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Thursday, June 8, 2017

How to buy Ancient Coins

This is not an article on why to buy Ancient Coins.  If you already understand the appeal, you may still find the marketplace to be something of a puzzle.

Ancients are not like any other type of coinage.  Mintages are unknown.  Population reports are almost useless even in the very few cases where they exist.  Styles vary widely even within particular issues.

But you still need a criteria upon which to base your choices.

1) The best criteria over time is your own eye.  If you have a good eye for painting, architecture, sculpture, it does translate.

Even if - or perhaps especially - if you have a good ear - it translates.  Not because you can get a sound out of a coin - but because you have a well developed sense of aesthetics.

Ancient Coins are works of art.  If you approach them that way, you will rarely be disappointed.

2) Understand and Study some area of history you find fascinating. 

Coins are historical documents.  If you approach them that way you will rarely be disappointed.

3) Investigate which coins are most beautiful and most historicaly important in the areas that interest you most.

Okay, so you know how to find coins you like.  How to price coins?

The worst criteria over time is to look up recent auction results and then try to get a coin just under the last price.  The last price might have been a steal which will never be replicated, or it might have been a colossal mistake created by two bull headed collectors with very deep pockets.

So how to price a coin?. 

A) Look at many auction results and private transaction off of lists over long periods of time.  

B) realize that very small differences in condition and style can mean huge differences in price.

C ) Then apply your own personal system of aesthetics.  

D) Always Always buy the best: the most beautiful coin in the best condition that you can afford.

This system of selection is also an art - not a science. 

C - your own system of aesthetics is always the most important criteria.