Some Educational Websites about Ancient Coins
an edited and annotated list of the most useful sites
Revised Sept. 10, 2017
I have a site for beginners, Ancient Roman and Greek Coins, FAQ
Most sites on this page are Roman. If you prefer Greek, skip down to the Greek sites.
Ancient-coin dealers. I do not list any dealers individually here, but recommend the ancient coin mall:
vcoins https://www.vcoins.com/en/coins/ancient-2.aspx and
I have a list of fixed-price and auction sites here.
Links on this page (below):
Identifying ancient coins. What is it worth? Roman emperors on coins. Collecting themes. Byzantine coins. Roman Provincial coins. Greek coins. Other cultures. Fakes. Cleaning coins. I have a page of book recommendations.
Collector's speak (The vast majority of ancient-coin sites exist because of collectors.)
The master site for pages of many other collectors. You can taste from the smorgasbord there.
Discussion groups. Many of us are physically isolated from other collectors, but that need not isolate us mentally. Join a web forum!
Coin Community Forum http://www.coincommunity.com/forum/forum.asp?FORUM_ID=51 is a friendly discussion group of enthusiastic ancient-coin collectors showing and discussing their inexpensive recent purchases and collections. Many are beginners. Images are conveniently inserted right inside the posts so you can see the coins right with the discussion. This is not a list to flaunt expensive coins.
CoinTalk forum is a friendly place to discuss ancient coins https://www.cointalk.com/forums/ancients/
It is a discussion group of ancient and foreign coin collectors with topics grouped into convenient threads. It has some of the same collectors as the Coin Community Forum. On average, the collectors are slightly more advanced. Members range from very-low budget collectors to high-dollar collectors, brought together by an interest in ancient coins.
Forum Ancient Coins hosts a discussion board where collectors discuss anything and everything about ancient coins. It is a large site, very well categorized, so, if you want to read what collectors want to discuss about, say, Roman coins, you can look at many topics recently opened and replied to (often there are many posts in the thread). http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php
Part way down the page there is a heading "Ancient coins discussions" followed by "Ancient Coin Forum," "For the new collector," "Roman Coins," "Greek Coins," "Biblical Coins," etc. Each has many interesting posts and many members are experts.
The finest group of educational webpages on ancient coins is by Doug Smith. He has written over 100 pages of material covering a wide range of topics from the important basics such as grading and coin terms, to very advanced discussions of individual coin types. Most, but not all, is on Roman coins. I'm afraid if you visit Doug's sites, you may never come back! Be sure to look in his tables of contents for any subject you do not find here.
Doug Smith's pages include:
Selecting a specialty
Grading ancient coins
Choosing ancient coins
Glossary of ancient coin terms
Roman gods and goddesses
numerous particular types are discussed in detail.
What it is like going to a coin show
and much, much more!
(You will learn that a coin does not have to be expensive to be interesting!)
Many of the best educational sites have been assembled in one spot: http://www.ancients.info/ . You will find links to many of the sites listed below.
Many other educational articles have been assembled at the NumisWiki collaborative site hosted by Forum ancient coins:
Forum also hosts a numismatic discussion board: http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php
Just about every ancient-coin topic has been discussed there.
"Reading and Cataloging Roman Imperial Coins" A very clear illustrated exposition on how to read the legends on Roman coins.
"What I like about ancient coins" with many fascinating pages. A fascinating site by a collector who says coins "bring history to life." Gods, myths, propaganda, symbolism, etc.
"The most beautiful coins of antiquity" nominated by collectors (and, usually very expensive). This is not one person's collection.
A site ( http://www.romancoins.info/ ) with many facets of Roman coins considered, and tons of photos (assembled -- not from a single collection, and without much commentary).
Lots of links to online collections are assembled here.
Robert Kokotailo shows you all the information on a single Roman coin of Trajan. This one page nicely demonstrates just how interesting even a common type can be.
Sometimes coin descriptions use terms you don't know. Here is an illustrated glossary: http://www.forumancientcoins.com/moonmoth/glossary.html
"I don't want to study coins right now. I just want to see what a collection might look like."
Here is a site where collectors can post their coins. It has parts of numerous collections exhibited. Click on any of them to see what collectors have assembled.
