Monday, February 04, 2013

Fine? I call it barely legible

kw: coins, numismatics

About ten years ago someone gave an old Roman coin to my father, who passed it on to me. It is about 28mm in diameter.

I scanned it against a black background so I'd be able to enhance the image. The actual color is very dark brown. The original inscription is DIVVS AVGVSTVS PATER or Divus Augustus Pater. The reverse is a female, possibly Livia, seated between S and C. It was struck in the reign of Tiberius about AD 15-16.

A little card it came with says "Augustus AE AS (Commemorative)". Penciled in are "fine" and "$40.-". I hope nobody paid $40 for this in 2003! But then, a couple web sites with nicer examples of this coin for sale are asking around $200 (£120 or so).

The collectibles business suffers from grade inflation. A more recent coin with this much wear would be graded "poor". The entire inscription has to be readable to merit "good", and "fine" requires at least some definition about the figures. These images show much more than the original coin.

Is a commemorative coin similar to our commemorative stamps, extra nice in the artwork department, but still subject to circulation? This one certainly looks well-circulated.

It is a nice find. I'd completely forgotten I had it. Now in about three years I can celebrate the 2000th anniversary of this coin.

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