Old & Ancient Coins Tips

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Can you tell me which coins are colonial coins?

Ancient Coins Of America: Colonial Coins

Though much newer than their Greek and Roman counterparts, colonial coins are the ancient coins used in the West. Some of these coins include state produced coins from the US, but some collectors also include foreign coins used in the US during the colonial period. Many of the colonial coins have dates before the establishment of the US Mint in 1792. We've listed some of the types of colonial coins for you below:

  • Foreign coins used throughout the United States include France's silver and copper coins through the middle of the 1700's.
  • Irish coins include the St. Patrick Farthings, and Halfpennies from the late 1600's.
  • Common British coins used include the Talbot, Allum & Lee tokens.
  • From Spain, the Eight Reales was used throughout the colonies.
  • Ancient coins include those from states like New Jersey, Connecticut, and Vermont, who all made their own coins.
  • Congress promoted coins as well, including the Continental Dollar and Fugio Cent.

   
Can you tell me about the history of ancient Greek coins?

Collecting Ancient Greek Coins

If you're thinking about collecting ancient coins, Greek coins are one area rich in history that you might want to consider. Greeks took the idea of coinage from the Lydians, the inventors of the first coins, and made their own. The earliest ancient Greek coins are crude pieces, shaped like a bean. However, over the years, the sophistication of the ancient Greek coins evolved into flattened round pieces, which are characteristic of coins everywhere today. Hundreds of Greek city-states issued coins from 500 B.C. to 400 B.C., producing numerous innovative designs. The patterns on Greek coins include the image of grapes, eagles, dolphins, and gods and goddesses. Greeks issued their coins in monetary units; drachma is the most basic, while a Decadrachm is a large silver coin equal to 10 drachma.

   
What other ancient coins can I collect besides the Greek and Roman coins?

More Ancient Coins For Your Collection

If you're looking for additional ancient coins you can add to your collection, there are more options in addition to the Greek and Roman variety. Biblical coins make an excellent addition to your coin collection if you are looking to expand. Naturally, biblical coins intersect different areas of ancient coin collecting. For starters, consider the ancient coins mentioned in the Bible, including the Roman denarius, the Jewish Shekel, and the Widow's Mite. The Byzantine Empire is a civilization which arose after the fall of the Roman Empire. Many of the Byzantine coins stem from a strong religious influence. Byzantine coins include cross themes, images of Christ, and other religious depictions.

   
What is the difference between ancient Greek coins and Roman Greek coins?

Collecting Ancient Roman Coins

For an affordable piece of history, consider collecting ancient Roman coins. Ancient Roman coins differ from ancient Greek coins in that the Romans placed images of their rulers on their coins. The Greeks shunned the use of real people as images on their coins. In addition, ancient Roman coins tell much more of a direct story about their creators; military victories and important events became inspirations for creating coins – sometimes as propaganda pieces. Popular ancient Roman coins include Brutus' “Ides of March”, the coins of the twelve Caesars, and the “JVDEA CAPTA” coins commemorating Emperor Vespasian's victory over the Jews during 70 A.D. To start, you can find small copper coins for under $5 a piece. For a silver denarius, the Roman penny, you can expect to pay from $20 to $50.

   
Can you tell me what the Roman coin bought during the time of the Roman Empire?

Using Roman Coins in Ancient Rome

Part of collecting Roman coins involves understanding the history and usage behind the coin – what it bought and what it was worth. During the time of Ancient Rome, the citizens of the Roman Empire used the silver Denarius as the standard unit of money. Smaller Roman coins included the brass Sesterius and the copper As. It took 100 to 200 denarii to pay for a cow, 500 denarii to pay for a male slave, and 2000-6000 denarii to pay for a female slave. For an apartment, you would pay 50-300 denarii per year. Roman soldiers made good salaries for their services to the Roman empire. A Centurion on the front line of battle made 300 denarii a month. However, if you held an academic job, such as a lecturer, you might make 15 denarii per month.

   
Is there a way to earn ancient coins for my collection?

