Beginner's luck

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Finn235, Feb 12, 2019.

  1. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Last month I spent a few days re-organizing and imaging some of my Romans, and found this coin, one of the oldest residents of my collection:

    Theodora pietas.jpg
    Theodora, wife of Constantius I
    AE4, minted c. 337
    Trier Mint
    FL MAX THEODORA AVG, Draped bust right
    PIETAS ROMANA / TRP, Cross left, Pietas breastfeeding an infant

    I bought my first ancient coin in about August 2015, and decided to try my luck at buying a bulk lot about two months later. I had no clue what I was doing, and bought a lot of maybe 25 coins for $35 shipped. Most of the rest of the lot was garbage, but this one coin more than made up for it. It still amazes me to this day that I did not get totally burned on my first coin lot; I most certainly did on the next few!

    Post your coins and tales of beginner's luck, where you had no clue what you were doing but things still worked out OK!
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  3. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I don't ever claim to know what I am doing when I buy coins these days and I haven't been a beginner for long enough I should know better. Luck, however, visits regularly. From a financial standpoint, my 'best find' may be this Anonymous Pagan which came from a junk box at a Baltimore show for $6. These are not rare coins but I have never seen one with more detail in the robe of Apollo. I don't know what it would bring on a fair market and have no intention of finding out.

    I believe the best 'luck' I have is when I learn something that I did not know or never suspected. Over the years I have seen a lot of coins of which 99% I will never own. When I see something new to me, I enjoy the experience. When I see a coin I did not know and that I would enjoy owning at a price I can accept, that is just plain old luck! At a coin show last year I bought a total of 17 coins that were not new to my experience and this one as of Trajan of a type that I had previously overlooked. It is not all that rare or even all that special but I considered getting it a piece of good luck. When I saw it first I thought it was one of those common Trajan column types with strange style but a second glance revealed a club standing upright with a lionskin below. I don't usually think of Trajan when I think of Hercules attributes. Here is what I learned.
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  4. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    My personal experience with this type of Theodora is that most are on small, ragged flans and lose either the head of the reverse figure or the mintmark. Yours is a lucky balance on good metal. The face is not the most typically feminine I have seen but overall I would call this a very nice coin.
    My two are very ordinary.
    rw5292bb2937.jpg rw5290bb1376.jpg
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  5. arizonarobin

    arizonarobin Well-Known Member Supporter

    Mine is definitely not in as good condition - but my beginners luck was finding this little lady in an unlceaned lot (especially lucky since I collect the Ladies!)
    Aquilia Severa, Concordia
    Draped bust right

    Concordia standing left, holding patera and two cornucopiae; star in left field

    RIC 225 Rome (year 221) ; S 2158
    Silver Denarius; 19mm; 3.4g
  6. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    This was my very first ancient coin, acquired in 1992:

    Claudius, AD 41-54
    As, 10.97g, 26mm, 180°
    Rome, AD 41
    bare head l.
    Libertas standing frontal, head r., holding pileus in r. hand, between large S-C
    ref. RIC I, 97; C.47; BMCR 145, pl. 35, 3
    about VF
    From Curtis Clay: "The obverse of Jochen's As shows the rare earliest portrait of Claudius' reign, youthful and reminescent of his brother Germanicus. His coin is from the same rev. die as an As in Munich which has obv. legend TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG IMP TR POT instead of the usual legend ending AVG P M TR P IMP. That Munich legend, which occurs on one die only, omits P M, an office that Claudius had probably not yet assumed when the die was cut, so is apparently the earliest die for bronze coins of the reign. The shared rev. die confirms the early date of both that obv. legend and the youthful idealized portrait of Claudius. The obv. of Jochen's coin is from a die I hadn't known before, I think only the third or fourth die with the early portrait that I have found.
    I think Jochen's coin will have a rank high among the luckiest first purchases ever made!"
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  7. jamesicus

    jamesicus Supporter! Supporter

    Very nice coin of this issue, Jochen. My exemplar is a later issue featuring a more mature portrait and after he adopted the title of Pater Patriae (PP - Father of the Country)

    RIC Vol I, CLAUDIUS, As, Rome, No. 113 (AD 50)
    Obverse: Claudius, bare headed facing left
    Inscription clockwise from bottom: TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG P M TR P IMP P P
    Reverse: Personification of Liberty, standing, facing right, holding Pileus (freedman’s cap) in right hand
    Inscription clockwise from bottom: LIBERTAS AVGVSTA | S -------- C (left and right)
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
  8. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    A couple years ago I scored a lot of denarii off of eBay. It was mostly common stuff, but one of them a Liberalitas issue of Commodus is apparently very rare (RIC 240). Zumbly found this out for me, helping me out on a query. I think this is the rarest ancient in my collection, and it was a complete accident that I got it (for less than $8 too).


