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Rare & Expensive - 

Classical Greek AR, AV, EL other than Lydia, Athens, and Alexander


Rare Roman emperors



Common & Expensive 

Lydia, Athens, Alexander


Roman emperors like Augustus, Tiberius, and Diadumenian whose denarii are super common but routinely go for 2-10x what they "should" (none to share because I haven't bothered buying any)


Rare & cheap

Rare but decidedly ugly Greek


Lots of Roman coins are technically rare but don't have the collector base to drive demand, especially for provincials.



Basically all of Central Asia falls into this category


As does most of India, especially the post-Mauryan and post-Gupta material



Common & Cheap

Greek AE



Basically all Roman coins that aren't of a rare emperor


Most "Persian" and Islamic coin types


Lots of Indian types 



Basically everything from China





Edited by Finn235
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"Expensive" is obviously a relative term. What I consider pricy is cheap in the eyes of others on the forum.

Rare + Expensive


Egypt, Achaemenid Province. Sabakes, satrap, AR Tetradrachm. Circa 340-333 BCE
16.61g, 25mm, 9h.
Head of Athena to right, wearing earring, necklace, and crested Attic helmet decorated with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl / Owl standing to right with head facing, olive sprig with berry and crescent in upper left field; uncertain letters to left, ""Sabakes symbol"" and SWYK (in Aramaic) to right.
Van Alfen Type III, 24-34 var. (O11/R- [unlisted rev. die]); Nicolet-Pierre, Monnaies 18-26 (same obv. die); SNG Copenhagen 4 var. (no letters on left of rev.); BMC 265 var. (same).


Common + expensive


ATTICA, Athens
AR Tetradrachm 22.5mm, 17.18g, 1h
Circa 454-404 BCE
Kroll 8; HGC 4, 1597
Ex CNG inventory June 2004
Ex CNG January 2021


Rare + Cheap


Mysia, Zeleia
Nikagoras of Zeleia(?)
4th century BCE
Æ 12mm, 1.65 gm, 5h
Obv: Head of Artemis (Hermes?) left, wearing stephane decorated with pellets.
Rev: Z-Ε/Λ-Ε, stag standing left.
BMC__; SNG Copenhagen__;SNG France__; SNG Ashmolean__
Unrecorded in the major references with bust and stag left


Common + Cheap


Rhodes Caria
ca. 350-300 BCE
Ae 12mm, 1.2gms
Obv: Head of the nymph Rhodos right
Rev: Rose with bud to right, P - O to either side; monogram in left field
BMC 108

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I think I am a budget collector, so what I consider expensive might be cheap fot others. And I think the definition of an "expensive" coin is quite ambiguous even for me.  

I will provide some examples of each category

 Rare and expensive  - I can mention here rare emperors/empresses of Roman empire. My best example - a Julia Titi. 


Common and expensive - well I don't think I have a perfect example for this. I can say my Brutus denarius is quite common. But expensive because of the historical importance associated to Brutus. It was affordable - but only because of the modest condition.

Another good examples for this category - Athens owl tetradrachms; Augustus denarii with Caius and Lucius; Tiberius tribute pennies; Croesus coins; Thasos coins with the satyr and nymph. These are all popular because the history associated to them or the popularity. 


In the same category I can add the Mazaios staters. These are not tare but always get high prices. Again I am very happy with this coin because the price was below my expectations but buying a well struck example, without a test cut (or a more discrete one) and in better condition is not a problem of rarity. Prices are the issue. 



Rare and cheap - the best example would be some Greek fractions as you can't find some types every day. Apparently these are not popular - and I have nothing against that, because I actively collect them and I am very happy to buy small coins with LOTS of artistry and in good condition without paying too much. 
First example in my mind is this Methymna hemiobol 


Same applies to Provincial issues. Where with some knowledge one can find gems that are overlooked by others or even by the auction houses. Best example - this unpublished Geta from Hadrianopolis. 



Common and cheap - first example - late roman bronzes. With just a little patience , excellent coins can be bought without breaking the bank. 



Edited by ambr0zie
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Rare and not too expensive. Roman provincials fall into the category, with rare specific types going for far less than Imperial coinage of similar issued numbers. In this case, Caracalla of Pamphylia and Phrygia. The first depicting the river God Melas and the second Cybele.



