How do you start collecting ancients?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Penny Pincher Coins, Jun 30, 2016.

  1. We get customers in all the time interested in these historical pieces. We know that people collect them by certain themes (ie. emperors) but how does one start collecting?

    I'm personally mainly a US Type collector but I've accumulated a few ancients. I can definitely appreciate the history and artistry behind them but I'm not sure how to go about expanding this collection. Please share your experiences and expertise. I'd greatly appreciate it.

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  3. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    When you are starting out, I find it helpful to have an open mind and research various ancient cultures. Don't pigeon hole yourself into a narrow field at the beginning and end up bored or disappointed. There are far too many interesting ancient cultures to collect coinage from. Once you've established a basic collection covering several types (ie. Greek, Indo-Greek, Persian/Parthian, Arabic, Roman Republic, Roman Empire, Byzantine, Celtic, etc.) You can then select some area from those groups that may interest you (example: Syracuse bronzes) and specialize on that. That way you take time to learn what you want before you sink heavy money into an area you may not really care for once your knowledge grows. Once you've gotten borred of your specialty or want to expand to something else, you can always fall back on one of the coin types from your original base collection and start specializing in that area. You'll already have a base on which to build on and some knowledge of that type of culture and it's coinage.

    At least that's the approach I'm taking. I already discovered using this method that I didnt care for bronze coins before I sank too much money in them, and now I'm collecting different silver coins from different cultures and periods in order to build a solid foundation and learn in the process. With only 24 silver coins, I still have a long way to go before I decide on a specialty.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016
  4. swish513

    swish513 Penny & Cent Collector

    I'm not an expert by any means, so I can't provide expertise, but I started with just 1 coin, just to have it, for the history. That led to many others. My ancient collection includes both Roman and Chinese. My Roman collection is a bit more focused, Gordian III, Victory reverses, and Standards on Reverses. Chinese is anything ancient, at this point.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016
  5. That's actually an interesting point Sallent but it makes sense. I have a Greek coin and a Roman coin. I'm going to write down the list of the cultures you provided to start my basic list.
    It already sounds too interesting though. The problem with me is when I start I get carried away rather easily. Persian and Syracuse coins just sound so cool!

  6. Well what got you into ancients? And you too Sallent? How did you start?
  7. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    I bought my first one on here due to being in awe with the the art and quality of the coin for being 2000 years old. One thing led to another and I started focusing on ancients more and more.

    I mainly enjoy the Roman empresses but also like Roman provincials and tetradrachms. I flip flop to many areas of ancients and other do here too. You don't have to have just one focus. Buy what appeals to you.
  8. beef1020

    beef1020 Junior Member

    I would consider myself a novice ancient collector but I can tell you that I bought a lot of old auction catalogs and have spent a lot of time looking through them. Eventually you start to understand the broad spectrum of ancients a little better and things just start to speak to you.

    Large copper always spoke to me, so I just continued. The Greek artwork is amazing, Sicilian coins in particular.
  9. swish513

    swish513 Penny & Cent Collector

    I'm a history buff. That's what got me into ancients. To hold something that someone else held 2000 years (give or take) ago. Like I said, 1 coin. This coin, actually. ric vi 768.jpg

    No, it doesn't fit what I currently collect, but I'm not getting rid of it. It was my first ancient.
  10. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    You don't have to follow that exact list. Look at the threads people create on this forum and you'll start to notice that certain coins from different empires and regions in antiquity interest you more than others. Go from there.

    I started collecting ancients because of my love of classical history.
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  11. swish513

    swish513 Penny & Cent Collector


    My oldest coin, 2nd century BC, Chinese. That Roman coin led to this coin.
  12. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    Here are a few coins from some of the cultures/time periods I mentioned above to give you a flavor for each.

    Alexander III Tetradrachm.jpg

    Bactrian Drachm.jpg

    Roman Republic

    Roman Empire
    Trajan Mars.jpg


    Vologases III.jpg

    As you can see, ancient coins offer tons of choices. There is no right and wrong...just educate yourself and find out what you like, and most important of all, have fun!!!
  13. icerain

    icerain Mastir spellyr

    I would say you have to start by looking at them, whether thats online or in old catalogs. Certain coins appeal to certain individuals. Personally, I started out collecting modern coins and still do.

    The two most important things, at least to me, is the coin itself and the history. Sometimes I may want to own a coin from a long lost geographical region or city. Also if you like US coins, take a look at the eagles on the Morgan dollars, quarters and other Peace dollars. Many Greek coins have eagles on them too, that may intrigue you on the artistry.
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  14. brandon spiegel

    brandon spiegel Brandon Spiegel

    As a beginner in ancients myself (I am mostly into US coins) I started by looking at common, roman coppers that go for $5-$6 each.
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  15. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    Yes, you've got to love those Greek eagles :D

    Istros Drachm_burned.jpg

    And just for kicks, @red_spork 's picture of my coin. His is a better picture as far as showing the details and beauty more clearly, mine probably is not as nice but it does capture the toning a little more accurate (or so I think)

    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016
  16. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    @Penny Pincher Coins Can you show us some of what you have? I'm curious to see what you've been focusing on. Let's see those coins. :D
  17. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis

    Honestly the best way to get into ancients is to spend time looking at coins(I.e. "window shopping" on Vcoins, reading posts here, etc), learning(first stop: Doug Smith's website) about coins and numismatics and buying coins. It can be overwhelming at first, but if you take it slowly, post and discuss each and every coin you buy here(you'll learn a lot from that alone), and set aside actual time to study and learn about coins as opposed to simply time to search for and acquire them(IMHO this is a trap many beginners fall into), you can quickly become a well-rounded collector.

    Believe it or not, one thing that I think made me a better collector as I slowly built my collection was that, for every single coin I bought, I spent an hour or more researching it so that I could come share it here and with a few of my co-workers(no collectors, but there are history enthusiasts). I still do that, and I still learn new things every week or two as I research my latest purchase before posting. I'm currently in the process of researching a recent CNG auction win as we speak.
  18. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper


    Research is key. I couldn't agree more. I bought 9 coins this month (a shopping spree) so I'll probably take the next month off to properly research the history behind each one. It is worth mentioning that I didn't just buy blindly, but had an idea of what I was getting from spending the last 7 months on this forum learning all I could...but now the fun part begins (doing more in-depth research on each purchase).
  19. noname

    noname Well-Known Member

    I won a spelling bee in 5th grade, and my mom bought a uncleaned ancient for me as a reward, after a soak in vinegar, I identified it is a Mithridates VI 120-63 BC, AE-21 Pontus coin. This is like the 7th time I've posted this coin.

    Attached Files:

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  20. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    I've posted some of my coins like 20 times. A beauty like yours should be posted as often as you can. That was a nice find for an uncleaned coin. Most uncleaned coins never end up as nice or as interesting as yours.
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