Aureus and Solidus to target for Roman Imperial type collection?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Cherd, Aug 9, 2022.

  1. Cherd

    Cherd Junior Member Supporter

    My collection is composed of Late Republic and Roman Imperial coins ranging from Julius Caesar through Theodosius I (Emperors, family members, Caesars, usurpers, etc). My goal is to get one bust coin of each character of interest, but I would also like to have a complete denomination type set within my collection. I've pretty much pulled it off by just picking up various coins along the way.

    The ones that I haven't picked up yet are, you guessed it, an Aureus and a Solidus. I've put in a lot of effort over the years cataloging sales of different denominations for different bust coins to familiarizing myself with expected sales prices. However, I have not tracked information about the gold coins at all.

    Before delving into the data, I wanted to see if you guys could provide some information to get me started in the right direction. I'm not terribly concerned with the person on the coin, but I would like to get the best example of each that I can reasonably afford. So, given these criteria, who would you guys recommend?

    Whose Aurei tend to be available in decent shape at the lower end of the price spectrum compared to others?

    Same question for Solidi?
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  3. mikebell

    mikebell Active Member

    By decent shape I'm assuming VF. Short answer - Aureus Antoninus Pius, Solidi Valentinian. Covers both ends of the empire & reasonably affordable.
  4. Curtis

    Curtis Supporter! Supporter

    Solidi are the easy ones. If you're willing to spend $1,000 USD you can get an attractive Solidus in virtually mint state from the late Roman rulers (e.g., Theodosius II or Marcian, maybe Valens, Valentinian I, etc.). If you're only willing to pay $500-600 you'll probably still find an okay one eventually. (The Byzantine ones are a bit cheaper yet.)

    Aurei are generally much more expensive. (Partly because the earlier ones are much heavier. Over 7g instead of 4.4 or less.) The bottom of the Aureus market seems to be around $1,000 at auction plus fees, but that's for very worn specimens. For a decent one I think you'll have to pay a couple thousand dollars. Common ones of Vespasian seem to appear in those ranges often, maybe Domitian as well.

    I have bought a dozen or so Solidi over the years (sold some), but never an Aureus, and have never seriously tried, though, so my impressions are imprecise on those.

    Edit: Oops, used Solidus in places where I meant Aureus!
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  5. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Well-Known Member

    Probably the two least expensive aurei are those of Antoninus Pius and his wife Faustina Snr. Others that may not be out of range would include Gordian III and possibly the very light "aurei / quinarii of Gallienus during his reign as sole emperor. I have noticed a number of aurei of Trajan Decius for sale of late. They maybe in the same ballpark but that may be simply the result of a recent hoard. There may be others eg Augustus Tiberius Nero and Trajan that may on occasion be somewhat affordable. As for solidii I would say Honorius and the eastern emperors of the fifth century AD but I did notice that you wish to end your collection at Theodosius I. pretty well any of the more common emperors from Constantius II through to Theodosius I are doable.
    My first aureus
    Antoninus Pius Av Aureus 152-153 AD Obv Head right laureate. Rv Emperor standing left togate holding globe. RIC 226 7.28 grms 20 mm Photo by W. Hansen piusaureius1.jpg
  6. Limes

    Limes Well-Known Member

    When it comes to aureii, I see many "affordable" aureii of Nero in the Roma auctions lately. Quite a few of the 'zp austria' collection. Also, as mentioned above, aureii of Vespasian and Domitian are plentiful.
    Aureii of Tiberius are not scarce too, many are out there, but they demand a higher price. I dont know your budget, but if you want to get something special and not extremely expensive, you might want to check aureii of Caesar, the ones struck by Hirtius. They are not scarce at all, and comes in different qualities and thus prices. But to bid strong on those ;-)
  7. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Are you wanting a complete denomination type set for a single emperor, or just scattered across the different emperors?

    Denomination sets can be tricky because almost every emperor through Gordian III issued denarii, and most issued sestertii, but asses and dupondii were issued infrequently after Commodus, and semisses and quadrantes even more so. A handful of emperors also issued silver quinarii - those are even more rare (except I think Augustus issued one that is more affordable?)

    Nero, Trajan or Hadrian would be your best bet for completing a denomination set, since they all issued relatively plentiful coins of all denominations (except quinarii), although an aureus will run a little more since they are more popular emperors.
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  8. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    As @Terence Cheesman mentioned, if you want an "affordable" aureus in better grade (say VF and up), I think Antoninus Pius is your guy.

    As also mentioned by @Limes, Nero offers "affordable" aurei as well, if you're focusing on the Twelve Caesars. I wanted my (first, one-and-only) aureus to be from one of the twelve.

    So I went with the Nero below, which is not especially high grade but which met my minimum grade of Fine, and had good strike and surface ratings from NGC. I also bought a slab because the rest of my collection happens to be slabbed. Obviously you don't have to do that, and most ancients collectors would crack a slab anyway.

    At $3,250 it was towards the lower end of the price range of coins I considered acceptable. Maybe (probably?) I could have gotten one for less at auction, but I went with this one at fixed price for several reasons of my own.

  9. Cherd

    Cherd Junior Member Supporter

    Thanks for all of the feedback everybody!