Edited by Ancient Coin Hunter
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52 minutes ago, ambr0zie said:

Common and expensive - well I don't think I have a perfect example for this. I can say my Brutus denarius is quite common. But expensive because of the historical importance associated to Brutus. It was affordable - but only because of the modest condition.

As ancient coins go, even the Eid Mar denarius would probably have to be considered relatively "common" (albeit expensive!) given how many examples are known -- apparently around 100. I have many ancient coins that are far scarcer!

Edited by DonnaML
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From perspective of an LRB (primarily Constantine) collector:

Rare & expensive

Even when we're talking lowly LRB's, some are only known from single-digit count specimens, and especially if the reverse type stands out from the everyday fare you're going to have to pay up. My example above was a recent auction win that I'll post when I receive it (please don't lose it USPS!).

Rare & cheap

I guess there are two sub-categories of these - coin types that are rare and systematically cheap, and sleepers that should be expensive but sometimes aren't. My example above (VIRTVS AVGGG - an unlisted reverse type) is an example of a sleeper, which I imagine may be more common among LRBs than some other categories. Who's going to pay too much attention to a grotty looking coin like this on eBay?

Common & expensive

I'd have to agree with the others that owls are a great example of this category. Any type where you can find a hoard of 30,000 of them can hardly be called anything but common, but it's an absolutely iconic type, a joy to hold, and everybody wants one! Even me as a Constantine collector had to have one!

An example of an LRB in this category would be Constantine's famous SPES PVBLIC type with a Chi-Rho as part of the type. Maybe not uber-common, but I've got photos of 48 of them so not remotely rare by the standards of LRB rarities. You pay for the iconic type and collector demand.

Common & cheap

Happily many LRBs fall in this category. Example above just received today, basically mint state, and cost $27.


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Here are some of my coins, which fall into the above 4 categories. As others above have said, "expensive" for me, may be cheap for other collectors.

Rare And Expensive


China. Zhou Dynasty. Warring States Period. Wei (Liang) State. AE Coin. Cast Circa 403 BC To 378 BC. Probably cast in the ancient city Wangyuan (literally meaning "King's city"). Hartill 6.3. Schjoth 73. Gratzer & Fishman A6.4. Maximum Diameter 38.7 mm. Weight 7.74 grams. Obverse : Character Yuan (literally meaning "city"). Reverse : Blank. Possible Plugged Hole.

Common And Expensive


Athens. AR Tetradrachm. Minted 449 BC To 413 BC. Sear 2526. Maximum Diameter 24.8 mm. Weight 17.15 grams. Obverse : Head Of Athena Wearing Helmet Facing Right. Reverse : Owl Standing, Olive Twig And Crescent On Left, Alpha Theta Epsilon On Right, All Within Incuse Square. Test Cut.

Rare And Cheap


Interestingly, I couldn't think of any coins in my collection, which are both rare and cheap.

Common And Cheap


Byzantine Empire. Leo VI The Wise. AE 40 Nummi Follis. Minted 886 AD To 912 AD. Constantinople Mint. Sear 1729. DO 8. Maximum Diameter 26.0 mm. Weight 7.02 grams. Obverse : Leo VI Bust Facing Front, Short Beard, Wearing Crown With Cross On Top, Wearing Chlamys, Holding Akakia In Left Hand. Reverse : "LEON EN THEO BASILEUS ROMEON" Greek For "Leo By God King Of The Romans". Old Rectangular Hole.

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Interesting thread idea! I suppose for me I'd submit the following:

Rare and Expensive -


Trajan "ITALIA REST" as

This reverse type was struck in aureii as well as the three main bronze denominations, but must have been struck in very limited numbers for all of them. The as is perhaps the rarest of all. As far as I know there are only two reference works that even mention this type - Strack, and Woytek; and both cite the same two examples: one in the Vienna Collection and one in the Munich. 

This type is not recorded in RIC; I'm not sure why since it was known to exist since at least the 1930's (Strack). I suppose it must have been an oversight on the part of the RIC editors. Does anyone know the process for submitting a specimen for inclusion in the printed RIC?? 😜

In my extensive and exhaustive internet searching, I found only one other example - a very worn specimen on wildwinds. com. My coin makes the fourth known example. To make matters even more interesting, I discovered that of the three as types I was able to examine, it appears that all were struck with the same pair of dies. Moreover, I've also been able to examine I think 6 of the 8 dupondius specimens of this reverse type, and all 6 appear to share the same reverse die as the asses. This leads me to believe that not only were all the asses struck with a single die pair (!) but that all the dupondii were also struck with the same reverse die! (Obviously, the dupondius obverse featuring a radiate portrait is a different die.)

