As is the case with most collectibles, damage generally lowers the value of ancient coins. One specific type of damage, however, can add intrigue to an ancient coin. If you're looking for a way to add variety to your ancient coin collection, it might be time to purchase a test-cut ancient coin.
Test Cuts Are Intriguing Damage
Test cuts are a type of damage and, as such, typically do lower the financial value of an ancient coin. They are, however, a historic mark that makes the coin more interesting than it would be without the damage.
When ancient coins were in circulation, test cuts were made to confirm that a coin was authentic. A test cut is simply a scratch or nick in the surface of the coin. The cut goes deep enough to show the underlying metal, so it was plainly visible whether the metal that the coin was made of was the same as the metal on its exterior. If a coin was made from a less precious metal but coated with a precious metal, a test cut would reveal the forgery.
By adding a coin that has a test cut you'll be able to show people some of the history behind the coin. Even non-collectors will be interested in learning about how coins were authenticated in ancient times.
Counter Stamps Locate a Coin in History
Counter stamps, which are a particular type of test cut, make a coin even more interesting. Like all test cuts, counter stamps have a mark that reveals the underlying metal in a coin. They also bear the mark of a trusted authority, usually a respected merchant or banker.
These marks added another layer of authentication. While a standard test cut could be coated over with a more precious metal, people would be less likely to coat a counter-stamped coin with a different metal. If they did, they may incur the wrath of the banker or merchant who authenticated the coin -- and those respected individuals were often powerful.
For your coin collection, a counter stamp adds more intrigue by locating the coin in a particular time and place in history. Without most ancient coins, you can only know what kingdom they were made by and perhaps where they were found. With a counter-stamped coin, you can find out who stamped the coin, when they lived and where they operated. Instead of only knowing a coin was made by the Roman Empire, for example, you might find out that it was from Alexandria when Rome controlled the city.
With a counter-stamped coin, you'll be able to tell interested individuals even more about your collection, and your collection will be more unique than others' collections that don't have these types of coins.
Test-Cut and Counter-Stamped Coins Are Affordable
Best of all, adding a test-cut or counter-stamped coin doesn't need to break your bank. Because the marks are technically damage, they usually lower the price of an ancient coin -- even though they make the coins more interesting. (The one exception to this rule are counter stamps made by very famous historical figures, which can increase the value of coins.)
Just how much a test cut or counter stamp will lower a coin's value will depend on where the damage is on the coin and how deep the mark is. If you take your time to shop around, you should be able to find several test-cut and counter-stamped ancient coins for sale at affordable prices.
If you aren't sure what type of test-cut or counter-stamped coin to purchase first, consider getting an Athenian Owl. Ancient Coin Cleaning and Restoration says it's the most common test-cut coin, so you should be able to find several for sale at ancient coin dealers.