Joining ancient coin gang

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by EireWeish, Feb 22, 2021.

  1. EireWeish

    EireWeish New Member


    I'm looking to start collecting ancient Roman coins, I'm in my 20's and I don't think anyone would expect me to be doing something like this but I find that part of history to be really interesting even though I know little about, and the fact I can actually get some coins from that time is crazy to think about. First introduction was probably Rome Total War back then! :woot:

    I've read an introduction to ancient coins that someone posted here and also had a look through some posts here. I've bookmarked some auction houses just to see what kind of coins are around and eBay also(cautiously?).

    What's the deal with buying lots? Have they really been unchecked, or have some been plucked out? Right now, I'm hoping to get my first coin under €70 and to be honest I'm just searching for one that I like the look of.

    If anyone has useful tips or websites where I can get started I would really appreciate it, thanks!
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Welcome to the dark side. Have a look around V-Coins and see what you like.
  4. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    I highly recommend or
    You can find late roman bronzes for much less than 70 Euro. They are cheap and plentiful and a great place to start collecting Roman coins IMO.
  5. Pishpash

    Pishpash Supporter! Supporter

    No such thing as an unchecked lot.
  6. Evan Saltis

    Evan Saltis College Dorm Collector Supporter

    Vcoins and Ma-shops listed above are good places to check out.
    My first real purchases were chunky bronzes :shame: lots of nice reverses to collect
  7. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Basileus Megalos

    @John Anthony has a new auction of Constantine and Licinius bronzes.

    Not sure if the link is visible to you. I would suggest sending him a PM and getting on his list. Today's auction features Constantine bronzes at the low, low price of $25 to start out.

    I also like M-A shops and v-coins. You may also want to check out Frank Robinson's auction which ends tomorrow at 11 PM EST at - you can bid by email as is explained on his home page.

    Welcome to CoinTalk.
    Orfew, Inspector43 and furryfrog02 like this.
  8. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    Welcome to CT.
    ominus1 and Inspector43 like this.
  9. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    I think OP is in Europe which may prove to be somewhat costly for shipping. I could be wrong though.
  10. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    @EireWeish , welcome to CT!

    The website
    has a great deal of information about collecting ancient coins:

    The beginner's page has many links to other good websites and even a list of places to buy ancient coins on the web.
    DonnaML, Orfew, ominus1 and 3 others like this.
  11. Pishpash

    Pishpash Supporter! Supporter

    I will be selling my collection once I can get to my Post Office, preferrably to the UK.

    I am only selling due to health reasons. Once you have eough posts to message me, @EireWeish, I can send you some "junk" coins to whet your appetite
  12. Inspector43

    Inspector43 73 Year Collector Supporter

    Welcome to CT.
    Orfew and Curtis like this.
  13. Curtis

    Curtis Supporter! Supporter

    All the coins pictured here cost under $100, many of them MUCH less. Some beginners have larger budgets, of course, but most want to limit their commitment at first.

    Unsearched Lots:
    Don't buy anything from someone who advertises unchecked or unsearched lots. As far as retail purchases go, there's no such thing, and you don't want to support those advertising them.

    However, unattributed group lots are a thing and can be a great option for beginners. Not on eBay, but from a professional. They'll be a bit cheaper than single coins, you'll get some variety, and, most importantly, you'll get to have the practice of researching and identifying them yourself. Valuable experience!

    Mostly it'll be stuff the seller didn't think worth individually researching or listing (for some, that might mean $20-40 coins), or ugly/"problem" coins that don't look good enough to be shown in the catalog, all of which are still fine for a beginner. Sometimes there will be very nice group lots added to an auction or dealer inventory to drum up excitement.

    What other people are saying is good advice on where to buy online. VCoins and MA-Shops and, I would add, Forum Ancient Coins is very beginner friendly.

