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Were worn coins worth less than new ones in Ancient times?

MKUltra24MKUltra24 Posts: 652 ✭✭✭✭

In Ancient times coinage was usually made of gold or silver and the value of the coin was based on the value of the precious metals it contained.

I don’t imagine Ancient Rome or Greece had legal tender laws like we do today requiring money to be accepted at face value regardless of condition.

So I’m curious if the value of coins was discounted based on the wear of the coin?

As coins circulate they naturally wear down and the amount of precious metals in them decreases slowly and if the coin’s value is based on the precious metals it contains it would make logical sense that new coins would be worth more than older worn down coins of the same type.

Did merchants give less value to coins if they were worn down and had less precious metals or did they still accept them at face value?

I am not talking about clipped coins since they is done intentionally but rather coins that lost weight due to normal circulation wear and tear.

Comments

  • ifthevamzarockinifthevamzarockin Posts: 8,498 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Well, I'm old but I wasn't around in Ancient times so I can't say for sure. ;)

    As long as the coin is whole and the only weight loss is from circulation I would guess it would be accepted at face value.

  • MKUltra24MKUltra24 Posts: 652 ✭✭✭✭

    @ifthevamzarockin said:
    Well, I'm old but I wasn't around in Ancient times so I can't say for sure. ;)

    As long as the coin is whole and the only weight loss is from circulation I would guess it would be accepted at face value.

    Fair enough xD

  • JWPJWP Posts: 17,529 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Have you ever seen a widows mite coin. They can be worth a a fair amount and I've seen them being sold on Ebay as a graded coin. I have some that are pretty rough looking, but they are still less than $20 ungraded. I believe coins at that time were clipped and weighed for payment. If that is true, damaged coins were the nom.

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  • MKUltra24MKUltra24 Posts: 652 ✭✭✭✭

    @JWP said:
    Have you ever seen a widows mite coin. They can be worth a a fair amount and I've seen them being sold on Ebay as a graded coin. I have some that are pretty rough looking, but they are still less than $20 ungraded. I believe coins at that time were clipped and weighed for payment. If that is true, damaged coins were the nom.

    I have seen many of them. It is a biblical coin afterall. However I believe the coin was actually called a quadrans at the time.

    Apparently it was worth about 6 minutes wages so even in ancient times it was pretty low value and only useful for buying something like a glass of cheap wine with a handful of them.

  • JWPJWP Posts: 17,529 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for the information

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  • MKUltra24MKUltra24 Posts: 652 ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 3, 2021 1:51PM

    @JWP said:
    Thanks for the information

    You’re welcome :)

    A lepton was 1/2 of a quadrans.
    A quadrans was 1/4 of an As.
    An As was 1/16 of a denarius.

    So if you had 128 Widow’s Mites coins you could exchange it for one denarius like this.

    The story in the Bible about the Widow’s Mite tells a story about how a poor woman donated a single Widow’s Mite but the rich people donated hundreds of denarii.

    Jesus says that the poor woman did the greater good because she gave a little bit of money when she had nothing to spare and even though the rich people gave a lot more money they were only giving a part of their excess money that they didn’t need.

    He said:

    “'Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.'"

  • JWPJWP Posts: 17,529 ✭✭✭✭✭



    If you like the coin, I would like to send you one (no charge - I've given out over 1,100 in the last couple of years), just send me your address. Appreciate your replies, thank, Jon.

    USN & USAF retired 1971-1993
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  • MKUltra24MKUltra24 Posts: 652 ✭✭✭✭

    @JWP said:


    If you like the coin, I would like to send you one (no charge - I've given out over 1,100 in the last couple of years), just send me your address. Appreciate your replies, thank, Jon.

    It is a beautiful coin :).

    I really do appreciate your offer but it’s ok you don’t have to send me anything. I like talking about this stuff and sharing what I know and I love when people share their knowledge with me.

  • JWPJWP Posts: 17,529 ✭✭✭✭✭

    If you change your mind just send me your address and I'll send you a coin no problem. Thanks again, Jon.

    USN & USAF retired 1971-1993
    Successful Transactions with more than 100 Members

  • MKUltra24MKUltra24 Posts: 652 ✭✭✭✭

    @JWP said:
    If you change your mind just send me your address and I'll send you a coin no problem. Thanks again, Jon.

    Thanks Jon! :)

    Oh I just wanted to correct a mistake I made.

    A Widow's Mite was actually 1/2 of a quadrans. Not a full quadrans.

    So a denarius would have been 128 Widow's Mites not 64.

    Basically it was the smallest denomination in circulation and even back then people wouldn't have considered it to be worth much.

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