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Choosing One Ancient Coin?

 
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New Member

United States
6 Posts
 Posted 03/15/2019  6:52 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add Andy Herkimer to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Long time member here, don't post much but read a lot! I have way too many coins lol, my favorite is Jefferson nickels and I have the full set in dansco albums. Including an extra page with all the proofs from 38 and variety's. I also have full sets of most moderns plus Morgan's, Peace, silver eagles, Canadian maples, British Britannia etc. Plus I also collect variety's and errors, even the odd Daniel Carr token.

So my interests are many and varied. I am leaning towards thinning the sets out. I am finding that as my collecting progresses, I prefer single coins rather than complete sets in most cases. I have picked up a couple of nice graded British toned maundy coins. So currently I am thinning things out and will be working more on type sets.

I have always been very curious about ancient Roman coins and want to buy one. I want one graded coin, well struck and with good eye appeal for $500 or less.

Given these constraints, what would you recomend?
Pillar of the Community
United Kingdom
4091 Posts
 Posted 03/15/2019  7:09 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ben to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
$500?! That could get you something spectacular. We can definitely help you make a decision, but the range of ancient coins is huge, so it's worth thinking about what sort of area interests you. I would also advise against aiming for graded coins - the great benefit of ancient coins is that you can handle them. It might also be hard to find a graded example of whatever type you choose as it is such a rare thing to do with ancients - this has a lot to do with limitations on grading (e.g. a perfect strike but significantly off center might not be as pleasing as a worn example with the whole design on the flan).

So lets try to narrow the field a bit: are you set on roman coins? If so, are you interested in Republic or Empire, or perhaps a certain ruler?
New Member
United States
6 Posts
 Posted 03/15/2019  7:17 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Andy Herkimer to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Ben, Roman for sure and silver. Main reason I say graded is because of my inexperience and there are some very deceptive fakes these days. Looking for a good coin with character and eye appeal. I am used to high grade ms and proof examples, but I do see that ancients are much different.

I know normally the advice would be to study the coins first, much as I have done with jeffersons over the years. However I am looking only for one good example
Bedrock of the Community
Australia
14959 Posts
 Posted 03/15/2019  7:39 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
For $50: A Roman silver antoninianus of Gordian 111.
For $500: A Roman gold solidus of the late Roman Empire.
For $2000: How about my avatar? - A gold stater of Philip 11 (father of Alexander 111 the Great) of Macedon. An example can be had for around $2000 in VF.

Google VCOINS - all of the above can be found here, and you will get a good idea of current market prices.
Pillar of the Community
United Kingdom
4091 Posts
 Posted 03/15/2019  8:12 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ben to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
We can generally help you avoid the fakes. With your budget, you can afford to buy from a respected dealer which will not just assure you that the coin is real, but it will also assure others that it is real if you need to sell up in the future.

Roman silver comes in many forms. The earliest coins are decidedly graecian in style and in good grade fall outside your budget, as do the earliest romanising coins. However, the republic produced many very inventive coin types and these can be had in mint state for such money. Heres a run down of typical republican denarii:

This sold for $45:


This sold for $480:


$85:


$140:


$95:


As you can see, there are quite a variety of designs for the republic and quite a variety of prices. Take a look through a google image search for 'roman republic denarius'.

Augustus transformed the Republic into the empire and coinage styles would, from then on, display the likeness of the emperor (very few had been bold enough to put their face on the money in republican times). The height of artistry is the early empire, but interesting silver types are issued until the fall of the western empire. Best way to see these is to look at individual emperors (I recommend the website Wildwinds.com).

Heres a $120 of Philip I which celebrates the 1000th year of Rome:


This smiley fellow is Postumus, a usurper in Gaul in the late 3rd century whose coins are readily available in high grade for low prices, but getting it from a dealer will set you back more. This one is $100, which is probably 4-5x its actual value:


Or perhaps another layer of usurpers down - this coin was issued by Aureolus in the name of Postumus to try to convince him to come help fight the roman army which was besieging Aureolus in Milan after he revolted. $90:


And here's an earlier coin of the Emperor Domitian, listed for $225:


Later in the empire, the coins get much thinner and the artistry goes to pot. Heres an (overpriced) siliqua for $250:


There is also the possibility of getting graecian silver from the roman provinces - these can be larger and more impressive but are also typically more expensive. Here's a $450 Cistophorus (25mm, 10g or so):