    There is a huge write up on one of these for a CNG auction (again, that Zumbly found - thanks Zumbly!):

    402, Lot: 531. Estimate $300.
    Sold for $900. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.
    Commodus. AD 177-192. AR Denarius (17mm, 3.27 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck AD 192. Laureate head right / LIB AVG VIIII P M TR P XVII COS VII P P, Liberalitas standing half left, holding abacus and cradling cornucopia in left arm; star to left. RIC III 240; MIR 18, –; RSC 327; BMCRE p. 747, *. Good VF, toned. Nice metal. Very rare, only one in CoinArchives.

    From the BRN Collection. Ex Classical Numismatic Review XL/1 (Spring 2015), no. 995800; Elwood Rafn Collection.

    At the time that RIC volume III was written, the authors had no idea of the occasions for the two liberalities of AD 192, LIB AVG VIII and VIIII. Maria Kaiser-Raiß, in her study of the coinage of Commodus, argues that the Liberalitas VIII issue was given in the aftermath of the death of Julius Alexander of Emesa, who she contends was fomenting a serious revolt, while the Liberalitas VIIII issue was struck in reaction to the great fire that occurred in Rome in 192 (Die stadtrömische Münzprägung während der Alleinherrschaft des Commodus [Franfurt am Main: Schulten, 1980], pp. 51-2 and 54). However, there are two problems with her assignments. First, regarding the "revolt" of Alexander, none of the primary sources give it much emphasis whatsoever, particularly in Rome. Second, the dating of this event is not firm, with most authors noting it happening in AD 190 or 191. As such, it is unlikely that the eighth liberalitas was not struck in relation to the "revolt" of Alexander of Emesa.

    In this light, it may be that LIB AVG VIII actually commemorates the great fire in AD 192, while LIB AVG VIIII commemorates a different event. The rarity of the LIB AVG VIIII issue may offer a clue (the rarity is emphasized by the fact that MIR states that RIC III 240 is “Typ unbelegt”; an example apparently could not be confirmed by the author). The last issue of Commodus, the TR P XVIII issues, are extremely rare, and most scholars attribute this rarity to the ability of the government to confiscate and melt down these issues that only recently entered circulation before the emperor's death. As the LIB AVG VIIII issue is nearly as rare as the TR P XVIII coins, it is reasonable to conclude that they were struck nearer to the end of 192 than the beginning. We know that the fire likely happened in the Spring of 192, which would seem to be too early for the issue to be so effectively removed from circulation. The regular TR P XVII issues struck not long before are quite plentiful today, so an issue in the Spring should also be quite plentiful. A possible solution is that the LIB AVG VIII issue was struck in the immediate aftermath of the fire, perhaps to help those dispossessed, while the LIB AVG VIIII issue was struck later in the year, during a celebratory event following the rebuilding of the city.
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  9. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Nice finds, especially on getting an Aquilia Severa in an uncleaned lot! I was excited to get mine for less than $200!

    A few more lucky firsts, after getting burned on a few lots of Roman culls, I bought a couple lots from a seller in Israel on ebay, again about $1.50 per coin. Fewer culls in this lot, but three coins turned out to be decent to excellent:

    1) Numerian as Augustus antoninianus - not anything spectacular, but a rare find in a mixed low-end lot, and one I have not yet found a suitable upgrade for
    Numerian Virtvs Avgg.jpg

    2. A very acceptable grade Alexander Jannaeus prutah

    3. A beat up but rare AE dupondius (11g) of Herod Antipas, the chap who executed John the Baptist and ticked off Jesus by asking him do do a magic trick while he was standing trial
    Sulla80, panzerman, paschka and 16 others like this.
  10. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Hoping to figure this out eventually....

    I purchased a fun, inexpensive lot last year and was happy with what I was getting as far as the Romans (not the best quality for some but certainly a few treasures for me! and at a great price) .. the lot also included half a dozen small Greek coins that I knew very little about....I posted a pic of the whole lot as follows:


    @Orielensis immediately picked out this coin as a bit of a star... sorry for the photo - really need to take a better one:


    AEOLIS, Grynion. Circa 3rd Century BC. Æ 16mm (3.42 gm). Three-quarter facing head of Apollo, turned slightly left, wearing laurel wreath , upload_2019-2-13_0-3-22.png mussel shell. BMC 1

    On VCoins they seem to sell for $115 to $150.. which is nice to know.. A LOT more than I paid for the bunch.

