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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Ancient Coin Forum (Moderator: goldenancients)  |  Topic: Coin reference books - favoured format 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Bacchus
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« on: March 09, 2006, 08:50:45 am »

Hi,
I am interested in people's opinions in what makes a good reference book - particually with the photographs / images representing the coins.

Which do /would people prefer;
1. Images that exactly replicate the size of the coin - if it is 9mm then that is the size of the picture
2. Images that are larger than the actual coin.  eg.  If there were two coins one at 18mm and one at 29mm, would people generally be happy if both were shown at, say 40mm, to ensure all the detail could be seen?

Most books I know use the former method and it certainly helps in establishing quickly that the picture in the book is the same as the coin in the hand.  However, with some reference books this relegates the image to a black blob that is mostly useless for determining Legends.

I suppose the ideal way to have a new reference book is to have the printed pictures at proper coin size and an accompanying CD / DVD with pictures that you can blow up to get at the detail if necessary.   I don't think it would be that expensive to do, considering the photos have to be taken anyway.
Malcolm

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vic9128
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« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2006, 09:32:36 am »

In Victor Failmezger's book Roman Bronze Coins-From Paganism to Christianity 294-364 A.D.  , the coins for the plates are actual size, but there is also a companion CD.

Here is the website about the book:
http://www.romanbronzecoins.com/
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virtvsprobi
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« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2006, 10:51:09 am »

Images that are larger than the actual coin.

I always prefer enlarged images and a simple statement of size in mm. Enlargements are not always viable, however. Clear 1:1 photos are good in this case.

G/<
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slokind
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« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2006, 11:44:47 am »

The bottom line is actual legibility.  Where the reproduction (dpi, paper, ink) are of the very highest quality (think of an expensive book on Edward Weston photos, for example), 1:1 is OK, because a loupe can then be used if need be.  That kind of reproduction, however, is prohibitively expensive.  Otherwise, enlargements, 1.5X or 2X (and larger for tetartemoria and their cousins) are essential.  Any coin you'd want to use a loupe on for the finer details probably should be enlarged.  As for on-screen viewing, at 72 or 82 dpi, good enlargement is obviously essential.  Enlargements the size of saucers and dinner plates are seldom successful, but a well preserved and well photographed coin at 2X is a pleasure to use and most informative.  The Failmezger solution is fine, but commercial publishers and distributors hate it.  Pat L.
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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2006, 12:02:30 pm »

I dislike books that show all coins at the same size.  Plant's _Greek Coin Types and Their Identification_ does this, and so do several web sites including the British SNG website, http://www.sylloge-nummorum-graecorum.org/ .

It's best if the coins are illustrated proportionally, so relative sizes can be seen.  For books like the SNGs, that are often used for identification by flipping through every page looking for matches, proportional isn't enough -- actual size is needed.

However, most printing techniques can't print fine details so a compromise is to print the smaller coins at BOTH regular size and 2x or 3x (as is done in auction catalogs sometimes).  For web sites, a compromise is to have a few relative sizes (150 pixels for tiny fractions, 250 pixels for denarius-sized coins, 350 pixels for sestercii).  I'm using this convention for a new web site I'm designing but I can't think of any other sites that do this.

People used to say that computer monitors display 96dpi (dots-per-inch) on average.  I don't know what the number is today.  When I did the _Historia Numorum_ web site I scanned everything at 150dpi so the coins would be proportional but a bit larger than average.  I would use larger images today, perhaps 200 or 300dpi.
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Bacchus
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« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2006, 12:14:51 pm »

Thanks for the replies.  I actually like David Sears books and the format he uses to describe each coin (clear picture beside well laid out legends and description)  I know that there are issues around listing by Emperor / mint in overall format but on a coin by coin basis it's pretty good where there is actually a photo.

Anyone care to hold up an example of a great book format?

MAlcolm
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Howard Cole
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« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2006, 02:25:59 pm »

I tend to collect fairly small coins, maybe because they are lower in price  Grin, or I am just amazed that that much detail can be put on something so small.  For me, I prefer a book that shows the coin in actual size and a 2 or 4 times enlargement.  The actual size is a quick way to match possible coins and the enlargement provides the details I need.

So it really depends on the size of the coin and the resolution of the image (dpi) in the books.  I have some references that show the coins actual size, but the images are next to useless because of low resolution and they appear washed out.  Then, I have other books that are great, with coins at actual size, but high resolution images.  Failmezer book is one of those.
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« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2006, 06:49:36 pm »

I'm with Howard on this one. Many of the coins I'm interested in are less than 10mm in diameter, and very few are over 20mm. If you're interested in any kind of important detail -- magistrate monograms, die links, etc. -- life-size photos are very limited in their usefulness. 2x, 3x, 4x, even 5x would be very helpful in many cases, and there's no reason you can't put a black bar next to the photo to show the actual size. We'd know more about these tiny coins, I think, if they were better illustrated in existing publications.

Here's a whole group of 5mm's -- see how much variation there is once the details can be seen:

http://rjohara.net/coins/lion-bird/

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Bacchus
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« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2006, 12:49:47 pm »

Quite amazing the detail that can be put into only 5mm  Shocked.  A very nice example.
Malcolm
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