I would love to examine the last of the asses which has eluded me - the Munich specimen - but so far I've had no luck with the Collection curator.

Here's a thread with all this information and more.

Common and Expensive:



While this exact type may not be extremely common, it's part of an extensive series that is. But for obvious reasons, this coin type is in very high demand and so even a worn example like this one may cost a couple hundred dollars. I felt lucky to have the opportunity to purchase this at slightly less than that. Though it is worn, the main devices both obverse and reverse are intact and the coin's overall appearance is pleasing, to me at least.

Rare and Cheap -

Claudius eagle dichalkon


I have a couple candidates which could fill this slot, but I think I will go with this one. It wasn't insanely cheap but a lot cheaper than you would have thought for a coin with only 4 specimens that I could dig up. That's all I could find of this type after going through my usual search: ACSearch, Wildwinds, VCoins and MA-Shops, cgb.fr archives, Forum Ancient Coins archived sales and Member's Gallery, biddr, etc. All four specimens are RPC online plate coins, including this one, which is also the coin featured on Numista.com and will soon be the example specimen at wildwinds.com. It's also one of the nicer examples of the type.

Common and Cheap -

Constantius I Antoninianus

So common and cheap that I haven't bothered yet to upgrade the photo. 😄 Not to say it's not a nice coin, mind. I like the dark blue-black patina and the detail is quite good. Won in an auction for 8 EUR - can't complain about that!



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Rare and expensive :


Constantine the Great, Follis - Nicomedia mint, 2nd officina, c. AD 311
IMP C FL VAL CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate head right
VIRTVTIE-XERCITVS Mars/Virtus advancing right in military dress, holding transverse spear and shield ; trophy over shoulder. B in right field. SMN in exergue.
4.88 gr, 22 mm
RIC-, C-, Roman coins -
RIC lists this type only for Licinius and Maximinus . "Iovi Conservatori and Virtuti Exercitus both appear for Licinius and Maximinus, emissions for the former being the more scarce: coinage for Constantine is extremely rare. Date, c. 311". Coin should be listed after NICOMEDIA 70c.
Please see Victor Clarks website for further information at : http://www.constantinethegreatcoins.com/unlisted/


Rare and cheap :


Lepidus and Octavian, Denarius - minted in Italy, 42 BCE
LEPIDVS.PONT.MAX.III.V.R.P.C, bare head of Lepidus right (NT and MA in monograms)
C.CAESAR.IMPIII.VIR.R.P.C, bare head of Octavian right (MP in monogram)
3.78 gr
Ref : HCRI # 140, RCV # 1523, Cohen # 2


Common and expensive :


Tiberius, Denarius - Lyon mint, after 15-16 CE
TI CAESAR DIVI AVG F AVGUSTUS, Laureate head of Tiberius right
PONTIF MAXIM, Woman seated right on a throne (Livia ?) and holding sceptre
3.71 gr
Ref : RIC # 30, RCV #1763, Cohen #16


Common and cheap :


Gordian III, Antoninianus - Rome mint, 4th emission, 12-239/05-243 CE
IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right seen from behind
AETERNITATI AVG, Sol, radiate and draped over left shoulder and arm, standing facing, head left, raising right hand and holding globe in left.
5,71 gr - 23,5 mm
Ref : RSC # 41, RCV # 8603, RIC # 83, Michaux # 369


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Rare and expensive
These things are justifiably expensive. They are scarce to rare, of high artistic quality or historical importance, and they bring 5 to 6 figures at auction. I'm talking about coins such as these:

  • Syracuse Decadrachms engraved by Kimon
  • EID MAR denarii

Common and expensive.
These coins aren't rare. On any given day, one could buy half a dozen of them on V-coins alone. But they are expensive because of high demand. Everybody has heard of Julius Caesar, Caligula, and Nero. Non-ancient collectors frequently acquire them because of the history associated with them. Ancient collectors want them to complete their 12 Caesars set. Demand pushes these into the upper 3 to 4 figure range. Moreover, I'd throw into this categories some biblical coins, such as the Shekels of Tyre, sold as the "pieces of silver" for which Judas betrayed Jesus, and denarii of Tiberius, aka "Tribute Pennies." I'd also thrown in Athenian owls. They are available by the tens of thousands, but typically bring 4 figures at auction despite how plentiful they are. I'm talking about these.