    Sometimes even a newbie gets things to go his way!
  11. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    My bit of luck was my very first Roman coin.....I'd been collecting British Colonial coinage for many years and was looking for something different. I'd always been interested in Roman history and when I saw this one I picked it up 30 bucks (probably well over the top) but it had nice detail and was from a reputable dealer ....Turned out to be an unlisted type (As far as I know!)....Sometimes ignorance is bliss! 20151004_Documents-001.jpg
    Licinius I (RIC VII#155 Arles)-Unlisted-
    Licinius I AE Follis 20mm/3.43gr (Emperors name Misspelled)

    Obverse-IMP LICINVS PF AVG- laureate, cuirassed bust right

    Reverse-REV SOLI INVICTO COMITI- Sol standing right, looking left, chlamys across chest and over his left arm, holding globe and raising right hand. C-S across fields

    Exergue-PARL- minted 313-318AD Arles
  12. cmezner

    cmezner Well-Known Member

    When I was attributing my exemplar, I found the following information regarding the date 50 AD, and I quote:
    "In connection with the Numismatic Chronicle review of von Kaenel's Claudius, a study of the coinage of Claudius, leads to the conclusion that von Kaenel is right, against Kraay, to date the appearance of PP on all of Claudius' bronze coins not to 50 AD (Kraay followed by RIC), but to January 42. Therefore Claudius' very large issue of sestertii and middle bronzes omitting PP must all have been struck between his accession in late January 41 and circa January 10, 42. It is evident that Claudius' three As types, LIBERTAS AVGVSTA, CONSTANTIAE AVGVSTI, and Minerva, were introduced together very soon after the beginning of the reign and were struck alongside each other first until the appearance of PP in January 42, and then until the end of the PP issue probably in 43."

    Whom should one follow, von Kaenel or Kraay?:wideyed:

    This is my exemplar, which according to Kraay would have been minted in Rome, January 42 – 43 AD:
    28 x 29.5 mm, 9.34 g;
    RIC I (2nd edition) 113
    upload_2019-2-28_23-2-59.png upload_2019-2-28_23-3-15.png
  13. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Forever a beginner, I must have been distracted by the reverse when I purchased this coin: I didn't question the seller's attribution. When the coin arrived in the mail, I was surprised to find that the "Gallienus" that I thought I had ordered arrived as a "Valerian".

    Valerian VOTA ORBIS.jpg

    Valerianus I, Antoninianus, AD 255-256
    Mint: Antioch or Samosata?
    Obv: IMP C P LIC VALERIANVS PF AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right
    Rev: VOTA ORBIS, two Victories placing shield inscribed S C on palm
    Ref: RIC V 295; RSC 279
    Size: 3.85g 21.6-23.8mm
  14. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Nice rediscovery - here’s a Theodora missing mint and partial legends, I like the portrait.
    Theodora AE4. 337-340 AD.
    Obv: FL MAX THEO-DORAE AVG, bust right wearing plain mantle and necklace, hair elaborately dressed with a plait encircling her head
    Rev: PIETAS-ROMANA, Pietas standing facing, carrying an infant at her breast.
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  15. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    I bought an as of Claudius with a blurry picture and got this.
  16. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Thinking back on it, I would consider these to be lucky, because I had no idea what I was doing when I bought these. All three came from Agora about a year and a half ago, and I now realize how much nicer they are than typical Agora offerings (no offense, but...)

    Won all three for $350

    Mn. Aemilius Lepidus
    Mn armilius lepidus denarius.jpg
    M Fourius L F
    M furius l f denarius janus.jpg

    P Servilius Rulli
    P servilius rulli denarius minerva biga.jpg
    randygeki, Sulla80, panzerman and 5 others like this.
  17. octavius

    octavius Well-Known Member

    I was a kid of 14 yrs. old at the time and collected US coins. I was in my local coin shop and saw a "junk box" of Roman coins. There was a beautiful golden "sestertius" with the Colossem on the reverse that I fell in love with and bought for $0.50. Needless to say, my first ancient coin was a FAKE! But I still have it somewhere and I did not let that stop me from pursuing this hobby.
    randygeki, panzerman, Sulla80 and 2 others like this.
  18. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I would call that $0.50 well spent. Had I bought it, I would have it mounted in a frame. When I was about 14 years old, I bought several genuine $0.50 coins and none of them would bring today on eBay what yours would. :troll:
    arizonarobin likes this.
  19. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    My first ancient coin was this Byzantine coin from NFA back in 1985
    AV Solidus Constantinople Mint
    Basil I and Constantine VII 867-86AD
    Price; $175 IMG_1100.JPG IMG_1101.JPG
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  20. octavius

    octavius Well-Known Member

    Doug, I think I'll dig that coin out and take your advice! It may have been a fake, but it did bring me a great deal of pleasure.
    arizonarobin likes this.
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