Where to begin...

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Evan Saltis, May 24, 2019.

  1. Evan Saltis

    Evan Saltis Teen Collector

    I've really tried to begin collecting ancient coins. However, I'd kind of like to test the waters before I blow a large amount of cash...

    Where do I begin? Do any of you have recommendations on what I should buy first in a lower price range? Just to see if it piques my interest?
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  3. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Are you collecting from a historical perspective? If so, what era(s) are you interested in?
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  4. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

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  5. Evan Saltis

    Evan Saltis Teen Collector

    I think I have an interest in Roman coins. Maybe some Gaulois coins too... Unsure though. I just hope having one in my collection spurs me on a bit.
  6. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Roma Invicta

    It's inexpensive and fun to start with late roman bronze coins (LRBs). Coins of Constantine and his family can be had for $15-25 in good condition.
  7. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    What is your definition of “lower price range”? That could mean a lot of things.
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  8. Evan Saltis

    Evan Saltis Teen Collector

    Maybe 15-50 dollars for myself.
  9. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    Search vcoins and organize you search by “lowest first”—you’ll find plenty there in that price range and just grab whatever catches your eye.
  10. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    If you search "ancient coin lot" on ebay you can find a few dozen auctions ending literally every hour, 24x7x365. Probably 90% of them are garbage, but if you can clearly see both sides of every coin in the lot, you can usually win them for a tiny fraction of the price of a single coin. You really can't beat an unidentified lot to get your hands dirty. Steer clear of silver and any seller located in Cyprus, China or Bulgaria, and you are very unlikely to get burned by a fake.

    I would however recommend a single nicer coin as your first. Coins of the Constantine dynasty are plentiful and affordable, even for top grade coins. Expect this kind of quality for about $20-30
    Constantius II as Caesar
    "Camp Gate"
    Constantius ii caesar campgate.jpg

    Also of less historical interest to a newbie are coins of the various "barracks emperors" of the Crisis, 238 - 285. Gordian III is frequently the most commonly recommended, as his double-denarii (antoninianii) are available in mint state for $30-50
    Gordian III Ant Sol Aeternitati.jpg

    Later coins are debased to the point of being bronze. They are commonly available for a dollar or two, but pristine examples fetch a LOT more.

    Here's a ~$5-10 Probus
    Probus Pax Avg.jpg
    Here's a ~$50 Probus
    Probus antoninianus adventvs avg.jpg

    Severan dynasty coins are also quite common and affordable. Here's a ~$50 Caracalla in nearly mint state with a typical worn reverse die
    Caracalla denarius asclepius.jpg
    I would steer clear of Greek or early Roman until you are a little more comfortable with ancients.

    Also, don't forget that Rome and Greece weren't the only classical cultures!

    A favorite of mine, the Western Satraps (Kshatrapas) of India, who were powerful trade intermediaries with Rome. Their silver drachms are usually in good shape, and I have never once seen one sell for more than $35 on ebay, even for the most choice specimen. This one was about $17
    Rudrasena III
    Western satraps rudrasena iii.jpg
  11. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper Supporter

    @Evan Saltis You begin right here...in Marc Breitsprecher's website. Ask anyone here and they'll tell you he is a trustworthy dealer, very knowledgeable, and doesn't overprice his coins. If you want budget (under $35) Marc is your man.

    I have no connection to him except as an occasional customer (probably bought 7 or 8 coins from him over the years).

    Greek coins under $35

    Roman Republic coins under $35

    Roman Imperial coins under $35

    Late Roman bronzes under $35

    Byzantine coins under $35

    Celtic and Imitative coins under $35

    Eastern coins under $35

    Other coins under $35

    Trish, philologus_1, Volodya and 5 others like this.
  12. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    I agree, Marc's store is an excellent place to shop, as is Forvm Ancient Coins. In the Vcoins shopping mall you can search by price point dozens of dealer's inventory. A few of them post here as well. Plenty of cheap ancient coins on all these sites.

    Let your imagination run wild!
  13. Plumbata

    Plumbata Well-Known Member

    So are you a collector in France? If so, I might recommend looking into the Greek coinage of Massalia (Marseille), founded as a trading port by Phocaean Greeks around 600BC. Their silver obols and tetrobols are relatively affordable and there exists a variety of coinage from the city plus Celtic imitative coins that may be rewarding to collect, especially if you are French.
  14. Evan Saltis

    Evan Saltis Teen Collector

    I'm actually not French, just I have French lineage. Just something other than the Greek and Roman empires everyone has heard of. I never learned of the Gaulois in school, just in my own history loving free time.

    I'm a young collector. I'm looking to find something to drag some buddies of mine into the hobby with me.

    We are all better as teams...
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  15. Evan Saltis

    Evan Saltis Teen Collector

    All of you left great advice. Thank you to each one of you.
  16. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    If I may offer some advice. If you acquire a coin try to make it one of a person who is very well known and written about in history. Then read a book about that person. Your coin will become much more important to you when you realize that you may be holding a coin that was actually handled by a person in your book. Even if not that, remember that your coin is the tangible, physical link to the time period and person you are reading about. Constantine, as suggested above, would be a good Roman figure to both collect and read about. His coins are common and he is famous. Don't go for rare personages, like, say the emperors Pertinax or Nerva. Their coins are not cheap, even in wretched condition and there's little to read about them. Also get a good book on ancient coins. I suggest David Sears books. His earlier editions are priced pretty cheaply on the used book market. Above all, make sure to read this forum every day. You will learn more here than anywhere else. When you have saved up a few bucks go to a coin show with ancients dealers in attendance. If you go to one and none is there ask every dealer there if he has any ancients in his surprise junk box. Don't spend too much there but then come home and try to figure out what you bought and where it will fit into your collection. Good luck and be sure to show us what Fortuna and the Fates bring your way. PS I started collecting when I was in 9th grade, age 14 in 1957. I still have my first coin, an 1865 US three cent piece and the 1957 Yeoman Blue Book on coin values. I credit my hobby with giving me an insight into economics and finances that few other of my fellow teachers ever had.
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
  17. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

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  18. Oldhoopster

    Oldhoopster It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    You may also want to take a look at Wayne Sayles' 6 volume set on Ancient Coin Collecting. They are short reads, and I've seen them in libraries. You may not be interested in all of them but I think the they were originally <$25 each when the were first published. They may help narrow down a topic or time period
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  19. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Supporter! Supporter

    Before you seriously get into Antoniniani or LBRs, you should give yourself a treat and buy one evenly worn Sestertius of Trajan or Hadrian for around 50 USD (I prefer those with a yellowish tone as they are closest to their ancient appearence). Once you feel that big (33-35 mm) and heavy (ca.25 gr) coin in your hand and enjoy the eye appeal of the classic portraiture and detailled reverse designs, you might not want to collect any other denomination.
  20. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    I like this advice best, personally.
  21. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper Supporter

    If you or your friends are lusting after ancient silver, vcoins will be littered with tons of Gordian III antoniniani in fantastic condition for $40 to $60. You won't find nicer looking Roman silver at such low prices from any other Roman emperor. There's a reason why people call Gordian III coinage, roaches. They are everywhere, in great condition, at great prices. Here's an example of one on sale on vcoins right now for $50

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