November 2009 - Ancient Coins by Alan Folkestad

Alan Folkestad is from Centennial, CO. He became interested in ancient coins about 20 years ago when he was living in Turkey but the coins could not be sold to the public. When he returned to this country he found a few dealers who sold them and he bought some at the ANA convention. Since then Alan has been consistently growing his knowledge of ancient coins.

Alan presented slides on his talking points:

Evolution of Barter into coins
Coin Minting
What was coin worth
Greek coins 625 BC to 30 BC
Roman Emperors
Seven Churches of Book of Revelations
Judean Coins
Romanian Empire (Byzantine)

Ancient coins were made out of gold and silver (which was hoarded), bronze (for everyday) and electrum, a mixture of gold and silver that came out of the mountains of Turkey. The metal was melted into a die and weighed. When the correct weight was determined, it was reheated almost to the melting point and the die was struck by hand to make the coin. The coins were often off center and some were struck better than others depending on the strong arm that wielded the hammer.

Alan had a chart of what coins were worth in terms of labor to earn a coin or goods to purchase. A day's labor might be 1 drachma. One drachma could purchase 5 liters of wine; and 1,200 drachmas = $50,000 in modern money a horse.

Greek coins had animal faces. Algina had the Turtle, Athens the Owl and Corinth the Pegasus.

The Mediterranean area produced the half shekel and the full shekel. The half shekel could be the 30 pieces of silver given to Judas in the Bible.

Many of the Roman coins had the head of the emperor minted on them. The twelve Caesars, Constantine the Great, followed by Nero, and then Cleopatra, who was the end of the line.

Ancient coins are not usually slabbed because it is harder to check for counterfeits. Because of the age most of the better coins are the bronze coins which hold up better and are VF to EF. A lot of old coins, especially gold, have been clipped or the edges filed.

A good reference is David R. Sear. He has five editions out on ancient coins and they are comprehensive.

Alan said that one of the things that he likes about ancient coins is holding them and wondering where they have been and who has used them along the way. He also enjoys seeing them from the edges and feeling their weight.

Alan provided a Widow's Mite in a nice collectors folder for our monthly auction and he would have donated 10% of any sales he made back to the club. Alan can be found on eBay as seller: 757folks

This was a very interesting program and we thank Alan for sharing his knowledge!

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