Here is a site with a collection of coins depicting Roman women by "Empress collector."
One collector's collection of coins of the Roman emperor Trajan.
How do I identify a coin I have? What is it worth?
To value a coin you need to know its identification. If you have it well-identified, you can search for similar coins at commercial sites:
vcoins https://www.vcoins.com/en/coins/ancient-2.aspx ("search all stores") and
MA-Shops https://www.ma-shops.de/antike/index.php5?lang=en is very similar to vcoins, but emphasizing European dealers.
It is important to remember that those are retail costs. If you want to sell a coin, do not expect to get anywhere near that much.
eBay is a huge site for ancient coins, but not reliable. Many coins are fakes and many identification are wrong. But you can look there anyway. Go to "coins" then "ancient". Then "Search". However eBay prices listed mean nothing until after the auction closes. Bookmark types that interest you so you can revisit them after they have closed. Most US eBay coins begin at prices that are far too high. The vast majority of coins on eBay at "Buy it now" prices are not worth that much. Some are not even worth 1/10 that much. It is amazing that sellers choose to price them like that, but "There is a sucker born every minute." The vast majority of overpriced coins just don't sell. The few US eBay ancient coins that are actual auctions and begin at low prices often triple their price in the last instant. It is very hard to tell from eBay what a coin is "worth."
A serious mistake many beginners make is to think their coin is worth as much as some other coin for sale because the coins are the same "type of coin." But value is even more dependent upon "condition" which is very difficult to describe. Unless you coin is definitely better than one for sale, it might be worth very much less because of its "condition". That's why you need to continue with the next sites.
(Identifying coins is not easy. Valuing them is even harder. It takes years to get good at it. You might just want to ask an expert.)
Wildwinds is a well-organized, extensive list of Roman and Greek coin types, with photos, drawn largely from web auctions (with prices). You can look up your coins here. This is one of the major attribution and valuing sources on the web.
Every buyer needs to learn about how to evaluate the condition (desirability) of a coin. Sometimes this is called "grading" the coin, although there is much more to condition than grade (which is, technically, only a term to describe wear).
Naturally, Doug Smith has done a great job describing condition.
Calgary Coin Gallery has also discussed grading.
These two sites describe how coins "should" be graded. Unfortunately, many web sellers (say, on eBay or Yahoo!) grossly misrepresent their coins by overgrading them. Always inspect the picture -- don't believe a stated grade.
For researching the cost of high-quality ancient coins there are two excellent search sites with high fees:
There is a database of the finest coins offered recently at auction, "CoinArchives.com". All the coins will be expensive and you must use the "search" function. If you know what you have and it is spectacular, you might be able to find similar coins that have been offered recently at the highest-quality auctions (definitely not eBay auctions!). However, only a very small percentage of coins fit in this category. It is a great site for experienced collectors, but not much use to beginners.
Another site with many auction-quality ancient coins in searchable format is http://www.acsearch.info/ . To use this site it is best to have some key words (like the ruler's name) so you use its search engine.
The best site to search quality coins for free is the "Research" site of CNG, a major US firm: https://cngcoins.com/Default.aspx
Roman Emperors on coins:
Of course, you can search vcoins.com to see what coins of the various emperors look like.
The Virtual Catalog of Roman Coins A large site with images of coins of each emperor and his relatives who had coins issued for them (not priced. Click on the sidebar on the left to select a time period).
If you want to see lots of top coins of any particular emperor, search CoinArchives.com which archives major auction-sale descriptions and results (you would have to pay for a membership to see the prices realized, but not to see the coins).
Many coins are organized by emperor at http://aeqvitas.com/photo.php
Sites emphasizing a particular emperor:
Domitian (81-96 AD) (Very high grade coins with numerous rare pieces)
Trajan (AD 98-117) sestertii (amazingly complete, with denarii and other denominations too)
Another collector emphasizes Trajan, but also with Greek coins and coins of other civiliations.
Hadrian (AD 117-138) on coins of Roman Egypt (not "imperial" coins)
Hadrian (on Beast's site)
Barry Murphy's collection of Septimus Severus and his family (Caracalla, Julia Domna, Geta, and Plautilla). High-quality coins well-organized by mint, but not a lot of commentary.
