Changing collecting standard?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Everett Guy, Jan 17, 2021.

  1. Everett Guy

    Everett Guy Well-Known Member

    I am at a crossroads in my collection way of thinking. Do I keep collecting alot of $25-$75 coins in ok condition and end up sometimes with 3 or more of the same emperors/divas with same or different reverses...or...spend more and get a excellent looking coin for each emperors/divas?
    I guess my thinking is when I spend say $240 on 4 coins of same emperors/divas, I could get 1 thats in really good condition for that price.
    I am courious how you all think when your collecting....quantity or quality? Or just trying to get a happy mix of both?
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  3. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    It’s entirely up to you and what you like. Don’t let other people decide your interests.
  4. Everett Guy

    Everett Guy Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I am mainly courious how others collect. I am glad I got a good collection that doesnt break the bank. Just thinking I could have a few greater looking coins for the money I spent.
    DonnaML likes this.
  5. IMP Shogun

    IMP Shogun Well-Known Member

    I think it's really healthy to start collecting a wide variety of types and then figure out what you like (mistakes are cheaper). Recycle the stuff that's outside of your focus to other new collectors in the space figuring their tastes out.

    At any stage of collecting -- which is a bunch of decision making -- it's good to pause and evaluate. Then try and predict what you will like best, even if it means extending the pause or spending the time on other interests.

    I began ancient coin collecting long before purchasing my first one. I have strictly the imperial period of Rome with Roman Imperial and Provincial coins. I collect multiple coins from the Adoptive Emperor period and even more so for Trajan specifically. That's probably the order how I have gone.

    And then there's the color of the metal....
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2021
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  6. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    You certainly could but the question is do you want to? Would fewer more valuable coins make you happier or do you enjoy having a wider variety?
    Everett Guy likes this.
  7. GoldFinger1969

    GoldFinger1969 Well-Known Member

    Definitely quality. I really enjoy Saints and Morgans and while the latter can be had for $200 and under, the former is going to run $2,000 and up.

    Like all of you, I get the urge to buy now-and-then. What do I do ? Silver moderns and commemoratives, anything from a nice DCAM 69 ASE to a National Park Foundation Reverse Proof in honor of Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

    With the growth of online, you can find yourself watching, bidding, or buying every week. For those of us with a budget, that is impractical. Years ago, you'd save up your $$$ for a trip to the LCS or a local coin show...or save the Big $$$ for FUN, ANA, or Long Beach.

    You just have to be disciplined and set a mental budget.

    Important: I find that the downtime between major purchases allows me to do lots of research on what to buy....teaches me me time to scan past auctions to know if I am buying high, low or in-betweem.

    I waited almost 5 years before purchasing my 1923-D Saint-Gaudens.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2021
    octavius, BenSi, Everett Guy and 3 others like this.
  8. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    As collector with severe budgets, I can easily compromise on quantity over quality, but that doesn't mean all of my coins are trashy and look straight outta ploughing fields!
    I look at every sites, compare prizes, but most importantly look if the coin has an eye appeal!(ebay is a gold mine if you play it carefully, take this Parthian coin, it would've cost me at least 50 bucks on any other sites, but I only paid $17 in the auction, although it's not perfect, I like the naturally worn look for a 2000+year old coin), I don't care if it's off-centered, worn at some points or tooled, if it looks good to me, then I will get it.
    However, if a good-looking coin is worth more than 200-300 bucks, and there is a same type of coin going for under $100, then I take the lower option and be satisfied with it!
    I still buy high quality coins, but only as an exception, not the norm!
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2021
  9. The Eidolon

    The Eidolon Well-Known Member

    I definitely take a quantity over quality approach to coin collecting. But I think that probably makes it a much worse investment. It's probably a lot easier to sell one $1000 coin than one hundred $10 coins. But I get enjoyment from seeing a lot of different types of coins, not from what I think other people would be willing to pay for them.
  10. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Quantity versus quality is an individual preference, pretty much bound by budget, interests, and, in my case, the amount of oxygen my brain cells are being supplied with at a given moment.

