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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Ancient Coin Forum (Moderator: goldenancients)  |  Topic: Where do all of these VF - EF Coins come from? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Where do all of these VF - EF Coins come from?  (Read 2064 times)
Spartan
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« on: June 24, 2009, 05:13:29 pm »

I'm new to the ancients, but even collecting 19th Century American coins it becomes obvious that wear and corrosion takes their course on these coins.

So where are the abundance of VF-EF Ancients coming from?

Apperantly they were taken very early in their circulation and tossed into a well to appease the Gods?

How does a VF-EF speciman survive corrosion for 2000 years.

I can understand the rare Gem surviving, but there appears to be no shortage of fine coins available.

Anybody care to share how the majority of these coins are processed and introduced to market?

Thanks
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ancientdave
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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2009, 05:50:04 pm »

It is a common misconception that coins got worn very quickly from circulation in ancient times, but from hoard evidence we know that coins usually had to circulate for a good number of years before they became worn to below what we call VF condition today. Even coins that are what we would call EF+ could have circulated for a number of years, hoard evidence shows that it typically took a decade or more for coins to be worn below VF grade. Of course this varies depending on what metal the coin is made of and other factors. The survival of corrosion simply depends upon the environment in which the coin has laid over the centuries, some soils and environments are quite corrosive to coins, and some are not. Often times a coins patina will give clues as to the environment in which it laid, such as on coins that exhibit a nice sandy desert patina, and those that exhibit a river patina, which is usually a minimal patina that highlights much of the original color of the metal, typified by coins that have laid in water or mud. If I were better able to answer your last question, I would have a much nicer and more valuable collection. Grin
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larry c
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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2009, 05:51:12 pm »

Early Romans & European heads of state were avided collectors.
Not to mention hoards that were stored away from the elements
in seal jars or vaults.
Some areas such as desert found are  in better condition,
as opposed to eastern Europe with a damper climate.
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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2009, 06:33:12 pm »

Roman currency was the lifeblood of the military machine.  Soldiers would typically carry their coins in a leather pouch pinned to their clothing or from a chord around their neck.  When they walked, these would jingle and make a similar noise as to when you or I walk with change in out pockets or keys attached to our belts.  So, when they went into battle, they would bury their pouches to protect their "fortunes."  The noise of the jingling coins would be detriment to them when trying to be stealthy.  Also, a pouch full of metal coins would be a nuisance when fighting in combat and might get cut loose and lost.  Small "hoards" can be located near ancient battlegrounds from the soldiers who didn't make it, but nicer and larger hoards came from sources mentined by ancientdave and larry c.

Best, Noah
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wandigeaux (1940 - 2010)
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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2009, 10:43:43 pm »

 Also, the market demand for ancient coins (I'm thinking Roman here) is very weak for the lower grades (less than VF), so dealers and auction houses don't bother with them very much.  Rarities are an exception, but even they often don't sell in the lower grades.  Under the counter, and in the back rooms there are plenty of worn coins.

  If you collected Roman Provincials (which are seldom found in hoards), as I do, you will see plenty of  coins in fine, or lower, states of preservation, and you would be happy to get them (and often only after stiff competition)!  Cheers, George Spradling
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Noah
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2009, 06:01:52 am »

I can just picture you, George, and Jochen in the back of the store rummaging through the provincials while the majority are looking at the cases full of Imperials!

Best, Noah
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« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2009, 06:56:30 am »

I have often considered this question myself and I think it can be a combination of scenarios. The dry sandy earth of Turkey, Libya, Tunisia etc is far friendlier to coins than the wet, acidic earth of much of Europe. Trying to find any bronze here in the UK that is not heavily corroded is a thankless task.
Hoards are a obviously a big source of EF coins and there are suprising amounts of them being found even now; ones that have been contained in jars and not seen much circulation in their day, can look like the day they were made. Those preserved by something sudden like the Vesuvius eruption can be similarly spectacular e.g. the bakery's takings in Pompeii - a bowl of pristine Judaea Capta sesterti!
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cliff_marsland
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« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2009, 10:19:41 am »

I didn't know that about provincials not being found in hoards.  What kind of finds are typical of provincials?  Does that apply to Egypt?