    Sounds like I should be focusing on the Flavian and Nerva-Antonine Dynasties for the aureus and the Jovians for the solidus. I wasn't sure if mentioning price range would be faux pas, but I was thinking something like $2K and $1K respectively. Based on the feedback, it seems like I should be able to get some nice examples. I feel like I can splurge a bit when I only need one of each :)

    I just want a type set across the collection. The major satisfaction that I get from collecting is in showing them to other people. I just want to have at least one example of each in case they might find a "Denominations of Roman coins" presentation of interest!
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  10. Cherd

    Cherd Junior Member Supporter

    Unfortunately, my budget for coins restricts me to lower standards. The base target for the vast majority of my coins is the $200-$500 range. I only go up to $1000 or so for higher end stuff (Imperatorial, 12 Caesars, 5 Emps, etc), and will go to what is my absolute max of $2000 or so for a couple of things (Julius Caesar, Aureus, etc).

    It would be nice if I could afford it, but I'm gonna ignore the 12 Caesar aurei for now. As a group, those coins have been especially inflated lately and I'm guessing aurei are no exception. I actually like the idea of getting one of the "5 Good Emperors" as my example. They, along with Vespasian are among my favorites (as Rulers). This is probably the case for a lot of people..... I guess that's why they're called "Good" ;)

    My entire collection is slabbed as well. I would say to look me up if you have any culls to sell, but by the sound of it, they'd probably be outside of my wheelhouse anyway! :(
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  11. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    I think the days of thousand-dollar aurei are gone, I fear. You might be able to do it for $2K if you make some compromises. Others will correct me if I'm wrong, but I did shop around (eBay, VCoins, MA-Shops, at least) before I bought one.

    Now the solidus is a different story.
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  12. Cherd

    Cherd Junior Member Supporter

    In re-reading your post from above, I believe that I may have mis-interpretted the meaning.

    I interpreted this to mean "$3250 is toward the lower end of the price range that I find acceptable for coins". ie "I don't spend less than $3250 on coins".

    But now I'm interpreting it as "$3250 is the lowest end of the price range for aurei in conditions that I found acceptable". ie "I had to spend $3250 to get an acceptable aurei"

    Anyway, it's a silly thing. But, I wanted to mention it just in case my post above seemed a bit non-sensical :shame:
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  13. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    Yes. I meant it was on the lower end pricewise out of all the acceptable aurei I was seeing at the time.

    $3,250 is the most I've ever spent for a coin and that Nero aureus is far and away my most expensive piece. Usually I shop in the three-figure-pricetag territory, like you probably do. That was a really big-ticket purchase for me.

    I too wondered if mentioning price was a faux pas, but decided to hang that out there in case it was helpful.
  14. Curtis

    Curtis Supporter! Supporter

    @lordmarcovan & @Cherd -- here's an example of what I meant when I said I've seen lower end Aureii (Flavian, Antonine, even Tiberius) near $1000 + fees... This one hammered at $1200 + bp (under $1500 total) in 2020:

    [NOT MINE]

    I think the bidder might've actually been very lucky to get that for $1200/1440. I have seen others go lower, though they're not attractive. But they are gold Aureii. Anything in the $1,000 - $2,000 range isn't going to look great.

    I'm sure you can find others. That's just what I found in a few seconds, based on my recollections, and at the top of the screen when I search "Aureus" in CNG's archive:

    Edit: Sorting by recent, here's a Domitian with an interesting reverse for $1800+bp at CNG most recent:
    Edit 2: Actually looks like almost all their recent e-Auctions had multiple Aureii hammering in the $1500 to 2000 range (sometimes quite a few of them).
    Edit 3: Going back to 2020, only looking at Nero Jupiter Aureii:
    Here's one for $750 (+150 = 900):
    Double that price ($1500/1800) for a much nicer one 3 weeks ago:
    I see others in between, and of course a bunch of others much higher.

    So I think with patience you can definitely find one in the $1000-2000 range, or even less, it just may not look great.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2022
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  15. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

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  16. Cherd

    Cherd Junior Member Supporter

    I managed to knock out the Solidus!

    I extended my range to include Theodosius' sons. One reason is the historical relevance of their reigns representing the official split of the Empire into two halves, and because they have some affordable solidi (added bonus).

    It's "Pierced", "Clipped", and has "Edge Marks", but these things worked to keep the price down and none of them bother me. It's my first gold coin, so I'm just now realizing how aesthetically pleasing they are to look at in hand. Happy! :shame:


    Thanks to all those that provided advice.

    Edit: Oh, by the way, this is Arcadius.
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  17. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    One of the most easy to obtain is this aureus from Severus Alexander/ I got it from Harlan Berk for 4K IMG_0687.JPG IMG_0688.JPG
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  18. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Yes, Antoninus Pius is the most common aureus from what I have heard. Here is my one an only which I found at the 2022 Winter FUN show.

    Antoninus Pius Aureus O.jpg Antoninus Pius Aureus R.jpg

    Aureus of Antonius Pius, Obverse: ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P IMP II “Antoninus augustus pius father of his country (Pater Patriae) Emperor. Reverse: TR POT XX COS IIII “Tribune Potestas 20 Consul 4 (year 156-7 AD) Victory advancing holding a wreath and palm. Sear 4028
  19. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    I posted a “like”, but it’s more like jealousy. :angelic:
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  20. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    I agree
    jealous 2.jpg
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