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

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David Atherton:
Areich's advice is pretty spot on as far as RPC is concerned. If you plan on collecting provincial denarii RIC II covers the same ground (with some added types) as RPC II. I hardly ever use RPC II because of my collecting niche (denarii) is better served by RIC, RSC, and BMCRE.

However, if you do plan on collecting provincial bronze and tets, RPC is a must have.

Lucas H:
Ok, in the past 3 months since the discussion on this thread, I've received, read, reviewed, and re-read RIC II, and I love it.  When I get denarii, this is what I go to to identify or confirm identities of the coins it covers.  Since I like some of the coins earlier than the Flavians, after I got used to RIC II, I went back and got RIC I, I liked the format so much.

I also got BMCRE II which I use as a secondary source for Flavian information and identification.  I like the extra information on Mattingly's interpretation of types.  

--- Quote ---if you do plan on collecting provincial bronze and tets, RPC is a must have.
--- End quote ---
I do like the provincial Flavian tets (large, interesting, and can be cheaper than denarii, at least the ones from Alexandria), so I picked this up as well, but to me, it is not as user friendly as the RIC.

I also picked up RSC to compare.  I find it the least useful and hardly ever look at it or use it as a reference as it has very little information beyond the catalog of types.  In RIC, I can look up the type in the catalog, and read something about the series or time in which that particular type was minted.

I'm now contemplating a new book purchase.  I like RIC and BMCRE because they are user friendly comprehensive catalogs, but they also have lots of text/information about the dates, types, evolution of the series, etc.  

How does SRCV I (2000) compare with RIC, BMCRE, and RSC?  Would it unnecessarily duplicate what I already have, or would it be a good supplement?  I like the idea of Republican through 12 Caesars in 1 volume as that covers most of my interests at this point, but I don't want another RSC type book.

I know that this new book has already been listed under Books and References: New Book Announcements but I am posting more about it here as I am not sure all new members visit that section.

Fellow collector Alisdair Menzies has translated Guide Bruck's out of print 1961 Late Roman Bronze Coins: An attribution guide for poorly preserved coins.

It is available, for a very low price, via his web site:

This book is an absolute must for anyone dealing with late Roman bronze coins, especially if you are into uncleaned coins.

The book is an identification guide and a simplified catalogue.

It has 13 pages of images of line drawings of different reverse designs - grouped into catagories like Animals, Jupiter, Women, etc.  These pages give you possible legend options for the designs.

The bulk of the book is then made up of the entries for each reverse type listed alphabetically.  The drawings here often give you information about minor varieties and how to distinguish between similar types.  There is also a list, usually a chart, of mints and Emperors for whom the coin was issued.  This chart gives numbers which are not very important - they tell how many such coins were in the Austrian state collection in 1961 where Bruck was the curator.  They have some relation to scarcity but are by no means a clear guide.  There are also lists fof field marks that can be extremely useful in identifying coins where the mint mark is obscured.  These field marks lists are quite large when it comes to coinage like the SOLI INVCTO COMITI, FEL TEMP REPARATIO, or Valentinian's GLORIA ROMANORVM and SECVRITAS REIPVBLICAE types.

It also has to be noted that types, and mint or Emperor examples, that weren't in the Vienna collection in 1961 are not listed.  This is not a mjaor problem as you can just add in the missing coin - usually just by adding an X on the chart.  It is also relatively rare that coins are missing.  I think I have written in about eight such (ie Bruck did not list a SARMATIA DEVICTA from Arelate) in cataloging my collection of over 1500 coins, plus about a half dozen field mark variations not covered.

This won't replace things like Helvetica's lists for finding all mint mark variations and RIC numbers nor fully detailled catalogues like RIC.  But it will allow rapid identification of many late Roman bronzes and is invaluable with those in poor condition.

In addition, the book, in either paperback or hard cover, is small and inexpensive and can be used as a convenient checklist for your collection.  I now use a pb version as my checklist and have a hc version as my reference.


PS - I did assist Alisdair in a small way with this project so can be considered biased.  But I receive nothing from the sales.  I was a huge Bruck fan for many years before I met Alisdair.  I am extremely happy it is now re-printed let alone in English.  To me it is now the first book any new collector of late Roman bronzes needs.

Daniel R5:
I moved away from U.S. coins years ago and so I already understood the “buy the book before the coins” theory. I did of course buy a few ancients early on.  What I discovered was that the hunt for the books can be nearly as challenging as finding the coins you like and that I was/am buying books and related coins at the same time.

