If you bought gold US coins at the top of the market in March through May, you are naturally concerned about devaluation. As the economy rebounds, gold prices are starting to fall. Is gold, traditionally a reliable store of value, the best place to park your money?

Ancient coins with the right properties could be an even better holder of value. Byzantine coins (300–1400) can be bought for under $100. But ancient coins go back over 21 centuries, so where do you begin as a novice or new ancient coin collector?

If you buy ancient coins with the following properties, they are more likely to retain their value and hold up even better than gold.


You would think that a coin found in a buried shipwreck that is leagues under the sea would have immeasurable value. But this rare discovery would not be considered the rarest of coins. The more pristine the coin, the higher it's valued. A minted coin that was never in use is prized the most. 

Coin collectors ascribe one of 13 grades to ancient coins. The highest grade, the fleur de coin (FDC), is flawless and likely never been touched by human hands. The lowest grade, Poor (P), may be the coin found at the bottom of the sea. It is well worn and flaws may exist in its original design.

Engraving Quality 

But the experts advise that, when valuing ancient versus modern coins, the grade is less important than engraving quality. Though a nicely centered coin is valued, if the engraving has fine, sharp edges, a warped shape will be overlooked. 


Closely related to engraving quality is artistry. The most expensive coins have fine detailing and high-quality engraving in common. For these qualities, the Maxentius 8-Aurei gold medallion (308] from Ancient Rome sold for $1.4 million at a British auction. 

Together, the rarity, engraving quality, and originality of the artwork can provide exceptional value. The most expensive Byzantine coin sold for $190,000 in 2014. The gold coin featuring two Byzantine princesses has fine detail and engraving quality.


Yet among the rarest Ancient Greek coins, a 350-300 BC Pantikapaion Gold sold for $3.2 million. The artwork is less detailed and the coin shows some wear. Rarity has a higher value than coin artistry and engraving. And like artworks, coins from smaller mintages are more highly valued.

Whether you're entering the ancient coin market at under $100 or over $10,000, a coin with the above features could be worth more than your US gold coin in a few years.

For more information on ancient and byzantine coins, reach out to a local coin collector.