My Top 7 coins for 2020

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Only a Poor Old Man, Nov 26, 2020.


Which ones you like? (Choose up to 3)

  1. Rhodes Didrachm

    11 vote(s)
  2. Christ/Virgin Mary Follis

    5 vote(s)
  3. Cup-shaped gold Histamenon

    10 vote(s)
  4. Taras owl drachm

    21 vote(s)
  5. Athens Tetradrachm

    13 vote(s)
  6. Gold Heraclius Solidus

    12 vote(s)
  7. Metapontion Barley Nomos

    24 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Only a Poor Old Man

    Only a Poor Old Man Well-Known Member

    I only started collecting coins in February of this year, so this will be my very first 'top coins of the year' thread. As it is my first year, I don't feel confident enough to post a top 10, so I am afraid it will be only a biblical top 7. I bought a total of 22 coins this year, so I don't have a massive pool of coins to choose from anyway. For some people 22 coins within a year may be a drop in the ocean, for others it could be too many. So looking back, do I have any regrets? I would say not really, even though I must admit I spent too much on this new hobby, whereas I should probably have tried to save some cash during these difficult times. I have realized that without Coronavirus I would certainly have bought a lot less. This new interest in ancient coins and ancient history kept me sane during the lockdowns, so I got something out of it on a mental level at least. I used to like fine dining and going out a lot, but I haven't been to a restaurant since early last March. So in a way if you think about it, I did save a lot, it is just that my new savings haven't been in circulation for quite a while...

    From early on, my areas of interest have been ancient Greece and Byzantium. My plans for 2021 is to stick to those, but I will mainly focus on Byzantium with the occasional higher-end Greek coin depending on fund availability and if the right coin comes along. I find that I am not willing to make any compromises about style and condition in the Greek coins I desire, but this is simply not sustainable financially, so I will quench my coin thirst with affordable Byzantines while chasing my Greek holy grails. I think I did fairly well in my first year of collecting despite the spending excesses. I don't think I made any bad purchases and I love all my coins with only a couple that I feel that could use an upgrade. I chose this top 7 based mostly on the artistic value of the coins. Rare coins or coins attached to historical events are fine, but nothing beats a nice artistic design. Everything else is a bonus.

    Number 7 - A didrachm from the Greek island of Rhodes

    Facing portraits on coins can be very impressive when done properly. They are also quite characteristic and a fine example of the artistic heights reached by those ancient Greek engravers. Many cities issued coins with such designs, especially the Greek colonies of Italy. In the old Greek mainland, it was usually Larisa and Rhodes. The Rhodes didrachms are plentiful and more affordable. I love this particular coin for its bold and well proportioned face which is actually in very high relief. Also, the rose on the reverse is unusually bold and in high relief too, making this a very beautiful coin that looks way better in hand than in this photo.


    Number 6 - A Byzantine copper with both Christ and Virgin Mary.

    When it comes to Christian symbols and imagery, you can't go wrong with Byzantine coins. This one has both Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. A nice and big coin, I particularly love it as it is a perfect example of how a beautiful patina can enhance the details of a coin. It is so attractive and yet so different from Greek silvers.


    Number 5 - A gold coin from dire times

    This coin has many things going for it. It is gold, it is cup-shaped, and it is debased. Plenty of things to study about it and a very interesting historical background. And unusually for the type, the art is excellent and in good condition. There is only one disadvantage with those odd-shaped coins, and that is that they are a pain to display and store!


    Number 4 - A fine example of Greek art

    The coins of Greek Italy and Sicily are arguably the most beautiful and artistic of ancient coinage. Unfortunately they usually come with a hefty price tag and they are hard to come by. This drachm is a small coin, but the art is as fine as anything you coud find on a big tetradrachm. And of course you cannot ignore the unusual and majestic portrayal of a classical owl, that would be normally associated with Athens and not a Spartan colony as in this case!


    Number 3 - The coin everyone should have

    This is the ancient coin that many non-collectors might have heard of. You can find it on t-shirts and many other modern design depictions. It also has a significant historical significance as it is associated with the golden century of Athens. It is also the only coin that I know for sure that I spent too much on. It was my second only coin and I literally walked into a brick and mortar shop to buy it. I had no idea at that point that I would become a dedicated ancients collector. With the experience I have now, I know I could find this coin for a few hundred pounds less, but I have no regrets, it is a beautiful coin that was chosen out of a tray of 5-6 other owls. It will always be very special to me.


    Number 2 - A perfect specimen of Byzantine gold

    Byzantine coins normally come with a bit of a reputation. They are regarded as an acquired taste, and not to everyone's liking due to their art style. This is not true though for gold coins minted during trouble-free times. Quite often, as in this case, the style and the detail are excellent. No wonder they were regarded as the dollar of their age and used in worldwide commerce. They have been found even in China. And the most amazing thing is that they cost only a fraction of what many Roman gold coins go for.


