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My First Ancient Coin

I love history. It was always my favorite subject in school, and I really enjoy a good history book and museum. But I’ve been limited to studying United States history for most of my life.

I guess, the rest of the world just felt so far away, and their history even further away. I struggled to connect. So, I stuck to what I knew, which was our very brief history here in the United States.

[Side note: This is a bit strange to admit, but even though I’ve been able to track my genealogy back to Europe (England mostly) it never occurred to me that European history is my history too. I’ve been so blinded by my identity as an American that I forgot that I’m not truly from here. At least not when you look back across several centuries.

I think because our country is so young we tend to think that everything begins in 1776 which is ludicrous. It’s not like my family appeared on the Mayflower and we were always Americans.]

The past few years have made it difficult to be a fan of history here in the States. Political beliefs have slathered shame over pretty much anything that has happened outside of the past decade (well and most of the things within the past decade) and people have made a lot of accusations and assessments without having much of a knowledge base. We as a country seem to struggle with looking at the past without bringing current ideology and judgements with it, so both sides of the political spectrum use it to push their agendas without really knowing what they are talking about. It’s frustrating.

A few months ago, I had this random thought… “Are we Rome? Can I learn from reading about the downfall of Rome and apply what happened there to us?” So, I decided to start digging and learning a bit about The Roman Empire.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that no, the United States is not Rome, and OMG Roman History is super friggin cool!

I started off with a few reddit threads before watching a four-hour Mary Beard documentary and then moving onto The History of Rome podcast. I assumed this would be a fleeting interest, but I keep coming back to it. There is something that is just so enticing about Rome and, well… world history. It’s new to me and exciting.

I’ve always found comfort in history. Whether it was hearing stories from my grandmother about the Great Depression or just looking at what early settlers did in the West, there is something about seeing how people survived in the past that gives me hope for the present. And I’m a guy who doesn’t usually have much hope for anything. I think that is what attracts me to the past.

Despite having spent quite a few hours studying Roman History, I feel like I know maybe .0001% of what happened. It’s so expansive and vast, and I’m very much a novice.

Feeling connected to history is what really does it for me, but unfortunately there is very little Roman history for me to explore in the United States. It looks like if I go to New York, I might could see some cool stuff at the Met, and I know the North Carolina Museum of Art has a few nice pieces I’ve seen before, but that isn’t really the same. I wanted to take it a step further, and that’s when I stumbled onto ancient coins.

I assumed old coins would be thousands of dollars. I never took into consideration the massive amount minted and just how affordable some of them could be. So, I started lurking on r/AncientCoins and trying to learn a bit about them. Much like Roman History, this is a new interest that I have zero knowledge about so I took it slow and realized it would take years for me to fully get a grip on this.

Not wanting to wait years, I took some advice from the folks on r/AncientCoins and decided to visit VCoins, a trusted coin online store to find an affordable and nice coin to display. Just something to get my feet wet and see if this is a hobby I want to explore further while still connecting me to the past. I mean, the idea that I could hold a coin that was minted and used thousands of years ago just about breaks my brain.

After a bit of research, I decided to go with a nice coin from Constantine’s era, 307-337 AD. I found a nice, clean camp gate of Constantine I. It cost me thirty dollars, looks fantastic, and is a great starter piece.

Not many coins look this good for this price, and that was part of the appeal. I wanted a common coin that looks good and doesn’t break the bank. I’m not sure if this will lead to a new hobby or not, but I’m excited to own my own little piece of Roman history. I held the coin in my hand and I realized this is the oldest thing made my another human that I’ve ever held. It was awe inspiring. Sadly, my wife just rolled her eyes.

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