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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Ancient Coin Forum (Moderator: goldenancients)  |  Topic: Coins or books? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Coins or books?  (Read 3082 times)
Douglas
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« on: May 18, 2007, 08:08:52 pm »

I am sure this topic has been covered ad nauseum here, but I am currently debating this myself. I'm looking at 500 dollars worth of references, and man I'd love to spend that on coins instead. How do you work out the justification of your purchases?

Doug
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Howard Cole
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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2007, 08:55:45 pm »

Get the books.  You won't be sorry.  I own books for which I own little if any coins covered in them, but it is fun to look up other people's coins with.  You learn a lot doing this.  Also, they make great dream books.  Some even have history in them!  I just got Bedoukian's Coinage of Cilician Armenia.  I paid around $170 for it.  Its a great book but I only own two Cilician Armenian coins.  I am learning a lot about Cilician Armenian history reading it.

Additionally, you can look at the books as an investment.  Some you will make money on and others you will loose on, but on the average most will keep, if not increase, their value.  I have a copy of Mitchiner's Ancient & Classical World, I paid around $200 for it.  It is not in the best of condition, but I know I can turn around and sell it for double that today.

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Ardatirion
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« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2007, 09:06:52 pm »

I'm terrible at this. I always buy the another instead of references. But it is surely best to buy the books first.
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Gert
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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2007, 06:31:01 am »

Go buy one book at a time, that works well for me. No need to think of the combined cost of all the books you might like to own. You say you're looking at 500 dollars. That's a lot of money for one purchase, but it's not much on whole career of collecting.
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Gert
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mauseus
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2007, 07:32:55 am »

Hi Doug,

Out of curiosity what are the references that you are looking at purchasing?

Regards,

Mauseus
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Douglas
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2007, 01:05:47 pm »

Mauseus,

I am planning on getting Sear's RCV 3 since I use the first two as a general reference. Also Gobl: "Die Münzprägung der Kaisers Aurelianus" because RIC is so horrible with Aurelian. I won't buy RIC V until it is re-written. I also want to get the 3 volumes from the La Venera hoard. That era is of particular interest to me. (I don't read Italian, but I can struggle through the German).

It's not so much the money, and I realize the value of references. I should look at them more as part of the collection. Buying them one at a time is a good suggestion, Gert. I'll buy one every time I work overtime days, which this summer I'll have them by the end of June. That way it won't cut into my current coin purchasing budget.

Doug
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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2007, 03:51:34 pm »

Doug

Don't forget Sylviane Estiot's BNF catalogue of Aurelian to Florian. An excellent reference!

Lee
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Douglas
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« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2007, 04:01:11 pm »

Great! Thanks Lee. I'll definitely add that to my list.

Doug
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Gert
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« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2007, 05:44:45 pm »

That's a good suggestion from Lee. You can forget about Gobl if you bought that one, until you can get it second hand. But you will still need his work on Valerian/Gallienus/Macrianus/Quitus to cover RIC V!
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Gert
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« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2007, 01:30:39 am »

Hi,

The Göbl "Aurelian" is a difficult work to find but is useful, particularly if you have Marcus Weders review article to go with it from Numismatic Chronicle from, I think, 1993. When I was setting out in serious numismatics in the late 80's/early 90's I corresponded quite a bit with him when he was putting the Aurelian catalogue together and have two coins in the plates, one of which is below (54a1 in the addendum):


Regards,

Mauseus
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« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2007, 12:12:07 pm »

I say coins, definitely.  Most of the information is on, or being put on the internet anyway.  Books are great and all and a pleasure to look at, but you want the coins- you know you do!!! Smiley

Molinari
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Howard Cole
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« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2007, 03:18:32 pm »

I say coins, definitely.  Most of the information is on, or being put on the internet anyway.  Books are great and all and a pleasure to look at, but you want the coins- you know you do!!! Smiley

Molinari

In the areas that I collect very little is on the Internet.  I have found that the Internet is a good starting point, but it rarely has the complete or accurate information that I need.  For example, I was trying identify a Cilician Armenian coin.  The best I could do on the Internet was a pogh of Gosdantin III.  Once I got Bedoukian's book on these coins, I soon realized that it was a coin of Oshin.  Additionally, it confirmed that another coin I have was a Takvorin of Levon the Usurper (a fairly rare coin.)