The ANA David R. Cervin Ancient Coin Project

If you're interested in coin collecting, ancient coins, or already have your own coin collection, think about becoming part of the ANA David R. Cervin Ancient Coin Project. The ANA David R. Cervin Ancient Coin Project is a great way to start earning a series of ancient coins to start or add to your collection for young folks. You don't have to have prior knowledge or experience with ancient coins, but you do need to have enthusiasm for and an interest in coins. By writing articles, giving presentations, and doing exhibitions, or other projects that interest you, you earn the ability to request coins through the American Numismatic Association (ANA). For more information on how you can get started, visit the ANA Web site.

   
I have a colonial coin, why is it so difficult to find out the value?

Collecting Colonial Coins

Ah, to be in the time of the First Continental Congress when America was a young independent nation. You've just discovered a Massachusetts state copper from 1787, so you feel like putting on your wig and tricorner hat and jumping into the Spirit of 1776 painting. But how much is that old American coin worth?

Actually, you have to hand it to the home state of the Kennedys and the site of the Boston Tea Party. Massachusetts coppers are more perfectly formed than other old coins of this time--as good as the British Royal Mint. If you have a Horned Eagle coin, you're in luck.

The colonists were understandably more concerned with forging this newfound freedom, dealing with the slave question and surviving than thinking about the collectors' value of their coins. As a result, coiners often used coin-producing metal dies until the metal fell apart. The value of old coins such as the Constellatio Nova Coppers of 1783 and 1785, the Bar Copper of 1785, Auctori Plebis Token 1787, and the Immunis Columbia Copper of 1787 may not be as high as you think.

But our Founding Father didn't give up because the quest for liberty had a few bugs. Some notes and old coin tips before you consider joining the redcoats:

* One collector may love that coin with General Washington's crooked nose. The other may decide there are more flattering portraits of George around.
* Some old coins were re-minted or struck. Collectors and dealers may determine old coin values by the undertype rather than what's on the surface.
* Some old coins have holes, but how far you downgrade an old American coin, from Extremely Fine to Fine or Extremely Fine to Good, is up to you.
* As with other coins, old American coin split grades depend on whether you put greater emphasis on the obverse (the horned eagle, for example) or the reverse.

If you're buying or selling old coins, just remember not to tax your purchase too heavily--remember what happened to the British! The Revolutionary War, after all, started over tea leaves.

   
Is there an exhibit I can see to learn more about ancient coin collecting?

Attend An Exhibit To Learn About Ancient Coin Collecting

If you're interested in ancient coin collecting from Rome and Greece,
The American Numismatic Association Money Museum hosts an exhibit, “The Die Cast: Money of the Ancient World.” You'll get the opportunity to learn about coins from the 7th Century B.C. through 476 A.D., the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire. You'll get to learn about why the first coins were created, why, and what they bought during that time period. The American Numismatic Association Money Museum will hold the exhibit through September 2007 at its location on 818 N. Cascade Avenue in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

   
What is a draped bust coin and what is it worth?

Draped Bust Cents

That old American coin with a flowing-hair girl may seem old-fashioned in an age of peekaboos and belly buttons showing--although Victorians could be just as ribald as Madonna used to be.

Madge knows classic looks are worth as much as the value of old coins, especially rare and beautiful ones. We like the Grecian-style Draped Bust cent produced between 1796 and 1807 (rare dates: 1799 and 1804) that, circulated, is worth up to $250.

Uncirculated, your demure old coin might fetch $3,500. There's something to be said for classic old coin values. Just check the appearance of the coin. Toning might give your American beauty a case of acne, but don't reach for the airbrush or Clearasil, since these imperfections can enhance the appearance of the lovely lady on the face of the old coin.

The Draped Bust old American coin was reportedly modeled after Anne Bingham. Like today's pop stars, her image showed up everywhere as all of America toted Anne Bingham's likeness, at least until the mid-19th century, when Americans discovered coin collecting. Many of the coins became jewelry or casualties of history, so Draped Bust cents have appreciated in value.

Will Madonna ever grace an old coin that our descendants will collect? Anything's possible, such as our newfound respect for the timeless beauty of old coins.

   
What are some popular valuable old coins I can collect?

Oldies But Goodies

You've never been a fan of the oldies. When your dad turns on the Big Band or your husband switches the XM radio to Elvis and the Big Bopper, you tune out. But drop an old American coin into your hand and you get nostalgic.

