Numism > For the New Ancient Coin Collector

Common Mistakes for Beginners

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Not following the ongoing discussion of fakes/forgeries on the authentication/ fakes site here at Forum

I have learned a great deal about what to look for on coins to evaluate if the are authentic,  fakes or re engraved  for example

One can see The multiple types of junk that is waiting on ebay to deceive people such as them

That one can check the recorded fakes on file here etc. before buying

One can learn a lot about coins from various discussions such as over cleaning and corrosion real versus applied patina.

There are  daily pieces of information there for the taking.

I will add the many other sub sites here if time permits.  also provide a great deal of useful info.

It is impossible to stay here for long as a beginner and not pick up useful or interesting information


I've lost count of the number of times I've seen beginners post fakes of expensive coins here. My advice would always to start with the cheaper coins - the Constantines, perhaps, or Gallienus and Claudius Gothicus. That way you can learn, there's a great deal of interest to be found, and if you do go wrong, you haven't wasted too much money.

This is probably a mistake not limited to just beginners:  In relation to finding information, people are becoming more accustomed to "Googling" a topic and coming up with instant, superficial answers.  While the convenience is nice, our hobby has limited in-depth information on-line.

Entering a term in the search function of this board yields a gold mine of results; years of accumulated knowledge and wisdom from very experienced collectors and numismatists becomes quickly available.  This board, and the internet in general, is also a good starting point for bibliographic research. 

In the end, nothing beats knowing how to use footnotes and bibliographies for your own research, and attaining an easy familiarity with the literature found in journals and monographs.  A quick look at any of the RIC volumes we all use will yield a very useful bibliography for futher research.

Folks are too impatient for tedious research, and want their answers short, sweet, and right now.

Wikipedia is a good source to get the real sources!

I have to disagree with a lot of the sentiments expressed so far. Just my opinion, of course, but I would say the only real mistake the beginning collector makes is losing interest because he/she rushed into a purchase that turned out to be a fake coin or one that was overpriced. If/when this is discovered there's a good chance that they'll be soured to the hobby from that point forward. This isn't exclusive to ancient coins as a hobby, it can and does happen every day buyers buying anything. No one likes to be taken advantage of and the one getting burned may lick his wounds by writing off that hobby/pursuit/interest as a market full of dishonest people and go on to the next thing.

So the only real mistake is not informing yourself beforehand sufficiently to avoid getting taken.

There's nothing wrong that I can see with buying the cheapest you can find on ebay. I did when I started out and the coins of course were junk but it fueled my interest anyway. So if it hadn't been for those scrappy $5 coins I likely would have never gone on to spend thousands later.

There's nothing wrong with going "ID crazy" either. To see this as an error is to misunderstand the psyche of a large segment of collectors. The reference id by itself may be meaningless but it serves a deep-rooted desire to "complete a set".

Likewise I see nothing wrong with specializing too soon or not gaining expert-level knowledge of the subject before buying your first coin. If you think about it, the more you impress on the beginner to do things some "right" way the more likely he'll just be turned off altogether. Collecting should be fun and rules are the very antithesis of fun. So I say buy whatever looks cool and you can afford but maybe learn just enough common sense to avoid getting robbed or stuck with a fake.



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