Varbanov I

Varbanov, Ivan.  Greek Imperial Coins And Their Values, Volume I: Dacia, Moesia Superior & Moesia Inferior, (English Edition). (Bourgas, Bulgaria, 2005).

Summary: The long awaited English version of Varbanov’s guide to coins of the Balkans Peninsula is completed and published.  This reference is vastly superior to the translation of Moushmov which is available for free on the internet.  It is a comprehensive guide to the coins of the cities of Moesia Inferior.  5821 coins are described and a substantial number of the coins are illustrated both observe and reverse.  Each coin description includes a citation, if one exists, as well as a value in Euros for the coin in VF condition. Probably the best affordable guide to the coinage of Moesia Inferior and Dacia that is available in English. 

Contents and a more detailed review:
Greek Imperial Coins begins with a section dedicated to describing the variety of reverses found on the coinage of the Balkans. This section is approximately 18 pages long and is vastly superior to the analogous section in Sear’s Greek Imperial Coins, because all of Varbanov’s types are illustrated. There are listings of the major types, including Deities, Personifications, Colonial Types and Animals.  All of the descriptions include at least one or more photographs.  In the case of the Deities, details of the scenes and motifs they are likely to be found with are described as well as their Greek and Roman names. The section covering the Deities is the best overall guide that I have seen regarding the Gods on coins.

The rarity scale that Varbanov uses is explained in the next section.  The rarity scale begins with R1 (Quite common, more than 1500 examples) and concludes with R10 (Very rare, only 1 or 2 examples known).  I much prefer this type of  scale with many well defined graduations, to those found in the older RIC volumes (CC, C, S, R, R1, R2) or Van Meter (VB1 – VB6), where each of these gradients might mean just about anything.

After these introductory sections, the coinage catalog begins.  As a prelude to each City and Province there is a very brief historical overview.  Then follows the actual coin descriptions.  The coin listings are Grouped by City, then by Emperor (or family member) and then by Reverse Legend.  The observe legends and types are contained in tables at the start of each Emperor section, very much like RIC.

Dacia:   Approximately 8 pages and 96 coin descriptions are devoted to Dacia.

Moesia Superior: Varbanov devotes 12 pages to Viminacium, and lists approximately 145 coins.  This section contains my only disappointment in the book.  A distinction is made for the dates in the exergues, but it isn’t very consistent.  This strikes me as being a major oversight for a catalog of Viminacium.  For those fluent in German, and with deeper pockets, the section in AMNG is vastly superior to what is found here.

Moesia Inferior: This section is the main focus of Greek Imperial coins. This sections listings are superior and make this reference a “must have” for those who only know English, or read German poorly. Approximately 400 pages and 5700 coin listing are spread amongst the 7 cities (Callatis, Dionysoplois, IstrusMarcianoplois, Nicopolis ad Istrum, Odessus, and Tomis).  The coinage of each of these cities is covered in detail with appropriate references to AMNG and other sources. After a glace at the listings for Nicopolis ad Istrum and Marcianopolis approximately 25% of the listings are hitherto unpublished.  These are the coins that are frequently found in unclean coin lots from the Balkans, and this reference should be owned by those who clean or collect these coins.  Comparing the listings in Varbanov against the same listings in AMNG is very difficult for me, but my impression is AMNG will cite more sources for many coins, and possibly provide more descriptive material on some coins.  But Varbanov is very richly illustrated and on most pages photographs, of the observes and reverses, of at least 4 coins are shown.


Varbanov's Degrees of Rarity

R1 Over 1500 exemplars
R2 From 1000 to 1500 exemplars
R3 From 500 to 1000 exemplars
R4 From 200 to 500 exemplars
R5 From 100 to 200 exemplars
R6 From 50 to 100 exemplars
R7 From 20 to 50 exemplars
R8 Rare. From 5 to 20 exemplars
R9 Extremely Rare. From 3 to 5 exemplars
R10 Unique. From 1 to 2 exemplars

The "number of exemplars" seems to be an estimate of the total thought to exist, rather than a firm count of the number of published examples. Based on market records, some coins listed as R5 - R7 are common, but some are scarce or rare. Varbanov's degree of rarity is important but it is not the only factor Forum uses to assess rarity for our shop catalog listings.  

Key to References Used by Varbanov (with his numbering)

Bold indicates references frequently used by Forum in conjunction with Varbanov.

1. Karayotov 1992
2. Jurukova Hadrianopolis
3. Moushmov
4. Jurukova Deultum
6. Cohen (also #41 and #89)
7. SNGvA
8. Müller Afrique
9. Heiss
10. Rec Gén
11. RSC I - V
12. AMNG II (Strack)
13-39. BMC Greek
     15. BMC Thrace
40. SRCV
41. Cohen (also #6)
42. Kharitonov
43. Jurukova Bizye
44. Schönert-Geiss Byzantion
45. Schönert Perinthos
46. Schönert-Geiss Augusta Traiana
47. AMNG I (Pick)
48. AMNG II (Strack) (also #12)
49. Mouchmov Serdica
50. Topalov Messambria
51. Numizmatika i sfragistika IV
52. Ruzicka Pautalia
53. Karayotov 2001
54. Proceedings of Veliko Tarnovo Museum
55. Proceedings of the Historical Museum Lovech
56. Proceedings of the Historical Museum of Plovdiv
57. Proceedings of the Historical Museum Sofia
58. Schönert-Geiss Maroneia
60. Numizmatika i sfragistika VI
61. Proceedings of the IBA (1946).
62. Proceedings of PAM: Mushmov, etc. Ancient coins of Plovdiv. (1924).
63. Plovdiv Hoard
64. Proceedings of Vlad Gerasimov T. Contribution to the numismatics of Odesos
65. Tzotchev
66. SGCV I - II
67. Burnett
68. Minkova
69. Ulrike Stephanos
70. SNG Milan
71. Yearbook of the National Archaeological Museum Plovdiv, book VI (1968).
72. Kolev
73. Yearbook of the National Archaeological Museum Plovdiv, book IX (1999).
74. Zhekov Medallions
75. Tacheva
76. Kuzishchin
77. Faodorovar
78. Numismatic research 3 - 4 (Sophia, 1996)
79. Numismatic research 1 - 2 (Sophia, 1998)
80. Secasanu Greek
81. Secasanu Roman
82. Bozhkova Monuments
83. Bozhkova Monuments (also #82)
84. Dzanev
85. Bozhkova
86. SNG Stancomb
87. Encyclopedia Bulgaria
88. Kharitonov Bulgaria
89. Cohen (also #6 and #41)
90. Heiss Antiques
91. Spijkerman
92. Svoronos Crete
93. Rosenberger
94. Sydenham Cappadocia
95. Wruck
96. Staal
97. Bellinger Philippi
98. RPC I
99. Chitwood
100. Ivanov Bulgaria
101. Dimitrov Dionysopolis
102. Zhekov Viminacium