Just remember, the value of old coins can fluctuate depending on who's selling and who's bidding. The Chuck D'Ambra Coins Web site names several "hot" golden old coin requests:

* Circulated US wheat cents dated 1958 and earlier
* 1943 zinc plated steel pennies struck on a bronze planchet
* Uncirculated silver dimes, quarters and half dollars dated 1964 and earlier
* US silver dollars dated until 1935

While not all old coins are valuable, old coin values can make you want to sing along with your dad's Big Band. A 1943 Lincoln Cent (copper) is worth $20,000-$40,000 circulated at auction and can fetch up to $95,000 if uncirculated.

Celebrate the popular oldies your way. While other people collect tunes and wax nostalgic about Elvis, you can sing the praises of old coins.

   
What is the Seated Barber Dime and why is it valuable?

Seated Barber Dimes

People weren't so very different in late 19th century America. We griped about war, domestic agendas, and money, Specfically, the look of money. When people clamored for an improvement on the Seated Liberty design, US Mint Chief Engraver Charles Barber produced the Barber quarter, dime and half-dollar. The obverse design looks a bit like the Liberty dime except with shorter hair and a Liberty Cap. The Barber dimes had a run between 1892 and 1916. Presumably, the public clamored for something new, maybe to distract themselves from World War I.

What's the value of old coins with the Barber design? An 1894 Seated Barber Dime old American coin is valued at $75,000 (Good), $81,250 (Very Good), and $90,630 (Fair). It's the rarest Barber coin (and the most counterfeited.)

But what if you don't have the 1894 booty? Beginners can start collecting Good and Very Good grades of every other coin. Some old coin tips:

* Uncirculated old coins will have unbroken mint luster ovver both sides, and are, oddly enough, easier to find than Extra Fine and Almost Uncirculated.
* Circulated old coins in Good and Very Good grades will have higher old coin values if you spot slight wear and signs of circulation on Liberty's cheek and elsewhere, such as in the fields.
* You can actually collect a complete set of Barber old coins, such as in BU rolls.
* Coin dealers will often sell you a Barber old coin for $2-$4, although early issues such as the 1893/2 are valued at $115 (Good) to $290 (Extra Fine).

Celebrate the fact that some things never change, but luckily old coin values improve with time.

   
How do I get started collecting old and ancient coins?

Old and Ancient Coins

"Old" and "ancient" seem to be used synonymously, but most senior citizens would balk and being called "ancient." Fortunately, old coins don't mind boasting about their ages, since the value of old coins can outdo Social Security, or at least provide a viable investment

An ancient coin such as an old drachma from Alexander's time or anything in gold, silver and bronze coming from our ancient ancestors in the Mediterranean is, surprisingly, as available to collectors as an old American coin. In fact, Russian old coins may even cost you fewer rubles. The Twelve Copper Coins of Ancient Japan can fetch less than a dollar or hundreds of dollars.

But in order to buy old coins from ancient eras, you have to do your homework. You don't have to go to the Great Library of Alexandria, although a trip to Athens may aid you in your quest not to be golden fleeced. There are wonderful ancient coin resources online, and other collectors as well as auctioneers can educate you on old coin values as well as give you old coin tips.

Some apparent fakes that have been unearthed:

* A Severus Alexander Roman coin from Bulgaria
* A Year 2 Bar Kochba ancient Jerusalem coin
* A Jewish War Shekel
* Medieval coins with edges--coiners from the Middle Ages shaved off old coin edges

Check with the Ancient Coin Certification Service. After all, you've been around a few years--your buddies joke that you dated Cleopatra! No wonder you like collecting ancient coins.

You're a senior citizen, not an ancient, with energy and a desire to pursue a new adventure. Remember not to get too offended when someone calls you "ancient." Just smile and say, "No, I'm a classic."

   
Why do my old coins look like they have a fungus?

Old Coins and Fungus Infections

Do your old coins look as though the creature from the "Alien" series ate them? They're covered in green slime.

Relax--if your ancient coin is made of bronze, it just has a case of "bronze disease." Several blue-green or green patches will bloom on your old coin. If they're fuzzy, that's a sure sign of bronze disease. The fuzziness, rather than the color, determines if your old coins have this equivalent of athlete's foot.

