Featured An Affordable Hobby: 2021 Favorites under $25

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Orielensis, Nov 26, 2021.

  1. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    My "normal" favorite list will come later at some point in December, but for the newcomers and bargain hunters among you, this thread might be more interesting. In 2020 and 2019, I posted lists of my favorite ancient and medieval coin purchases under $25. Although the price tags on ancient coins have risen during the pandemic, I still found enough attractive coins to continue this small tradition in 2021.

    The reason for this list is simple: each year, new members looking for advice and inspiration are joining this board. Many of our favorite lists could give such new collectors the impression that ancient numismatics is a hobby only suitable for people with substantial piles of disposable cash. To prove this wrong, I'll try to show what is possible on a budget, and I’d like to invite everybody else to show their own budget purchases from 2021.

    The rules for this list are the same as in the previous years: to illustrate the affordability of the hobby, I have violated the ‘never talk about money’-rule of polite conversation and mentioned prices. If necessary, amounts are converted to US dollars, include buyer’s premium, and are rounded up. Shipping is not factored in. I mention professional and semi-professional dealers but refrain from explicitly naming hobbyists who occasionally sell. Coins are in chronological order.

    1. Here is a small coin produced by the Leuci, a Belgic tribe that settled in what today is northern France and is mentioned in Caesar’s De bello Gallico. I especially like the cartoonish boar on the reverse. Celtic potin coins are unusual insofar as they were cast, not struck. They make for a very specialized but fascinating collecting field, and quite a few types can usually be found for little money.
    Kelten – Leuci, Potin, Kopf und Wildschwein.png
    Western Celts: Leuci, cast AE (“potin”), 1st century BC, Gaul, region of Toul. Obv: bald head l. Rev: stylized boar l., ornament (trimount) below. 16mm, 3.56g. Ref: Castelin 595–597; De la Tour 9044. Ex Alain Mouret Numismatique (amso 336 on ebay France). $10

    2. Denarii of the adoptive emperors were struck in large quantities and circulated for a long time, so attractive examples worn to “F” don’t break the bank. And although this particular denarius has more wear than I usually like to see, its interesting reverse makes up for it. It shows the temple of Divus Augustus with a tiny double statue of Livia and Augustus. Construction on the temple started shortly after Augustus's death in 14 AD. My coin was minted when the temple was restored under Antoninus Pius.
    Rom – Antoninus Pius, Denar, Tempelrevers.png
    Antoninus Pius, Roman Empire, denarius, 145–161 AD, Rome mint. Obv: ANTONINVS AVG PIVS PP, laureate head of Antoninus Pius r. Rev: TEMPLVM DIV AVG REST COS IIII; front view of octastyle temple, containing statues of Divus Augustus and Livia. 17mm, 2.62g. Ref: RIC III Antoninus Pius 143 (denarius). Ex small seller on ebay Germany. $17.50

    3. Coins of the Gallic Empire are both fascinating and in most cases affordable. This one doesn’t only feature an early portrait from Postumus’ first regnal year but also a rather special reverse. Hercules Deusoniensis likely was a Romanized Germanic deity. His name probably refers to the Dutch town of Diessen. There is speculation about whether Diessen might have been Postumus' birthplace.
    Rom – Postumus, Antoninian, Hercules  Deusoniensis, frühes Porträt.png
    Postumus, Gallic Roman Empire, AR antoninianus, mid–end 260 AD, Trier mint. Obv: IMP C POSTVMVS.P.F.AVG; bust of Postumus, radiate, draped, cuirassed, r. Rev: HERC DEVSONIENSI; Hercules stg. r., with r. hand leaning on club, and holding bow in l. hand and lion’s skin over I. arm. 23 mm, 3.57g. Ref: Mairat 15; RIC V Postumus 64. Ex Alain Mouret Numismatique (amso336 on ebay France). $19

    4. Another attractive coin from the short-lived Gallic Empire. Do you wonder what the “V” in the reverse field signifies? Probably, it is an initial that points to the emperor Victorinus. Earlier on, Postumus struck the same type with a “P”.
    Rom – Victorinus, Antoninianus, Pax.png
    Victorinus, Gallic Roman Empire, AE antoninian, 270–271 AD, Trier mint. Obv: IMP C VICTOR[INVS P]F AVG; radiate, draped, cuirassed bust of Victorinus r. Rev: PAX AVG; Pax, standing l., holding branch and sceptre; in field l., V; in field r., star and palm branch. 19mm, 2.35g. Ref: Mairat 600–601. Ex small seller on ebay Germany. $9

