some roman coins

Hi there Paul!

I've just bought these roman coins that are not in their best condition so i was wondering if i should try to clean them( i know i'm not supposed to!) .  I think there's two sestertius( Trajan 25.9g, Agrippina Senior 29g)   and two dupondius(Faustina 19.9g, Iulia Paula 18.1g) , unfortunately  roman coins are not my thing in numismatics so i might be wrong. The Agrippina sestertius  is in a great condition(full obverse legend , the pictures don't show that)  but it's covered  with verdigris. I think this one and the Iulia Paula one are quite rare so i'd appreciate if anyone that's into romans shares his thoughts. I paid 50$ for the 4 of them which makes me think i made a fair deal. Looking forward for your reply!Thanks!

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  • In my opinion, no cleaning is needed. While I do clean Roman coins, they are in the condition that they were found in, mud encrusted across the entire surface.


    Your ones seem clean enough, and in my opinion, can't be cleaned any more without damaging them.


    For the last coin shown in the photo, forgot who she is on top of my head, I do not recommend cleaning it, as beneth  that green coloured oxidised layer, it may not look pretty. Best to leave it as it is, instead of finding out what is beneath that layer, which in all the coins I have seen and cleaned, isn't pretty. 

  • $50 for the four of them is quite a good deal, for coins that quality, even a business seller would pay around that price, $10 per coin for them to be resold at higher prices. If you, a collect or bought them for those prices, very good deal then. 


    Forsaking their rarity, and only based just eye appear, I would typically pay around $20,30,40,20 just for them being "pretty". 

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • I agree with Joshua that they don't need much cleaning and that you got a good deal at $50. Nice!

    The 'never clean a coin' rule does not apply to ancients. Almost always ancients must be cleaned to be of value. But there are strict guidelines. You never want to remove the patina and expose bare metal, just remove the dirt to make them look presentable. Soap, water, trisodium phosphate, and olive oil are all acceptable. I have heard, but I never tried it, that soaking for long periods (days) in olive oil loosens and removes green verdigris.

    The Forum Ancient Coins site is totally reliable. Here's a good page there to help:

    Except for the Agrippina, I don't think you have a lot of work to do.

  • I will have a look on the forum for sure! Hopefully i can do something with the Agrippina one! Thank you for your time Paul!

  • I found Coin Quest as result of the posting on Forvm where these were, correctly, declared to be fakes.  Looking at all the 'ancients' posts here, a pattern emerges that suggests folks would benefit from following the advice of Joe who owns Forvm and is a specialist dealer in ancient coins.  Joe says we should either know the coin or know the seller.   A collector of ancient coins with a few years of experience would not be likely to be fooled by these.  The Julia Paula strikes me as particularly bad but that may be because my personal specialities have exposed me to more coins of the period than the others.  Another problem is that there are certain things fakers do to modern product to make them look ancient that do not really replicate what centuries of burial would do to the coins.   Of the group, the Agrippina shouts that it has been treated to make people think it is old.  You would be less likely to be fooled by the same coin before they 'aged' it.   Compare:


    There are a million variations of ancients and learning everything would take more than a single lifetime.  That is where we come to the second part of Joe's advice: Know the seller.  If you do not know the coin, buy from a seller who does and who you have reason to trust.  Even the best will make an occasional error and some have made refunds a decade after a purchase that later proved fake.   99% of transactions involving knowledgeable and honest people are fine; 99% of deals you can't refuse from orphans selling coins grandpa brought home from the war are fakes.   Use common sense.  Those who are willing to sell you gold for copper prices are rare.  Those offering copper and calling it gold are not. 

    I apologize for the run on post but the pattern of fake coins shown in the number of threads I saw was troubling.  Ancient coins can be a wonderful hobby an one I have followed for over 50 years.  I do not sell coins.  I enjoy them.  Those who are interested in learning about their coins OTHER than 'what they are worth' might enjoy my pages on space provided by the Forvm venue.   Questions on 'value' will be ignored.