Bronze disease starts when cuprous chloride in the coin mixes with water or humidity. Again, relax--you may not have exposed the coin to a muggy day, but it's a good idea to keep your ancient coins in plastic sleeves. Old coin values won't drop with normal wear and tear, but collectors and appraisers may not know about bronze disease. Fortunately, the value of old coins can be improved. You may even resell the coin for a higher price than you paid, because past collectors might have thought the defect was permanent.

N.B.: just wiping off the green fuzz won't work--that's only a cosmetic solution, you need some old coin tips on maintaining your bronze coins.

Barry & Darling Ancient Coins recommends soaking your old coin in distilled water for several days, changing water as needed. Don't use tap water. Tougher cases require strong chemicals, so you should consult an ancient and old coin expert. Strong chemicals may damage the patina.

One last tip: Many old coins were packed in earthenware jars in dirt, especially ancient Roman coins, and while all that ancient soil might be valuable to archaeologists, it can erode your old coins. You may not be able to correct this defect, but some experts recommend soaking coins in olive or lanolin oil. These are gentler cleansers than strong chemical cleaners.

Always wear protective gloves and goggles, as well as an apron, when working with strong chemicals. They're not quite as strong as Sigourney Weaver's fighting moves, but they pack a punch.

   
What is that old British shilling worth?

Old British Shilling Values

As the fascination with Princess Diana suggests, people still aren't immune to the allure of British royalty, tabloid tales aside. If you're an old coin collector, you may want to specialize in British money from the Royal Mint.

Before you dive in to old coins, however, you'll need some old coin tips. Buyer beware: Victoria doesn't get much respect in the old coin values game. Worn old coins from her reign are worth about as much as silver bullion, which translates to .53 pence or about a dollar US. However, one shilling from 1882 can command $275 in Extra Fine condition.

Earlier royalty such as Charles II reap most of the rewards. The Charles II 1666 old coin with an elephant below the royal bust on the obverse fetches $2000 in Extremely Fine condition.

Some jolly good tips, pip pip:

--Coins minted before the 20th century usually don't have denominations. They're milled or produced on a machine press. Old coin guides usually measure the value of British old coins by diameter and weight.
--Unlike medieval coins, old coins in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries didn't have their edges clipped or shaved. If you're foggy on British royalty, just look at the edges to see if you're looking at Henry IV or George V.
--Some old coins were printed with the number of the dies used to make them. This doesn't add to the value of old coins from the British Empire.
--If you have an old coin rated BU or Brilliant Uncirculated, it's the same as in the US--you have quite a find. However, if an appraiser says your guinea proof set rates a Fleur de Coin, break out the high tea, because a Fleur de Coin proof old coin rates perfect mint state. This would be rare with old coins.

While you may not be ready to sing "God Save the Queen," you can at least own a piece of the crown.

   
What old American coins can I buy inexpensively?

Inexpensive Old American Coins

While you start your old coin collection, you wish you could go back to the 19th century and bring back copper nickel cents, half-cents, three-cent silver old coins, bust dimes and Barber quarters.

There's no need to muck about with the space-time continuum. You may not be able to spend 30 dollars or 60 dollars a pop. It's reasonable, for example, to spend $15 for a three-cent nickel from 1865-1889 in Good/Very Good (G/VG) condition, or $5 for a Barber quarter from 1892-1899 in G/VG condition. Old coin values are worth the cash investment. Three-cent nickels can be worth $125 if it turns out yours is uncirculated, so the value of old coins can outweigh what you do spend.

Do your research on the condition of your coin. Will it resell for a higher price if it's G/VG grade, especially closer to the VG? That depends on the condition of the coin--do the design elements, such as the three-cent nickel's feminine face and tiara, with "Liberty" spelled out, as well as the letters and numerals look clear?

A little information on your circulated old American coin will save you a crash course in time travel.

   
Are most ancient coins worth a lot of money?

Ancient Coin Values

A misconception about ancient coin values is that the older coins will be worth more money. After all, why wouldn't a coin thousands of years old be worth a lot of money? The truth is, because many ancient coins have surfaced over the years, they are common in the coin collecting industry, and therefore not unreasonably priced. Modern day occurrences like construction and the use of metal detectors have unearthed numerous ancient coins over the years. With the discovery of so many pieces, ancient coin values remain affordable for the most part today. As with every type of coin, you can always find pieces worth much more than others, but as long as the supply overwhelms demand, coin collectors can enjoy the purchase of ancient coins at lower prices.

   
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