    5. This is one of the more unusual tetrachical types, which nonetheless tend to come at low prices. On the reverse, we see Hercules and Jupiter, who in this case refer to the two augusti. Diocletian and Maximian had taken the titles “Jovius” and “Herculius.” This form of identification with traditional Roman religion was programmatic for the first tetrarchy.
    Rom – Diokletian, Radiat, Jupiter und Herkules B.png
    Diocletian, Roman Empire, AE antoninianus, 285 AD, Antioch mint. Obv: IMP C C VAL DIOCLETIANVS P F AVG; radiate, draped, cuirassed bust of Diocletian r. Rev: IOV ET HERCV CONSER AVGG; Jupiter, standing r., holding globe in r. hand and sceptre in l. hand, and Hercules, standing l., holding Victory in r. hand and club and lion's skin in l. hand; in central field, crescent above B; in exergue, XXI. 19 mm, 3.89g. Ref: RIC V Diocletian 323. Ex Savoca, Blue Auction 102, lot 1158. $19

    6. Many ancient collectors start with late Roman bronze coins, also known as LRBs. Cheap and readily available, LRBs provide an ideal field for collectors on a budget. (Tip: Don’t buy “uncleaned” lots, which tend to consist of barely identifiable slugs!)
    This LRB, which I won in AMCC 3, was produced at a turning point in late Roman history. Struck by Constantine at London in 313–314 AD, it depicts the co-emperor Licinius. Later on in 314 AD, civil war would erupt between the two emperors. For now, though, Constantine was happy to strike coins for his rival.
    Rom – Licinius, AE2, London, Genius.jpg
    Licinius I, Roman Empire, AE2, 313–314 AD, London mint. Obv: IMP LICINIVS PF AVG; bust of Licinius I, laureate, cuirassed, r. Rev: GENIO POP ROM; Genius standing l., holding patera in r. hand, cornucopia in l.; in fields, S-F; in exergue, PLN. 21mm, 3.04g. Ref: RIC VII Londinium 3. Ex JB collection; ex AMCC 3, lot 584. $11.

    7. A nice LRB struck for Constantine. Arelate (Arles) is not a very common mint. Note the good reverse style:
    Rom – Konstantin der Große, AE2, Soli invicto comiti, Arles.png
    Constantine the Great, Roman Empire, AE3, 317–318 AD, Arles mint. Obv: IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; bust of Constantine I, laureate, draped cuirassed, r. Rev: SOLI INVICTO COMITI; Sol standing l., radiate, chlamys draped across r. shoulder, raising r. hand and holding up globe in l. hand; in fields, C–S; in exergue, PARL. 19mm, 3.43g. Ref: RIC VII Arelate 145. Ex small seller on ebay Germany. $12.50

    8. Some LRB reverses are considerably scarcer than others. This type showing Sol running right and referencing the claritas reipublicae (“splendor of the state”) is a good example. I’m happy that I still got this coin at a bargain price:
    Rom – Constantinus II Junior, AE3, Claritas, Arles.png
    Constantine II Iunior, Roman Empire, AE3, 317 AD, Arelate mint. Obv: CONSTANTINVS IVN NOB CAES, bust of Constantine II, laureate, draped, cuirassed r. rev: CLARIT-A-S REIPVB; Sol, radiate, chlamys flying, running l., raising r. hand and holding globe in l. hand; in fields, R–S; in exergue SARL. 20mm, 3.00g. Ref: RIC VII Arelate 120. Ex André Cichos. $18.50

    9. One can argue about whether something like “fine style” even exists on LRBs. But if so, this coin struck at Antioch as part of the posthumous issues for the deified Constantine has it. Look at the drapery! Also, I like the strongly abbreviated reverse legend "VN-MR," which can be dissolved as venerandae memoriae ("of venerable memory").
    Rom – Konstantin der Große, postum, AE 3, Togatus.png
    Constantine I (posthumous issue), Roman Empire, AE3, 347–348 AD, Antioch mint. Obv: DV CONSTANTINVS PT AVGG; bust of Constantine I, veiled, draped, cuirassed, r. Rev: VN-MR; Constantine I, veiled, draped, standing r.; in exergue, SMAN∈. 16mm, 1.52g. Ref: RIC VIII Antioch 112. Ex small seller on ebay Germany. $13.50