Or a later empire tetradrachm from Antioch:



Heres a tetradrachm from Macedonia under Roman rule, $475:



Exactly $500, a tetradrachm of Trajan with Hercules on the back:



That's enough random coins for one post I'm sure - my point is, Roman silver is very varied! The character of Rome was also subject to a lot of change over the years. If you do a bit of cursory reading to get the gist of Roman history, you might find a period that sticks out to you or an emperor you find particularly interesting. Perhaps you'll spot an interesting coin type while reading too.
Pillar of the Community
Canada
1149 Posts
 Posted 03/15/2019  8:54 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add orfew to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Here is some Roman silver. I cheated a bit. There are 2 bronze coins included. The most expensive coin was a Caligula denarius at 1250.00. Most of the rest can be had for far less than 500.00 each.

In the stickies section there is a link to reliable dealers. I have used many of those listed. The best defence against a fake is not a slab it is a good dealer who offers a lifetime guarantee of authenticity.












"Cave ab homine unius libri"
New Member
United States
6 Posts
 Posted 03/15/2019  8:55 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Andy Herkimer to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The second coin and the third from last appeal to me more than the others. The second one appeals to me more for some reason. I see lots of nice Roman coins on eBay too. I guess what I am asking is what would you choose if you could only pick one? Or perhaps what is the most significant or "typical" coin for the price point?

Kind of like Lincoln's have the 1955 doubled die and the 1909 s vdb, coins with a story. Or a CC Morgan dollar.so not necessarily a key, just more significant than others. I do prefer good detail and a good strike.

I think you are right, I need to read a bit more lol.
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United States
4190 Posts
 Posted 03/16/2019  12:14 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add pepactonius to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I don't have many ancients, but the first one I got was a Roman denarius. I have a few now, and my favorite would be a Roman Republic denarius with a quadriga reverse.

I prefer slabbed ancients. Even though NGC won't guarantee their authenticity, they supposedly make an honest attempt to weed out fakes.

Pillar of the Community
United Kingdom
4091 Posts
 Posted 03/16/2019  06:38 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ben to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Personally, I wouldn't go for silver, I'd go for a really nice sestertius - they are big and demonstrate the best of roman art. Buying on eBay is much cheaper too - with patience (and my significantly-lower-than-$500-budget), the silver I go for tends to be Postumus and I try not to go over 10-15 for a crisp bust. For 500 on eBay, you could get just about anything if you are patient.

For $250 (way overpriced, but you pay for the peace of mind that comes from buying from dealers), you could get this big crisp Severus Alexander Sestertius:


$100 for this sestertius of Hadrian:


I think the most 'typical' coins aren't necessarily representative of roman coinage, but rather of a well known part of history. A popular ruler is Julius Caesar, but a good portrait denarius from a trustworthy source will set you back more than $500. Heres what $300 would get you - Julius Caesar and Marc Antony:



$420 for -the- typical Caesar denarius, with a war elephant:


The most 'typical' republican coin shows a quadriga driving right. Issued in large numbers and for a long time, so they are available in good condition, such as this for $200:


Or more typical, with helmeted Roma on one side, $385:



But if I had to choose a single type to get, I'd probably look for an 'angry' tetradrachm of Caracalla, like this $450 example from Vcoins:



This one sold for $360:



Or this one, which was only $90:


Pillar of the Community
United States
2950 Posts
 Posted 03/16/2019  09:16 am  Show Profile   Check FVRIVS RVFVS's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add FVRIVS RVFVS to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
If you want one coin and only one coin and in silver .......
I think you should consider a superb Alexander III tetradrachm
They are plentiful and common types can be had in XF condition for $500 or less
This might satisfy your appetite for someone with name recognition
Caesar or Brutus can break the bank in XF !
The Great Alex won't
But be forewarned !
You are asking for trouble ........
I'll bet you a silver denarius that within a year you will finding yourself
selling off your graded proof sets and your "stinking" silver dollars to buy more ancients
As of yet there is no known cure
IN GOD WE TRVST ....... all others pay cash !

