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Author Topic: Question about identifying copper Roman coins  (Read 98 times)

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Offline Rebbecca F

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Question about identifying copper Roman coins
« on: January 17, 2023, 09:47:59 am »
Hi! I apologize in advance if they is long.

I purchased some coins years ago (2008 or 2009) off [Removed by Admin]. They were very crusty and honestly I knew nothing about them and still don’t. My oldest son was around kindergarten age at the time. I purchased them because they were cheap ($ [Removed by Admin] for 2 lots including shipping from Europe to the Us both from the same seller. I don’t recall any other information and my [Removed by Admin] purchase history doesn’t go back that far. ) My son was collecting state quarters so I thought this would be fun. I did not clean them properly. I want to be upfront that I soaked them in lemon juice and all kinds of random stuff.

In the lot was a small spoked gear. I thought that was odd and figured it was modern. I also found another thing with a peg sticking out that was large and copper with brass back. ( like an unspoken gear/dial). These items were just as crusty and yuck as the coins and only after cleaning did I realize they were not coins.

I spoke to someone who was a modern coin collector in the USA. They “sold” coins as a hobby. I told them about the Roman coins and the weird items with the coins. They told me I was sold “fake” coins and that basically I was an idiot for buying things online. They told me they probably just put modern trash in with the fakes for weight.

So I let my son take them for show and tell. We did identify a few coins but I don’t know what happened to those. I don’t remember how we identified them.  Basically I gave the best ones to a 5 year old and he lost them.  I put all the rest away including the weird items. I moved several times and recently pulled out the jar of coins.

Since I purchased them, I have become aware of a few ancient machines that did have gears. I believe that they might be REAL parts of an ancient machine. This is not a small amount of coins… They are different sizes, shapes, thicknesses, and a mix of bronze and copper. It would have been a huge amount of work to produce them as “fakes”. Also if a person was making fakes… why would they make many so worn and illegible?

I would like to date these coins. What is the easiest method to do that for a novice. I believe the ones we previously identified ( again in 2009 ish), I just put in the letters we could read on the side of a coin. I have no idea what website that was. I found one and it requires you to put *** for every letter you don’t know and it didn’t really allow partial searches.

Also some of the coins are so worn they don’t have letters that are readable. I don’t think those will be identifiable.

Can someone point me in the right direction??

Also has anyone else ever found gears or weird stuff?


Offline shanxi

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Re: Question about identifying copper Roman coins
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2023, 10:54:37 am »
An  picture would help.

In these uncleanded lots there are mostly late Roman coins. Therfore this page migt be helpful:

Offline Virgil H

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Re: Question about identifying copper Roman coins
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2023, 06:34:15 pm »
Welcome. As Shanxi said, we need photos of front and back and weight and diameter. One thing I will say is there are some coins that are serrated and thus could look like gears. But, you need to post one coin per thread with all the relevant info on them and, depending on how readable they are, folks here may be able to help you. Here is a coin that is serrated. It it Roman Republican, but there are others that made similar styled coins, such as the Seleucid Empire. Some have more serrations than others.

There is a Numiswiki entry on serrated coins here:

Offline Curtis JJ

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Re: Question about identifying copper Roman coins
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2023, 09:01:23 pm »
As stated, it's hard to say much without pictures, but it isn't unusual to find other small objects in groups of metal detector finds. Another "gear shaped coin" is the occasional coin cut into a nomisma (or other size) weight, but those aren't very common and would make quite a lucky find:

The legend search being described in the original comment is probably Wildwinds' "partial legend search" which was an incredible and wonderful tool. Unfortunately it became non-functional some years ago.

You can do some of the same stuff in ACSearch (, but it searches all words in a description, not just legends:
put a * at the beginning for any number of unknown characters. You can use a * at the end too, but you don't always need it...if you know how a word starts, just using the first three letters will show all words that begin with'll have to play around with it, some of the rules aren't obvious). It won't let you use them in the middle.

Still, you may be better off using tesorillo (given by shanxi above) or these:
- “The Roman Coin Attribution Toolkit” by S. Uhrick of Ancient Coins for Education, hosted by, useful for RIC:
- Wildwinds by Dane Kurth:
- Ras Suarez's Dirty old coins:

Offline Callimachus

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Re: Question about identifying copper Roman coins
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2023, 10:20:08 pm »
And then there are the Seleukid bronzes.

Offline arizonarobin

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Re: Question about identifying copper Roman coins
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2023, 11:55:00 pm »
I have also cleaned metal buttons, fibula, and other random metal objects in uncleaned lots. You can find some odd things mixed in with the coins.


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