I have a site for beginners, Ancient Roman and Greek Coins, FAQ
Most sites on this page are Roman. If you prefer
Greek, skip down to the Greek sites.
If you are interested in advanced sites on Greek and Roman provincial coins, visit here.
I do not list any dealers
individually, but recommend the ancient coin malls: vcoins.com
Links on this page (below):
Identifying ancient coins. What is it worth? Roman emperors on coins. Collecting themes. Byzantine coins. Greek coins. Other cultures. Fakes. Cleaning. I have a page of book recommendations.
How do I identify a coin I have? What is it worth?
Here is a site designed to help you identify ancient coins: http://www.forumancientcoins.com/dane/
It has images of the most common types and links to pages with greater detail once you find something close.
To value a coin you need to
know its identification. If you have it well-identified, you can search
for similar coins at two commercial sites:
VCoins.com ("search all stores" in the upper right) and eBay (go to "coins" then "ancient". Then "Search" is on the left. However eBay prices listed mean nothing until after the auction closes. Bookmark types that interest you so you can revisit them after they have closed. Many coins don't really sell, and many others triple their price in the last instant. A serious mistake many beginners make is to think their coin is worth as much as some other coin for sale because the coins are the same "type of coin." But value is even more dependent upon "condition" which is very difficult to describe. Unless you coin is definitely better than one for sale, it might be worth very much less because of its "condition". That's why you need to continue with the next sites.
(Identifying coins is not easy. Valuing them is
even harder. It takes years to get good at it. You might just want to
ask an expert.)
Wildwinds is a well-organized, extensive list of Roman and Greek coin types, with photos, drawn largely from web auctions (with prices). You can look up your coins here. This is one of the major attribution and valuing sources on the web.
Every buyer needs to learn about how to evaluate the condition
(desirability) of a coin. Sometimes this is called "grading" the coin,
although there is much more to condition than grade (which is,
technically, only a term to describe wear).
Naturally, Doug Smith has done a great job describing condition.
Calgary Coin Gallery has also discussed grading.
These two sites describe how coins "should" be graded. Unfortunately, many web sellers (say, on eBay or Yahoo!) grossly misrepresent their coins by overgrading them. Always inspect the picture -- don't believe a stated grade unless you know the dealer.
There is a database of the finest coins offered recently at auction, "CoinArchives.com". All the coins will be expensive and you must use the "search" function. If you know what you have and it is spectacular, you might be able to find similar coins that have been offered recently at the highest-quality auctions (definitely not eBay auctions!). However, only a very small percentage of coins fit in this category. It is a great site for experienced collectors, but not much use to beginners.Another site with many auction-quality ancient coins in searchable format is http://www.acsearch.info/ . To use this site it is best to have some key words (like the ruler's name) so you use its search engine.
Do you want to know if the ANS (American Numismatic Society) has a particular coin type? You can search their collection (but not yet see photos) if you already know how to describe a coin you have.
I have an ancient coin and I wish I knew what it was. How can I attribute it?
Without experience, it is not easy to attribute coins. Most of the unattributed "coins" I get asked about are modern fakes. Genuine ancient coins handed down from previous generations usually come with some written identification on the coin holder. If it mentions a Roman emperor, you can then look for more information by searching vcoins.com .
Roman Emperors on coins:
Of course, you can search vcoins.com to see what coins
of the various emperors look like.
The Virtual Catalog of Roman Coins A large site with images of coins of each emperor and his relatives who had coins issued for them (not priced. Click on the sidebar on the left to select a time period).
Imperial busts may be described as "laureate," "diademed," etc. What do those terms mean? Find out at Portrait styles on Roman Imperial Coinage.
If you want to see lots of top coins of any particular emperor, search CoinArchives.com which archives major auction-sale descriptions and results.
Many coins are organized by emperor at http://aeqvitas.com/photo.php
Sites emphasizing a particular emperor:
(81-96 AD) (Very high grade coins with numerous rare pieces)
Trajan (AD 98-117) sestertii (amazingly complete, with denarii and other denominations too)
Another collector emphasizes Trajan, but also with Greek coins and coins of other civiliations.
Hadrian (AD 117-138) on coins of Roman Egypt (not "imperial" coins)
Hadrian (on Beast's site)
Barry Murphy's collection of Septimus Severus and his family (Caracalla, Julia Domna, Geta, and Plautilla). High-quality coins well-organized by mint, but not a lot of commentary.