    10. Finally, a small medieval silver coin with an interesting history. The denari of Lucca are mainly famous for having been used in the First Crusade. Raymond of Aguilers, the chronicler of the crusade, writes: Erat haec nostra moneta: pictavini, cartenses, mansei, lucenses, valentinenses, megorensi, et duo pogesii pro uno istorum ("This was our money: [coins] of Poitou, of Chartres, of Les Mans, of Lucca, of Valence, of Melgueil, and two [coins] of Le Puy for each of these"). The type itself is very common but usually poorly struck. I wanted an example with full legends and had to search for a long while.
    MA – Italien, Lucca, Heinrich Denaro.png
    Italy, Lucca, civic issue, under Henry II-V, AR denaro, c. 1004–1125 AD. Obv: +IMPERATOR; H-monogramm in circle. Rev: +ENRICVS; L-V-C-A around central dot. 16mm, 0.91g. Ref: Biaggi 1098. Ex Savoca, Blue 98, lot 2016. $20.50

    Please post your comments, name your favorites, and show your own 2021 budget coins!
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021
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  3. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    I have some budget buys,
    Gallienus antoninianus, love the silvering! $20

    Tajan sestertius of the iconic Regna Adsignata type for just $21.50

    A nice silvered antoninianus of Aurelian for $20
    Aur SOL.jpg

    Cute/Creepy kid Telesphoros for $15
    Theodosius, Spaniard, sand and 20 others like this.
  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Well-Known Member

    These are fantastic!!! As an Antonine fan, I like the Temple of Divus Augustus issue of Antoninus Pius. Great examples of the Gallic Empire, too! Bargain hunting was hard this year, but your post proves that it was nonetheless still possible!
    GinoLR and Orielensis like this.
  5. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    Well, coins under $25 / 22 EUR are plentiful in my collection.
    Choosing 10 isn't easy (this happens when you buy a lot) but here there are 10 coins under 22 EUR (including auction house fees). There were more. I consider all of them good coins and all were coins I wanted in my collection and I would have been OK with paying slightly more
    Order is random. And as in my Top 10 threads, some coins were left behind.

    1. Chersonese hemidrachm
    A design I wanted a lot. Not rare coins but if you are trying to collect Greek coins, you need one - 20 EUR. Slightly off center, but this does not bother me, since the wear is not bad at all and the identification, after the reverse symbols, was easy: E beside pellet // fish (even if the E is off the flan, it cannot be anything else from what I read)

    2. Tiberius and Livia, Thessalonica
    Would have expected this coin to reach ~30 EUR but I got it with 12 EUR
    And I like it, the toning, the portraits are still there. And the market is not flooded with Livia portraits at all.

    3. Klazomenai flying pig
    One does not simply refuse a flying pig for 22 EUR

    4. Trebonianus Gallus Antioch Tetradrachm
    Strong reverse, worse obverse but I still feel the coin deserves 22 EUR

    5. Pisidia, Selge obol/trihemiobol
    A coin with a strong archaic style, scarce variety with Athena facing left - I suspect this is older than the classic attribution - 18 EUR

    6. RR Denarius Bacchus/Pegasus
    A little rough but still a beautiful Pegasus and a beautiful portrait of Bacchus/Liber
    Does it worth 20 EUR? I think so

    7. Anonymous Byzantine Follis
    I do not have too many coins with Christian symbols. This coin is not one of the best examples and I intend to buy a better one. But it's not bad as I was looking for a good portrait of Jesus and the Gospels book present - 20 EUR

    8. Caracalla denarius
    I couldn't resist this beautiful portrait, although the reverse is worse and the flan is small. Still a good catch for 22 EUR

    9. Julian II Double maiorina
    This coin will win the title of "ugliest Julian II portrait in the world". I was afraid it is damaged or tooled but nope, the engraver had a bad day. After many centuries, I got it for 16 EUR

    10. Lesbos 1/12 Stater with female head and lion

    A geograhical area missing from my collection, a nice coin with good details (nicer in hand) and the price including fees is 20 EUR.
    Theodosius, cmezner, catadc and 21 others like this.
  6. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    Down the list…

    Yep… yep… yep…

    I’d have eagerly gone there, on each and every one, especially that $9 Victorinus!