    I guess I try to focus on quality within a given price range. If given a choice between a VF and a good VF coin, I would usually prefer the good VF, if it warrants the grade and the coin is attractive. Of course "attractive" is a relative term. Some issues are inherently crude and downright ugly. That's just the way they are. Other coins are renowned for their beauty, and are nice even in lower grades.

    So, to summarize my approach: go for quality and muddle on!
  11. 1934 Wreath Crown

    1934 Wreath Crown Well-Known Member

    I like the advice given by @IMP Shogun. If you're new at Ancients then a $25 mistake hurts a lot less than a $250 or $2,500 one. But I definitely prefer quality over quantity. Would hate to be sitting in front of 1,000 coins, a few years down the line, thinking "Why did I buy these when I could have had 100 really nice ones instead??!!".

    I started with the general stuff on eBay but now concentrate on better coins from trusted auction houses and, very occasionally, few trusted eBay dealers. Been trying to sell the older, lower quality stuff and trust me, that's not easy or cheap. Have a few bags of stuff I don't even look at or find interesting anymore.
  12. RichardT

    RichardT Well-Known Member

    It depends on what drives your collecting. Is the primary concern the historical significance of the coin? Then the physical condition of the coin might not matter that much. If so, quantity might be better.

    Or do you collect for the beauty of the coin? If you do, then quality might be better.

    All things being equal though, I think many collectors will prefer historically significant coins in good condition. Some profess to prefer worn coins though.

    It is your choice in the end, but personally I much prefer quality over quantity. There are practical concerns… storage space for one.
  13. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    I used to go for quantity, regardless of condition I wanted every emperor.

    Now I only buy coins that I LIKE and SPEAK to me. No random, mediocre coins. Only ones that I like and would be proud to display
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  14. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    It's an accommodating hobby... I don't see a reason why you can't do both at the same time. If you think a coin is interesting, go for it. If it speaks to you, definitely go for it.

    While I've allowed the upper limit of my per coin budget to increase over the years, it hasn't stopped me from picking up more affordable pieces I find interesting. Last year, a few of the pickups in my year-end favorites list came with price tags in the low four-figures, but I equally enjoyed acquiring the coins that populated my $1 - $100 favorites list. The coin in the lowest price bracket was $10. I had a reason for wanting each of them at the time... hopefully, 10 years down the road I'll still think those reasons were good ones!
  15. svessien

    svessien Senior Member Supporter

    Isn’t the typical development that you start in the lower price range, buying good coins for 50-100$, and move upwards from there with time? I think that’s common for many of us, at least me. I remember feeling totally crazy the first time I spent more than 150$ on a coin.
    I can still get coins in the 25-50$ range that are keepers in my collection, but that’s typically in new areas where I can get the easy ones first. The more you progress in an area, the more expensive it gets.
  16. Only a Poor Old Man

    Only a Poor Old Man Well-Known Member

    I collect for only a year now, but I would say I dived right in the deep end. I collect for the artistic aspect of the coins so quality is very important to me. I haven't made any mistakes yet, but I did overdo it budget-wise. Lockdown helped massively as coin collecting kept me both sane and busy. Luckily I also like quirkiness, so I have noticed that my focus have shifted mainly towards the Byzantines lately, which thank God is a much more affordable path (unless you become obsessed with gold solidi which is a very real threat).
  17. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    When one specializes in a particular area, you learn there are some coins that simply don't come on the market but every decade or so -- or even less. So when you come across a coin you "need" for your specialty collection, you get it, even if it isn't the highest grade.

    Moreover, I like coins and I like adding to my collection. I'm of the "I'd rather have ten fifty-dollar coins than one five-hundred dollar coin" school. Others are of the less is more school.