COGITO ERGO SPVD
I think ...... therefore I yam
Pillar of the Community
United Kingdom
4091 Posts
 Posted 03/16/2019  10:00 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ben to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Alexander III tets are a good idea - I got this one for $200 (36mm), priciest coin I own:




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United States
1717 Posts
 Posted 03/16/2019  12:20 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I got this one for $200 (36mm), priciest coin I own


A paragon of restraint! I wish I were more disciplined.
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United States
5434 Posts
 Posted 03/16/2019  2:22 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I'll also agree that an Alexander the Great tet is the best intersection between size, beauty, and "wow" factor if you are interested in only one (for now!)

Ensure you do some research, because the type was minted for more than a century after his death! The posthumous issues have their appeal, but coins made while he was still breathing are much more special, IMO.

Mine was about $600 after fees and shipping, and is one of the most prized coins in my collection




But be warned! I ventured here, telling myself "I just want a few ancients" and before I knew it...


New Sale! Inexpensive classic Greek silver, over 2,400 years old!

http://goccf.com/t/323297
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United States
5434 Posts
 Posted 03/16/2019  3:17 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
As an afterthought, reading back over your post, I think you might get more enjoyment out of building a relatively simple set. A popular and super-easy set would be to complete the entire dynasty of Constantine, which can easily be done in top grade for well under $500:

Constantine the Great
- His wife Fausta
- His mother Helena

His father Constantius I Chlorus
- His wife Theodora

Constantine's boys:
- Crispus
- Constantine II
- Constantius II
- Constans

Cousins of Constantine's boys:
- Dalmatius
- Hanniballianus (somewhat scarce; many skip him)
- Nepotian (Excessively rare, $1,000+ in any grade)
- Constantius Gallus
- Julian II "The Apostate"
- Procopius (Scarce, related to Julian, but not the rest)

Constantine's city commemoratives:
- VRBS ROMA
- CONSTANTINOPOLIS

For comparison, this is my Crispus that I bought on ebay from a reputable dealer for $30


Barring Nepotian, Procopius and Hanniballianus, you can get all of the above rulers and their ladies in comparable condition for $50 or less each, provided you are patient enough. For added challenge, you can also collect by mints, reverse types, or by the titles that they held; e.g. as junior Caesar, senior Augustus, and posthumous, as applicable. It's a fun challenge and they will all fit on a single binder page when you're done.

Additionally, you can also get denarii of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty in high grade for $100 or less, and the whole project shouldn't cost much above $500 for just the emperors:
- Nerva
- Trajan
- Hadrian
- Antoninus Pius
- Lucius Verus
- Marcus Aurelius
- Commodus
New Sale! Inexpensive classic Greek silver, over 2,400 years old!

http://goccf.com/t/323297
Edited by Finn235
03/16/2019 3:45 pm
New Member
United States
6 Posts
 Posted 03/16/2019  3:30 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Andy Herkimer to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Finn, I am adamant I don't want more than one lol. I have so many coins and sets that I no longer have room. I realized some time ago that I don't even know what I have anymore lol. I would be going through updating current yearly sets and find coins that I didn't remember buying.

I set out very much wanting completeness but I can no longer appreciate the coins I have because I just have too many. Going through them all takes forever even in Dansco's lol.

So I started thinking about keeping some sets and building a U.S. type set which I am going to do next. I have been kind of building a type set already without knowing it. It does seem that I need to look at a bunch and read some more first. I don't know very much about Rome or Roman coins at all.
Bedrock of the Community
Australia
14959 Posts
 Posted 03/16/2019  5:53 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
A.H. : You are in a good numismatic 'place' now.
You have exactly the right attitude to be able to give yourself an excellent introduction to the subject of Roman coins.
Why?
Because you have said the that you need to do a bunch (I like the American incorrectness of that word ! ) first.

When I bought my first Roman coin, (a denarius of Antoninus Pius, with Annona & corn Ears reverse), I had no idea of what it was, and so decided to do some reading to find out. I went to a public library, and found a copy of
Mattingly's Roman Coins, which proved to be an excellent introduction to the subject. On and off, I continued to reading for the the next two years on the subject of Roman coins, using the denarius as my inspiration.

50 years later, I have a general collection of about 300 ancient coins that would be over 1,000 years old.
Parallel to that, my collection of American coins, also numbers around 300, includes some nice commemoratives, some early silver, and three gold coins - a sort of incomplete American type set.

I guess that makes me a 'generalist', not a specialist.
That is why I will always find the CCF such an important source of information. You NEVER stop learning.
Edited by sel_69l
03/16/2019 10:05 pm
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