Doug Smith has a lot on Septimius Severus (AD 193-211) among his many pages. Wait for the main page to load (well worth the wait!) and use the menu.
Elagabalus (AD 218-222)
Severus Alexander (AD 222-235. Lots of information and photos of scarcer types, but not many of the common types)
Gordian III (AD 238-244)
Gordian III (AD 238-244)
Jim Shaffer's site on Philip ("the Arab") 244-249 and his family (with many illustrated antoniniani)
Doug Smith has a terrific overview of the coins of Philip and his family.
Trebonianus Gallus (251-253) and his family and Aemilian
Gallienus (AD 253-268)
Tom Ross has a site on Aurelian. (AD 270-275)
A collection of Probus (AD 276-282)
A collection of tetrarchy coins (Diocletian - Licinius, AD 284ff)
Coins of Constantine the Great (306-337).
The next sites are amazing. They are not that easy to use, but each presents a comprehensive scholarly overview (in French) with very detailed type and issue descriptions, illustrated by coins of most types. The coins are not that great, so I am surprised it was worth the effort to write such a complete catalogs.
A comprehensive French sale of coins of Probus, left on the web even after it's over (slow loading).
A comprehensive French sale of coins of Septimius Severus and his family, left on the web even after it's over (slow loading).
A comprehensive French sale of coins of Severus Alexander and his family, left on the web even after it's over (slow loading).
A comprehensive French sale of coins of Maximinus Thrax (235-238), left on the web even after it's over (slow loading).
A comprehensive French sale of coins of Gordian III, left on the web even after it's over (low loading).
A comprehensive French sale of coins of Philip and his family, left on the web even after it's over (slow loading).
A comprehensive French sale of coins of Trajan Decius, left on the web even after it's over (slow loading).
A comprehensive French sale of coins of Trebonianus Gallus, left on the web even after it's over (slow loading).
A comprehensive French sale of coins of Claudius Gothicus and Quintillus, left on the web even after it's over (slow loading).
A comprehensive French sale of coins of Aurelian, left on the web even after it's over (slow loading).
Emperors on coins (without much text)
"Roman Numismatic Gallery" lots of nice images.
De Imperatoribus Romanis is an on-line encyclopedia of the Roman emperors.
Collecting Themes (Roman) (This is only a very small section of possible themes. As collectors post more websites showing off their themes, I will expand this list.)
The site includes a history of
Roman Republican coinage and numismatics, newly written, and organised
into 35 short sections, spread over ten webpages, and with links to all
the related coins.
There are 1,350 different Republican coins pictured on the website, making it the largest online Roman Republican coinage database, and one of the largest ever published in any medium. The coins are organised into 35 sets matching the write-ups. They are arranged in a proper historical and chronological manner according to Crawford
except for the coins of 70-50BC where the Mesagne hoard dating is used. http://andrewmccabe.ancients.info/Hoards.html#Mesagne
Every coin is different and properly described. Hundreds of these coin types, mainly rare bronze types or early silver with symbols, cannot be found anywhere else on the internet.
Campgates (mostly 4th century AD) and ancient
architecture. Very many campgate coins.
The London mint, 296-325
Gallienus (AD 253-268) issued many coins with animals.
Various animals on ancient coins.
Architecture on ancient coins.
Architecture on ancient coins (including very highest-quality major types, temples, ports, bridges, columns, aquaducts, etc.)
Ancient imitations of Roman coins
Guide to Late Roman AE coin types, AD 364-450 (a complete list of types of the period)
Hercules on coins (not all ancient, and only a small fraction of what is possible, but well done)
Coins of the (obscure) Roman mint of Tripolis.
Countermarks on early Roman imperial coins. A
beautiful collection with undertypes much better than normal.
Countermarks on Roman coins.
Coins of Roman Egypt struck at
The very common Roman FEL TEMP REPARATIO types of the mid 4th century AD that are interesting and available in nice condition at low prices.
The "Soldier spearing fallen horseman" FEL TEMP REPARATIO is very common. Dane has a collection of a great many varieties.
