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How did you figure out what you want to collect?


ComicMan

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Everyone likes something different, right?

But did you start off with a plan in mind, 12 caesars, good emperors, etc. or did you just buy a few coins that you liked? Where did you go from there?

Pictured below are 2 of my first Greek coins, a bronze and a silver. I really like mythology so seeing Perseus with the Pegasus and Apollo with his Lyre really appealed to me. I am still figuring out where I want to go, but I decided that it will probably be Roman (not that I have any regrets about these 2, I still find them beautiful).

3363743_1665582403.jpg

PONTUS. Amisos.Time of Mithradates VI Eupator.(Circa 85-65 BC).Ae.

3363893_1665582486.jpg

 

LYCIAN LEAGUE.Masicytes.(Circa 27-20 BC).Hemidrachm.

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I started out looking for themes, heroes and gods on Greek and, surprise surprise, one of each for Roman. 

But now I only buy the coins that truly speak to me...

MugLife_07252020182544.gif.3dd17113259c131ee37880052a1febcc.gif

OK, this one isn't mine, but I did create it and would be interested in its owner's thoughts on the subject.... looking for his tag

Once I found the areas that I'm most passionate about I reevaluated and continue to enjoy coin collecting more and more as I "Ride the tiger"

2229958_1633350129.l.jpg.e5c1dea71aca8d9a52b1623bf2078980.jpgScreenshot_20220508-132424_PicCollage-removebg-preview.png.3bac7cddfe13e91ea2bbc90b531d6eb0.png2744660_1649765838.l-removebg-preview.png.30740ed6f2772dc8959aba043aa5fec7.png

Edited by Ryro
To add dopeness
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11 minutes ago, Cordoba said:

started as a generalist, mostly collected islamic coins since I was most interested in those. started with a few late roman bronzes and an umayyad coin, and then i bought what i thought looked cool. didn't really have a plan back then, so my earlier collection is pretty random.

main focus now is the greco-bakrian kingdom and umayyad spain. i like both of these because they kinda have the same theme of a culture far from their homeland. 

image.png.a8f10fea651ff42043670ee45c1d8b4d.png

Eukratides II Soter AR Tetradrachm

Really cool coin!

I like coinage from the Cimmerian Bosporus for the same reason, before I really looked into it I would have never expected the Greeks to get so far, you know I always had in my head that ti was mostly just Greece. But then you look into it and the Hellenic world stretched far and wide, and now I just nod when I see a Buddha statue from Gandhara in the Greek section of the museum.

I must admit that I don't really see the appeal of Ummayad coins and others because I cannot read them and so the designs just don't speak to me as much, but it just shows that there is something for everyone!

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3 minutes ago, Ryro said:

I started out looking for themes, heroes and gods on Greek and, surprise surprise, one of each for Roman. 

But now I only buy the coins that truly speak to me...

MugLife_07252020182544.gif.3dd17113259c131ee37880052a1febcc.gif

OK, this one isn't mine, but I did create it and would be interested in its owner's thoughts on the subject.... looking for his tag

 

 

Imagine what our coins would tell us if they could speak sing.

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Here was my progression:

  • Ooh. Alexander the Great! I want one of those.
  • Wow! There's Diadochi too? Okay, Seleukos, Ptolemy, Kassander, Lysimachos, Demetrios... That's all, right?
  • So, it looks like there were 18 people who minted coins around then. Let's collect them all and I'll be done.
  • Hmmm... Seems like it's a bit more than 18. Let's see ... 1...2...3....112. Yeah. That's about right.
  • But what about the cities? They minted coins around this time too. There can't be that many.
  • There are at least 342 cities that minted coins this time in the territory of Alexander the Great. Let's get started!

331A1051-Edit.jpg.be34fbd259bd57a168fe0414d2760510.jpg

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I used to collect anything and everything ancient or medieval. The big catalyst for my focus change was the CNG sale of the late Mr. Simon Bendall’s collection. Ive never had one sale where I learned about so many coins I had no idea existed. I spent the days up to the sale learning as much as I could about to what was being offered. I ended up winning one trachy which led me to buying and downloading some reference works. After this, I started to buying trachy group lots (with no real understanding of what I was doing). I received the easy to use Lianta’s Late Byzantine Coins in the Ashmolean Museum for that Christmas which helped me learn the series quite quickly. The rest, as they say, is history. 

