Posted on: 12 December 2015
For burgeoning collectors, knowing how to start an ancient coin collection can be difficult. There are numerous different ancient coins, from all over the world and from all different eras, and some coins can be expensive. Deciding what coins to purchase first isn't easy, especially if finances are limited. If you're just starting to build an ancient coin collection, you might want to begin by collecting test-cut coins, which are both inexpensive and unique.
Test Cuts Confirmed Authenticity
Today, ancient coins are often accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. In ancient times when these coins were in circulation, though, such certificates did not exist. There also weren't any ways to hold a coin up to the light or mark it with a marker, as some people do today to check for counterfeit bills.
In ancient times, coins were checked for authenticity with a test cut. A test cut was a mark, anywhere from a small scratch to a deep gouge, made into the coin to check whether the underlying metal was the same as the metal on the outside of the coin. A coin that was counterfeit would have a different metal underneath.
For example, counterfeiters in ancient times would often coat bronze or copper coins with silver, which was a more valuable metal. Making a test cut into such a coin would reveal that the coin was not silver and was worth less than a pure silver coin would be worth.
Test Cuts Reduce Value
In the world of collecting ancient coins, test cuts are a form of damage to the coin. As such, they reduce the coin's value. Even though they're historically interesting and were intentionally made, they lower grade of coins and how much collectors are willing to pay for them.
The extent to which a test cut lowers a coins value will depend on the location and severity of the mark. A deep gouge on the face of an ancient coin, for example, will have a much more significant effect on the coin's value than a small scratch on the side of it would.
Test Cuts Add Intrigue
For the ancient coin collector who is interested in the history around a coin, test cuts can add intrigue to a coin. They're a mark from the coin's past and reveal how money was handled in their place and era. The marks that confirm authenticity serve as a physical reminder that the coin's history was real.
Some test cuts are even accompanied by a counter stamp. A counter stamp carried the seal of a well-known politician or merchant in the ancient world, and guaranteed the authenticity of the coin. In theory, a coin could be coated with a more valuable metal after a test cut was made. A counter stamp carried the weight of a respected authority, making future test cuts unnecessary.
In most cases, counter stamps also reduce the value of an ancient coin. They're technically damage, even though they carry specific historic weight. In a few cases, a test cut from a famous historic figure increases a coin's value, but most counter stamps are from forgotten people and lower a coin's value.
If you're just getting into ancient coin collecting, and are looking for affordable yet intriguing ancient coins for sale, test cut coins offer a remarkable opportunity. They're cheaper than non-damaged ancient coins, and they have historically interesting marks. As you peruse the ancient coins for sale, you'll find all types of ancient coins that have test cuts. One that you may want to start your collection with is the Athenian Owl, which Ancient Coin Cleaning and Restoration says is the most common test-cut ancient coin.Share