An amazing and beautiful site for identifying late Roman AE coins: Late Roman Bronze -- Book on line.Coins with mythological references: The Forum discussion board has a thread with mythological figures on individual coin types discussed.
provincial coins of the Balkans, an online translation of Nikola
Moushmov's 1912 classic reference work, Ancient Coins of the Balkan Peninsula,
with pages enhanced by addition of links to the Moushmov plates as well
as the insertion of individual coin entries from the WildWinds
DataBank. Currently translated are 7000 (out of the total 7600) entries
covering Dacia, Moesia, Thrace, and Macedonia. A great resource for
these collectible coins.
City Gate coins. A magnificient collection of coins with "city gate" types.
A large and well-presented collection of Roman provincial coins (of all emperors).
Roman Provincial coins of Gordian III (238-244)
A nice collection of affordable Byzantine copper coins.
A database with Byzantine coins arranged by emperor.
A site with short stories of the Byzantine emerors, illustrated by some of their coins and many beautiful mosaics and buildings of their time. A very attractive site.
Coins of the Byzantine mint of Cherson at the top of the Black Sea.
If you are interested in Greek coins, here are some sites:
A collector show his Greek
coins, including mostly inexpensive copper coins and Greek
The mints of Magna Graecia and their spectacular Greek coins.
The coins of ancient Athens.
The Seleukids, history and coins.
A site giving links (only links) to everything having to do with the Ptolemys of Egypt.
The Greek alphabet.
A series of maps locating the Greek mints.
Links to sites of museums: a few major Greek coins.
Coinage of two Greek-Illyrian city states: Apollonia and Dyrrhachium (cow and suckling calf type)
Greek coins of Velia
Greek coins of Asia Minor (including Roman provincial)
Coins of Alexander the Great -- a collection with commentary.
Coins of the Greek city Miletus (Miletos).
Coins showing Pegasus, the winged horse.
Coins of other cultures:
of Rome about Parthia by Chris Hopkins. A major theme collection
list. Very nice. A part of a larger
site on Parthian coins.
Jewish coins -- the Menorah Coin Project.Jewish coins and Holy Land coins (in Italian, but mostly photos).
More reading about ancient coins:
What could an ancient coin buy?
Prices in Ancient Rome by McWhorter Collectables.
(Don't forget to check Doug Smith's sites on almost every topic! He has a good page on what coins could buy.)
How do you pronounce those Roman names, anyway?
A Latin Pronunciation Guide for Numismatists
If you are interested in ancient imitations (genuinely ancient coins that were counterfeits in their day), I have a page with information about imitations and many images. See also Doug Smith's sites. If you want to read recent scholarly literature on them, I have compiled a bibliography of articles on ancient imitations.
How to buy ancient coins. (One of my pages.)
coin auctions work. (Another of my pages.)
Concerned about fakes?
You should be if you buy on eBay. I have a page of links about fakes.
Books: If you want book recommendations instead of website recommendations, check out my page "How to learn more about Roman coins."
How can I learn more?
Here is my site "How to Learn More About Roman Coins"
If you want to do real research, at the advanced level, the
Numismatic Society) has a search engine for its journal of abstracts of (almost)
all numismatic articles, Numismatic Literature.
You can search for just about any thing, for example, emperor "Hadrian", and see the titles (and then abstracts if you click on the title) of articles that mention "Hadrian" somewhere in the abstract. This is not an easy approach, though, because you will find far too much material at a very detailed level. It is more for going from "intermediate" to "advanced" collector.
Another seach engine for numismatic articles is on line at http://www.harrybassfoundation.org/search_numlit.asp
The American Numismatic Society has a list of links (some broken) to
websites on ancient coins at
Classics sites without emphasis on coins:
The Rome Project with links to sites on topics of all kinds, political, military, archaeology, philosophy, religion, etc.
A large site that does not emphasize coins, but just what it name suggests, is Electronic Resources for Classicists.
A good basic map showing the provinces of the Roman empire
(not the cities), with links to further sites.
Conclusion: This site is not
intended to be comprehensive. I have not listed many minor sites, but
these major sites should get you started. Enjoy!
Please report broken links to me.
e-mail me, Warren, at:
Note well: Please do not ask me to answer particular questions about Roman or Greek coins (I have a life!), but if you want to recommend to me a major, well-designed, educational (not commercial) site on Roman or Greek coins I would be interested.
First posted 10/27/2000.