I published the following article on the web about 2-3 years ago. I think it is still pretty accurate so I am sharing once again.
Hi, my name is Jerry and I have been buying ancient coins for a few years and I am sharing with you the best way to purchase ancient coins based on my experiences. First, I will be terribly honest and state that I have been ripped off many times with numerous false promises. I will attempt to help you avoid some of the pitfalls I encountered. Ok, let's get started.(1) Where to purchase ancient coins? Typically, most buyers purchase ancient coins from ebay. Ancient Roman coins are the most plentiful. My experience has been that one will encounter the good and the bad on eBay. There will be many false promises including the "Gold Found" vendors. I know of NO ONE who has ever found gold in a coin lot. The statement is highly misleading and I question the veracity of anyone who makes such statements. Gold does not encrust as bronze does and gold leaps out at the digger like the sun in the sky and the digger is not about to sell the coin for such a cheap price. I have purchased thousands of Roman coins from various vendors and I have NEVER found gold. (2) What should I expect for my dollar on eBay? The lure of buying a wonderful 1700- year- old coin for a dollar is incredibly appealing to the new buyer. I bought hundreds of ancient coins for a dollar each before realizing that I am going to get what I pay for. My experience has been that I will receive genuine Roman coins for a dollar per coin but for the most part I will receive a terribly encrusted, broken or slick (no image to speak of) roman coin. I am promised that I will receive cleaning instructions which I do receive but often the directions are as simple as a sheet of paper with information stating "soak in distilled water until clean" .. Cleaning encrusted coins is not that simple and that is another topic entirely. I have found that soaking Roman coins in distilled water is a long laborious task and not worth the time involved. (3) Roman coins 101. My experience has been that the typical lot of Roman coins or Greek coins would contain about 20-25% attributable coins. By attributable coins, I mean coins which contain images thar are clear enough to enable one to identify the emperor or imagery. Simply stated the coin can be identified as to date and source. Greek coins have very little "text" or legend in contrast to Roman coins.(4) Purchasing your Roman or Greek coins. After cleaning thousands of dollar coins I have learned that I prefer to pay twice the amount and receive a better quality coin. I should state at this point that when I refer to prices I am speaking of Roman coins only. The Greek coins are a different animal in terms of cost. In the dollar Roman lots I have received everything from batches which would run as high as 33% attributable to as low as 10%. The lower percentage coins are called "floor sweepings".. I would prefer to pay twice as much per coin and run the percentage up to 75%. When one pays 1.50 to 3.50 per Roman coin then one should expect what are called "premium coins".. In the long run, one receives much more for the money when purchasing the premium coins. (5) Before making a purchase. Before purchasing I suggest the following: Contact the dealer and ask what kind of attribution percentage one can expect from the coins he/she is selling. Next, ask if he/she has a "no questions asked" return policy. If you feel assured and take the plunge then be sure and talk with the dealer if you should get coins of lesser quality than you discussed prior to the purchase. Dealers are terribly afraid of bad input on eBay and wish to please you. The input from buyers makes or breaks an eBay dealer.(6) Finally, do I really want to clean encrusted coins? I love to clean encrusted Roman coins and Greek coins. I have worked at my technique for years and have developed methods that makes the cleaning much simpler for me. If you are unsure, be sure and visit my ancient coin site where you can purchase a genuine 1700 year old roman coin for as little 5 dollars!! As stated, I have coins for 5 dollars, but I also have Roman coins which sell for 50 dollars and more. Please take a look at my site and consider ordering a cleaned coin to see if it holds your interest. My web site URL is as follows: www.ancinetcoinstore.com I hope you have enjoyed our visit and I look forward to your visit to my ancient coin store!