Ever wondered what Emperors like Constantine the Great, Nero or Julius Ceaser looked like and wanted to hold something in your hand that may have been held by one of these Emperors or someone living during that time.
If you are a collector with a low budget, particularly a coin collector then you should seriously consider taking up the hobby of Roman coin collecting.
There are a number of reasons why I prefer collecting Roman coins then other antiques including other ancient coins. Firstly there are a wide variety of Ancient Roman coins to suite your tastes. This is largely due to the vast time and area that the Roman Empire covered. From as early as 27 BC to 496 AD there were many millions of coins minted spanning a large area of the globe featuring coins that reflect the time from when they were created.
Also its great to have a real portrait of an Emperor in your possession. Many emperors came and went and it was customary to inscribe the portrait of the emperor on the coins that were minted during their reign.
Roman coins are the most inexpensive of all Ancient coins. Other ancient coins include for example Greek, Barbaric, Celtic, Parthian, Nabathaean, Islamic, Indian and Chinese. This can come as a surprise to many considering how ancient these coins are. Yet they can be even cheaper then some of the modern day coins that coin collectors collect. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly as already stated the Roman empire was large and so there were a lot of coins minted. Many Roman coins are therefore not as rare as many believe. Another reason is that there are few collectors of ancient coins then modern coins. This makes the demand for them lower.
There are also less forgeries of Roman coins then other coins particularly modern day coins. This is largely due to the fact that they are less rare and expensive.
Another reason Roman coins are great to collect is that they do not just have historical value but also artistic value. These coins were cleverly and beautifully crafted and tell a story from the time and area that they were minted.
Unlike most coins today Roman Coins had intrinsic value being comprised of precious metals worth many times more then their weight in that metal. These precious metals include Gold, Silver and Bronze. This can make the coins more special and increase the value of the coin should you choose to collect the more expensive Roman coins.
Factors that determine a coins worth
The price of a coin ranges significantly due to a number of factors. The two biggest factors being the condition the coin is in and the grade of the coin.
The condition of a coin can depend on how corroded the coin has become while it has been in the ground or how it was stored. The grade of the coin is determined by how the coin was minted when it was manufactured. These coins were minted by hand and so do not always entirely circular or detailed. A coin can be less detailed and of less value if it was struck by dies that were worn down. Determining the grade of a coin can be tricky and sometimes you simply have to go with how appealing and detailed the coin is to your own eyes.
Another factor that determines a coins worth is its rarity. Surprisingly rarity is less of a factor in determining an ancient coins worth then modern day coins. Modern day coins will be worth a lot if there were few minted, or few in circulation. Given the large number of collectors this is more of a factor with Modern coins. This would drive up the cost of a rare coin if collectors are trying to complete their collection.
With ancient Roman coins there were a larger number and variety created and so each collection will be different and rarity will be considered less of an issue. There are rare ancient coins of course. Some emperors were not around for long enough to have many coins minted during their reign and hence they will be harder to find and cost more.
Sellers of ancient coins will often use terms such as scarce, rare or very rare to describe a coin. Just because someone describes a coin as rare does not mean that it actually is. Unfortunately, some sellers will attach this label to ancient coins to attract novice collectors who do not know better. If someone describes a coin as rare or scarce does the person explain why the coin is rare? Does he give it an RIC number and explain the variety? If you are new to collecting ancient coins, you should not jump on a coin just because is it described as rare.
If you build up a collection of ancient coins you will be able to tell for yourself if a coin is uncommon, scarce or even rare.
Price of different Roman coins
Truly rare coins that are sort after will not sell for much less than $100, and often for much more. Hence, a coin of Constantine described as rare with an asking price of just a few dollars is very unlikely to be so. There are sellers on eBay who claim that their coin is rare, or they have only seen one in 10 years, but there is another one just like it being offered on eBay by someone else.
To give you an idea of the variation of price for Roman coins, for $5-10 you can buy decent quality coins issued under a number of the late-3rd and 4th century AD emperors.
For about $10-20, you can collect a coin from the more famous 1st and 2nd century emperors, and of many later ones in very nice condition. In fact, for $20 a coin, you can quite easily assemble a collection of more than half of the emperors (over 50) in very nice condition with clear portraits and readable legends.
On top of this, there are numerous varieties available for each emperor. Of course, just as with modern coins, you can buy ones that cost much more; ones that are in better shape or are more scarce, but if you are just interested in decent coins and history then you may not have to look any further.