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----------     What I Like About Ancient Coins     ----------

Books about Ancient Coins and their Cultures

(This page is being built up over time, so more books will gradually be added.)

This is a list of books that I have, and that I can therefore comment on. It is not an exhaustive list of references. It is possible to have a whole library of reference material on ancient coins, and I have one bookshelf.

I am sure there are many other good books out there, so please don't think that lack of a mention here is the same as a negative review. It's not.

I have split this into five sections. The first section covers coin reference books, from detailed lists to readable accounts. The second covers books about fakes and copies. The third includes books which give historical, cultural or art information about the coins or the cultures from which the coins come. The forth is a miscellaneous section, and the final section comprises works of fiction set in ancient times and cultures.

--------------------------------- Coin Reference Books ---------------------------------

These books allow you to place your coins in time and space, and give you unique reference numbers so that you can refer to them accurately. Most of them are referred to by abbreviations, such as RIC, and with the exception of RIC, the abbreviations vary, so I will make clear which I am using on this site.

The notes here are not reviews, just a few words on how useful the books are.

Roman Coins and their values, 4th revised edition by David R. Sear. Published by Seaby in 1988. Hardback, 388 pages plus 12 pages of plates. Abbreviated on this site as RCV (1988).

This is a one-volume reference for the whole Roman era, from the start of the Republic to Anastasius I, 491–518. It has a very useful introductory section covering denominations, reverse types, mints and mint marks. Being a single volume, it covers only the most common coins, but it's a good introductory reference book and I still use it for the late Roman era which I don't collect much. It can be got second-hand fairly easily. I suggest not buying the earlier revisions. The value guides are not relevant any more.

Roman Coins and their values, Millennium edition by David R. Sear. Published by Spink, London in 2000, 2002, 2005.
Vol. I – The Republic and the Twelve Caesars (to the end of the Flavian dynasty). Hardback, 532 pages. Abbreviated on this site as RCV (2000).
Vol. II – The accession of Nerva to the overthrow of the Severan dynasty. Hardback, 696 pages. Abbreviated on this site as RCV (2002).
Vol. III – The 3rd century crisis and recovery, 235–285 CE (Maximinus I to Julian of Pannonia). Hardback, 536 pages. Abbreviated on this site as RCV (2005).

These three volumes are an updating of the single-volume version, and a fourth volume is promised. They go into more detail and cover many more coins than the 1988 edition, with many useful photos. I have found them an invaluable reference to use alongside RIC. Coin values in books like this are out of date even before the books hit the streets, but they give a decent guide to relative rarity. (Even this can change over time, though, as more hoards are found and more coins from the east come onto the market.) The numbering system starts with the first volume and continues over the others, so there are no repetitions. I would rate these books as essential for a Roman coin collector who is anything less than very experienced.

However, they are not perfect. They are not arranged so as to show how the various mints worked or how coin art and manufacture developed during a reign. Also, there is an issue with some of the dates given for the striking of the coins. Curtis Clay has pointed out that Sear's apparently confident dating of Severan coins is taken uncritically from Philip Hill's "The Coinage of Septimius Severus and his Family of the Mint of Rome AD 193-217", and where the coins are not datable from their legends, Hill had no evidence to support his conjectures, some of which were based on incorrect ideas about mint organisation. This affects the 1988 single-volume 4th revised edition, and volume 2 of the Millennium Edition, published in 2002.

Greek Coins and their values, Volumes 1 and 2 by David R. Sear. Published by Seaby Publications in 1978. Hardback, 317 and 762 pages respectively. I have a 2002 reprint. Abbreviated on this site as GCV.

These two volumes cover Europe (vol. 1) and Asia and Africa (vol. 2). The subject is so vast that this can only scratch the surface, but it is a very handy reference for people who have a few Greek coins. It covers, city by city, most of the coins you are likely to come across, and has a lot of useful photographs. The numbering system, which allows you to reference coins, continues across both volumes.

Byzantine Coins and their values by David R. Sear. Second edition, 1987. Published by Spink, London. Hardback, 526 pages. I have a 2006 reprint. Abbreviated on this site as BCV.

Another almost essential summarised catalogue of coins. This book covers the coinage of the Eastern empire from Anastasius in in 491 CE to the end of the Empire of Trebizond, 1461 CE. There is also a section on forgeries of Byzantine coins. There are many illustrations, monochrome photos in the text rather than separate plates. It's a very useful guide if you have any of these coins.

Diadumenian: Bronze Roman provincial coinage with portraiture of Diadumenianus by Malcolm Megaw. First edition, hardback, November 2008. Published via Lulu Publishing and also available via Amazon.

A detailed catalogue of provincial coins of Diadumenian, almost all illustrated. Very useful, despite a few typographic errors here and there. It includes coins with confronted busts of Diadumenian and Macrinus, and my main complaint is that it does not also include coins solely of Macrinus! As many of these share reverse dies with coins of his son Diadumenian, a lot of useful information is here only in potential.

