Many buyers of uncleaned ancient coins are enticed by claims of "GOLD FOUND" or "SILVER FOUND" in order to convince them to purchase outright a lot of uncleaned ancient coins. Will they find Gold? This guide speaks to what to expect in a lot of uncleaned ancient Roman coins. It will also apply to Greek and Holy Land uncleaned coins.
No, they will not find Roman Gold. If not, why not? And, what about those who say they did?
No, They Will Not Find Gold: The ancient world did indeed mint quite a number of coins from gold. If you are interested in its history, then look at the history of the City of Sardis (in Modern Turkey, and also one of the cities mentioned in Revelation 2-3) as an example. I find it fascinating! Sardis is cool!
But, unfortuantely for all of us ancient coin collectors and cleaners of uncleaned coins, gold does not crust over the way copper and bronze do. So, when a digger turns a spade full of earth and that coin is a gold coin, that gold coin will immediately be recognizable and plucked up from the earth.
It is as if the gold coin had a little megaphone, saying, "Hey You! It's Me, the Golden One! Pick Me Up Right Now!" And the digger picks it up and places it in a pile of other gold coins that will never come to me.
In short, the gold is immediately recognzable no matter how long it has been buried. And, it is not placed into the piles of coins destined to be sacked by the thousand, sold to a handful of international dealers, and then to me, and then (hopefully) to you.
What about those buyers who say they did find Gold? Of all of the dealers I have been in contact with, only one says that any of his customers ever found an authentic Roman Gold Coin in a lot of uncleaned coins. I believe him. That leaves over 100,000 other lots of uncleaned coins without them.
So what about the Gold Found claims? There are some legitamate claims of gold found by buyers of uncleaned Roman coins, that is, they found a piece of gold in their uncleaned Roman coin lot.
In nearly every case I am aware of, the gold is from India in a small unit called a "gold fanim" worth about 10 cents. This gold is not natural to the finding of uncleaned Roman coins, especially coins found in Spain, England, Germany, and the Balkans. One day I should write a short story about someone who planted tiny gold fanims into uncleaned Roman coin lots in order to create and justify claims of "Gold Found!" That would be my hypothetical view, not that I would imagine anyone on e-Bay would do it. I would hypothesize that the Roman army never conquered India and that the intermingling of not so ancient gold fanims with quite ancient Roman uncleaned coins is perhaps a modern indication of Alien Abduction. Your mileage may vary.
Diggers don't miss gold. I wouldn't.
Will I find Silver in Uncleaned Coin Lots? Very Rarely. But it has happened. In the last 5000-6000 uncleaned coins I have marketed on e-Bay, only one person has told me they found a silver coin. I suspect a few more went out there.
Will I find Silvered Coins in Uncleaned Coins? Yes, it is possible. Silvered coins are non-silver coins which have been washed over with silver to increase their value in the ancient world. If one takes a brass brush to them for cleaning they will probably be ruined. Not that I ever made that mistake in my early days, er, well , certainly not me, so to speak. Yikes! I did it once! Forgive Me!
What about bidders who want to buy Gold? First off, they have more disposable income than I do. Second, they should buy them as individual coins or sets, and never expect to buy them in a lot of uncleaned coins.
Okay. No Gold in Uncleaned Lots. Now What? Buy uncleaned coins lots only for what they clearly offer: copper, bronze, and occasionally a silvered coin. Learn about the mints in the provinces and cities. Explore the mints that traveled with the Roman Legions and Auxiliaries to pay the troops. In some instances we can tell not only what city a coin was minted in, but even which workshop in that mint that pounded out that coin. For Roman Republic coins, we can even see who the moneyer was who oversaw the minting of that coin!
Know that you are touching real history and that for a fleeting moment when you close you eyes and rub that coin between your thumb and forefinger, that you are there with them. You have touched our own precious history. These coins have traveled time, and we can travel with them.
I hope this guide was useful to you.
Semper Pax, John