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Why To Collect Ancient And Medieval Coins?

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United States
182 Posts
 Posted 08/28/2016  8:43 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add turtlefoot to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
This is a question that I keep asking myself.

I don't know if it is their age, history or ? The age is definitely part of it, I am sure, but that is not all. The idea of holding something that was used hundreds or thousands of years ago is amazing to me, but yet I sold the ancient oil lamps that I used to have.

I am not a real student of ancient or medieval history. My true historical passion is the North American Fur Trade Era, but yet I am selling the coins in my collection from that period to make it possible to purchase more ancients.

I do not know much about mythology, but yet one of my favorite coins features a Centaur on the reverse.

I don't know what it is, but I see one that is appealing to me and it almost attaches itself to my mind and heart. It then grows and grows until I am able to pick up the coin.

What drives you in your collection?
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United States
23406 Posts
 Posted 08/28/2016  9:56 pm  Show Profile   Check echizento's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add echizento to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
For me it's the history, to hold a coin that was around when civilization as we know it today was being molded. To see how languages have progressed from Ancient Greek and Latin to what we speak now. To hold a coin that was around when Jesus, Buddha, Augustus, and other great men walked the earth making the history that they made. This is what thrills me and makes me collect ancient coins.
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 Posted 08/28/2016  10:03 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Bob L to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
First and foremost for me is one you mentioned, Doug: the history imbued in these little metal disks. The fact that people handled them two millennia's a tangible way to experience history and to feel a connection to fellow human beings from so long ago.

Beyond that:

Next for me (especially as an artist, art instructor, and former art history prof): the artistry of the coins, including the ebb and flow of aesthetic quality over time in particular series. Tracking - and collecting - stylistic changes is fascinating.

The fact that no two ancients - even when produced from the same dies - are exactly alike. Coins in OUR collections are unique. (Take that, modern collectors!)

The intellectual challenge, especially with regard to discovering things about a coin's historical context and manufacture: learning about rulers, kingdoms, trade, minting practices, etc.

The fact that there are gaps in research pertaining to certain series, or at least areas that are not definitively explained, particularly with regard to iconography or symbols. (Is that really a serpent the elephant is trampling on Caesar's denarius? Is that actually a showbread table between the columns of the temple on the Bar Kochba sela?) Mysteries abound with ancients - especially, it seems to me, with some of the Eastern series. While some might find that off-putting, I find it appealing. As an aside: I recently uploaded a short article about coins from Elymais, a particularly mysterious collecting area:

Related to the above: the fact that, even as amateur collectors, we have the opportunity to contribute to the body of research. (I greatly look forward to reading TypeCoin971793's first book someday!) And, of course, we get to regularly offer up our interpretations on various aspects of these coins, interpretations which - in forums like this - are often warmly received, whether agreed with or not.

This one is of course not exclusive to ancients: The challenge and associated rewards of locating and obtaining coins to fill in collection gaps. I especially love the hunt for rarities, even though it is - more often than not - a lesson in frustration.

I also like the "outsider" vibe as an ancients collector. I sometimes look at the traffic on some of the other boards here at CCF and feel like this is the dark little corner of the site. But I like that. We're the rebels!
Edited by Bob L
08/28/2016 10:06 pm
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 Posted 08/28/2016  11:50 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It's a common theme among *almost* every Eurasian civilization from antiquity to the present day. They are a good investment that has been in demand with little fluctuation for the past thousand years, and they can easily be stored and catalogued in a way that doesn't take up an entire room. And with ancients much more so than with moderns, there always seems to be a "wow, this isn't anything like anything I have seen before" moment just often enough to draw you further in.

The tangibility aspect is also big. I will never have the means to own an ancient bust of anyone worth habing a marble bust of. For the price of an extra rent payment, you can have a couple dozen from-life portraits in the form of Roman coins. One of my favorite things is also to hold a coin that bears writing in a language that has been extinct for hundreds or thousands of years. And especially on Eastern and barbarous coins, I like seeing what Latin looked like to someone who was never taught to read or write that language, if they were literate at all.
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 Posted 08/29/2016  03:10 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add DavidUK to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The main focus of my collection is Greek Silver coinage. I like all the history etc but I guess the aesthetics must be part of the reason for my choice. The designs of Greek coins seem a tier above everyone elses... the thick planchets with heavy relief depictions of Pegasus, Zeus, Heracles, Corinthian Helmets and various animals etc just strike a chord with me.

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 Posted 08/29/2016  04:52 am  Show Profile   Check giedrius's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add giedrius to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I'm proud to be Lithuanian, I know rich Lithuanian history, love my country and want to know more about the life here in medieval times so this is the answer, why I collect medieval Lithuanian coins.
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Catalogue of Lithuanian half-groats 1495-1529
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 Posted 08/29/2016  09:14 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jskirwin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
We are the latest link in a chain of humanity that stretches back millennia. The latest - but not the last.
These coins are tangible connections to those prior generations, broadening the perception of what it means to be human.

Plus they're really cool.
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South Africa
331 Posts
 Posted 08/29/2016  09:23 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add teslacoil to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
And I am starting my medieval collection!
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 Posted 08/29/2016  6:06 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
For me, one of the main fascinations with collecting mediaeval and ancient coins is that coins, unlike most other ancient artifacts such as the oil lamps mentioned in the OP, are still used today in much the same way as they were used a couple of thousand years ago when they were first invented: you use them as money to buy things.

Take someone from ancient Athens, or Rome, or mediaeval London, or even Tang Dynasty China, and transport them through time to a modern Western society of today. Much of what they would see would be alien and strange to them (cars, aircraft, electricity etc). Yet, if you gave them some modern coins, not only would they be able to correctly guess at what they were, but they would also know roughly how to use them.

So in that sense, coins directly link us to the past, in ways that many other relics cannot.
Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise, you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. - C. S. Lewis
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 Posted 08/29/2016  7:00 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add TypeCoin971793 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I like being able to tell stories about my coins, and ancient coins fit better with the big-picture stories of history than most modern coinages do. Plus, it is more of a niche market (especially series like ancient Chinese or Indian), making the prices far less expensive than their US counterparts when factoring in rarity and historical significance. Also, with the exception of the super-rarities, there are almost no investors within ancient numismatics, so prices remain relatively low and reasonable.

So, if you can tell me how an AG-03 1916 D Mercury dime is more beautiful than an Alexander the Great tetradrachm, or how a G-04 1795 draped bust dollar is rarer and more historically significant than the first coin cast under Genghis Khan right after his conquest of China, then I will be tempted to go back to collecting sets of US coins. (Just so you know, the values of the coins in each comparison are roughly the same, so there is no value bias.)

By taking this approach, more people are inclined to understand and be interested in what I collect because I don't fit the stereotype of the coin collector who just fills holes. Also these historical coins are tangible artifacts to the history they may have learned in school or through their own research.
Edited by TypeCoin971793
08/29/2016 7:03 pm
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 Posted 08/29/2016  7:06 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add TypeCoin971793 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

I greatly look forward to reading TypeCoin971793's first book someday!

We'll see. It will be a few years before I am in the position to take on such an undertaking.

Thanks for the shoutout!
Edited by TypeCoin971793
08/29/2016 7:06 pm
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