Numism > For the New Ancient Coin Collector

Buy the Book Before the Coin/Book Recommendations for the Beginner

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Danny S. Jones:
I agree with Andreas that going out and spending a bundle on books may not be the best advice for a new collector, who might be better served purchasing coins and then finding the information and attribution he/she needs online.

However, from my perspective, I'm a book collector (read them, not just collect them). I'm fascinated with history and the stories behind the coins. I'm even more intrigued by the studies that the coins I purchase provoke than the coins themselves. The internet can only give you so much. Many people would be surprised to hear that. There are still pieces of information contained in the printed page than cannot be had online.

On the other hand, not everyone needs to invest in something like the RIC, though I admit I have, and use it often, as well as David Atheron who mentioned it above. I'd dare say that few collectors have this resource (even one volume, much less the whole set). "Think of all the coins you could purchase." as someone said.

The question remains then... How serious of a student of history and numismatics are you? Only you as a collector can answer whether or not you "need" to purchase the book before the coin. As your interest grows, so should your library.

James Anderson:
I would suggest Golden Ancient's list and add the one volume (1988) edition of
Sear Roman Coins. Forum seems to be the cheapest place to buy this. I still use it,
although I have the three volumes currently available of the Millennium Edition.
While it isn't primarily about coins, you might also like A Guide to
the Ancient World / A Dictionary of Classical Place Names, by Michael Grant. You
can find from a paragraph to as much as several pages on the mint cities (as well
as others). Jim Anderson

The book I'd recommed for the beginner is Cristopher Howgego's Ancient History from Coins. Price is ca. 20 USD.

For Greek coins I would suggest Richard Plant's Greek Coin Types and Their Identification. Great for attributing ancient Greek-era coins by type.

Strangely I have never identified a coin using the book. I either found them using the typical search engines or if I didn't find them there I also didn't find them in Plant's book.


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