    Honorable mention to @JayAg47’s sweet, silvery Gallienus and @ambr0zie’s flying pig, Pisidia, and Caracalla, as well.

    Yep… yep… yep…
    Spaniard, Curtisimo, ominus1 and 4 others like this.
  7. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    Coins under $25? That's the majority of my collection! In fact, 99% of all my purchases this year were under $25.
    That is a great group @Orielensis . I especially like the Postumus and Victorinus.

    Here are a couple fun "Under 25's" that I picked up this year:
    Constantius I, Follis, SALVIS AVGG ET CAESS FEL KART, Γ.png
    Constantius I. AE Follis. Carthage. 298-299 AD. CONSTANTIVS NOB CAES, laureate head right (large head type) / SALVIS AVGG ET CAESS FEL KART, Carthago standing facing, head left, in long robe, holding fruits in both hands. Mintmark Γ.
    Price: $5.50

    Maximinus II, Follis, BONO GENIO PII IMPERATORIS, crescent, Γ, K, X, ALE.png
    Maximinus II, Alexandria, AE Follis, 311 AD. 25 mm; 7.0 g. IMP C GALER VAL MAXIMINVS P F AVG, laureate head right / BONO GENIO PII IMPERATORIS, Genius standing left, modius on head, naked except for chlamys over left shoulder, holding patera from which liquid flows, and cornucopiae. Crescent over K in left field, P over X in right field. Mintmark ALE.
    Price: $11.59

    Helena, AE3, Cyzicus, SAECVRITAS REIPVBLICE, SMKB.png Helena AE3. 324-325 AD. FL HELENA AVGVSTA, draped bust right with single-row pearl diadem and necklace / SAECVRITAS REIPVBLICAE, Securitas standing left holding branch and hem of dress. Mintmark: SMKB
    Price: $3.87

    Justinian I, 16 Numni, Thessalonica.png
    Justinian I. 527-565 AD. AE 16 Nummi, Thessalonica. DN IVSTINIANVS PP AVG, pearl diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right / Large I, officina letter to left, dot-cross-dot above, SP to right, mintmark TES
    Price: $5.12

    Albert I, Bishopric of Regensburg, Pfennig, 1240-1260 AD.png
    Albert I
    Bishopric of Regensburg
    1240-1260 AD
    Obverse: Episcopal portrait with Mitra bicornis, the right hand raised to bless, holding the pedum in the left.
    Reverse: Seated Peter with tonsure, the key in the right hand, a fish in the left hand
    Price: $9.95
    Theodosius, cmezner, catadc and 21 others like this.
  8. TIF

    TIF Always learning.


    WHAT?!! That is a fantastic price and a great example of the type. I'm very envious of the acquisition :sour::sorry:. All of the coins in your list were terrific scores for the price!
    GinoLR, Spaniard, Deacon Ray and 3 others like this.
  9. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    @TIF - this is the kind of stuff I do not understand in auctions. Some imperfect coins end very cheap, others go over the roof or even the roofs. I wasn't expecting to get that coin, since in the same auction, the exact previous coin was another example of a Klazomenai diobol, in similar conservation (perhaps worse), also not perfectly centered, but on that you could see the boar's head and the wings just partially.
    Went for 90 EUR + fees.
    This one where the boar's head is partial but the wings are full went for 18+fees.
    Perhaps aesthetically speaking, a full head is more important, but I am happier with mine thinking at the price.

    And yeah, the actual price is 18 EUR + 18% fees so 21.24 EUR:cigar:
  10. Ryro

    Ryro Trying to remove supporter status

    Hey hey! Very cool stuff on the cheap:D
    I picked up a couple of those this year as well.
    Just last week out of a lot purchased from Biga I got:

    And earlier in the year I purchased a freshly unearthed potin balls (I was gonna fix that typo, but it made me chuckle) head horse reverse:
    And his pal a spikey headed boar reverse:

    And then Spikey head with horse reverse:

    All well under $20:troll:

    Ps, glad to see they are featuring articles again. I thought they had given up on that :)
  11. ancientone

    ancientone Well-Known Member

    Nice coins @Orielensis! My favorite is the denaro from Lucca.