  • Update!Following your suggestion Paul i opened a thread on the forumancientcoins and i was explained that the Iulia Paula and the Agrippina ones are forgeries.Pretty awesome!!!I've just opened new threads regarding the other two so i'm waiting atm. Knowing this i decided to put the Agrippina one to a ''test'' to see if it can be cleaned so i boiled it in olive oil for less than 5 min and what came out was a bit shocking.It looks like it was coved in some kind of a plastic material that made it look old and on top of it were layers of dirt!!!

  • Douglas Smith I am very grateful for your reply! Indeed ancient coins can be a wonderful hobby if you're willing to invest time, dedication and some money, obviously. Personally i don't collect ancient coins but after this episode i might consider doing so step by step. I must admit that i'm the kind of guy that enquires about a coins value(when i'm not sure) and that's because i want to know if i paid more than i should have.The last thing i'd do is to sell my coins!

    Best regards,


  • paul tudor 


    Sorry to hear that they are fake... Any word on the Hadrian coin? 

    From my view, for collecting Ancient coins, one of the better ways to either buy only from a person you trust, or buy it in an uncleaned state and restore it yourself. Typically, on eBay, there are plenty of lots that are semi cleaned. 

    But in terms of prices, one of the cheapest I usually get around $6 USD for a decent identified Constantinian Era Roman coin, around 50-60% of the coin visable in terms of portrait, images depicted, and writings, one of the cheapst avalable. So, collecting Ancients doesn't have to be that pricey. 

  • paul tudor Quite welcome.

    We have to use a lot of common sense when pricing coins.  For example, look at this list of Trajan sestertii sold by a major dealer that match the one in this group.

    The type commemorates a historical event (Trajan was asked to settle a Parthian dynastic squabble).  Nice examples sell for several thousand and are in high demand.  Poor examples sell for several hundred and find a ready market.  Such types are very attractive to fakers.   When the real ones sell, you don't expect them to be in bulk lots on eBay.   The same goes for coins of 'in demand' family members like Agrippina and Julia Paula.  

    $6 is OK or a bit high for low end common Constantinian era coins when inflation meant they had to make millions of little coins to support commerce.  Many beginners start with these but there are thousands of steps between the $6 and the $6000 material.   There are super high grade Constantines for $60 and rare ones you will be lucky to see every ten years or so.  That is why we suggest buying from trusted dealers and not chasing offers of something for nothing.  Those living near large cities with coin shows might even find face to face meetings with sellers is a good thing since it is easier to separate the good guys from the crooks when you actually talk to them.  My next show (to attend - I am not a dealer!) is in late September in Fredericksburg VA.  If you live anywhere near something like this, attend!  There will be half a dozen good dealers who sell nothing but ancients.   The Internet makes finding such things easy but only for those lucky enough to live driving distance.

  • Joshua Lee Apparently they're all fake so i take it as a lesson. This is the first time that i bought ''ancient'' coins on ebay, the few that i have in my collection were bought from reliable dealers for 5-20£ a piece so i agree with you. You can find beautiful (common) ancient coins for small prices and i think its absolutely great if you think about the history behind those coins. Thanks again Joshua!

  • Douglas Smith I'm happy to learn all this!When i bought the lot i thought i made a good deal as the coins seemed interesting, plus i convinced the ebayer to sell them to me at the starting price of the auction(50$). He sold plenty of ancient coins before(including other sestertius) and had only positive feedback. Also he had a profile picture with him metal detecting and his ebay name was ending in 97 so i said to myself ...Paul, you're the man!!! , the young fella' doesn't know what he is selling !!!And so the hunter became the prey. Unfortunately i live  in London so it would be hard for me to get to Fredericksburg but there's a large show taking place here too, at the begining of september and i'll be there for sure. Thank you for you time sir and for all the information provided!

  • Last I heard, London had coin shows with thousands of genuine coins and many opportunities to learn.  I really recommend going even if you are 'just looking'.

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