    Especially in the past year, it may no longer be practical to recommend beginners get firsthand, "IRL" experience before buying too much. But if you get the opportunity, there's no replacement for looking at and handling actual coins at shows and shops (ones with expertise in ancients, specifically, not just local shops with a few strays on hand)

    As a beginner, your best option is not to try to get lucky and find a rarity. I always recommend going for common issues that look impressive and/or have historical or numismatic significance, depending on what interests you about ancient coins. You may want to think about what attracts you to the hobby.

    Most beginners are into one or more of the following: (1) Artistic and impressive looking coins; (2) historically- or culturally-rich coins; or (3) coins of technical-numismatic importance, such as denominations, minting technology, etc.

    (1) Common but Impressive: If you want something that looks great but is affordable, you can often find the common silver Antoninianus (a 3rd-century denomination) issues of Gordian III or Philip I (or similar) in wonderful states of preservation for $60 or under.

    This one was a pretty good deal when I paid $25, 10 years ago, but usually they won't cost THAT much more now:

    CONSERVATORI-Philip I AR Antoninianus Wareham FELICITAS TEMP RIC 31.png There are also wonderful "silvered" (plated) and "Billon" (a silver-copper/base metal alloy) issues of Antoninianus that can be affordable. I think Aurelian and Probus (especially!) make very impressive coins for their price. Just make sure you pay attention to what the Antoninianus is made out of (the dealer should say, AE (bronze), billon/silvered, or AR (silver), though oftentimes AE and Billon are used interchangeably).

    This Aurelian was WELL under $100 (even after the 20% auction fees, wire transfer fees, and intl. shipping). Even at $30 or 40 you may find something you really enjoy:
    CONSERVATORI-Aurelian ORIENS AVG One Captive Draft 2.png

    For something even more impressive you can go with a 3rd cent Roman Provincial Billon Tetradrachm. Ones from Seleucis and Pieria, for example, can be surprisingly affordable.

    Or a Brass/AE Sestertius. Huge coins. Usually well-circulated but still very impressive. This one is from a group lot (NOT unchecked!) and is in better condition than most, but still not expensive:

    CONSERVATORI-Philip I AE Sestertius-Brightened.png

    (2) If history is what interests you, you can find affordable examples depicting famous emperors or related to important historical events.

    Constantine I "The Great" is a great example. He struck tons of coins. Many collectors find them boring but I'm fascinated by their variety. You can find attractive (to me!) examples of his bronze coins for $20 and up:
    CONSERVATORI-Constantine I Captives VIRTVS EXERCITI AE3.png

    Another popular choice is Marcus Aurelius, famous as the philosopher king (er, Emperor). His denarii are common and worn examples start at $20-30:
    Marcus Aurelius Armenia Denarius.png

    Or a coin with a historical story to tell? This coin depicts the Equus Traiani, an important equestrian statue that was once located in Trajan's Forum in Rome, but is now lost to history. Today, the coinage of Trajan provides the only surviving depictions of this famous and important monument (thankfully others have better photography skills than mine!):
    CONSERVATORI-Trajan's Equus Denarius #1 (Ex-Agora, HJB).png

    Perhaps you want coins representing your ethnic/religious heritage, or simply a place you've visited? If it's in Europe, W. Asia, or N. Africa, good chance the Romans went there to cause destruction and then commemorated it with coins. This kind of collecting theme can be bittersweet, of course, and less-than-joyful at all times.

    This coin depicts Parthian captives (geographically Persian, is most accurate, I believe) and celebrates Rome's (largely imagined) military successes against them. Similar designs exist for Judaea, Gaul, Dacia, Armenia, and many others (my post on the topic, a couple weeks back, linked). You can also find less-violent designs:

    CONSERVATORI-Caracalla AR Denarius PART MAX Captives Ex-JJFN pre-2013 (maybe Rudi Smits RCA).png

    (3) Numismatic, technical, and other specialized interests can also be done by a beginner, and on a beginner's budget. The important denominations above include the AR Denarius, valued at 4 X AE Sestertii. Both of them are popular collecting areas (e.g., start buying up interesting seeming examples of either denomination, and if something keeps your attention, start focusing there).