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8FC5B39C-7915-49B6-97C5-E6D767904AB8.jpeg.02a90d39481742aea4adb92fb334415a.jpeg
 

8D4BA226-694B-4E94-9333-02DCD6E55595.jpeg.fe85802b7830c7eea52bef5821023599.jpeg

This group lot was the next big catalyst in my journey. After the CNG sale, I started to collect Late Byzantine but still dabbled in greek and roman. When this lot came up and I won it, my heart was forever set on late Byzantine. This might still be my best deal of all time. 140£ for the lot, the miliaresion I was able to sell for half of that. Of the five I kept

316F06F4-87A4-4AFD-86EE-34297EF8A8B7.jpeg.820093d9344e37e790849c0eb6c22494.jpeg6497D27A-8489-4EE1-B9F2-6B1027E1889F.jpeg.385b028215862bee0bc7ec1d69f7d08f.jpeg

Andronikos III Politikon Tornese, decently rare

1C5E39E2-4232-4651-802E-C05A0E6BFF62.jpeg.6623f9cdde8154d1a01e676a2db37526.jpeg

Andronikos II amd Michael IX tornese, very rare

02E6DBFF-F4B2-4703-AFEC-F6AA9763552E.jpeg.21d9c80615783705a940807c918f7fef.jpeg5DBC49EA-E4C6-4AC1-85B1-594814ED3936.jpeg.8c857d17fcaa530f3f054f81b4cc434d.jpeg

Unpublished ar trachy of John III Vatazes. I am aware of two other examples, both of which were misidentified when sold.

2C6F35CE-5F4E-4847-834A-23F0EAFCF275.jpeg.459022b6442ad5cdbaccf50f6ee39486.jpegA50554E5-4326-4841-ADD1-B85B28F7B60A.jpeg.8df1d42a84351f9a1d28138975cd49b2.jpeg

Unpublished basilikon of Michael IX. One other example recently came to sale, misidentified 

A1294F9A-E819-4E35-892B-CBD0A15A466D.jpeg.470296040332a06f6404a1b81d571efb.jpeg022082F2-7285-4149-94AA-50D0599C3C2F.jpeg.ecf1c89cc061c58b9b736dbe6789456d.jpeg

Unpublished (not for long, keep an eye out for KOINON VI) tornese of Andronikos II. One of two known

FC052252-CFE4-4537-B324-46C81A5DEEE4.jpeg.3d9886dca0398dff848c260328f13394.jpegCD2530B0-1E28-46FD-A3DE-008025D2A097.jpeg.d5915c5dcacfb8c5596b689d61740429.jpeg

The other of two known, found about two years apart.

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I collected modern coins and banknotes as a kid. Found my old albums when I was 27-28. Restarted the hobby. Took me 8 years or so to accomplish an almost complete collection of my country's coinage. What's missing is too expensive for me so I won't even bother.
I was starting to get a little bored of modern numismatics so in autumn of 2020 I was wondering what should I collect. The options were a.) continue with modern coins, but switch the theme b.) medievals c.) ancients.
Of course there was option d.) become a responsible adult and save money, but nah, this wasn't a real option.
I chose ancients because I don't like a.) and b.) and I don't like any other collecting themes - stamps, medals, whatever. I knew almost nothing so it was a challenge. I also had a very distorted idea about ancient coins market value, artistry, condition (I was under the impression a silver ancient coin in a decent condition would cost hundreds of dollars. Any ancient coin).
I bought a big lot of coins from my first auction (35 coins in a lot, mixed denominations, countries and metals), a lot of 8 denarii and a lot of 4 denarii. I identified them myself. Then I started reading everything I could find about ancient coinage. Ever since I allocate a monthly budget to an auction or two and I develop my collection and my knowledge.
To answer the question, I do not intend to specialize in a niche area too much. Initially I was attracted to Roman emperors, preferably from Augustus to Gallienus. This remains  the core theme of my Imperial collection. Then I discovered Greek coins and Provincial coins. Provincials look difficult and less interesting for a new collector. This is false. What I like now and what I buy
- Imperial coins from the mentioned period (I prefer coins with reverses as unique as possible; also I like coins with portraits of empresses)
- Greek and Provincial coins showing, also, interesting reverses - for me an interesting reverse is showing a mythological story; a historical event; a weapon; a building or anything other than a deity seated or standing. Not that I have something against them - just added in my album a Marcus Aurelius as Caesar denarius with a reverse with Virtus standing, so nothing special, but these are not my first choice)
- coins with animals. I am very glad when I manage to add an animal I don't have.