The book includes tables of die matches at the back. It does not have the value of a complete die study, which would have to include coins of Macrinus and show the chronology, but it is still very useful.

The author's site here: Diadumenian, Malcolm Megaw includes additions and errata for the book.

The Roman Imperial Coinage. A huge 10-volume work edited by Harold Mattingley and Edward A. Sydenham. The volumes were published over many years and all are different in feel and usefulness. They are referred to everywhere as RIC. I have 5½ of the 10 volumes, and I will deal with each separately.

Some of the "volumes" are printed in parts, each of which has a book of its own, so there are more than 10 physical books. But some have been reprinted with two or three parts bound in one book, so there is no simple correlation between the number of actual RIC books on my shelf (7) and the number of "volumes" of RIC I have (5½).

All the volumes have a few plates, but not many. They do have some very handy indexes, the index by type and that by legend being the most useful. There is a handy guide to using RIC on Doug Smith's site here.

The Roman Imperial Coinage Volume II Part 1, Second Fully Revised Edition by I. A. Carradice and T. V. Buttrey. Published by Spink, London, in 2007. Hardback, 404 pages plus a massive 160 pages of plates.

This covers the coins of the Flavians: Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. It is a new edition, and is carefully laid out in a logical manner which soon becomes easy to follow. The only difficulty is finding coins showing the younger Flavians when they were struck during the reign of an older one. There are indexes for legends and types, and a concordance which allows you to find the numerical reference in this volume if you already know the older one. There is a very generous set of plates, which are clearly printed and very useful.

A reprint of the original Part 2 is due sometime in 2008, covering the years from 89 to 138 CE, re-indexed and with a new set of plates.

The Roman Imperial Coinage Volume III by Harold Mattingly and Edward A Sydenham. Originally published by Spink & Son, Ltd. in 1930 and reprinted several times. I have the 2003 reprint, which is a photographic reproduction. Hardback, 314 pages plus 16 pages of plates.

This volume covers the period from Antoninus Pius to Commodus, including Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus (covered under Marcus Aurelius) and several popular empresses: the two Faustinas, Crispina and Lucilla. It is a very manageable and well indexed volume and as useful as vol. IV, which I bought and wrote about earlier, so please see my comments on that volume just below. But this volume is smaller and more physically manageable.

The Roman Imperial Coinage Volume IV Parts 1, 2 and 3 by Harold Mattingly, Edward A Sydenham and C H V Sutherland (vols 2 and 3 only). Originally published by Spink & Son, Ltd. in 1936, 1938 and 1949. I have a photographic reprint of all three volumes in one, dated 2004. Hardback, with a total of 858 pages plus 45 pages of plates.

These three volumes between them cover the period from Pertinax to Uranius Antoninus, including the Severan dynasty, the Gordians, Philip the Arab, Trajan Decius, and Trebonianus Gallus. I found this a very useful book. The references and the introductory sections cover many of the coins in my collection. I also found it useful to work together with Sear's "Roman Coins and Their Values" volumes 2 and 3, which have more specific information about dates of minting, though Sear does not cover anything like the same number of coins.

This book has one down side. Because of the photographic paper it is printed on, it is very heavy and is physically awkward to use. Holding it out at arms length would be a good way to build up muscles.

The Roman Imperial Coinage Volume V Part 1 by Percy H Webb, MBE. Published by Spink & Son Ltd. in 1927. Hardback, 242 pages plus 12 pages of plates. I have a photographic reprint dated 2001.

This volume covers the period from Valerian I to Florian, including Gallienus, Claudius II and Aurelian. I found it very disappointing. Much of the assignment to mints is now thought to be incorrect, and the grouping of coins is not precise. I would not recommend it except to completists. See also the comments on Part 2.

The Roman Imperial Coinage Volume V Part 2 by Percy H Webb, MBE. Published by Spink & Son Ltd. in 1933. Hardback, 701 pages plus 20 pages of plates I have a photographic reprint dated 2001.

This volume covers from Probus to the usurper Amandus, and includes the Gallic emperors such as Postumus, Victorinus and the Tetrici; and the British emperors Carausius and Allectus. This seems a bit better presented, though again many of the mint attributions are now disputed. Still, I was not very impressed. Neither of these volumes work well as modern references on their own. They work better if used together with the third volume of Sear's "Roman Coins and their Values", and I would actually recommend using Sear's book together with a good on-line reference such as this one and not bothering with RIC V at all.

The Roman Imperial Coinage Volume VII by Patrick M. Bruun, Ph.D. Published by Spink in 1966, and reprinted in 2003. Hardback, 778 pages plus 24 pages of plates.

This volume covers coins of Constantine and Licinius, over the period 313 to 337 CE. It includes coins struck for others during this period – Constans, Constantine II, Constantius II, Crispus, Divus Claudius II and Divus Maximianus, Licinius II, Martinian, Fausta, Hannibalianus, Helena, Delmatius, Maximinus, and various anonymous commemmorative types, and I can't guarantee I haven't missed someone out. Unless you know your coins pretty well, it won't be obvious which volume to look in. As with vol VIII, the book is organised by mint and then by period, which is very neat if you can make out a mint mark, not so good if you can't.

