Numismatic and History Discussions > Books and References

Finding books from abbreviations

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Graham S:
I just bought a Himyarite coin, but its not an area I know anything about. So I look for references and find most Himyarite coins given a reference which is either 'SNG ANS xxx' or 'GIC xxx'. I have no idea what either SNG ANS or GIC is, or how to find out. This is quite a common experience for me as I like to buy out-of-the way coins, but I have never found a general way to identify what text is meant by the abbreviations numismatists use.

Is there a list of abbreviations and the texts they refer to anywhere? Probably somewhere on this site, but I can't find one!

Thanks for any advice



A good place to start is by running a search on the NumisWiki page of this site.

For SNG ANS, see

GIC, in this context, refers to David Sear's Greek Imperial Coins and Their Values


If you are googeling a bit you will quite a number of lists of such abbreviations, here are some examples:

But no list does contain everything, and even worse, for one and the same book you can find different abbreviations in use :-\.



I would venture to guess that the abbreviations originate from the need to condense information on a little piece of paper that goes in a flip (or on a small envelope).  There is no master plan for abbreviations.  Generally if you collect in a particular field, you know or can figure out the abbreviations.  I would not expect a convenient list, unless of course, you want to make one.  I have a friend who spells out all of a reference works' names, but he is a master at making little tags.  Most abbreviations are simple truncations. SNG ANS for Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum American Numismatic Society, SG for Sear, Greek coins and their Values, or sometimes just 'S' and the appropriate number. You already know the coin is Greek, so this 'S' means Sear, Greek Coins and their Values.  You can see how people, short of space, do abbreviations instead of the full names.  Especially since more than one reference may be cited on a flip.  Sometimes a particular abbreviation is more a function of the font size that you chose ahead of time, not giving yourself enough room for a more extended version of the name.

I am serious about doing your own list if you have the time and inclination.  If you are inclined, please share it too.

Good advice, all.  I'll refer Graham to the work of Wayne Sales, Ancient Coin Collecting. These five slim volumes pack lots of good coin collecting information in a small package. The 4th volume is exclusively on 'Non-Classical Cultures' and has a section on the Arabian Peninsula, of which the Himyarites have one page. Each of the more than 20 sections has its own bibliography. Very useful! 

Among those works cited for the Arabian Peninsula: B.V. Head "On Himyarite and other Arabian Imitations of Coins of Athens" found in the Numismatic Chronicle, 1878, pp. 273-284.  The Numiswiki can lead you to the Numismatic Chronicle website and from there to the JSTOR site that hosts limited free access to their back issues. I get six free articles a month just for registering.

There are other works cited by the Celator, whose back issues are also available. 


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