Numismatic and History Discussions > Roman Coins

Scarce or Rare ?

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Joe Sermarini:
Notice the blue text links - scarce and rare are blue. Click blue text to learn more.

Dominic T:
All your responses makes me realize that rarity is quite a subjective question. But with all the information you provide, I’ll at least have guideline to understand what it means, especially when it’s time to buy  some “rare “ coins...

It can be further complicated when you consider variations, sub-types, mint marks, etc.

No one would ever describe the late Roman GLORIA EXERCITVS Two Soldiers or FEL TEMP REPARATIO Falling Horseman types as rare.  They are as common as you can get.  However, coins from some mints are more or less common, more or less rare.  And when you get down to specific mint and field marks (i.e. specific issues) some are quite rare.

So a single coin can be seen by one person as extremely common and another person as extremely rare.


Is it subjective to that extent and a matter of personnal evaluation ? Personnal evaluation is about being interested or not in a coin, in a serie or not. But a coin is rare or not, even if part of a very common serie depending on the number of remaining coins.

Put another way words like scarce and rare don't have any meaning except as comparatives. For example, a common ancient coin could be considered an extreme rarity if measured as a percentage of all coins ever made. A Roman coin of Pertinax is usually described as a rarity - and is so compared to the total imperial output - but is commonly found in the marketplace.

Those R ratings are arbitrary, inconsistently used and often so downright inaccurate that they're better off forgotten. Some of RIC's R5 ratings can be counted in the hundreds.



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