Roman Coins

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: 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 a fake 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 reputable dealer.