I would stress to the new collectors that FORUM’s buyback policy is essential to newbies. I was able to return my earliest purchases for credit towards other issues that became more significant for my area of interest later on.  That’s hard to do if your main source is Ebay.

So the texts I own (not including the very old PDF books collected) I divided into two lists here; introductory texts which are more generalized, and more specialized texts which get into greater detail.

I also sympathize with those who say, “but how many coins could you have bought if you had not spent so much on books?”  Well, to these I say that one of the reasons this list appears a bit disjointed and is missing a few key books you would expect to find is that most of these titles were purchased on Amazon, used, for under $1.00  (plus $3.99 shipping typically) with the only notable exception being the massive ERIC II volume which I broke down and bought new. 

To accomplish this feat one must be very patient to wait until a used copy is listed and then be very quick to buy it.  Many of these texts were on my Amazon wishlist for a long time before I was able to get them at that price, and most of them are in well used condition but still fully serviceable.   If you are willing to wait, you can get what you want and not break the bank doing it.

This little library, although far from complete, has served me well--and I continue to add to it.

Introductory texts:

Ancient Coin Collecting (v. 1) Wayne G. Sayles 1996    197 pages    (Krause Pubns Inc) ISBN 13: 9780873414425    ISBN 10: 087341442X

Ancient Coin Collecting II (v. 2) Wayne G. Sayles 1997    208 pages    (kp books) ISBN 13: 9780873415002    ISBN 10: 0873415000

Ancient Coin Collecting III: The Roman World Politics and Propaganda (v. 3) Wayne G. Sayles 1997    208 pages    (Krause Publications) ISBN 13: 9780873415330    ISBN 10: 0873415337

Ancient Coin Collecting V: The Romaion/Byzantine Culture (v. 5) Wayne G. Sayles 1998    208 pages    (Krause Publications) ISBN 13: 9780873416375    ISBN 10: 0873416376

Selections from the Numismatist : Ancient and Medieval Coins James W. Curtis 1960    318 pages    (Whitman Publishing Company)

Introduction to East Roman (Byzantine) Coinage John F. Lhotka 1989    (Sanford J. Durst) ISBN 13: 9780942666533    ISBN 10: 0942666534

Roman coins (The World of numismatics) C. H. V Sutherland 1974    311 pages    (Putnam) ISBN 13: 9780399112393    ISBN 10: 0399112391

Coin Atlas: The World of Coinage from Its Origins to the Present Day, The Joe Cribb, Barrie Cook, Ian Carradice 1990    337 pages    (Facts on File) ISBN 13: 9780816020973    ISBN 10: 0816020973

Coins of the Bible Arthur L Friedberg 2004    (Whitman Pub) ISBN 13: 9780794819163    ISBN 10: 0794819168

Byzantine coins, (The World of numismatics) Philip D Whitting 1973    311 pages    (Putnam) ISBN 13: 9780399110283    ISBN 10: 0399110283

100 Greatest Ancient Coins Harlan J. BerK 2008    131 pages    (Whitman Publishing) ISBN 13: 9780794822620    ISBN 10: 0794822622

Handbook of Ancient Greek and Roman Coins: An Official Whitman Guidebook Zander H. Klawans 1995    287 pages    (Western Pub. Co.) ISBN 13: 9780307093622    ISBN 10: 030709362X

More specialized texts:

Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage (Oxford Handbooks), The William E. Metcalf 2016    720 pages    (Oxford University Press) ISBN 13: 9780199372188    ISBN 10: 0199372187

Studies in Early Byzantine Gold Coinage (Numismatic Studies (ANSNS)) William E. Metcalf 1989    144 pages    (American Numismatic Society) ISBN 13: 9780897222259    ISBN 10: 0897222253

Italo-Greek Coins of Southern Italy - Primary Source Edition Alfred Watson Hands 2013    226 pages    (Nabu Press) ISBN 13: 9781289854188    ISBN 10: 1289854181

Coins of Magna Graecia. the Coinage of the Greek Colonies of Southern Italy - Primary Source Edition Alfred Watson Hands 2014    370 pages    (Nabu Press) ISBN 13: 9781294642138    ISBN 10: 1294642138

Greek Coins and Their Values (Hb) Vol 1: Europe David R. Sear 1994    318 pages    (Batsford Ltd) ISBN 13: 9780713478495    ISBN 10: 0713478497

