If you are a collector with a low budget, particularly a coin collector then you should seriously consider taking up the hobby of Roman coin collecting.
There are a number of reasons why you should consider collecting Roman coins then other Ancient Coins.
Unlike other ancient coins there are a wide variety of Ancient Roman coins featuring many different Roman emperors. This is due to the vast time and area that the Empire covered. Countless coins were made between the 1st and 5th century over a large area of the world which the Roman Empire covered and these coins reflect the location and period that they were minted.
Also its great to know what the Roman Emperors looked like. It was common practice during the time of the Roman Empire to inscribe the portrait of the Emperor on the coins that were minted during their reign.
Roman coins are the least expensive of all Ancient coins. Other ancient coins include for example Greek, Barbaric, Celtic, Parthian, Nabathaean, Islamic, Indian and Chinese.
Collecting Ancient roman coins is less expensive then collecting modern day coins because more people collect modern coins then Ancient coins so there is less demand for them. Secondly as I have already stated the Roman Empire was vast covering a large area and over a long period of time. Because so many Roman coins were minted they are not as rare as some may believe.
There are also less forgeries of Roman coins then other coins particularly modern day coins. This is largely due to the fact that they are less rare and expensive.
Another reason why I enjoy collecting Roman coins is that they have more then just historic value. These coins have creative and artistic value. They have been beautifully crafted and reflect the culture and environment of where they were made.
The currency in Ancient Rome had intrinsic value as their coins were made from precious metals such as Gold and Silver. This can make the coins more special to collect but you should make sure you have a higher enough budget before collecting the Gold coins as these are significantly more expensive.
What determines the worth of a Roman coin
The price of a Roman coin can vary radically and is due to a number of factors. The two most important factors are how the coin was minted and the condition that the coin is in.
The condition of the coin depends on how the coin was stored before being found or how tarnished the coin has become due to minerals in the ground.
The grade of the coin is determined by how the coin was minted when it was manufactured. These coins were minted by hand and so are not always entirely circular or detailed. A coin can be less detailed and of less value if it was struck by dies that were worn down.
Trying to determine the grade of a coin can be tricky and occasionally you have to go with how appealing and detailed you think the coin is.
Another factor that determines a coins worth is how rare that coin is. Rarity is less of a factor in determining a Roman coins value then modern day coins.
More people collect modern coins and therefore there is greater demand for them. Also because modern coins are less varied then Roman coins the value of a modern coin can be driven up if collectors are trying to complete their collections. This is less of an issue with Roman coins as the variety is much greater and collectors are less likely to complete their collection. Each collection will be different. Rare Roman coins do exist however. If an emperor was only in power for a short period of time less coins are likely to have been minted during his reign. These coins are harder to find and cost more.
You should be wary of coin dealers that use terms such as rare or very rare to describe a coin. A coin that is described as rare may not necessarily be rare. Some of those who are new to coin collecting will be misled by such claims. If someone describes a coin as rare you should determine how rare and why the coin is rare. Does the dealer of the coin give an RIC number and provide the range. Do not be tempted to purchase a coin just because someone describes it as rare.
Once you become more experienced it will be much easier to determine yourself if a coin is uncommon, scarce, rare or very rare.
Price of different Roman coins
Truly rare coins that are sort after will not sell for much less than $100, and often for much more. Hence, a coin of Constantine described as rare with an asking price of just a few dollars is very unlikely to be so. There are sellers on eBay who claim that their coin is rare, or they have only seen one in 10 years, but there is another one just like it being offered on eBay by someone else.
To get an idea of the diversity in price for different Roman coins, for $5 to $10 you can buy good quality coins minted under late third and forth century AD emperors.
For about $10-$20, you can collect a coin from the more famous 1st and 2nd century emperors, and of many later ones in very nice condition. In fact, for $20 a coin, you can quite easily assemble a collection of more than half of the emperors (over 50) in very nice condition with clear portraits and readable legends.
There can be a large variety of coins for each emperor. Some will be in better condition, or more rare, but if your interested in purchasing decent quality coins and you dont want to pay too much you may not have to look much further.
Why not occasionally purchase a more expensive and rare coin, or one of a high grade or condition made out of Gold or Silver. This could be very expensive but could be resold to a coin dealer for a good price. Some prefer cheaper coins that require some cleaning as it adds to the mystery and occasionally a rare and expensive coin can be found.
To summarize look for coins that you find appealing and from a period you find interesting. Perhaps you want like collecting coins from famous emperors or you are interested in Biblical coins. If you do purchase a more expensive coin dont worry about rarity too much but purchase a coin in good condition and grade. If you purchase the coin from a coin dealer dont forget to do some research first and ask the right questions.