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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  For the New Ancient Coin Collector (Moderators: wolfgang336, cscoppa, Gavignano, Lucas H)  |  Topic: About Rarity in ancients? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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nogoodnicksleft
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« on: March 08, 2012, 03:38:18 am »

Whats the best way to identify or confirm if a coin is rare
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Lucas H
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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2012, 04:15:47 am »

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Whats the best way to identify or confirm if a coin is rare ?

Others will know better than I, but my opinion is knowing the market by watching it over a long period of time.  I use Roman Imperial Coinage for my collection area, and RIC rates coins on a rarity scale.  That can be a decent guideline, but it is just that, a guideline.  Sometimes, a coin rated as relatively rare in the RIC has become more common since publication.  Likewise, a coin listed as common may not come up for sale that often.  Watching the market in your collection area is the best way to gauge rarity in my opinion.
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Andrew McCabe
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2012, 04:55:14 am »

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Whats the best way to identify or confirm if a coin is rare ?

Others will know better than I, but my opinion is knowing the market by watching it over a long period of time.  I use Roman Imperial Coinage for my collection area, and RIC rates coins on a rarity scale.  That can be a decent guideline, but it is just that, a guideline.  Sometimes, a coin rated as relatively rare in the RIC has become more common since publication.  Likewise, a coin listed as common may not come up for sale that often.  Watching the market in your collection area is the best way to gauge rarity in my opinion.

Great advice.

The metrics I use relate to how often a coin type appears on the international markets

Once a decade or less, and it is of major importance when one appears - excessively rare
Once every two or three years and there's a buzz about the sale - extremely rare
About once a year; in a given two or three month catalog/internet lookahead there might be none or one - very rare
Several times a year; if one searches one can usually find an example or two in a 3 month interval - rare
One or two examples now, in an internet search and/or including upcoming auctions - scarce
A range of examples are available at fixed-price and in upcoming auctions - common
Multiple examples are available at fixed-price and in upcoming auctions - very common
You have to wade through bucketfuls of this type to find an interesting coin - extremely common

(this is calibrated around Roman Republican silver which is a popular collecting area where very rare coins are virtually guaranteed to get listed in a major auction: for less popular areas such as Republican bronzes, even genuinely rare types are often ignored by sellers and languish in pick-boxes; thus frequency of appearance in proper auctions is less than the rarity justifies)


I have written some words on the concept of rarity here:
http://andrewmccabe.ancients.info/Auctions.html#jump

Warren Esty has written better words here:
http://esty.ancients.info/numis/rarity.html

From Warren's site: here is Glossary of eBay terms (tongue in cheek):

"not in Sear"          
It is unlisted in Sear's book, so I can't give a Sear number. (I hope you think this makes it rare and valuable.) [Of course, RIC lists thousands of varieties not in Sear, so it doesn't really mean much at all.]

"r2" or "very rare"  
RIC lists it as "r2" [This is almost meaningless for late Roman coins.]

"Unlisted"              
I have only one book and its not in it.

"The first one I've seen"      
I've been collecting for a year, have almost no reference works, and have not yet seen this [although experienced collectors have seen 50 examples].

"Van Meter Value Band 2"    
A more-expensive type. (I hope you don't know that this late Roman copper type has been pouring out of the Balkans since the iron-curtain came down [after van Meter wrote his book] and they immensely more common than they used to be and are going for 1/4 what they sold for when van Meter wrote his book.)

"unpublished"        
I have several of the major references and its not in them. [But most of them are 20 or more years old and who knows what has been published since then?]
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Molinari
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2012, 05:38:25 am »

Quote
Whats the best way to identify or confirm if a coin is rare ?

Others will know better than I, but my opinion is knowing the market by watching it over a long period of time.  I use Roman Imperial Coinage for my collection area, and RIC rates coins on a rarity scale.  That can be a decent guideline, but it is just that, a guideline.  Sometimes, a coin rated as relatively rare in the RIC has become more common since publication.  Likewise, a coin listed as common may not come up for sale that often.  Watching the market in your collection area is the best way to gauge rarity in my opinion.

Great advice.