If you collect Greek bronze coins, you better get copies of Lindgren's books, since a lot of these coins are not on the Internet.

Even using the Internet, the resources may be hard to use.  Have you tried using the online Svoronos to identify Ptolemaic coins?  I have tried.  Finally, I had to print it out, since looking at the printed pages is much better then trying to go through the images online. Have you tried to use the ANS database to identify coins?  With no images in this database, it is very difficult to know if the coin described is the same as the one you have.

No, most of the information is not on the Internet.  Even if it is on the Internet, I have found it much harder to use then flipping through the plates in a book.

Get the book!  You'll be a lot happier in the long run.  Grin
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Robert_Brenchley
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2007, 03:20:00 pm »

i wish it was true that most of the info was being put on the Net! Unfortunately, very few areas are covered in any depth at all.
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Robert Brenchley

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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2007, 03:47:44 pm »

When I was a general collector I spent most of my budget on coins with some money going on RSC (II, III and IV) and Sear ('88 edition). As soon as I chose some areas to specialise (Septimius Severus) I purchased RIC for that area (RIC IV). Over time I had another area of specialisation (Probus) and I purchased that RIC too (RIC V). I have since added many more books including the latest Sear set but have spent lots on Bastien for my Lugdunum habit.
I spend much more on coins than I do on books but I would not have been able to collect in the way I collect without the books. I am still growing the books in my collection.
I have developed and interest in Greek coinage and have bought the Greek Sear volumes, which suit me as a general Greek collector as I don't know what I want out of any greek books. If I decide to collect Alexander Tets. then I will need Price, which would be $400. A serious investment and not one taken lightly.
In summary I still feel that the books are a must if you want to take a subject area seriously. There are not sufficient detailed resources on the net in sufficient areas yet to say that the net can act as anything but a first step resource.
That's my opinion anyway.
Regards,
Martin
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« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2007, 05:21:06 pm »

Hi all,

  Didn't mean to say that the internet sources are exhausted or that it's the easiest project, but I do think that for any modest collector, the sources on-line are good (just look at FORVM), and most libraries have an interlibrary loan policy where even rare texts are available.  Although, I guess it's easy for me since I'm a librarian....So, buy the coins man! Smiley

Molinari
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Howard Cole
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« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2007, 05:51:57 pm »

Hi all,

  Didn't mean to say that the internet sources are exhausted or that it's the easiest project, but I do think that for any modest collector, the sources on-line are good (just look at FORVM), and most libraries have an interlibrary loan policy where even rare texts are available.  Although, I guess it's easy for me since I'm a librarian....So, buy the coins man! Smiley

Molinari

You have a library?  We just got one and it is next to useless, here on my small island.
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Douglas
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« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2007, 07:56:56 pm »

I agree about the internet and information. Some areas it's great, like late Roman bronzes, in others it is lacking. For my coin cleaning I can depend on Helvetica's lists for most things, and ask questions here when something doesn't seem right. Since I am starting to seriously collect Aurelian, and RIC V isn't so good, I'd like to have a good reference in hand to help me search out coins, and to look up ones I might purchase. A whole different approach than cleaning something and figuring out what it is.

Thanks for the advice, Mauseus, and excellent coin by the way. Something I could only hope to own. I've found a copy of Gobl that I think I will purchase.

Martin, I guess I am a general collector that has found a focus. For my Byzantine coins, Sear is an excellent reference. I guess I just need more for my interest in the third century.

Thanks to everyone for the input!

Doug
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« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2007, 06:13:09 am »

Guess I hadn't thought of that Howard!   Huh

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« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2007, 06:37:50 am »

No need to go whole hog one way or the other, but it does make sense to balance your collection with references that complement it. I read someplace a guideline of spending 10% on books, but whatever the number the principle seems sound - the more serious your collection the more you owe yourself to learn more about them.

