Remo D. writes: I was in Israel last year, a man was selling old coins that came from a excavation site in Hebron. I bought some coins from him. They have the head of Caesar on some of them. They are not of mint quality but marking is identifiable. What could these coins be worth and where can I bring them for examination?
The term “Caesar” originates with Julius Caesar c. 40 BC but after his death and the civil war that followed, all subsequent emperors used the word “Caesar” to describe their office. Based on your description, coins bearing the likeness of who ever was the current emperor of the Western Roman Empire were minted for almost 500 years. Just like our coinage today, there was more than a single denomination (imagine having only dimes to spend). So, denomination is important as well as type, quality of the dies that struck the coin and the condition.
Note also that it is illegal to remove antiquities from Israel as well as from other Middle-East countries, especially from excavations. The penalties are severe. Also, sellers of these coins aren’t unaware that their finds are worth money and rarely take the chance of selling them on street corners. An entire cottage industry has arisen in these countries to make replicas of ancient (and modern) coins for sale to tourists.
Age is also not an indicator of value. Many common ancient bronzes are found by the thousands and sell for only a few dollars a coin. Really valuable ancient coins are usually in uncommon condition, a rare variety or type. It takes expertise to know the difference. If you wish, you can send your coins to the American Numismatic Association for authentication and attribution, that is, they will tell you what your coins are.