Posted Mar 10, 2023 by Martin Armstrong
In times of economic distress, people will hoard their wealth. This is as true in ancient times as it is in modern times. I was called in about a hoard of gold – one thousand $20 St Gaudians gold coins all dated 1924 – uncirculated. As you see, I have a reputation for buying hoards as well as funding major archaeological digs. This was a hoard of US$20 gold coins. So I took the lot. As for those who say I hate gold, no, I have always loved the $20 st Gaudens.
Obviously, this was a stash. It was the year of a Presidential election and in 1925, Calvin Coolidge was the first President to have his inauguration broadcasted on radio. In 1921 the Chinese Communist movement began and in 1924 Stalin came to power after poisoning Lenin and his wife. The flight from Russia began in 1917, but it escalated by 1919. It is hard to say why this hoard was stashed away. But they are all dated 1924 and may have been connected to the upheaval in Russia. By the end of 1919, it was clear to almost everyone that the Bolsheviks had won the Civil War. The White armies were defeated on all fronts: Siberia, the Russian North, and Petrograd (as St Petersburg was then called). Pravda on Aug. 31, 1918:
“Our cities must be mercilessly cleansed of the bourgeois rot. All these gentlemen will be put on file, and those who pose a danger to the revolutionary class will be destroyed … Henceforth, the hymn of the working class will be a song of hatred and revenge! ”
It was the White Russians who fled. It was estimated that at least 2 million fled Russia at the time. That was about 2%-3% of the surviving population by 1919. Given the date of this hoard and the condition, they were tucked away and never saw circulation. They may have been related to the turmoil in Russia.
A number of people have asked if I could put together sets of the 12 Caesars because I had mentioned I thought that could be done for half the price of the set being offered elsewhere. I am trying to get a small hoard of Caligula denarii. They are very difficult to find. I believe because he was so hated, they may have just melted down his coinage.
It all depends on quality. I have purchased a small hoard of Julius Caesar coinage. I will try to see If I get these Caligula denarii. If I do, I will try to see if I can put together some sets with much more realistic prices.
I have purchased a hoard of late Constantine bronze. They are very reasonable.
I have purchased an early hoard of Gallic coinage of Postumus which is silver. I also have purchased a hoard of Victorinus which are bronze. This is the period of both the split in the Roman Empire as well as the collapse of the monetary system.
Others have asked if I can put together a progression of the coinage showing the debasement. I will try. Here is a photo showing the stark difference between the beginning of the region of Gallienus (253-268AD) and its end.