    Number 1 - My favorite for the year

    This is very similar to the top 4 coin in my list. Once again, a smaller coin from a Greek colony in Italy that is full of artistic excellence. I just love this portrait. The hair is amazing, very unkempt and yet so elegant. What more can I say? I also love the barley ear on the reverse which is very prominent and in very high relief.


    Which ones are your favorite? Please vote for them in the poll, and let me know why you chose them :happy:
    pprp, NLL, 1934 Wreath Crown and 39 others like this.
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  3. jb_depew

    jb_depew Well-Known Member

    I'd call it a very successful first year - those are all great examples!
  4. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    Wow! Nice selection:D I would have a hard time, however I love the Calabria/ Tarentum AR Drachm/ esp. the owl design. You did very well in 2020! Congrats.
    Only a Poor Old Man likes this.
  5. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    Some beauties there. My favourite is the charming Histamenon, but I could have picked any of them.
    Only a Poor Old Man likes this.
  6. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Such great selections. I like them all, from #1 to #7. :)
    Only a Poor Old Man likes this.
  7. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    Great haul for your first year, congratulations! And I can understand why your no. 1 is your no. 1 :)

    Please do! You have enough material, which of the other coins would you have added to the list?
    Only a Poor Old Man likes this.
  8. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Great examples of each, your two Greek Italy are my favorites, they don't come much better than that. Congrats.
    Only a Poor Old Man likes this.
  9. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    All are nice, but I have an affinity for coins from Calabria and Lucania, so I would place those in my top two. Congrats.
    Only a Poor Old Man likes this.
  10. 7Calbrey

    7Calbrey Well-Known Member

    They're all superb. I chose the didrachm (7) because it's the most eye- appealing to me. By the way, I noticed that the Byzantine Histamenon (5) is made of Electrum and no gold, which makes it more interesting and rare indeed. Electrum was a natural alloy of gold and silver. The first Greek coins and others in History were made of Electrum. Electrum is written just under your photo number 5. I do express my most impressive congratulations for this attractive collection.
    Only a Poor Old Man likes this.
  11. svessien

    svessien Senior Member Supporter

    I think you’ve had a really great first year as a collector. It’s understandable that the wallet takes a hit:)
    Only a Poor Old Man likes this.
  12. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Wonderful coins! Nos. 1, 4 and 7 are definitely my favorites. They're gorgeous.
    Only a Poor Old Man likes this.
  13. Chris B

    Chris B Supporter! Supporter

    I picked 2 & 4 as my favorites. Haven't seen that owl before and just really find the design appealing on number 2.
    Only a Poor Old Man likes this.
  14. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

    Great coins, my favorites are 1, 3 and 7.
    Only a Poor Old Man likes this.
  15. Only a Poor Old Man

    Only a Poor Old Man Well-Known Member

    Well, some didn't make the cut either because I have already posted them too often, or because I don't have good pics of them. If I were to complete a top 10, I would have also included the following 3:




    Actually, come to think of it maybe I shouldn't have described it as 'Electrum' as you are right to mention that the term usually indicates that the mix of gold and silver was natural. In the case of my histamenon it was simply the case that the emperor wanted to save some money by debasing the coin.

    Thank you very much! Nice to see you again. It has been a while since I saw you last in CoinTalk. Did you take a break from collecting recently?
  16. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Only a Poor Old Man likes this.
  17. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    The Tarentum is my favorite, along with the Metapontion. All great choices for a first year, though. I'm looking forward to your second!
    Only a Poor Old Man likes this.
  18. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    P.O.M. Nice variety in your acquisitions, leaning on the Greek side :D. My favorite is #1, the Lucanian nomos. A very gifted engraver cut the obverse die of this coin :happy:! My 2nd pick would be #5, the Byzantine electrum His. Nomisma, despite the light graffiti on the reverse. This coin is well struck for a scyphate & has great eye appeal :cool:. My 3rd favorite would be the tiny hemidrachm. This coin has exquisite artwork on both sides, especially on the Gorgon side.
    Only a Poor Old Man likes this.
  19. Only a Poor Old Man

    Only a Poor Old Man Well-Known Member

    I really love my little gorgon, I am starting to regret that I didn't include her in the original 7. I believe that I have one of the finer examples of that particular type. Being such a small coin, I found it really hard to capture the details in all their glory.

    That is the best I could do:

    IMG_20201125_120608 (3).jpg

    As you can see she is sporting a fine row of teeth :bucktooth:
    Isn't she a darling? :snaphappy:
    zumbly, Alegandron and Bing like this.
  20. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    I voted for the owls and the barley nomos, would have included the gorgon in the top 3.
    Congratulations, @Only a RICH old man
    Only a Poor Old Man likes this.
  21. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    P.O.M. Thanks for the enlargement of this little gem :happy:. This coin has so much character, I chuckle every time I see it.
    Only a Poor Old Man likes this.
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