You shouldn't view books vs coins as virtuous vs gratification (not that you suggest it - just saying). It only makes sense to buy books that you will enjoy and learn something from. Personally I'd suggest an equal or stronger emphasis on books that cover the history and original source documents pertinent to your collecting interests as opposed to numismatic reference works. The latter are important too, but knowing the history better will make collecting the coins more enjoyable and maybe help you to better focus on what is really historically interesting.

Barry Murphy not too long ago mentioned having 12 feet of bookshelf of Constantine references when he was collecting them - now THAT's a reference collection!

Ben
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« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2007, 07:01:55 am »

I would concur with Ben. Background reading is beneficial too. It depends how far you want to push yourself with regards to your collecting. There is very little background reading available for Probus and I am about to start "Der Kaiser Marcus Aurelius Probus und seine Zeit " by Gerald Kreucher. I have a problem with this in that I don't speak any German at all and so will learn as much of the language as I need as I go along with this one. It may take me some time but I am hoping it will be worth it. As I said it depends how far you want to push yourself.
Regards,
Martin
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Howard Cole
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« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2007, 07:20:46 am »

Martin, I can relate to your problem.  I have several books in German that I want to read.  I just signed up for an independent study course that emphasis reading in German.  I am learned a lot in the 3 out of 17 lessons I have completed so far.
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Mark Farrell
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« Reply #21 on: May 22, 2007, 07:26:28 am »

You don't have to live on an island to have little to no library. I live in the fifth largest state in the US (at least in terms of square miles -- New Mexico), in the largest city in that state (Albuquerque), in which also resides the largest university campus in that state (Univ of NM). Ok, ok... all that said, we have a total population in the entire state that is probably equal to the population of Manhattan NY south of 14th Street!

Said university library has exactly 186 books on numismatic topics. Half of those are on US coinage topics (a lot of those are government acts involving contemporary coinage), half of the remainder address Central and South American coins and other more modern coins, which leaves about 40 volumes for all the ancients. No BMC. No RIC. They do have Barclay Head's HN and Mattingly's BMCRE and a smattering of other books.

I'd say it was shameful, but it's just indicative of where I choose to live. I would point out that if you want information on Central or South American cultures, archaeology, etc. it has some pretty kick ass collections."Ancient" here means pre-Aztec or pre-Incan cultures (toltecs and olmecs and others, oh my!).

Without online resources, I would never have been able to feed my growing interest in ancient coins, even with the several thousand dollars I spent on books in my first year collecting.

Mark
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« Reply #22 on: May 22, 2007, 08:52:00 am »

Said university library has exactly 186 books on numismatic topics.

Mark,
I expect you already know it, but in case not... the Univ. NM does subscribe to the JSTOR system which gives online access to all sorts of obscure scholarly journals and reference books. You can either read articles online or print them out. If they let you use the library, then I expect they'd also let you use the computers that have access to JSTOR. I guess inter-library loan is always another option.

I'm spoiled for a library since I live maybe 45min away from Manhatten and the NY Public library which is an awesome world class library in an equally awesome marble building worthy of housing it. Worth a visit if you're ever in NY. Their main catalog is available online and may be useful:

http://catnyp.nypl.org/

Ben
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« Reply #23 on: May 22, 2007, 10:24:55 am »

Just a tip, "LEO" is an excellent German-English online translator, suggested to me by my German Professor.  Try a Google search and it will pop up.

Molinari
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Mark Farrell
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« Reply #24 on: May 22, 2007, 12:43:22 pm »

Ben,

Thanks for the JSTOR tip. I've tried that in the past and the library staff are a bit stingy (actually supposed to be only for registered students, which I am not). Still, though, it's worth another shot at it. Frequently when I do a google search for various topics, I get results from JSTOR (can't access it, of course, but they do respond to searches).

I know the NYPL very well. Used to live just 4.5 mi (Teaneck, NJ) from the GWB and worked in and around Manhattan for seven years. I suffer serious resource envy when I remember what it was like getting help from a reference librarian there years ago.

Thanks,

Mark
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