I don't specialize in provincials, but I appreciate them.  The best deal I ever got on them was a big lot for $1.50 each in the 90s. Most were As or Dupondius size, weren't stripped and mostly aF or better by wear.  They actually weren't terrible at all.
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wandigeaux (1940 - 2010)
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« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2009, 11:50:58 am »

Provincial silver is often found in hoards, particularly and especially Syrian tetradrachms.  Never travel without them.  Provincial bronze, while it could travel surprisingly far in individual cases, tended to stay near where it was minted, and circulated at a much higher velocity through the local economy, and, consequently, was subject to much more wear and tear in the marketplace.  Silver seems always to have been the preferred form for storing wealth in the East; by the time bronze could be seen as being a store of value in and of itself, provincial coinage had pretty much ceased.  Sure, concentrations of provincial bronze coins can be found in archeological sites, coins lost in the marketplace, etc., but that is not what I think of as a hoard.  Also, I think traipsing around the countryside with a metal detector is not a very good idea in Turkey, the Levant, etc., so many provincials were found just lying on the ground.  I may be distorting the actual situation, of course, but I think the above is more or less the case.

Noah, I think provincials have pretty much come out of the closet, and can be found in the front of the store (more so all the time).  As for Jochen, he can outbid me, but can he outrun me?  evil  Regards, George Spradling
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Hwaet!
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« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2009, 02:02:51 pm »

Ancient coins were used differently than we use modern coins.  In addition to facilitating transactions, they were used as a primary storage of wealth.   Coins today are not used as a store of wealth (I mean circulating coins, not collectible coins of course).  Today, we use electronic currency in our bank accounts and CDs, stocks, bonds, and paper money to store wealth.   We may throw our coins in a jar, but we want to cash that jar in before it gets to be too much.  Coins today circulate and circulate and circulate...   Ancient peoples did not have electronic currency or other modern liquid stores of wealth; they only had coins, jewelry and precious metals.  A person might hold a coin for months or years.  Coins could sit in a wealthy families savings or government treasury for generations.   Circulation was much slower. 
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Joseph Sermarini
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Spartan
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« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2009, 04:59:05 pm »

That all makes better sense. Generations and generations of hoards and small stashes waiting to be discovered.

Fascinating.

Now if I can just save up enough for my first Alexander TetradrachmCool
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ecoli
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« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2009, 05:06:06 pm »

and I thought all of them were in Uncle Joe's basement...

Seriously though, what did those who stored all the sound silver do when Caracalla changed the system?
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Spartan
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« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2009, 06:22:14 pm »

They simply exchanged aureus at 30 denarii or 20 Antoniniani .

yes I have no idea what I'm talking about..... did I get it right?  Grin
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Noah
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« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2009, 09:38:30 pm »

Noah, I think provincials have pretty much come out of the closet, and can be found in the front of the store (more so all the time).  As for Jochen, he can outbid me, but can he outrun me?  evil  Regards, George Spradling

HA! Good one...  laugh 

Best, Noah
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PeterD
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« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2009, 12:43:57 pm »

and I thought all of them were in Uncle Joe's basement...

Seriously though, what did those who stored all the sound silver do when Caracalla changed the system?

Seriously? When the antoninianus was introduced, the denarius continued to be minted. Both coins were de-based by the same amount (quite a lot!), so there was no problem with any coins 'in storage'. Supposedly, (I'm not sure it has been proven) the antoninianus weighed one and a half times the denarius but was worth twice as much (2 denarii). Proof, if any was needed, that silver coins were no longer worth their weight as bullion.
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Peter, London

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