Doug Smith has a lot on Septimius Severus (AD 193-211) among his many pages. Wait for the main page to load (well worth the wait!) and use the menu.
Elagabalus (AD 218-222)
Gordian III (AD 238-244)
Gordian III (AD 238-244)
Jim Shaffer's site on Philip ("the Arab") 244-249 and his family (with many illustrated antoniniani)
Doug Smith has a terrific overview of the coins of Philip and his family.
Trebonianus Gallus (251-253) and his family and Aemilian (253)
Gallienus (AD 253-268)
Tom Ross has a site on Aurelian. (AD 270-275)
A collection of Probus (AD 276-282)
Coins of Constantine the Great (306-337).
Coins of emperor Vetranio (350)
Coins of emperor Jovian (363-364)
Emperors on coins (without much text)
"Roman Numismatic Gallery" lots of nice images.
De Imperatoribus Romanis is an on-line encyclopedia of the Roman emperors.
Collecting Themes (Roman)
(This is only a very small section of possible themes. As collectors post more websites showing off their themes, I will expand this list.)
Roman Republican coins. Lots of pictures of Roman Republican coins with short comments about historical events at the dates of the coins.
Roman Republican coins. This site is vast and perhaps more sophisticated than a beginner's introduction. But, it is very well laid out.
The site includes a history of Roman Republican coinage and numismatics, newly written, and organised into 35 short sections, spread over ten webpages, and with links to all the related coins.
There are 1,350 different Republican coins pictured on the website, making it the largest online Roman Republican coinage database, and one of the largest ever published in any medium. The coins are organised into 35 sets matching the write-ups. They are arranged in a proper historical and chronological manner according to Crawford
except for the coins of 70-50BC where the Mesagne hoard dating is used. http://andrewmccabe.ancients.info/Hoards.html#Mesagne
Every coin is different and properly described. Hundreds of these coin types, mainly rare bronze types or early silver with symbols, cannot be found anywhere else on the internet.
Campgates (mostly 4th century AD) and ancient architecture. Very many campgate coins.
The London mint, 296-325
Gallienus (AD 253-268) issued many coins with animals.
Various animals on ancient coins.
Architecture on ancient coins.
Ancient imitations of Roman coins
Guide to Late Roman AE coin types, AD 364-450 (a complete list of types of the period)
Hercules on coins (not all ancient, and only a small fraction of what is possible, but well done)
Coins of the (obscure) Roman mint of Tripolis.
Countermarks on early Roman imperial coins. A beautiful collection with undertypes much better than normal.
Countermarks on Roman coins.
Coins of Roman Egypt struck at Alexandria.
The very common Roman FEL TEMP REPARATIO types of the mid 4th century AD that are interesting and available in nice condition at low prices.
The "Soldier spearing fallen horseman" FEL TEMP REPARATIO is very common. Dane has a collection of a great many varieties.
An amazing and beautiful site for identifying late Roman AE coins: Late Roman Bronze -- Book on line.
Coins with mythological references: The Forum discussion board has a thread with mythological figures on individual coin types discussed.
Roman Provincial coins = Greek Imperial coins:
Roman provincial coins of the Balkans, an online translation of Nikola Moushmov's 1912 classic reference work, Ancient Coins of the Balkan Peninsula, with pages enhanced by addition of links to the Moushmov plates as well as the insertion of individual coin entries from the WildWinds DataBank. Currently translated are 7000 (out of the total 7600) entries covering Dacia, Moesia, Thrace, and Macedonia. A great resource for these collectible coins.
City Gate coins. A magnificient collection of coins with "city gate" types.
A large and well-presented collection of Roman provincial coins (of all emperors).
Roman Provincial coins of Gordian III (238-244)
A nice collection of affordable Byzantine copper coins.
A site with short stories of the Byzantine emerors, illustrated by some of their coins and many beautiful mosaics and buildings of their time. A very attractive site.
Coins of the Byzantine mint of Cherson at the top of the Black Sea.
If you are interested in Greek coins, here are some sites:
A collector show his Greek coins, including mostly inexpensive copper coins and Greek fractional silver.
The mints of Magna Graecia and their spectacular Greek coins.
The Seleukids, history and coins.