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Over the decades I'd had many collecting themes but I am something like a distracted squirrel.  I cant seem to focus so at this point I simply buy whatever I like, regardless of grade or rarity.  95% of what I collect are large bronzes though.  I picked up this little gem at a local show this past weekend.  Was a real find.  Sadly its now in a slab, which I will break out eventually.  And I paid less than half of what it sold for at auction sixteen years ago!  This is that auction photo, from CNG:

 

1.jpeg

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16 hours ago, kirispupis said:

Here was my progression:

  • Ooh. Alexander the Great! I want one of those.
  • Wow! There's Diadochi too? Okay, Seleukos, Ptolemy, Kassander, Lysimachos, Demetrios... That's all, right?
  • So, it looks like there were 18 people who minted coins around then. Let's collect them all and I'll be done.
  • Hmmm... Seems like it's a bit more than 18. Let's see ... 1...2...3....112. Yeah. That's about right.
  • But what about the cities? They minted coins around this time too. There can't be that many.
  • There are at least 342 cities that minted coins this time in the territory of Alexander the Great. Let's get started!

331A1051-Edit.jpg.be34fbd259bd57a168fe0414d2760510.jpg

Damn, well one day you will get there! Hopefully you don't find out how many people minted those coins after Alexander's lifetime or you will never be done! Nice collection theme though 😉

5 hours ago, TheTrachyEnjoyer said:

8FC5B39C-7915-49B6-97C5-E6D767904AB8.jpeg.02a90d39481742aea4adb92fb334415a.jpeg
 

8D4BA226-694B-4E94-9333-02DCD6E55595.jpeg.fe85802b7830c7eea52bef5821023599.jpeg

This group lot was the next big catalyst in my journey. After the CNG sale, I started to collect Late Byzantine but still dabbled in greek and roman. When this lot came up and I won it, my heart was forever set on late Byzantine. This might still be my best deal of all time. 140£ for the lot, the miliaresion I was able to sell for half of that. Of the five I kept

316F06F4-87A4-4AFD-86EE-34297EF8A8B7.jpeg.820093d9344e37e790849c0eb6c22494.jpeg6497D27A-8489-4EE1-B9F2-6B1027E1889F.jpeg.385b028215862bee0bc7ec1d69f7d08f.jpeg

Andronikos III Politikon Tornese, decently rare

1C5E39E2-4232-4651-802E-C05A0E6BFF62.jpeg.6623f9cdde8154d1a01e676a2db37526.jpeg

Andronikos II amd Michael IX tornese, very rare

02E6DBFF-F4B2-4703-AFEC-F6AA9763552E.jpeg.21d9c80615783705a940807c918f7fef.jpeg5DBC49EA-E4C6-4AC1-85B1-594814ED3936.jpeg.8c857d17fcaa530f3f054f81b4cc434d.jpeg

Unpublished ar trachy of John III Vatazes. I am aware of two other examples, both of which were misidentified when sold.

2C6F35CE-5F4E-4847-834A-23F0EAFCF275.jpeg.459022b6442ad5cdbaccf50f6ee39486.jpegA50554E5-4326-4841-ADD1-B85B28F7B60A.jpeg.8df1d42a84351f9a1d28138975cd49b2.jpeg

Unpublished basilikon of Michael IX. One other example recently came to sale, misidentified 

A1294F9A-E819-4E35-892B-CBD0A15A466D.jpeg.470296040332a06f6404a1b81d571efb.jpeg022082F2-7285-4149-94AA-50D0599C3C2F.jpeg.ecf1c89cc061c58b9b736dbe6789456d.jpeg

Unpublished (not for long, keep an eye out for KOINON VI) tornese of Andronikos II. One of two known

FC052252-CFE4-4537-B324-46C81A5DEEE4.jpeg.3d9886dca0398dff848c260328f13394.jpegCD2530B0-1E28-46FD-A3DE-008025D2A097.jpeg.d5915c5dcacfb8c5596b689d61740429.jpeg

The other of two known, found about two years apart.