The metrics I use relate to how often a coin type appears on the international markets

Once a decade or less, and it is of major importance when one appears - excessively rare
Once every two or three years and there's a buzz about the sale - extremely rare
About once a year; in a given two or three month catalog/internet lookahead there might be none or one - very rare
Several times a year; if one searches one can usually find an example or two in a 3 month interval - rare
One or two examples now, in an internet search and/or including upcoming auctions - scarce
A range of examples are available at fixed-price and in upcoming auctions - common
Multiple examples are available at fixed-price and in upcoming auctions - very common
You have to wade through bucketfuls of this type to find an interesting coin - extremely common

(this is calibrated around Roman Republican silver which is a popular collecting area where very rare coins are virtually guaranteed to get listed in a major auction: for less popular areas such as Republican bronzes, even genuinely rare types are often ignored by sellers and languish in pick-boxes; thus frequency of appearance in proper auctions is less than the rarity justifies)


I have written some words on the concept of rarity here:
http://andrewmccabe.ancients.info/Auctions.html#jump

Warren Esty has written better words here:
http://esty.ancients.info/numis/rarity.html

From Warren's site: here is Glossary of eBay terms (tongue in cheek):

"not in Sear"          
It is unlisted in Sear's book, so I can't give a Sear number. (I hope you think this makes it rare and valuable.) [Of course, RIC lists thousands of varieties not in Sear, so it doesn't really mean much at all.]

"r2" or "very rare"  
RIC lists it as "r2" [This is almost meaningless for late Roman coins.]

"Unlisted"              
I have only one book and its not in it.

"The first one I've seen"      
I've been collecting for a year, have almost no reference works, and have not yet seen this [although experienced collectors have seen 50 examples].

"Van Meter Value Band 2"    
A more-expensive type. (I hope you don't know that this late Roman copper type has been pouring out of the Balkans since the iron-curtain came down [after van Meter wrote his book] and they immensely more common than they used to be and are going for 1/4 what they sold for when van Meter wrote his book.)

"unpublished"        
I have several of the major references and its not in them. [But most of them are 20 or more years old and who knows what has been published since then?]

How do you all feel about Hoover's system of rating?  I'm noticing, at least for Seleucid bronzes, that coins listed as R2 (which he says are between 2 and 10 in number, generally) are far more common than that, or what I would list as Common/Scarce.  For instance, I have three of an R2 Alexander I, Balas, bronze and I see them on the market relatively often...or at least I know there are more than ten in existence.  There are a a few more examples I've noticed as I review my collection with the info. from his book (which I still love).

Nick
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areich
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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2012, 05:56:24 am »

I don't have the book(s), what does he say about the sources he used to find those 2-10 coins?
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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2012, 06:12:29 am »

He simply mentions that it is just a "guide" he developed by examining the market and various collections.  But for bronzes, it clearly says something like "at least two extant, generally no more than ten".

Here is one which, I'm almost certain (now I'm second guessing myself), is listed as R2.  I have four.  Although they did come from one lot, I've seen them around here and there somewhat frequently:

AE 20, 5.39g, Alexander I, Balas, 150-145 BC. Obv: Alexander clad in lion's skin, dotted border. Rev: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ either side of Nike, palm in field, monogram to right, dark greenish-gray patina, small grafitti on obverse, gVF. S 7039, B.M.C.4.55,44-5.

EDIT: Attribution is incorrect
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2012, 06:24:44 am »

I'll figure out the exact one when I get home, it might have been the one with serrated edge.  There are many examples of both.
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Andrew McCabe
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« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2012, 06:29:28 am »

How do you all feel about Hoover's system of rating?  I'm noticing, at least for Seleucid bronzes, that coins listed as R2 (which he says are between 2 and 10 in number, generally) are far more common than that, or what I would list as Common/Scarce.  For instance, I have three of an R2 Alexander I, Balas, bronze and I see them on the market relatively often...or at least I know there are more than ten in existence.  There are a a few more examples I've noticed as I review my collection with the info. from his book (which I still love).

Nick

Nick

If you are seeing them more often than I suggest, then Hoover may be a victim of the "van Meter value band" syndrome, i.e. there are more of the coins around and the rarity rating is simply out of date. Or Hoover's source of information may be questionable.

One point of guidance: rare coins may become permanently common, but the reverse never happens.

Another point on methodology: often counts in major museums are used for rarities. If an insignificant number of museums hold large serious collections of Seleucid bronzes (as distinct from silver) the rarity counts for the bronzes will be simply wrong.

In the end, you should use your judgement about seeing more specimens to adjust any rarity in the direction of common. But not the other way around.

You can also consult on this list ("is this coin really very rare: Hoover says it is very rare?") and adjust accordingly.
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rover1.3
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« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2012, 06:31:57 am »


Here is one which, I'm almost certain (now I'm second guessing myself), is listed as R2.  I have four.  Although they did come from one lot, I've seen them around here and there somewhat frequently:

AE 20, 5.39g, Alexander I, Balas, 150-145 BC. Obv: Alexander clad in lion's skin, dotted border. Rev: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ either side of Nike, palm in field, monogram to right, dark greenish-gray patina, small grafitti on obverse, gVF. S 7039, B.M.C.4.55,44-5.

