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WTB: Old coins. I'm new to the ancient realm. Would like Rome/Greece maybe?

Again, I don't know much about foreign (outside of US/Canada) coins. I'd like to get some old stuff for cheap. I took Latin for 4 years in HS (20 years ago), so I am fond of the Roman/Greek empires. Did they have silver, or what was the main material used back then?

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Comments

  • Hi, For the past several months I've been learning about these coins myself.

    Two books that were a great help at the beginning were Harlan Berk's "100 Greatest Ancient Coins" and "Ancient Coin Collecting 2nd edition" by Wayne Sayles.

    The book on the "100 Greatest" shows you the coins that are most beautiful. At the back of the book the prices are listed. I suspect most of us will never own any of these, but the photos give a glimpse of ancient coins at their best.

    I found the book by Sayles extremely helpful in that he lists different types of ancient coins. There is a great deal of material on both Roman and Greek coins so this might be helpful in deciding upon the two. Other areas of ancient coin collecting are listed and you may become interested in these. There are excellent chapters on numismatic literature as well as identifying and attributing these coins, and some great illustrations of major themes as well. Although my book has a 2002 copyright, it seems to me most of the material is relevant. (However, the information on where to buy coins is outdated, in that the use of the Internet for buying coins in 2002 was in its early stages.)

    The history behind these coins makes them fascinating. One thing I'm doing is going through each Emperor and looking up their reign on Wikipedia. Wikipedia articles can be excellent--you can get a good idea by checking the references. (In fact, the greatest value of Wikipedia may be as a way to get to primary sources and the best references, IMHO.)

    I bought one of the books by David Sear. To many, his five books represent the best "catalog" and description of the Emperors and their many coins. It's a bit overwhelming, though, and it may be a good idea to wait for awhile before you get a book or the series.

    There seem to be many, many coins that collectors of "modern" coins would view as quite inexpensive. A visit to eBay will show you these. If you go up a step, there appear to be many coins for under $100. in the EF-VF range . I like looking on the Coins site. Vcoins is a marketplace for dealers; as I understand it, many/most of the dealers will guarantee the authentic of a coin.

    Once you really get to know the coins, you may find it interesting to buy a bulk lot. I haven't done this, as the cleaning seems to require skills and much practice, but it may be a way to find many coins in an inexpensive manner, and there is always a chance for a "diamond in the rough."

    There seem to be many "high end dealers" who sell coins of great beauty. These dealers should not be hard to find and again, you can do historical research on the coins you see there.

    I'm keeping a journal of everything I'm learning, just making entries of what I discover, doing so in a chronological but not thematic way.

    There are different kinds of patina that can be found on the coins, green and sand being two common ones. This adds an entire new dimension to what one collects.

    I've dipped into "Plutarch's Lives" to learn about the people and events of the years of the Greek coins. Plutarch tells the story in a very interesting and readable manner. I found a copy of Plutarch on a website so you wouldn't have to purchase it. If you want to buy one, there are modestly-priced paperback edited versions on Amazon and some expensive full-volumes as well.

    Many people see "Byzantine" coins as an extension of the Roman Imperial emperors. Some us the term "Romaion" in reference to this era. If one is interest in symbols of Christianity (as I am), these coins point to ways in which the Church was growing.

    I like to find copies from the major auction houses. used copies of these can often be found for very modest prices, and there is usually excellent written material about the history, much more than in catalogs featuring American coins. Of course, most of these catalogs can be found for free and perused on the auction house websites.

    The American Numismatic Society in New York City has a superb collection of ancient coins, and voluminous historical material for those who want to learn more. Much of the writings and research are available for free, but by joining ANS you get some neat benefits.

    So these are things I've found helpful after getting into ancient numismatics around the beginning of the year. (I'm retired, so I'm able to devote time to learning more things about the hobby.) I just also add that I think I've learned more from the forums than from everything else and can sit and read these for hours.

    Best wishes to you.

  • VTchaserVTchaser Posts: 272 ✭✭✭

    Great information! My first comment was going to be "you must be retired!". LOL.

    My LCS has a kind of a junk bin of ancient coins, but i have no idea what i'm looking at and what is considered any type of grade. I may just start there, grab a handful and do some research online.

    Thanks for the reference on the 100 greatest and Sayles books. I may do some research on Amazon and pick them up.

    Thanks again!

    Successful transactions with: robkool, Walkerguy21D, JimW, Bruce7789, massscrew, Jinx86, jonasdenenbergllc, Yorkshireman, bobsr, tommyrusty7, markelman1125, Kliao, DBSTrader2, SurfinxHI, ChrisH821, CoinHoarder, Bolo, MICHAELDIXON, bigtime36

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