When you collect coins, the ancient ones are a pretty attractive option and, by far, the most popular ones are the Roman Imperial Coins.
The first one is how easy you can get these coins. The Roman coins are very easy to find in countries from Europe like Italy, France, Spain, Great Britain, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, from Asia, like Turkey, Syria, or Africa like Egypt. The regions were occupied by the Romans in ancient times and coin finds are numerous and also the collectors’ interest in this domain is large. But if you live in the USA or Australia, finding the coins you need can be hard and usually you must bring them from abroad or, if you buy them from a local market, pay a little bit more, because of their scarcity on the local market.
But that is not all. In some cases, you cannot take out from some countries ancient coins or artifacts, because of the laws. Moreover, in some countries, owning these coins is prohibited by law, with some exceptions. So, before you start these collection, find out as much as you can about the opportunities you have or the difficulties you may encounter.
After deciding to start a collection and finding a market from where you can buy, you must think what you want to buy. First of all, a collection with all the nominal values. If you try to collect all these coins that circulated from the first century to the second century AD, you will need to find two gold coins, an aureus and a quinarius aureus, two silver ones, the denarius and the quinarius argenteus, and five bronze ones, the sestertius, the dupondius, the as, the semis and the quadrans. But to complete the collection you will need some serious money, finding an aureus below 2000 $ being a real chance (usually this coin is worth 4000-6000 $). A decent denarius can be found from 20 $ to 200 $, and it can be even more expensive if it is a rare type. The sesterius is also a little bit expensive, around 100-200 $, sometimes cheaper or not. The other bronze coins are easy to find.
But the sum of money that you are willing to give is not enough. For example, if you live in Germany, it will be pretty easy to find silver or gold coins on the local market. Why? Because the Roman Empire paid to the German populations large sums of money as subsidia, different gifts for different reasons. And the payment was made, of course, in precious metal. But it is hard to find here bronze coins because these were hard to transport, a large number was necessary to make a big sum of money and also because these coins were subsidiary coinage, that means that you need a central authority that will guaranty it’s legal tender. In France for example, you can find nice bronze coins or even silver but gold coins are very rare.
Depending on the money you have, you can collect only a particular type of coins. For example silver denarii. The bronze sestetius is also an attractive option, due to its large dimensions (usually 27 gr. and around 25-35 mm) and its beautiful scenes. But even then you will try to find a more particular theme.
For example, a coin for each emperors from Augustus to Romulus Augustus (27 BC to 476 AD). But it is hard to find them all, because there are hundreds of them. Also, some are rare, like Otho(69 AD), Vitellius (69 AD), Pescenius Niger(193) and many others but in some cases they are impossible to find, like Julian of Pannonia (285) or Valerius Valens (316). Some collectors try to concentrate on one dynasty like the Julio-Claudian one (14-68, Tiberius, Caligula, Nero) or the Severian one( 193-235, Septimius Severus, Caracalla, Geta, Heliogabalus, Severus Alexander). You can also decide to collect the coins minted for the emperor’s wife, mother, daughter, father and so on. Some people collect these emperors starting from ancient sources. For example, Suetonious Lives of the twelve Caesars , describing the lives from Caesar to Domitian.
Another theme of collecting, very popular, is represented by the coins with the emperor on one side and a member of his family on the other. The perfect coin of this type is an aureus minted by Septimius Severus, with a reverse showing the face of Iulia Domna, his wife, and their two children on each side, Caracalla and Geta.
The type of Consecratio, types minted for a dead emperor soon after his death, usually showing him carried away by an eagle or on an altar, are also an option.
Usually, the Roman coins carry on the reverse gods or goddesses. Some people collect a particular god. For example, the Mother of The Gods, Cybelle, or the goddess of love, Venus, or the god of war, Mars, or the goddess of wisdom, Minerva.
If you collect these types, you must know how to identify these gods. Each of them has some particular features. For example, Minerva is always wearing a round shield and a spear and has on her head a helmet. Sometimes she is accompanied by her animal, an owl. The goddess of fortune, Fortuna, is shown with a rudder and a cornucopia, a symbol of wealth. She can sit on a throne or can stand looking on one side.
A god can have different names. For example, Mars can be the god of peace, Mars Pacificatori, or the god of victori, Mars Victor, or the god of revenge, Mars Ultor with different images.
Usually rare, in some cases the goddess is a personification of a defeated enemy. A woman that appears on the Trajan series of coins with the legend DACIA CAPTA (the conquered Dacia) is the personification of that province.
On the reverse military scenes can appear, weapons taken from the prisoners, like a sestertius of Antoninus Pius, showing some ancilla , particular shields.
Or maybe scenes with the emperor, in religious moments, like sacrificing before an altar, political ones, speaking in front of the troops (ADLOCVTIO AVGVSTI) or the Senate, or military ones.
Another main problem is represented by the fake coins. Ever since the XVI century, making fake coins for profit was profitable business. One of the most famous counterfeit was the german Carl Becker, who lived in the first half of the XIX century. He had a special gift for this job and his creations are considered masterpieces, in some cases hard to identify as fakes. It is also true that today his fakes are considered to be more expensive then the originals but the fake is a fake.
Unfortunately, today, some fakes are very dangerous for collectors. The fakes from the Bulgarian school are almost perfect in some cases. Also the Chinese fakes are starting to be more accurate then ever. Only with time and experience, these fakes can be avoided.
But in the end, you will decide what you want to collect. And even if you know that the collection will never be finished, as all the coin collections, the satisfaction will still be great when you add a new beautiful piece to it.
ANCIENT ROMAN IMPERIAL COINS (27 BC to AD 476)
Julius Caesar who is today’s most known assassinated roman. Julius started preaching at his Aunt Julia’s funeral claiming that he himself had descended from Roman Kings and Roman Gods. According to the opposed Circero, in 49 BC Caesar had crossed the Rubicon (is a river that flows for 29 kms from the Apennine Mountains to the Adriatic Sea through the southern Emilia-Romagna region between the towns of Rimini and Cesena) and was worshipped and greeted as a God. After many victories in civil wars Caesar received followers to cults and worshipped as a god and as a saviour, temples were built in his honour. By 48 BC Caesar was finally deified in the temple of Zeus-Amun in Alexandria .
The Ancient Imperial Romans developed cults and worshipped a few select emperors as gods once they were deceased; the only emperor to declare himself a god while still living was Domitian which caused outrage. A prominent element of religion in the Roman Empire was to make gods out of deceased emperors. The emperor to overthrow and reign after the last emperor had passed would make his public believe the last emperor was godly and those of his family would have the word Divus before their names or Diva if it were a female. This was generally used as regard to the essential stepping stone to the status of divinity. The cult soon spread over the whole extent of the Empire. It was only abandoned in the Dominate, after the emperor Constantine I started supporting Chris tianity.
The apotheosis of an Emperor was an essentially political act performed by the dead emperor\\\‘s successor to reinforce the majesty of the imperial office, and, often quite effectively, to associate the current emperor with a well-regarded predecessor. Since it was a propaganda tool focused on leaders, the Roman imperial cult can be considered a cult of personality.
Thus being the reason why in the Imperial Roman coins you will see the heads of the emperors or there divine status family members. With the making of these coins it would enforce their status as a godly figure and also at the sam e tim e let the people know the current state of parliament.