There’s nothing in the coin world like the feel of holding an ancient gold coin in your hand, but unfortunately that’s not something that most will have the opportunity to do. Nevertheless, interest in the market has never been higher with modern commemoratives featuring ancient themes from architecture to gods, many of the coins being amongst the best released to market. There will always be a difference between a themed coin and one that accurately replicates the past, and Coin Invest Trust’s ‘The Coins of the Roman Empire’ fits firmly into the latter category.
First launched back in 2009, the coins were released in sets of four at a time, although they’re sold individually. Replicating some of the superb ancient designs struck by the Roman Emperors, the coins wind their way chronologically through the Empire, starting with the first, and perhaps the greatest of them all, Augustus himself. All but four of the coins carry profile portraits of the Emperors, the others depicting events. Sadly, they share a common obverse, the shield emblem of the issuing state, Palau. While it would have been nice to see this integrated into the design rather than take centrestage, the fact is that at just 11.8 mm in diameter, there simply isn’t room on the coin, so a necessary compromise.
The coins are struck in 0.9999 gold and are just 0.5g each in weight. This allows them to be sold for even less than a 1 oz silver commemorative, an important point when there are 24 coins in the set. Detail levels remain high, although new techniques developed by CIT being applied to the latest coins do surpass these. As the originals were relatively crudely struck anyway, this actually turns into a point in favour.
There are some real gems in this collection and it’s a fine set for the history buff. For a future set we’d like to see the hand-struck effect applied to the shape of the coin, much like the Monnaie de Paris’ brilliant From Clovis to Republic series. With CIT now rolling out its ground-breaking SmartMinting technology, we have no doubt that the minigold 0.5g format is in safe hands with the industrys biggest user of the size, one increasing in popularity. With a mintage of 15,000 each, all the coins are still available at the time of writing and well worth a second look. Whether CIT will ever do a set like this again is anybody’s guess, but we hope so, the Greek period having plenty of fine designs, for example. Prices hover around the €40-45 mark.