Greek Coins and Their Values (Volume II Asia and Africa) David Sear 1979    444 pages    (Numismatic Fine Arts Intl) ISBN 13: 9780713478501    ISBN 10: 0713478500

Catalogue of the Imperial Byzantine Coins, Vol. 1 of 2: In the British Museum (Classic Reprint) Warwick Wroth 2015    432 pages    (Forgotten Books) ISBN 13: 9781332110117    ISBN 10: 1332110118

Royal Greek Portrait Coins Edward T. Newell 1990    (Sanford J Durst) ISBN 13: 9780942666601    ISBN 10: 0942666607

Handbook of Roman Imperial Coins: A Complete Guide to the History, Types and Values of Roman Imperial Coinage David Van Meter 1991    334 pages    (Laurion Press) ISBN 13: 9781878420060    ISBN 10: 1878420062

Byzantine Coins (Archaeological Exploration of Sardis Monograph Ser : No. 1) George E. Bates 1971    178 pages    (Harvard University Press) ISBN 13: 9780674089655    ISBN 10: 0674089650

Emperors of Rome and Byzantium: Chronological tables for history students and coin collectors, The David R Sear 1974    160 pages    (Seaby)

Eric II The Encyclopedia of Roman Imperial Coins Rasiel Suarez 2010    1481 pages    (Dirty Old Books) ISBN 13: 9780976466413    ISBN 10: 0976466414

Seaby Coin Encyclopaedia, The Ewald Junge 1993    297 pages    (Trafalgar Square) ISBN 13: 9781852640286    ISBN 10: 1852640286

Byzantine Coinage (Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Collection Publications) Philip Grierson 1999    76 pages    (Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection) ISBN 13: 9780884022749    ISBN 10: 0884022749

Dictionary of Roman Coins, A Seth W. Stevenson 1982    932 pages    (Spink & Son Ltd) ISBN 13: 9780900652608    ISBN 10: 0900652608

Ancient Coin Collecting IV: Roman Provincial Coins (v. 4) Wayne G. Sayles 1998    208 pages    (Krause Publications) ISBN 13: 9780873415521    ISBN 10: 0873415523

Greek Coins and Their Values H. A. Seaby 1966    218 pages    (Seaby) 2nd Edition

Roman Silver Coins, Volume Three: Pertinax to Balbinus & Pupienus H.A. Seaby 1982    164 pages    (Seaby Publications Ltd.) ISBN 13: 9780900652615    ISBN 10: 0900652616

Roman Silver Coins: The Republic to Augustus, Vol. 1 H. A. Seaby 166 pages    (Numismatic Fine Arts Intl) ISBN 13: 9780900652448    ISBN 10: 0900652446

Roman Coins and Their Values David R. Sear 1981    376 pages    (Seaby (B.A.) Ltd) ISBN 13: 9780900652578    ISBN 10: 0900652578

Roman Silver Coins: Vol. IV. Gordian III to Postumus H.A. Seaby 1971    137 pages    (Seaby) ISBN 13: 9780900652134    ISBN 10: 0900652136

Roman Silver Coins: Tiberius to Commodus, Vol. 2. H. A. Seaby 1979    255 pages    (Numismatic Fine Arts Intl) ISBN 13: 9780900652486    ISBN 10: 0900652489

Roman Coins and Their Values  David R. Sear 1988    400 pages    (Numismatic Fine Arts Intl) ISBN 13: 9780713478235    ISBN 10: 0713478233

Christian Emblems on the Coins of Constantine I the Great, His Family and His Successors Frederic W. Madden 2004    224 pages    (Kessinger Publishing, LLC) ISBN 13: 9781432605681    ISBN 10: 1432605682

Roman Silver Coins, Vol V, Carausius to Romulus Augustus C.E. King, H.A. Seaby, David R. Sear 1987    256 pages    (Sanford J Durst) ISBN 13: 9780900652806    ISBN 10: 0900652802

Adriaan v:
As a relatively new collector I think it is wise to listen to good advice. So I am going to buy a book before the coins (completely true though, I already own 18 coins). I got "Roman Bronze Coins: From Paganism to Christianity by Victor Failmezger" as a reading suggestion. The reviews I read on the Internet make me think this book really connects to my field of interest. However, I cannot find the book! Does somebody know if it is still available (maybe as an ebook?). Or is it normal to pay a 200$ or more for a second hand book?

Thank you for your advice!


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