    Recently participated in my first online auction house purchase and all were under $25. 22 coins for around $300. I'm hooked.

    Cillica, Mallos. AE12 (4th century BC).

    Cilicia, Irenopolis-Neronias. Trajan. AD Æ21.

    Pamphylia, Perge Æ17.
  12. Heliodromus

    Heliodromus Well-Known Member

    It's amazing that we can buy ~2000 year old coins for under $25. Don't tell anyone!

    Here's a few of mine this year that came under that price:

    Maximinus II as caesar Antioch 306-307 AD (same issue we first see Constantine I appear) $24


    Constantine I from Rome mint, immediately following battle of Milvian bridge $16.90 (with free shipping)


    Constantine I votive, with rare LDC bust $27.64


    Licinius I Iovi from Rome c.317 AD, one of the later appearances of a pagan god issued by Constantine, EUR 10 (from Savoca - worth it even with shipping)

  13. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Well-Known Member

    I have a somewhat bad habit of liking expensive coins, but for my themed collection I will look everywhere. At the last AMCC auction by our own @Severus Alexander I got a fabulous deal with this Diana Lucifera antoninianus minted for Claudius II (paging @Claudius_Gothicus :) ) : 14 USD + fees

    Claudius II (268-270) AE antoninianus, issued spring to end of 270. Milan, 3.96g, 21mm.
    Cuirassed bust right. / DIANA LVCIF, P in ex.
    RIC 144var., MER-RIC 74(temp)

  14. Claudius_Gothicus

    Claudius_Gothicus Well-Known Member

    Thanks for summoning me @Cucumbor :D! I really like this thread and I'm sure it will prove very useful for people who are planning to get into the hobby but have doubts because they automatically assume that all ancients are too expensive for the average person to purchase.

    As for me, while my acquisitions are usually relatively cheap, at least compared to the average, they still don't fit into the budget limits of this thread, with a couple of exceptions:

    This Claudius II cost me the equivalent of 13,57 $, and I'd say it was a pretty nice bargain: not only is it in better condition than the average Rome mint antoninianus of the period, but it was also misattributed by the seller, and the bust type is actually the very rare B2, with an undraped cuirass seen from the rear.

    This other Claudius II, also from the Rome mint, ended up costing me the equivalent of 20,35$ and, while I haven't received it yet, I will certainly make a thread about it: besides being in an unusually good state of preservation for this issue and having been struck on a very nice flan, it's also worth mentioning that Jupiter on the reverse was victim of an unusual mistake - let's see if anybody notices ;)...
  15. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ..great thread....i bought some heavies, but i also bought 8 ancients this year at $25 & under..a couple with shipping cost more, ..(i got several in the $30 bracket too)..i am just as proud of these coins as i am of any in my collection...this Hadrian/galley cost $23.00us delivered..:) you dont have to be a star meme.jpg IMG_0416.JPG IMG_0417.JPG
  16. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    If so, some of us didn’t get the memo.
    Ryro likes this.
  17. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    A type I’ve always admired. My pickiness over aesthetics would preclude that particular example from being included in my personal collection, but for 23 bucks, I’d have cheerfully scooped that up for my sell/swap/giveaway inventory. It doesn’t have to meet my personal standards for inclusion for me to recognize that as a good deal for the money. Nice pickup.
    ominus1 likes this.
  18. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish)

    Wow to that $9 Victorinus!

    I love these budget top 10 lists! I have spent as much time considering my budget list as I have my overall top 10 this year. I plan to post a $10 to $100 top 10 this year so I will reserve most of my favorite 2021 budget coins for then. Here are a couple of my under $25 coins from years past.

  19. catadc

    catadc Well-Known Member

    Seems a Iovi Statori reverse, with a Iovi Victori legend.

    Claudius II seems to me a good candidate for cheap and interesting coins. I got this Conser Avg for 12 EUR hammer price:

    This year, I found few cheap coins in my area of interest. One of these, for 7 EUR on ebay, 30 nummi of Heraclius, CON Gamma, year XX. Beaten as it is, it looks great for the type.
  20. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    Having a total price including fees 17.7 EUR I think this deserves a mention.
  21. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    Oh, most definitely!
    ambr0zie likes this.
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