  • Julius Caesar denarii
  • Caligula denarii
  • Nero in VF or higher grade in any denomination
  • Shekel of Tyre
  • Athenian owls

Here's a Tribute Penny as an example.

Rare and cheap.
These coins comprise those rare varieties of common persons on coins that only a specialist would recognize for their rarity. I'm talking certain bust varieties, inscriptional varieties, certain denominations, and certain reverse types of common empresses, such as Faustina I or Julia Domna. Demand for these coins is low, leading to little monetary value. Most collectors don't go after the wives of the emperors. Those that do just want one or two representative coins of these empresses and they tend to choose high-grade but very common coins at auction. They ignore the lesser grade coins and don't understand their rarity or historical significance. I'm talking about coins such as these. Each of these coins are known from 4 or fewer specimens but sold cheaply because they aren't high-grade beauties. I have several more such coins, but you get the picture.

Extremely rare in the dupondius denomination, with 4 known specimens, only 1 of which is in private hands. Hammered for 35 GBP at auction.

Extremely rare with a dative case obverse inscription, with 4 known specimens, 2 of which are in private hands.


Rare with left-facing bust. Only 4 known examples, 1 in the Bnf, 3 sold at auction. This one hammered for 30 EUR.

Common and cheap.
Hundreds of coins fall into this category, from Greek bronzes to Constantinian bronzes. These are usually hoard material, the kind of coins that group lots and pick-bins are full of. They are not necessarily low grade or "problem coins," either. They are often simply in such supply with fairly low demand that they can be readily purchased in group lots for less than 20 USD, sometimes for just a few dollars. I'm talking about antoniniani of Claudius Gothicus, Gallienus, or Tacitus, Greek bronzes of cities now in Turkey, AE-3s of Constantine's sons, Gallic empire antoniniani, Diocletian's pre-reform radiates, and so on. These are some I purchased in a group lot that worked out to $8.83 a coin:

Tacitus, AD 275-276.
Roman billon antoninianus, 3.57 g, 22.1 mm, 12 h.
Ticinum, AD 275-276, issue 2.
Obv: IMP C CL TACITVS AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust, right.
Rev: ANNONA AVGVSTI, Annona standing left, holding ears of corn over modius and cornucopiae; T (third officina) in exergue.
Refs: MER/RIC temp #3647; RIC 123; Cohen --; Estiot 2149.56; RCV 11767; La Venera hoard 1673.

Victorinus, AD 269-271.
Roman billon antoninianus, 2.63 g, 20.1 mm.
Cologne (though CNG attributes this coin to Treveri), AD 269/70.
Obv: IMP C PIAV VICTORINVS PF AVG, radiate, draped bust, r.
Rev: FIDES MILITVM, Fides standing l., holding two standards.
RIC-109; Cohen-36; AGK-5b; De Witte pl. XXVI, 22; Sear-unlisted.

Tacitus, AD 275-276.
Roman billon antoninianus, 3.57 gm, 21.1 mm.
Ticinum, AD 276.
Obv: IMP C M CL TACITVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust, right.
Rev: VICTORIA GOTTHI, Victoria standing left, holding wreath and palm; P in exergue.
Refs: RIC 172; Cohen 158; Sear 11821; Hunter 59; CBN 1676.

Claudius II, AD 268-270.
Roman silvered billon antoninianus, 3.66 g, 19.1 mm, 6 h.
Siscia, issue 1, end AD 268.
Obv: IMP CLAVDIVS CAES AVG, Bust right, radiate, cuirassed and draped with paludamentum, seen from rear.
Rev: RESTITVTOR ORBIS, emperor in military dress standing l., holding patera over small altar in r. hand and spear pointing down in l. hand.
Refs: RIC 189; MER/RIC temp no. 562; Cohen 247; Markl, Num Zeitschr v. 16, p. 427; Alfoldi 1936, 1.2.
Edited by Roman Collector
Add a Tribute Penny; correct typos.
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