Ah, the Trachy enjoyer, finally I meet my nemesis. Well, at least somebody likes them! And it is very cool that you have all the known examples of a coin. Though aren't there probably more out there, also wrongly attributed?

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4 hours ago, Prieure de Sion said:

... not at all, that's the problem! 🤪

Don't worry, you are not the only one haha.

5 hours ago, ambr0zie said:

I collected modern coins and banknotes as a kid. Found my old albums when I was 27-28. Restarted the hobby. Took me 8 years or so to accomplish an almost complete collection of my country's coinage. What's missing is too expensive for me so I won't even bother.
I was starting to get a little bored of modern numismatics so in autumn of 2020 I was wondering what should I collect. The options were a.) continue with modern coins, but switch the theme b.) medievals c.) ancients.
Of course there was option d.) become a responsible adult and save money, but nah, this wasn't a real option.
I chose ancients because I don't like a.) and b.) and I don't like any other collecting themes - stamps, medals, whatever. I knew almost nothing so it was a challenge. I also had a very distorted idea about ancient coins market value, artistry, condition (I was under the impression a silver ancient coin in a decent condition would cost hundreds of dollars. Any ancient coin).
I bought a big lot of coins from my first auction (35 coins in a lot, mixed denominations, countries and metals), a lot of 8 denarii and a lot of 4 denarii. I identified them myself. Then I started reading everything I could find about ancient coinage. Ever since I allocate a monthly budget to an auction or two and I develop my collection and my knowledge.
To answer the question, I do not intend to specialize in a niche area too much. Initially I was attracted to Roman emperors, preferably from Augustus to Gallienus. This remains  the core theme of my Imperial collection. Then I discovered Greek coins and Provincial coins. Provincials look difficult and less interesting for a new collector. This is false. What I like now and what I buy
- Imperial coins from the mentioned period (I prefer coins with reverses as unique as possible; also I like coins with portraits of empresses)
- Greek and Provincial coins showing, also, interesting reverses - for me an interesting reverse is showing a mythological story; a historical event; a weapon; a building or anything other than a deity seated or standing. Not that I have something against them - just added in my album a Marcus Aurelius as Caesar denarius with a reverse with Virtus standing, so nothing special, but these are not my first choice)
- coins with animals. I am very glad when I manage to add an animal I don't have.

Interesting, how do you  recommend going about Greek and provincial coins though? Because I admit, it is more confusing for me right now.

3 hours ago, KenDorney said:

Over the decades I'd had many collecting themes but I am something like a distracted squirrel.  I cant seem to focus so at this point I simply buy whatever I like, regardless of grade or rarity.  95% of what I collect are large bronzes though.  I picked up this little gem at a local show this past weekend.  Was a real find.  Sadly its now in a slab, which I will break out eventually.  And I paid less than half of what it sold for at auction sixteen years ago!  This is that auction photo, from CNG:

 

1.jpeg

Damn, that is a nice coin!

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30 minutes ago, ComicMan said:

Interesting, how do you  recommend going about Greek and provincial coins though? Because I admit, it is more confusing for me right now.

I don't think there is an universal method.  When I was in my first auctions, I was checking Imperial sections only. Because I knew the major emperors, coin types.... SInce Greek and Provincial sections are usually before Imperials, I also looked at those and realized that even if they appear unfriendly, many gems are found there.

When I was a beginner I found Greek coins difficult to identify because they have no legends (and if there are legends, they are short). Many provincials are in modest condition and tend to be overlooked. But after watching auctions in a few months I realized I start to recognize  styles, reverses, types of coins.
Here is one of my latest Provincials.

image.png.b602707b2d6a78c9169494db76f76c1a.png

This coin would have been difficult to identify in my first months of collecting, but after seeing many auctions I knew what I am looking at and I just used my personal preferences to decide what I like and what I don't 🙂
Same for Greek, after a few auctions and seeing lots of coins, I started recognizing and admiring the coins I found beautiful/interesting.

