If you love the history of ancient Rome you probably have thought about acquiring ancient Roman coins. It is really an amazing feeling to hold a coin that was used 2,000 years ago. Buying ancient roman coins is actually not that difficult. Highly valued Roman coins that cost thousands of dollars (usually silver and gold coins) can be purchased from reputable dealers or auction houses. Dealers are usually very knowledgeable and can verify the authenticity of coins.
You can also buy certified to be authentic coins on various sites online. The coins usually come with a card giving a description of the coin itself, of the time period, emperor, and translation of its text. However, the quality of these coins can vary. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars to own a Roman coin. There are many coins that cost less than $100 (usually made of bronze or copper) that are also very exciting to own. But beware of pictures that can be misleading. Sometimes the coin being shown on the picture looks much better and bigger than the actual coin.
Therefore, if you order online, make sure that you check the size of the coin. Some Roman coins can be extremely small, like... one third of the size of a penny! Make sure also that the coin on the picture is actually the coin being sold.
There are many reliable sites online such as:
|Trajan Denarius, 98-117 A.D.
Marcus Aurelius Denarius, 161-180 A.D.
Identifying the authenticity of a Roman coin is not an easy task. The safest way to buying a coin is buying it straight from a dealer or from a reliable site selling coins (listed above). Dealers can verify the authenticity of a Roman coin.
If you buy your coin from a site such as Ebay, there is a small chance that the coin being sold is a fake. The best way to verify the authencity of a coin is to compare it with an image of the same coin (which can be found on websites such as the ones listed above).
Tip: the most faked coins are usually gold and silver coins (because they are the most expensive). If you buy a cheap Roman coin (say for less than 20 dollars) there is a very small chance that it is a fake. A fake coin often looks too clean to be 2,000 years old. Coins of the 3rd or 4th century A.D. are the less faked.
Roman coins often have a thick crust for having been buried for thousands of years. Sometimes they are not even recognizable. It is best to start with a coin that has some recognizable features on it so that there is a good chance that the clean up will be successful.
Many of the Roman coins have a patina, meaning a colored layer which can be brown, green, red or black. The patina builds up on the coin over the centuries and should not be removed as it would decrease the coin's value and risk damaging the coin.
Buy some distilled water (do not use tap water) and leave the coin the water for 24 hours. The next day clean the coin using a toothbrush. Then put the coin again in distilled water, this time for seven days. After seven days put the coin in olive oil. If the coin is in bad condition add some lemon juice (6-8 teaspoons) to the olive oil. Leave it there for three weeks.After the three week period, clean with distilled water and a toothbrush. You can repeat this process for a year.
Other methods: if the coin is in terrible condition there are more radical methods. These methods however can destroy the patina and damage the coin, therefore use them only as a last resort. The first method consists in boiling olive oil with lemon juice (8 teaspoons of lemon juice) and putting the coin in the mix for a few minutes up to half an hour. The second method is ultrasonic cleaning using a machine. And the third is electrolysis which can give good results but which is also quite risky.
By the way the site Romancoins.net provides good information on how to clean Roman coins.