Legitimate Places to Purchase Roman Coins
If you are just starting out buying ancient Roman coins, be aware
that there are many dishonest coin dealers who have no qualms about
separating you from your money by sending you a fake or misrepresenting
the value of a coin.
You should read up on the British Numismatic Trade Association (BNTA)
website: www.numis.co.uk/bnta.html. Members of the BNTA have to be based
in the UK and British Isles, and they must be sponsored by two existing
members and agree to a code of ethics in order to be admitted. All
members are reviewed annually. The BNTA has its own logo that is
displayed by members, and its website also contains a list of the many
dozens of member coin dealers. This is a good place to start.
Because there are so many ancient Roman coins, you can purchase them,
sometimes starting as low as £30 to £50. If you stick with Roman coin
dealers who specialize in ancient coins and who are members of the BNTA,
you’ll minimize your chances of buying a counterfeit. Dealers that have
been around for a long time have most likely not participated in trade
of fakes or counterfeits.
Fakes are produced by many means, including
the following three:
Altering real coins by changing inscriptions to
those of a more valuable coin or by adding detail that would make the
coin seem to be in better condition than it is.
Striking coins from
new dies and a hammer. These are often sold as copies, but there are
dishonest dealers who may try to pass them off as the real thing.
Making a mold from a real coin, then pouring melted metal into the mold
to make more.
Keep in mind that the places you are most likely to buy
are near real archaeological sites. In some cases, the countries (Egypt
and Greece are two) do not allow sales of authentic coins, but at the
same time, they don’t prosecu
te sellers of counterfeit coins. Add in a language barrier, and you have
a situation where it is easy for tourists to buy fakes.
If you want to
buy coins on Internet auction sites, do some homework first. Check up on
the reputation of the dealer. While you should certainly only buy from
sellers with excellent ratings, keep in mind that not all feedback you
read on auction sites is real.
Sometimes fraudulent sellers try to make their auctions “private,” to
prevent experienced buyers from warning new collectors about them.
Fraudulent sellers will likely have a “no return” policy, whereas a
legitimate seller will allow you to return a coin that is found to be a
fake. But then, legitimate sellers are less likely to sell you a fake by
accident in the first place.
Collectors of ancient Roman coins often
start by buying a few un-cleaned specimens. These are much easier to
find now than they were a few years ago due to poor economic conditions
forcing people to sell collectible items. Usually, these are real, but
are low quality coins of the late Empire. While you can learn to clean
an ancient coin yourself, it is easy to ruin them that way. It is often
better for beginners to pay extra for a coin that has been cleaned by a
professional. And there is no need to rush when building a collection of
coins. Know what interests you most: a particular emperor, a particular
material, or a particular time span. Learn your subject before buying,
and then do what you can to make sure you purchase your coins from a