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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Books and References (Moderator: Severus_Alexander)  |  Topic: Best numismatic library/holdings 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Reid Goldsborough
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« on: November 07, 2008, 07:43:37 pm »

I've heard the ANS (American Numismatic Society) library described as the best numismatic library in the world. Is this true? Or, phrased another way, which library, specialized or general, has the best numismatic holdings?

I've used the ANS library many times, visiting in person, and love it. I've borrowed books several times from the ANA (American Numismatic Association) library, not yet visiting in person. I've looked through the Web site of the Fitzwilliam Museum's library and would love to visit if I ever make it to England again.

All this is, well, mostly academic.
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« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2008, 08:43:37 pm »

I believe Mr. BCD is said to have a better library.  I have not seen it!
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Reid Goldsborough
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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2008, 08:51:19 am »

Either I'm suffering brain freeze, or you're being too abstruse, in your "Mr. BCD" abbreviation. Who is this?
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« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2008, 12:18:06 pm »

BCD is a private collector who has sold parts of his Greek collections over the last few years.  Go to coinarchives and search for "BCD".

Joe has suggested that we not reveal his full name him on FORVM.
http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=39214.0

I have Frank Campbell's book/offprint "Numismatic Bibliography and Libraries".  At that time the ANS had 70,000 volumes.  I believe they have 100,000 now.  The Biblioteque National Cabinet des Medailles has 30,000 volumes and was in 2nd place.  I don't know if BCD has more by volume or just more on Greek or if I am mistaken regarding his library size.
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« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2008, 02:13:09 pm »

Numbers do matter; they mean that periodicals are full run and complete, that minor periodicals are included, that successive editions have been duly obtained.
But not numbers alone.  I should think that many numismatics books are not properly distributed, are not announced outside their own region, are in languages (such as Albanian) that many librarians don't read, are published in very small editions, and so on.  Even small museums' catalogues.  There are, besides, auction catalogues, especially the 19th-century ones, which are very useful if you need to track the 'life' of a rare or otherwise very important coin. 
I remember once, when a student newspaper published a short article saying that the university library had reached two million books (that was years and years ago), that someone at a private university retorted that unfortunately that included half a million annuals printed by the State, full of agricultural statistics, and the like, long since digested into permanent tomes (and now, mercifully, digitized) at the state capitol, which also had the 'originals'.
I should not be surprised, either, if famous coin collectors who could afford to not be dealers or professors were not also bibliophiles, not least in rare and magnificent numismatic works; such items do not much boost the total number of books accessioned.
Pat L.
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Mark Fox
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« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2008, 10:36:37 am »

Dear Fellow Bibliophiles,

There are two searchable library catalogs on the ANA website: one for books, the other for periodicals.  For books, they claim to carry over 40,000 volumes.  Where does that place them where other numismatic libraries are concerned? 

I have browsed their catalogs many times and borrowed a number of books on two occasions.  My impression is that their book/article holdings are less extensive than those of the ANS, but contain a larger number of newer titles.  What is your opinion?  The ANS librarian recently told me that their online catalog "is quite current with what is in the collection".  She has established a routine to update it every other month with the most recently cataloged items. 


Best regards,

Mark Fox
Michigan

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bpmurphy
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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2008, 12:36:24 pm »

There are a number of good libraries, some more sepcialized than others, outside of museums.

Most of the bigger dealers have good libraries, NAC, Gorny, M&M, Kunker, Spink, CNG, Berk, Freeman & Sear and most don't mind if you use them in person. Other dealers with good libraries include Waddell, Kovacs, Kreindler, myself, Lavender to name a few. And I also know of some pretty good collector libraries. BCD already mentioned, has his own full time librarian to keep up with his library. I won't mention any other names to respect their privacy.

Good is a bit subjective. You wouldn't want to look at BCD's library for something on Roman coins, you wouldn't want to look at CNG for Newcomb on large cents, but if you want a 1885 Rivista Italiani, they both have it.

Barry Murphy
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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2008, 11:34:52 am »

There are two searchable library catalogs on the ANA website: one for books, the other for periodicals.  For books, they claim to carry over 40,000 volumes.  Where does that place them where other numismatic libraries are concerned? 

I have browsed their catalogs many times and borrowed a number of books on two occasions.  My impression is that their book/article holdings are less extensive than those of the ANS, but contain a larger number of newer titles.

The ANS library has a new 'Recent Acquisitions' page [ http://www.numismatics.org/Library/RecentAcquisitions ].  All but three new acquisitions are about ancients.  Perhaps the ANS is still getting Redbooks, I don't know.  I do know the ANS has some bizarre gaps in their collection.  They don't acquire COINage, World Coin News, etc.  I wanted some important COINage articles and had to get them from the ANA.

I didn't see two catalogs on the ANA website.  [ http://www.money.org/Content/NavigationMenu/ExploretheWorldofMoney/Library/default.htm ].  I see the library catalog and the "Harry Bass" index.  Is that what you meant?  The ANS has a policy of adding a catalog record for each article in a magazine or journal.  The ANA has just one record for COINage magazine even though they have been publishing for decades.
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Mark Fox
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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2008, 06:42:11 am »

Dear Ed and Fellow Ancient Coin Enthusiasts,

 
I didn't see two catalogs on the ANA website.  [ http://www.money.org/Content/NavigationMenu/ExploretheWorldofMoney/Library/default.htm ].  I see the library catalog and the "Harry Bass" index.  Is that what you meant? 

Yes, but is that correct?  I thought the ANA considered the Harry Bass Index (NIP) as an extension of their collections.  But I am now confused, because clearly the ANS uses it as well.
Do they have joint access? 

You are right about the strange gaps in the ANS holdings.  For some reason, the Krause publications get left out of both libraries and I don't quite know why.  They often carry topnotch articles by the hobby's best, and are among the first to report groundbreaking discoveries.  The ANS also seems to be missing certain books that one would expect any library that large would have.

I couldn't find any record of COINage from the "ANA side" of NIP.  Unfortunately, their search engine is not the easiest to use and doesn't always provide complete records. 

Who do you think, then, has the most complete collection of literature?  I am currently polishing a sidebar for a coin reference article I recently wrote and would be happy to know more about all of this.


Best regards,

Mark Fox
Michigan     
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