Here is a Greek coin I discovered by seeing it relatively often in auctions and I decided I need one (it took a while, though')

image.png.c311ec50bbf27ca6c796a6f9b2342268.png

Same for Republican coins. I started becoming interested in them after 5-6 months of collecting.

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My reading of history and philosophy led to many collecting directions. I started with US, then moved to early US (half cents), then, after reading about medieval English history, hammered English. I studied some Japanese, so I of course bought some Japanese coins. When reading about the Cynics I learned of the Emperor Julian II, so I picked up a coin of him. Of course, Marcus Aurelius made the transition from reading to getting a coin of his. Most recently, I discovered Byzantine history, so their coins, somewhat of an amalgam between Roman and Medieval, have caught my most recent attention. My problem is that I tend to like everything, so I have to keep a tight rope around my acquisition desires. Where it will go next, I have no idea.

Here are some samples from a few of my various phases:

161_to_162_MarcusAurelius_Denarius_01.png.f3044fba06abf68731d8ac16789ec099.png161_to_162_MarcusAurelius_Denarius_02.png.342129afb86515d96102dc7d40ea54ae.png360_to_363_JulianII_AE1_BIMalorina_01.png.09b86c5be8b8e50023c722ce57b8447a.png360_to_363_JulianII_AE1_BIMalorina_02.png.d75553cb660d8bf925141a5bd8d68846.png820_to_829_MichaelII_AE_Follis_01.png.01f98a388911d80e4b2841f73407ed19.png820_to_829_MichaelII_AE_Follis_02.png.4ff5fb951565ef6e931c51d7629b8790.png886_to_912_LeoVI_AE_Follis_01.png.d69c2e182e56f39e75737570e4c8edb1.png886_to_912_LeoVI_AE_Follis_02.png.29004f0e524a215b6be8a664cab046fc.png1139_to_1339_ItalyGenoa_Gross_01.png.b7c096ea77316c9043c043c4d5354c5a.png1139_to_1339_ItalyGenoa_Gross_02.png.a7f684f83bfb80c8c8c79555190a5ab9.png

1279_to_1307_EdwardI_Penny_obv.png.2010324c5c5a8fb564e4923d191ad0f9.png1279_to_1307_EdwardI_Penny_rev.png.d6010cfc6688b9eea8c001ec325b3c30.png1549_EdwardVI_Shilling_2ndPeriod_obv.png.d7c121abf20e8324901d13bf465524de.png1549_EdwardVI_Shilling_2ndPeriod_rev.png.bae2f39b0f1fcbecd4647314ca003e9a.png1828_HalfCent_01.png.4b8634f788e9249d3ed3c9bfa3c7d27e.png1828_HalfCent_02.png.51bac9f91ce53daa956514559b5aa0f4.png1903_Meiji36OneYenObv.png.17085df93fa8cdb4821e140449f139d1.png1903_Meiji36OneYenRev.png.31f635f1ea454c7f233a0be84e42be23.png1914BarbQuarObv.png.ff43f1d7d64f8b34b0634f4fe2959aff.png1914BarbQuarRev.png.c35cada6160704da4e3d8fe2f9d8c3b2.png

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For me, there hasn't been much of a decision making process. I would suddenly become interested in an area, and then I would start to collect it. I'm sort of a generalist, but I have specialized in multiple areas. Often, I'll become very interested in a new area, and really focus on that area, and learn about the coins and the history of the people who created the coins, and buy multiple coins in that area. Then, I'll become interested in another new area. But, I'll still buy coins from old areas, if I see something that I think is interesting. And, I'll often become re-interested in an old area. In fact, I'm still interested, to a certain extent, in all of the areas, that I have collected. To try to stay within my budget, I try to buy only the most interesting coins. I have avoided late medieval coins (except for late Byzantine coins, late medieval Chinese coins, late medieval Vietnamese coins, and a few English silver pennies), Islamic coins (but I have 1 Islamic imitation of a Byzantine coin), and most world coins (except for Spanish colonial coins, English large copper pennies, and Japanese coins), because I'm less interested in those areas. Basically, I collect coins, that are interesting to me.

