There is nothing quite like holding an ancient coin in your hand. For that moment, it’s as if every year that has passed, every empire that has risen, and all those that have come before us are alive in a coin that has been preserved for 1,500 to 2600 years. The term ancients refers to coins struck in the Western world from about 650 B.C. to 480 A.D. These coins are nothing short of numismatic and cultural treasures, comprising the most important historical figures and iconic imagery from Greece, Rome and the Byzantine Empire.
Ancient coins have long enjoyed a strong collector base in Europe and abroad, and stateside collectors have just begun to catch on to this trend. U.S. Customs trade restrictions regarding the importing of coins from Europe have been heightened—creating much less supply in the U.S. for coins that are already extremely scarce, making every offering of ancient coins that much more meaningful. Most importantly, our independent studies of ancient coin values show consistent growth and positive performance. In many cases the values of ancient coins have doubled in the last ten years. We strongly urge that in addition to bullion and rare U.S. coins, a truly diversified coin portfolio should include a selection of important graded ancient coins.
Ancient coins are handmade works of art, and each one is unique. Unlike modern coinage that is produced from machines, every part of the process involved in producing ancient gold, silver, and bronze coins is done by hand. As a result, no two ancient coins are the same even if minted using the same dies. The blank—or flan—was produced by hand pouring molten metal into molds. These were designed to be within a certain weight range but the process did not always result in similar shaped flans.
Every coin type issued in the ancient world would have had multiple engravers working on designing the dies for a coin. Each engraver had a slightly different style, resulting in coins with varying degrees of beauty, style, relief and overall eye appeal.
Ancient coins were struck with two coining dies, each depicting the coin in a negative form. The flan was then placed between the upper and lower dies then struck with a heavy hammer rendering a positive image on the flan. This method method was used for centuries and is the origin of the term striking a coin.
The earliest ancient coins were struck in the seventh century B.C. in Lydia (modern day Turkey), in response to discoveries of naturally occurring gold and silver known as electrum. These early coins were crudely struck and featured very simple designs, usually an animal on the obverse and a simple design on the reverse. The Athenian Tetradrachm “owl” was struck from around 512 B.C. until just around the mid-first century B.C.
Acquiring ancient coins
While there is an abundance of low-grade and common ancient coins discovered in European hoards. These coins are relatively easy to find and certainly make for a nice conversation piece. There are also a number of dealers that offer uncertified coins. However, the market is fraught with unscrupulous dealers offering ancient coins and navigating the market can feel like a daunting task.
In an effort to provide our collectors the highest levels of assurance when acquiring ancient coins, we only sell ancient coins certified by NGC. When you purchase ancient coins from Coin Advisor, you can be confident that you are getting exactly what you paid for.