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Shower thought- Any ancient coin that you'd ever own in your life already exist!


JayAg47
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Posted (edited)

Well, I guess that's why they call them "ancient"!

A different question that occurs to me: what percentage of the ancient coins you own do you think were dug up during your lifetime?

Edited by DonnaML
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1 hour ago, DonnaML said:

A different question that occurs to me: what percentage of the ancient coins you own do you think were dug up during your lifetime?

I know the find date of two thirds of my ancients. Three quarters of those were found in my lifetime. I imagine the ones I don't know were more likely to be found longer ago, but I would guess overall, two thirds were found in my lifetime.

The numbers are biased because I'm more likely to buy a coin if it has a provenance, which coins found recently are more likely to have. Provenances can be lost, or, it seems, people have been more likely to report treasure in the UK since the 1997 Treasure Act.

chart
From the British Museum.

But even with this bias, it's possible that in any case, more coins have been found in my lifetime than beforehand. A huge increase in finds has come about with the advent of the metal detector, the growth in popularity of which has broadly coincided with my lifetime.

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21 minutes ago, John Conduitt said:

it's possible that in any case, more coins have been found in my lifetime than beforehand.

I suspect that that's an accurate guess for the universe of ancient coins that have been "on the market" in our lifetimes (especially, perhaps, since the fall of the Iron Curtain).  But if one considers the larger universe of all ancient coins in public and private hands, including the tens of millions of ancient coins supposedly owned by museums around the world (many of them sitting uncataloged in museum basements!), I would think that the majority of such coins were probably acquired before any of us were born. .

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