Edited by sand
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Rather than choosing myself an area/theme for my collection I've always considered the various themes have chosen me (I'm not saying I'm the chosen one though  😄 )

From my childhood I collected world coins people would give me from their travels abroad and the french silver coins my family gifted me with on occasions. My addiction to ancient coins started when my grand father gifted me with a Commodus sestertius he had found at Verdun battle during WWI. That was in 1978 and I never stopped since as a generalist. From here I specialized in various sub collections. None of them has been a deliberate choice, rather at some point the realization of a consistency when three or four coins shared something together. That made me want to dig further and develop the series : Plautilla denarii, Trajan Decius' Divi series, Gallienus zoo series, Syro-phenician tetradrachms, Alexandria provincials, etc...

My real field of specialization, the Dombes principality, was a purely opportunistic decision, as I started to investigate the coin production of the area when we settled there around 30 years ago. Should we had moved in another region, it would be something completely different, but I'm glad I found that one as I like it so much...

My conclusion is it's the deepening of knowledge that raises interest rather than the opposite

Q

Edited by Qcumbor
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11 hours ago, Qcumbor said:

My addiction to ancient coins started when my grand father gifted me with a Commodus sestertius he had found at Verdun battle during WWI.

At least you didn't lose it. When I was about seven or eight years old, my grandfather made the huge mistake of giving me the actual French rifle bullet that had wounded him during the Battle of Verdun. To my eternal regret, I eventually lost it. But I've tried to be a lot more careful since then about taking care of the things I collect! 

Edited by DonnaML
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For the most part, I'm a generalist and just collect whatever interests me (currently, Roman Republican coins have been interesting me a lot) however, my main focus for collecting are coins from the Kingdom of Cappadocia. At first, I got an Ariobarzanes I drachm for cheap at a Savoca auction and I decided to do some research on who he was. After that, I read various works on Cappadocia including the writings of Simonetta and Mørkholm. Despite many people thinking that Cappadocian coins are rather boring, my interest was piqued and I decided to start trying to collect every ruler, and get some rare types (which are typically cheap and relatively unknown, another factor in why I collect them).

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My interest in ancient coins comes from my interest in ancient history in general, so I'm interested in pretty much all ancient coins. I don't have a particular collecting focus, though I tend to gravitate towards early Roman Imperial coins for the history and realistic portraiture.

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My journey started over 40 years ago, while I was honeymooning in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. I stopped in one of the Cardow jewelry stores, there was one on every corner, and saw that they had a display with dozens of ancient coins for sale, from $5 to $20. It looked interesting so I bought the Vespasian shown below - 4D6B4747-7F68-42C3-A5A1-269824DD2509.jpeg.dfc7264caf0ea1f77144fafe64c244ba.jpeg4838EE2C-2350-4E60-8E34-71DA99E03457.jpeg.f7b8965ccc3f106f642e5d2c9f4d9083.jpeg

When I returned home, I tucked it away for a few years without thinking about it. When I came across it several years later, I started thinking, if these were so inexpensive, there must be a lot of them available. I’ve always been fascinated with ancient history, so I started reading. I bought multiple volumes of David Sear’s works and started as a generalist, with no real idea what I might end up collecting. At one point, I thought maybe Athenian coins would be the way to go, but I later gravitated to Roman Republican. I continued to read and once I learned about the EID MAR denarius, I realized that Imperatorial was really what held my interest. The historical significance of the period plus the symbolism of the images was irresistible. I traded all of my existing coins for a couple of Roman mosaics and decided to get serious about specializing. Starting in the mid-80’s, I started buying Imperatorials. In those “good ole days” you could actually buy some nice examples without having to fight for them in an auction. It also helped when I learned that we had a very good dealer nearby in Lexington - Jon Kern. Some years I could acquire multiple coins, but there were also several periods of time when I bought none. I have never sold any of my Imperatorials, but there are a few that I may consider upgrading. I am closing in on 100 coins at this point. By the way, I kept the Vespasian (but not Wife #1).

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