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ancient coin starter set

I have very little knowledge about ancient coins but was given a very nice primer on another site on how to collect ancient coins.
I came up with the idea of doing a 6 coin starter set. The options are.
Interesting faces. My wife says do this. She says I might find an interesting time in history to focus on.
Different sizes. My daughter says do this. She says I might find the size I would like to collect just as I learned I like half dollars.
Animals. CATS in my case. Elliot my ginger cat need not be consulted.
Any information or feedback appreciated. Set will be low cost but who knows where things go. James

Comments

  • John ConduittJohn Conduitt Posts: 346 ✭✭✭

    Nice ideas. You could combine the first two as they aren't mutually exclusive.

    Cats would be tricky as there aren't many - maybe the odd lion - and lots of people like animals, so what there is would be more expensive.

  • harashaharasha Posts: 3,077 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Faces. You might consider a dynasty with distinctive faces: Flavian and Severan come to mind.
    Sizes. I would go to coin "denominations." How about collected ases? I bet that would raise eyebrows.
    Animals. I do not think you would have much luck with cats. Now if you expand your menagerie; that could get interesting.

    But you know, if you are limiting yourself to a minimal set, I would go with the faces of the Severan dynasty. You have the emperors: Septimius Severus, Geta, Caracalla, Elagabalus and Severus Alexander. That is five. Add in the women of the dynasty and you can have a choice of a sixth coin. Perhaps the great matriarch, Julia Domna.

    Honors flysis Income beezis Onches nobis Inob keesis

    DPOTD
  • seatedlib3991seatedlib3991 Posts: 407 ✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for the information. I still have to look into how much different periods would cost. I am looking to stay below $300 for an initial budget. don't know if that gives anyone here an idea of what time frame that would be. Harasha does that sound possible with your Severan suggestion? James

  • harashaharasha Posts: 3,077 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Severan coins are relatively inexpensive, especially since those emperors are not big name tickets (relatively speaking) and the output of coinage, especially in the provinces, was prodigious.

    Honors flysis Income beezis Onches nobis Inob keesis

    DPOTD
  • harashaharasha Posts: 3,077 ✭✭✭✭✭

    As mentioned, the variety of Severan coins is extensive. Depending upon your criteria for a "face," $300 might do it. However, Geta will be the most difficult to fit within a budget of $300. Nevertheless, I did a quick search and you may be able to put something together. Lots of vendors with lots of choices.

    Honors flysis Income beezis Onches nobis Inob keesis

    DPOTD
  • SapyxSapyx Posts: 1,966 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 15, 2024 3:34PM

    Faces: Part for the problem here is that putting actual people's portraits on coins did not originate with the invention of coinage. The earliest coins depict gods and heroes, and/or local plants and animals, not people. Kings putting their own portraits on coins did not catch on until some time after the death of Alexander the Great. So if collecting actual people's portraits is the goal, then you're really restricting yourself to the Roman period.

    The second issue to deal with in regard to faces is the changing art styles. Greek and early Roman coins have a very "idealistic" portraiture; everybody looks like they're beautiful people in their thirties, even if they were actually twice that age and rather ugly. Again, portraits don't become "photo-realistic" images of the actual people until the early Imperial period. shifting into "hyper-realism" by the reign of Nerva, who looks downright ugly on many of his coins. And portraits move away from realism again in the mid 3rd century, becoming somewhat stylized and cartoonish. So you've really only got that narrow window from around 50 AD to 250 AD where portraits are likely to be realistic renditions of the actual emperors named on the coins.

    Sizes: Part of the problem here is that to ancient people, the size of a coin mattered less than the weight. A coin might be thin and large, or thick and small, and they would be regarded as the same because they weighed the same. Weight (and therefore size) also changed over time; the sestertius was the largest routinely issued Roman bronze/brass coin, but it gradually shrank in size as inflation crept in and devalued the denarius. But by and large, most ancient coins are quite small. Anyone who has ever shown off their Tribute Penny to non-coin-collectors will report hearing the same response: "It's not very big, is it?".

    Cats: Unfortunately, there are very few ancient coins depicting cats. Lions can be found in abundance, tigers and panthers very rarely, but house cats, never. Not even the Egyptians put cats on their coins. Dogs on ancient coins are rare, cats are even rarer. Perhaps the most popular ancient coin for cat lovers is the Roman Republic denarius of Vibius Varus, 42 BC; it's supposed to depict a "panther leaping towards a masked altar with a thyrsus behind it", but looks for all the world like a cat leaping after a ribbon-festooned cat toy.

    Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.
    Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations"

    Apparently I have been awarded one DPOTD. B)
  • seatedlib3991seatedlib3991 Posts: 407 ✭✭✭✭

    thanks for all the information. I was sent some videos to watch. see what i can learn over the next few days. James

  • SapyxSapyx Posts: 1,966 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Just a comment as to price: $300 for six coins is just $50 per coin. That's still technically achievable, but only barely; a fully identified ancient Late Roman bronze tends to be around $20 to $40 these days; anything older, and certainly anything made of silver, will likely be more than that. COVID saw prices for ancient and mediaeval coins go crazy, and they haven't really come back down yet.

    And, as a general rule: coins of "the Twelve Caesars", and coins that have even a vague reference to something or someone mentioned in the Bible, will likely be way above $300 each. Those are two very popular ancient series to collect and in the case of such coins, demand outweighs supply. Silver denarii of emperor Tiberius are one of the most common and abundant 1st century Roman coins, but because they can be marketed as "the Tribute Penny held by Jesus", they are also one of the most expensive; you won't easily find one for less than US$500.

    Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.
    Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations"

    Apparently I have been awarded one DPOTD. B)
  • seatedlib3991seatedlib3991 Posts: 407 ✭✭✭✭

    Yeah I haven't had time to do much research today but have noticed copper coins seem to be more available/recommended.
    On another site they suggested something called a Sestertii. James

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