    Over time, you'll get a feeling for which coins you should buy given your budgetary constraints and your goals for the hobby.
  18. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    Some good things have been said already, about collecting goals, budget constraints, and so on. So I can underline those principles, but to help you get a broader image of collecting behaviours, here's mine. First:
    - My most important rule: stick to your budget! (which can of course increase or decrease over time)

    Second, some guidelines I adhere to:
    - What I like is personal. I primarily collect Roman late Republic, Imperatorial and Imperial coins up to and including the Severan dynasty, and the occassional Greek coin (only 1 so far...)
    - I try to go for quality over quantity.
    - I try to go for 'special types': interesting history, rare, design, eye-appeal (to me at least) etc. within the above mentioned category
    - I don't go for the 1-of-each-ruler guideline, but I do strive to get at least one awesome portait coin of each emperor up to and including the Severan dynasty.
    - I try to use a wishlist as a guideline, and research coins
    - The most important guideline: I deviate from the above mentioned guidelines when I simply stumble on a too-cool-to-not-go-for-it coin :) It's a hobby, so have fun!
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  19. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I wish there were a way to eliminate the idea that the ONLY way to collect is one coin per emperor. You brought that attitude with you from your time as a modern collector and it does not fit the ancient hobby. You might have two or two hundred coins of Trajan with each being quite interesting and worthwhile.
    I am with Eidolon on this one. Get over what other people think. If you would rather have the highest grade but least interesting design for Trajan, that is your choice. If you are more concerned with resale value than entertainment value, the choice is obvious. Most of us have a minimum grade we 'prefer' to collect. For some that is fleur de coin. For me it is not dependent on wear but more strict on the other things that separate the good from the also-ran (strike, surface, tone, historic importance, rarity and several I am forgetting today). I do not suggest you buy corroded slugs but only you can decide if you want any given coin.
    Which is it? Will you buy the six somewhat presentable coins of Septimius Severus below or spend the same money on one fleur de coin specimen or sixty real dogs? ri3580bb0899.jpg rj4095bb3061.jpg rj4410bb0233.jpg rj4490bb0934.jpg rj4715fd3467.jpg rj4730bb0826.jpg

    After I started typing the above, Limes posted his answer with which I largely agree. Edits below show where we differ.
  20. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Enrich the soldiers...ignore all others

    When I re-entered collecting in 2015 I started out with lots of uncleaned coins which I did clean up for the most part. However, I got disheartened when I would get only about ten decent coins per lot (and oftentimes there were more than 100 coins in a bunch). I then switched to the goal of collecting a coin of each emperor, and to a lesser extent, each personage. After starting to close in on that goal I since have decided to only buy fairly high grade coins that speak to me either personally or historically, which means I am getting multiple coins of many of the emperors.
  21. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I can afford to spend about $100 a month on my collections. For some coins, $100 will buy a nice coin like common Republican denarii or a decent denarius of Trajan or Septimius Severus. No, not top notch condition and not rare ones but I want to have representative examples of important rulers and such coins need not be in EF conditions to be that. I have never had any problem with honest wear. To me that just means a long history of coins from Ancient times having been handled by many Ancient people. I stay away from damaged coins, especially corrosion as junk stays junk forever and no matter the rarity of the coin it's going to look like indecipherable junk to me and everybody else forever. I'd rather look longingly at an EF double denarius of Gordian III than an About Good denarius of Julius Caesar. Now, since I like to read, even study Ancient history, there may be times when I want to get a decent representation of somebody or somewhere that I don't have. In that case I take that $100 a month set aside and put it away for several months until I can buy that really nice sestertius of Vespasian or Antoninus Pius. It's taken a while but I have a nice collection of decent looking coins and I enjoy handling them (not recommended for EF coins), feeling that connection straight back to Fifth Century Athens or First Century Rome. One other thing one can do. Trade up at shows or clubs. Take the fifty dollar coin and fifty dollars in cash and come back with a hundred dollar replacement. And for heavens sake, unless you are running a business and need to pay bills, remember it's a hobby and you are supposed to enjoy it, not lose sleep over it.
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