Collecting Greek, Roman, And Other Old Coins
by Charles Roman
A Beginnerís Guide to Collecting Inexpensive Old CoinsCollecting old coins is like holding a piece of history right in your hand. It is common to find affordable ancient Roman coins that are 1600 years old, and many are even 2000 years old or more. Imagine that the ancient Roman denarius in your collection might once have bought admission to the gladiator fights in the Coliseum or chariot races at the Circus Maximum. The best thing about collecting old coins is that, unlike other antiquities, ancient coins are remarkably affordable. Because so many ancient coins have been discovered, and more are being unearthed every day, it is possible to buy millennia-old coins for only a few dollars apiece. For less than the cost of a movie ticket, you could own a link to olden times.
Things You Should Look For While Buying Old CoinsUnless you are looking to spend some serious money on your collection, the old coins that you buy will probably not be extremely valuable as an investment. However, that should not undermine the thrill of being able to own a genuine aged coin on a shoestring budget. There are numerous places, both online and off, that sell inexpensive old coins. The important thing to look for when buying these ancient coins is that the coin is identifiable. It is disappointing to buy an aged coin, only to realize that there is no way of telling what it actually is. The best way to ensure that an ancient coin is identifiable is to be certain that the writing and inscriptions on it are legible.
Buying Uncleaned Lots of Old CoinsOf course, there is another bargain option when buying ancient coins, and that is to buy a lot of uncleaned coins. These are old coins that have been unearthed in archaeologically rich areas like Italy or Greece, but have not had the dirt and buildup of the centuries cleaned from them. Uncleaned lots of elderly coins are exciting because you never know if the coins will be so worn that there is nothing left but a smooth piece of metal, or whether you will uncover a genuine rare coin. You should be aware, however, that the likelihood of finding a high-value gold or silver coin among uncleaned lots is extremely slim. Furthermore, the reason why uncleaned lots are sold to begin with is that cleaning old coins is a difficult endeavor in the best of circumstances. Removing large amounts of dirt and debris from ancient coins carries the risk of spoiling the coin.
How to Store Old CoinsElderly coins, like elderly people, require tender handling. It is important to remember that one of the vital factors regarding the value of an old-time coin is the patina, or the sheen that builds up on the surface of a coin over time. The last thing you want to do is to polish an ancient silver coin so that it is bright and shining! When dealing with old coins, you should only hold them by the edges, since the oil on your hands can ruin the patina. Do not attempt to clean old coins on your own without learning a lot about the proper techniques. Only a veteran should attempt to clean a potentially valuable aged coin.
When storing old coins, always use acid-free materials; any other kind of storage could damage the coin. Youíll need a safe place to keep your ancient coins. Some options include mylar flips, acid-free plastic sheets that go into three-ring binders, and even special collectorís cases, if you want a particularly elegant look for your collection.
Coins and Coin Collecting: your guide to getting the very best from your coin collection.