Molinari, you are a bit confused i think, there is no Nike on the reverse of your coin.
The reverse depicts a standing Apollo, holding arrow and grounded bow, check Hoover's Syria, 901 (R1-2)

By the way, the rarity system on Hoover's Syria is Arthur Houghton's work.

best regards,

rover
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Molinari
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« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2012, 06:51:18 am »


Here is one which, I'm almost certain (now I'm second guessing myself), is listed as R2.  I have four.  Although they did come from one lot, I've seen them around here and there somewhat frequently:

AE 20, 5.39g, Alexander I, Balas, 150-145 BC. Obv: Alexander clad in lion's skin, dotted border. Rev: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ either side of Nike, palm in field, monogram to right, dark greenish-gray patina, small grafitti on obverse, gVF. S 7039, B.M.C.4.55,44-5.

Molinari, you are a bit confused i think, there is no Nike on the reverse of your coin.
The reverse depicts a standing Apollo, holding arrow and grounded bow, check Hoover's Syria, 901 (R1-2)

By the way, the rarity system on Hoover's Syria is Arthur Houghton's work.

best regards,

rover

Yes, my attribution is wrong.  I'm using Hoover to correct them, the coin does match what is in his book and I believe R1-2 designation is off.

Thanks,

Nick
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« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2012, 08:25:35 am »

Just to illustrate the point, here attached is an R3 of Demetrios I, Soter (unless I've attributed it incorrectly, but I'm sure I haven't):

Serrated AE 15, Demetrius I, ca. 162-150 B.C. Obv: Horse’s head facing left within dotted border. Rev: Elephant’s head surrounded by ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΔΗΜΗΤΡΙΟΥ. Dark brown patina with light earthen highlights, aXF. Lindgren III, pl.61, 1068, Hoover HGC 9, 833 (R3).

There are two others listed on [REMOVED BY ADMIN] at the moment, and I've seen at least a dozen or so over the years.

From the section on rarity by Arthur Houghton (in Hoover HGC):

"R3: Extremely Rare.  One or two examples only are believed to be extant."

Nick

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nogoodnicksleft
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« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2012, 09:40:53 am »

Thanks for the advice, opinions & replies
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« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2012, 10:15:52 am »

How do you all feel about Hoover's system of rating?  I'm noticing, at least for Seleucid bronzes, that coins listed as R2 (which he says are between 2 and 10 in number, generally) are far more common than that, or what I would list as Common/Scarce.  For instance, I have three of an R2 Alexander I, Balas, bronze and I see them on the market relatively often...or at least I know there are more than ten in existence.  There are a a few more examples I've noticed as I review my collection with the info. from his book (which I still love).

Nick
In the end, you should use your judgement about seeing more specimens to adjust any rarity in the direction of common. But not the other way around.

Sometimes the books list things as being more common than they are. I'm at work and not around my books, but I recall that Sear has the bronzes with Nero as Apollo playing the lyre listed as being fairly common. The museums may have a lot of them, but you really don't see that many on the market these days.
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« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2012, 12:47:55 pm »

Sometimes the books list things as being more common than they are. I'm at work and not around my books, but I recall that Sear has the bronzes with Nero as Apollo playing the lyre listed as being fairly common. The museums may have a lot of them, but you really don't see that many on the market these days.

Good point.

When Sydenham wrote his book on Republican coinage in the 1930s the main hoards available were those in the locations which the English frequented on the Grand Tour before the first world war - which was Etruria and southern Italy - and where there was a special archaeological focus. That region's hoards are heavily biased towards second Punic war coins which in fact appear nowhere else except Etruria, southern Italy (and Sicily). So Sydenham reported many of the rarest early dioscuri coins based on their appearance in those late 19th century hoards, and many of the types which he considered merely scarce went into the great museum collections being formed at the time.

However since then hardly any significant second Punic war hoards have been found in these regions - perhaps one per decade and in each case not usually containing the types which Sydenham considered merely scarce (with a couple of exceptions: the Nola Victoriatus and the Corn-ear Quadrigatus types have appeared in more recent finds, as has the incuse legend Victoriatus).

Many of these types - especially the Quinarii and Sestertii with symbols - have not appeared in hoards in decades and about 1 or 2 coins per decade come to the market. That ratio of sales suggests coins in the RRR to RRRR category (rarer than an EID MAR in fact) despite many of these types being marked as Scare or merely R in Sydenham's catalogue. In fact almost every Quinarius and Sestertius types with symbols are extremely rare with a few exceptions such as H, MAT or Q.
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