Ancient Roman and Greek Coins, FAQ

  Answers to frequently asked questions.
    This page is for beginners, but the main site some advanced material too:  About buying. About selling. About eBay and other auctions.  About rarity and the difference between collecting US and ancient coins. There are also numerous pages on the coins of particular emperors and particular collecting themes.

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Constantine reverse


This is a very common copper coin, 23 mm in diameter (between the sizes of a US nickel and quarter) of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, who reigned 307 - 337 A.D, over 1600 years ago. For more commentary, click the image. 

Are there really genuine ancient coins?

Oh, yes. The Greeks and Romans minted huge numbers of coins and many millions (really!) are still around in nice shape.

How old are they?

The Greeks and Romans minted coins hundreds of years before the time of Christ. The most common ancient coins are Roman coins minted in the third and fourth centuries AD (200 AD to 400 AD), so most ancient coins are 1600 years old or older, and many are over 2000 years old. The very earliest coins were struck about 600 BC.


What do they look like?

A typical Roman common copper coin is pictured above. Here are some other types. The next one is a common silver coin the size of a dime (19 mm diameter, a denarius), struck by a Roman emperor.

Severus reverse

Emperor Septimius Severus, 193-211 A.D.
The legend (beginning at 6:30 on the obverse) gives his name "SEVERUS".
For the reverse and commentary, click the image.
To learn about reading legends, go to a page on legends.


Next is a small (15 mm) Greek silver coin (a drachm) of the type struck at the the city of Rhodes, minted in the second century BC.

Helios

The obverse shows the sun god, Helios. Do you see the sun's rays streaming from his head?
The reverse shows a rose, the symbol of Rhodes, because of the pun Rhodes/rose.
The letters, in Greek, name the person (not a king) responsible for minting the coin.
Recent research suggests it was actually minted on the mainland in close imitation of the type usually minted on the island of Rhodes.


 Show me more!

 Gladly. There's lots more interesting stuff!

Continue on page 2:
photos, designs, legends, ancient value, modern costs,
dealers, What do people collect?
Skip to page 3: books, ancient coin websites, Julius Caesar,
Alexander the Great, inexpensive coins, women on coins,
grading, fakes, buying, proper prices, selling,
e-mail list, eBay buying and selling, how coin auctions work,
moving beyond the "beginner" level, educational links, and more!

Material about buying and selling.
Material about moving up to "intermediate" from "beginner" and Roman coin educational links.

Originally posted 2/13/97. Revised, June 22, 2013.