Beginner's luck

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Finn235, Feb 12, 2019 at 10:31 AM.

  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 Active 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
    Spaniard, TIF, zumbly and 12 others like this.
  6. Jochen

    Jochen 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 pachydermicus 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 at 9:47 AM
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  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
    Spaniard, TIF, zumbly and 10 others like this.
  10. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Well-Known Member

    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!
    Marsyas Mike, Spaniard, Bing and 6 others like this.
  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
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