Numismatic and History Discussions > Books and References

Another rant from Morten Eske Mortensen

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Joe Sermarini:
I don't even look for a coin archives count unless I already believe the type is rare. I look for confirmation. I believe Coin Archives counts are very useful for confirming the rarity of desirable types that are listed as rare in the references and/or which I have rarely or never handled before. For those types, a low count is strong confirmation of rarity.

Sometimes the references and my experience lead me to believe a coin is rare but I go on Coin Archives and find more sales than I expected. Coin Archives is useful to prevent overstating rarity as well as confirming rarity.

It is undoubtedly not useful at all for coins that are not actually rare as some common types will have low counts. That does not matter to me because I don't even look for a count of those types.

No measure of rarity is complete, but two decades of auctions from a long list of companies is significant. It isn't only recent auctions. You have to limit the use of Coin Archives counts to the right circumstances, but when you do the results are very useful. I only include a Coin Archives count in my sales listings if I think it is a valid indicator rarity.

Joe's rather focused use of coin counts from Coin Archives (and I toss in sounds like a best practice.  It's primarily for confirmation of assertions of rarity.  I once tried to maintain a record of frequency (to borrow a RIC term), but no longer.  Perceived rarity, or extreme rarity, alone get the nod.

Online coin counting is a fishing expedition: there's always the one that got away, but you might also catch the same fish twice!
The one that got away: different search terms can lead to different results. Even the choice of language (German, French...) can impact search results.
Not again!: The main challenge today is to avoid duplicate counts in Coin Archives and its ilk.  It's not just resales of the same coin, but some dealers just keep re-listing unsold coins.

Pre-internet coin counts must have been difficult to conduct or to have much confidence in.  I don't like to rely on assertions of rarity from sources before the current millennia.  That is where online coin counts can be helpful as confirmation.  The Handbook of Greek Coinage (HGC) series probably leverages online coin counts, as would newer editions of the Roman Imperial Coinage (RIC) series.

Joe Sermarini:
Reminder: Modern politics has no place on this discussion (post removed).


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