A site giving links (only links) to everything having to do with the Ptolemys of Egypt.
The Greek alphabet.
A series of maps locating the Greek mints.
Links to sites of museums: a few major Greek coins.
Coinage of two Greek-Illyrian city states: Apollonia and Dyrrhachium (cow and suckling calf type)
Greek coins of Velia
Greek coins of Asia Minor (including Roman provincial)
Coins of Alexander the Great -- a collection with commentary.
Coins of the Greek city Miletus (Miletos).
Coins showing Pegasus, the winged horse.
Coins of other cultures:
Coins of Rome about Parthia by Chris Hopkins. A major theme collection list. Very nice. A part of a larger site on Parthian coins.
Ancient and Medieval coins of Asia are extensively and beautifully illustrated at The Coins and History of Asia. So it's not Roman -- it's a beautiful site!
Zeno, an Oriental Coins database with many thousands of photos. (Not the site of one collector.)
Jewish coins -- the Menorah Coin Project.
Jewish coins and Holy Land coins (in Italian, but mostly photos, and google can translate it for you).
More reading about ancient coins:
What could an ancient coin buy?
Prices in Ancient Rome by McWhorter Collectables.
(Don't forget to check Doug Smith's sites on almost every topic! He has a good page on what coins could buy.)
How do you pronounce those Roman names, anyway?
A Latin Pronunciation Guide for Numismatists
If you are interested in ancient imitations (genuinely ancient coins that were counterfeits in their day), I have a page with information about imitations and many images. See also Doug Smith's sites. If you want to read recent scholarly literature on them, I have compiled a bibliography of articles on ancient imitations.
How to buy ancient coins. (One of my pages.)
How coin auctions work. (Another of my pages.)
Back before the internet collectors wrote articles on aspects of ancient coins for an ancient-coin journal called The Celator. The issues of The Celator are now on-line here, and an index to the earlier issues is on-line here. It is in pdf form and can be searched for key words.
Concerned about fakes?
You should be if you buy on eBay. I have a page of links about fakes.
Interested in uncleaned coins?
I don't recommend buying coins that need cleaning (here is my page on Buying uncleaned ancient coins), but many people buy them, so here are some links.
Comments from those who know, previously posted on e-mail lists.
Books: If you want book recommendations instead of website recommendations, check out my page "How to learn more about Roman coins."
How can I learn more?
Here is my site "How to Learn More About Roman Coins" with some book recommendations.
If you want to do real research, at the advanced level, the ANS (American Numismatic Society) has a search engine for its journal of abstracts of (almost) all numismatic articles, Numismatic Literature.
You can search for just about any thing, for example, emperor "Hadrian", and see the titles (and then abstracts if you click on the title) of articles that mention "Hadrian" somewhere in the abstract. This is not an easy approach, though, because you will find far too much material at a very detailed level. It is more for going from "intermediate" to "advanced" collector.
The American Numismatic Society has a list of links (some broken) to websites on ancient coins at
Books: For those of you with these particular books:
If you own Coinage in the Greek World by Carradice and Price you will find this page I wrote useful. Print it off and put it in your book.
If you own Coinage in the Roman World by Burnett you will find this page I wrote useful. Print it off and put it in your book.
If you own Roman Provincial Coins by Kevin Butcher you will find this page I wrote useful. Print it off and put it in your book.
If you own the six volumes of SNG Danish (Copenhagen) you will find this page useful. Print it off and put it with the volumes.
Classics sites without emphasis on coins:
The Rome Project with links to sites on topics of all kinds, political, military, archaeology, philosophy, religion, etc. (Designed for 6th grade students)
A large site that does not emphasize coins, but just what it name suggests, is Electronic Resources for Classicists.
A good basic map showing the provinces of the Roman empire (not the cities), with links to further sites.
Conclusion: This site is not intended to be comprehensive. I have not listed many minor sites, but these major sites should get you started. Enjoy!
Please report broken links to me.
e-mail me, Warren, at:
Note well: Please do not ask me to answer particular questions about Roman or Greek coins (I have a life!), but if you want to recommend to me a major, well-designed, educational (not commercial) site on Roman or Greek coins I would be interested.
First posted 10/27/2000.