver coins is particularly evident under Nero and Vespasian, aligning with historically attested periods of recycling following currency reform. We further propose that coins minted in the kingdom of Mauretania used different lead and silver sources from the majority of coins minted in the western Mediterranean, and that silver coins minted at Tyre are derived from silver refined in the west Mediterranean. Coinage minted at Alexandria is consistent with debasement of recycled Roman denarii, thereby suggesting that denarii were deliberately removed from circulation to mint tetradrachms during the early Imperial Roman period.