    The AR Antoninianus (originally valued at 2 X AR Denarii) is another popular collecting area, not only because it is impressive looking for its price, but for its numismatic history. Others can do a better job of explaining the figures and the timing, but the silver content of the Antoninianus dropped dramatically over it's history in the 3rd century, from its inception under Caracalla (AKA Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus; the coin was named after the...uh, fourth of his names) until about 293 and the currency reforms of Diocletian. By then the silver content was perhaps 2-3%, much of which wore away quickly since it was mostly in the surface plating or "silver wash."

    Of course, a single coin can be interesting for all of those reasons. And you don't have to have any particular well-thought out reason to go for a certain coin. That's just a way of processing it in your mind.

    Oh -- don't forget -- Republican and Provincial and Byzantine are cool too!
    For these ones, you have to click to enlarge the thumbnail, I felt I was running way too long!
    CONSERVATORI-Q Titius Republican Denarius.png CONSERVATORI-Severus Alexander Tetradrachm Captives 2nd Draft Light.png CONSERVATORI-Justinian I AE Follis RY 14.png

    EDIT: Lastly (for real this time!), I forgot to mention, even for a beginner it’s good to factor in a coin’s "pedigree." Oftentimes you can find ancient coins with great histories of ownership and past sales that will make it all the more rewarding to own (and give confidence in authenticity) -- even budget coins. The Justinian Follis thumbnailed above is Ex-Forum Ancient Coins, Ex-Ancient Medieval Coins Canada, and – very interestingly, Ex-TheRed Collection (the username of a CoinTalk member who had previously shared the coin here).

    From that same auction, here's a link to a budget group lot of 10 Roman coins ($3-4 ea, amazingly) for which the auctioneer advertised its pedigree in the title: "Late Roman Bronze group from the Doug Smith collection," Ancient & Medieval Coins Canada. (For the listing, and just the photo.)
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2021
  14. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    I like @Curtis answer. If I were to start, I would probably start with pretty common coins but in terrific condition. You will never tire of a coin, even if very common and later you have loads of them, if its in great condition. Plus, do not buy, even if it is "rare", dark dreck no one wants to look at. You are new, you will be excited and want to share your hobby with others for a while, buy "pretty" coins that are at least visually nice even if the person is not interested. Worst than a collector showing his hobby is a collector showing his hobby and the objects look horrible.

    Something tells me maybe @John Anthony might have something that might be of interest to you right now actually. Late Roman bronzes, if in very nice condition, are PERFECT places to start, as well as suggestions @Curtis and others gave you. Start slow, read a LOT, ask us questions. Its a steep learning curve, but we are sure you can do it! :)
  15. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Welcome to CT. :)
    Orfew likes this.
  16. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Supporter! Supporter

  17. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    you've come to the right place Eire...welcome and hope to see your collection start & grow!..
    i hope you are fairing well enough Ma'am...i am sorry to here this news...utmost respect! :)
    Pishpash, Ryro, furryfrog02 and 2 others like this.
  18. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    So sorry to hear your having problems. Hope all works out well and I'll remember you in my prayers.
  19. Inspector43

    Inspector43 73 Year Collector Supporter

    Very sorry to hear of your illness. Wish you the best.
  20. Johndakerftw

    Johndakerftw Mr. Rogers is My Hero

    I'm so sorry, Pishpash. I've missed you around here.

    Please take of yourself. I'll be thinking about you.

  21. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    Welcome @EireWeish . Just a question : why did nobody talk to you about the initiation session mandatory for all new members in the gang ? Here are some pictures of the 2019 edition. You will easily recognize some of our most active participants : @Bing , @Alegandron , @Ryro and @Roman Collector ...


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