When I show my friends my coin collection, the coins that really give a ‘Wow’ reaction are the Roman coins. My friends must dream of the coin in the purse of some Roman centurion in the time of Jesus, and it must be worth a fortune. They are soon surprised and somewhat disappointed to discover that most Roman coins are worth no more than a few pounds or dollars. How can this be?
What makes a coin worth money?
Once a coin is no longer an official coin, it is only worth what a collector would pay for it. Indeed, we have a small round metal disc with some engraving. So how do we value it? This depends on several factors:
Rarity: If a coin is rare, it usually attracts more money. Obviously, if there are a lot of examples and everyone already has one, then you won’t get much. Just because a coin is old doesn’t mean it’s rare. I’ll explain why later.
Condition: Coin collectors call this “grade” and it makes a big difference in price. A coin in a condition close to when it was first minted is always the goal of coin collectors. Heavily used coins are generally worthless unless they are very rare.
Metal: If a coin is made of a precious metal, such as gold, silver, or platinum, it will have intrinsic value, even if it goes into the crucible.
interest: Sometimes the price of a coin will increase due to an increase in popularity which increases demand. For example, there are many shipwreck coins, but if we found a Titanic coin, it would sell for a premium due to the legend surrounding the Titanic story.
If we apply these rules to Roman coins, it will explain why they are not worth a fortune.
the history of the roman empire
Probably the main reason why Roman coins are cheap is the fact that they are not rare. On the contrary, they can be found everywhere. The Roman Empire was one of the largest empires in history, covering most of Europe, Great Britain, parts of Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. It existed from 27 a. C. until 476 d. C., more than 500 years. And all these places used Roman coins throughout the time.
The Romans needed coins in large quantities to cover their needs. To make matters worse, inflation was sometimes as high as 1,000 percent. A Roman soldier’s pay (his ‘stipend’) was probably a few denarii a day at the beginning of the Empire; towards the end, the soldier would have been paid several hundred. Lower denomination coins did not have much purchasing power.
By the way, Roman soldiers were always male, they had to enlist for 25 years and received a salary, a Christmas bonus and a pension. On the downside, they had to pay for their own food and contribute horses and weapons.
Originally, coins were minted only in Rome, but by the 3rd century there were mints in other countries as well. These mints sometimes produced more than 2 million coins per month to meet the demand. The coins typically depicted the Emperor on one side and some other image or lettering on the other. During the Empire, more than 10,000 different types of coins were created.
The coins were hammered, meaning a blank disc was placed between two dice and struck with a hammer. That is why the edge of the design and the edge of the rim do not always match. It was a simple process and very open to forging, and that started from the first coins. Initially, there may have been some official consent to create some coins locally to meet monetary demands, but towards the end of the 3rd century, counterfeiting became a common and serious problem.
Perhaps you should be aware that due to the popularity of Roman coins, they have been replicated for tourist gifts and for historical interests, so always buy from a reputable source such as a professional dealer.
So I hope you see by now that Roman coins are not rare, and are still found in large numbers even today.
Since, not all Roman coins are worthless
Do not think that all Roman coins have a low price. The Romans used gold and silver frequently; some coins are very rare; some emperors are better known and more collectible than others, like Julius Caesar and Nero. Don’t discard a Roman coin because you think it’s in poor condition; Remember that the coin is very old, it was probably underground for centuries, and because of the way they were made, you will never find one that is perfect compared to a modern coin.
The good thing about the low price of ancient Roman coins is that they are very affordable. They are items of interest and conversation so get one or two for your collection and they make a great gift for anyone interested in Roman times.