Pick Of The Litter

Out of the sixty unwashed Roman coins I bought on E-Bay (and much work cleaning them) – these ones are best.

I started my Roman coin collection at Oxford in 1969, and used to go down to the coin shop on High Street every Saturday morning.  The shop isn’t there any more and High Street is packed with traffic, but history remains unchanged.

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19 Responses to Pick Of The Litter

  1. Florida Mike says:

    Ghosts of the past.

  2. Richard Greene says:

    You’re supposed to clean coins ?

  3. Timo Soren says:

    Have you identified the faces?

  4. Andy says:

    Let us know how they turned out when done. Nice having so much history “in your back pocket”.

    This was on the new over here recently.


    I like the pot they were kept in, like keeping money under the mattress.

    Bitcoins will not be as romantic a find in 3000 AD …. :(

    This is what worries me with things physical such as books and coins going digital.


    • Johansen says:

      Andy with respect to your last sentence… I was a serious stamp collector as a youth. Now stamps are a thing of the past, and my large collection is probably almost worthless

  5. Fred Harwood says:

    I’m hoping that Tony will fill us in as to why, when, etc., these coins matter much to him, perhaps in the context of civilization, or economics, or the problems of paper currency? Such is my background; what’s up, Tony. So far, and I may have missed commentary, coin collecting, numismatics, has not been a focus among Tony’s climate history.

    • Jason Calley says:

      Hey Fred! I do not pretend to speak for Tony, but your question reminded me of a friend who collects ancient coins. He has told me that his main attraction to the coins is that they serve as a sort of tangible “hook” to his curiosity about history. It is one thing to read about Alexander the Great, but when you are holding a coin from the Babylon mint impressed with Alexander’s profile on the front, it somehow make all the reading come more alive. The history is no longer a story or a sort of abstract screen play, it become the events of real people with real lives. Who can hold a Roman coin without wondering whether it purchased a loaf of bread or a boat ride across a river?

      • --B-- says:

        There’s a bit more to it than that. While some ancient coins are like today’s money others are gold and silver and have retained their value for many centuries and buy pretty much what they bought then or more (thanks to productivity improvements).

        Both sorts of coins show us what the political class does. Also the way Roman silver coins would have less silver over time but the same face value. They show us how long the same scams have been played on people.

    • tonyheller says:

      I love history, and think it is amazing to restore coins which a soldier might have buried 1,700 years ago. It is like bringing the past back to life.

  6. Psalmon says:

    This is fascinating stuff. Something I never heard of. Amazing to think about.

  7. Eternaloptimist says:

    I graduated with electronics as a young man then did history(to get an arty sciency balance).
    Its fair to say that i know as much about Roman radar as anyone else who ever lived.

  8. Gofer says:


    Any advice or tips on buying these on e-bay. Buying uncleaned vs cleaned?

  9. richard says:

    We have a small farm. Back in the 194os we had a few Italian prisoners of war working on it.
    One day when ploughing one of the prisoners stopped to clean the blade, he found a roman coin embedded in the mud which of course he took back with him to Italy. The only coin outside a few victorian pennies ever found in the fields.

    They built our sunken garden and gave my father a love of Italian opera- he was a boy back then. It also started a live long friend ship with the prisoners.

  10. richard says:

    There was a series made a few years back called The Detectorists- beautiful, warm hearted, catch it you can.


  11. Griff says:

    Couple of nice ‘radiates’ there…

    I don’t know if you have been to the (revamped and improved) Ashmolean lately? Nice section on coinage there!

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