Numism > For the New Ancient Coin Collector

Not sure what to start collecting

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James S2:
Hi everyone,

I'm a bit stuck on what theme I should focus on in collecting.  I thought possibly the emperors in the first century AD but would that be expensive with a small budget of £60-100 a month?  Do you reccommend that I should try buying a coin of every Emperor or start with Constantine.

On the subject of Provincial Roman Coins do all these coins show the Emperors of that period and what is the difference between those and Imperial coins? (Sorry if it's a stupid question!)

Thanks very much,
James

*Alex:
Collecting themes are purely a personal choice. If you look at the Members' Gallery and you will see that there are many options for collecting themes.
Regarding Roman Provincials, yes, generally speaking these coins show the Emperors of any given period. The difference between Provincial and Imperial coins is that Provincials are local issues, not intended to circulate very far from the place that they were issued, whereas Imperial coinage could circulate virtually anywhere in the Empire. Also, since most of the Provincial Issues come from the eastern parts of the Empire you will find that the majority of the inscriptions are in Greek rather than Latin, although there are exceptions.
I hope that is of some help (and there are no stupid questions on this board, everyone has to learn).

Alex

mauseus:
Hi,

This is a very difficult question and, I think, you have to look at why you want to start collecting ancient coins.

If one particular period attracts you then go for that; if a particular geographical area is of interest then let that suggest a theme.

Personally, I started collecting ancient coins at the age of 10 as I was interested in history and coins. I began by assembling a range of imperial portraits. Knowledge and understanding of ancient coins took me into specialising in the Gallic revolt of the mid third century and coins of the revolt of Carausius and Allectus.

Knowledge is a great asset and I wouldn't necessarily specialise too early. Avoid the "too good to be true" at first until you are experienced enough to be sure the coin is genuine. And don't be afraid to ask advice, I had a very good mentor in my early collecting years.

Your budget does not appear restricting per se, although some of the scarcer 1st century emperors (Galba, Vitellius and Otho will not be great specimens). I have to say though in the last five years I have managed to buy an identifiable (but part broken flan) Galba denarius (now sold) for £10.

Regards,

Mauseus

James S2:
Thanks very much for your replies!  I will have a look at members galleries.

Bill S:
Collect what appeals to you.  Themes will develop on their own.  If you buy something now that does not fit into the theme you eventually settle on, you can always sell it or trade it for something that does.

I guess it's just a reflection of my obstinate personality, but I collect things that  -I-  like, and am not very likely to ask other people to tell me what I should like.  Establishing arbitrary boundaries on my collections also seems to be pointless.  Some people like to collect with the idea of getting "the complete set", while I'm content with representative samples.  Some people like to choose one particular era or theme and stay within it, I'm more likely to work somewhat within a theme, but not feel restricted to it.  I also shift themes easily as time goes by.

Read up on any topics that catch your eye - I often find that the more I know about something, the more I appreciate it.  The stories and histories reflected in the coins are the real hooks for me - the coins are only token representations of people, things and events of long ago.  An individual coin in my collection might be common and not particularly attractive, but if it represents something that means something to me, then I enjoy it.

In the end - you are the person who will live with your collection, will look at it and will appreciate it most.  So why not just collect for your own tastes and appreciations?  Don't make it an obligation to fulfill someone else's idea of a collection - have fun with your own choices.

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