Paul Z. Bedoukian, a noted authority in many fields of numismatics, including Armenian and Byzantine, wrote Coinage of Cilician Armenia. The original issue of this book was printed in 1962; however, my copy is revised and dated 1979 from Danbury, Connecticut. The revised addition s includes more examples of coins added to the corpus as well as updated plates of coins. However, there are less images of coins in the plates of this edition. The 1962 issue was published in Armenian in Vienna, and English by the ANS. They are equal in content.
This book contains the best-known information about the coinage of the kingdom, and only the second one published on the topic in the past 50 years. The author goes to great lengths to describe the sources of every single coin in the collection and every single reference he uses. The bibliography is wonderful as it provides plentiful references for those looking for those looking for additional Armenian numismatic and history books.
The author spends a good portion of the book on the history and trade of Cilician Armenia, as well as scattered information about Armenia(ns) in general. He provides an exceptional view into the kingdoms conflicts and rivalries, giving an insightful view of a long forgotten country. The author provides information on trade, which include translated examples of many legal documents ranging from a bill of damages, grant of trading rights, to a comparison of weights of the trading republics of Italy vs. Cilician Armenia. Also included is one map of Cilician Armenia, though very frank and plain.
Following a historical introduction, the author moves on into the numismatics on the kingdom. He focuses strongly on the denominations, how their names came to be, and comparisons against coinage of the neighbors. He particularly tries to explain artistic style and influences that Armenians derived from elsewhere and invented on their own.. It should be mentioned that in the middle of one of these chapters several pages break off and show drawings of some coins, and provide Armenian translations around the coin in English letters, followed by another ring with the English language translation of the inscriptions. They are a great help, and the detail is excellent, it is like a manual on reading virtually every type of coin in the series. The author also published studies on the weight and purity of the coins, which comes in quite handy. Included is the aid of several graphs for this data.
Finally, the book breaks off into a corpus of several thousand coins with all their miniscule inscription and field mark variants. Initially, it can be difficult to use the corpus because of the complexity of it, but after a bit of practice, one can readily identify the coins. Despite some difficulty, the level of detail provided is extremely helpful, particularly when a coin can be particularly hard to identify. A set of plates is complementary to the corpus, and is a useful addition.
In conclusion, this book is an excellent reference to not only collectors of Cilician Armenian coins, but also to readers interested in Cilician Armenia in general. Collectors should note that every day more and more coins are being found in the hands of individuals and in hoards in Syria, Turkey and Lebanon, and internet sales makes them readily available to collectors everywhere. Every day the corpus becomes less and less reliable. However, this book is far more than a corpus, and a reader of this book will get a "bigger picture" of coins of Cilician Armenia, and continue to use this for its greater knowledge, and just corpus. This does apply not only for this book, but also numismatic catalogues everywhere. For example, Roman coins are being found in record numbers in the Balkans. Many examples of the 4-5 century coins that were once considered unique have the additions of dozens of coins to their numbers, and some finds are even unlisted in the books. Numismatic books such as this or RIC (Roman Imperial Coinage) should be used as reference and not as a formal catalogue without imperfections. Though there were no values of coins, I believe that in a sense the author was correct in not doing this, because after all, one never knows what a new day will bring.