This book is a photographic reproduction on shiny, heavy paper.

The Roman Imperial Coinage Volume VIII by J.P.C. Kent. Published by Spink in 1981, and reprinted in 1983. Hardback, 605 pages plus 28 pages of plates and a fold-out of bust type descriptions.

This excellent volume covers the family of Constantine I, 337–264 CE. It is arranged by mint, so to use it effectively you really need to be able to see the mintmarks on your coins. But it gives good detailed information on production runs, dates, and officinas. It is not perfectly complete, because new coins turn up all the time, but that is true of all reference books. This was the first RIC volume I bought, which is probably why I was so diappointed with Vol V. It is the reference I use for my collection of hut coins of Constans and Constantius II.

This book is not printed on the same heavy paper as vols IV, V, and VII, so is light-weight and easy to handle.

Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum. Volume V, Pertinax to Elagabalus. By Harold Mattingly, M.A. Second edition prepared by R.A.G. Carson and P.V. Hill. Second Edition published 2005 by Spink & Son Ltd in association with the British Museum Press. 631 pages, plus a 265-page introduction, 77 pages of indices, and 97 pages of plates.

This is the most expensive volume I have bought, at 125 pounds. It is very detailed, and describes actual coins in the Museum's huge collection, and so covers several minor varieties of many coins. The coins are catalogued in chronological order, and it's good that there are several useful indices.

The introduction, by Harold Mattingly, is in his unmistakeable enthusiastic and rather romantic style, and sets all the coins in their historical and numismatic context.

I know that some coins are missing from this book, just as coins are missing from all catalogues. Here is one for example. But it's more complete than most. This volume is for the expert, the same sort of person who would use RIC, and is probably a better alternative as it covers more variations of the coins and has many more plates.

This series of books is often referred to as "BMC," but this can be rather confusing as there are other British Museum coin books with similar titles. On this web site I have abbreviated it as "BMCRE."

Catalogue of the Coins of Alexandria and the Nomes By Reginald Stuart Poole, Keeper of Coins and Medals. 1892, printed by order of the Trustees of the British Museum. 395 pages, plus 32 pages of plates.

This is still the current catalogue of the British Museum's coins of Roman Egypt. It is available either second-hand, or as a print-on-demand book from several sources. Mine is an original copy, rebound in more recent times, which once resided in Hammersmith Library. A supplement, containing later additions to the collection, was published in a separate pamphlet by Christiansen c. 1982.

There is a good general introduction, and the catalogue itself is nicely done, with plenty of detail. The coins of the Nomes (administrative areas) are in a separate section at the end, unlike Milne, which does not separate them out. The plates are nice and clear, though I suspect they will not be so good in modern copies.

On this site I have abbreviated this reference as "BMC Alexandria."

Late Roman Bronze Coinage, AD 324–429 by R.A.G. Carson, P.V. Hill and J.P.C. Kent. Published by Spink & Son Ltd in 1978. I have a paperback reprint version published by Sanford J Durst Numismatic Publications, Rockville Centre, New York. 114 pages plus 4 pages of plates.

This book is hideously difficult to use. It is a set of tables covering, mint by mint, the bronze coins published in the period given. The book is in two sections, the first covering the house of Constantine over 324–326, the second covering the later empire – which includes a lot of Constantinian era coins. You have to scour the book to find out how to interpret the tables. I think the authors expect you to know how such things work. But because of its relative cheapness, it is likely to be the first reference book of this general type that collectors come across, so that assumption is a bad one. However, it is a pretty thorough reference, and for serious collectors who can not afford RIC, very useful. But of you just like the coins, don't bother with it!

The Encyclopedia of Roman Imperial Coins by Rasiel Suarez, published in 2005 by Dirty Old Books. Hardback, a full 9 inches by 11½ inches format, 618 pages. Referred to widely as ERIC.

This aims to be a catalogue of all known Roman imperial coins, and sets out a new referencing system which assigns a number for each emperor to bust type, obverse legend, reverse legend and reverse type. This system isn't (yet?) widely used. There are many, many colour photographs, which is where the volume is most useful. The catalogue lists fail in that they are not complete, and seem to include some combinations that don't exist (or can't be validated as existing), but this might be rectified in later editions. I have the first edition, and I expect to buy the next, too, because if I want to see what a coin type looks like, or browse coins of a particular emperor, this is a good place to look.

ERIC II — The Encyclopedia of Roman Imperial Coins by Rasiel Suarez, published in 2010 by Dirty Old Books. Hardback, huge; 8¾ inches by 11¼ inches by 2¼ inches thick, 1455 pages.

This is the second edition mentioned above. As of late November 2010 I have not had time to digest this mammoth volume properly, but it is now available, and it is bigger and better than the first edition; it covers the whole of the Byzantine (aka Romaion) period as well as the western Roman Empire. The first edition weighed 3¾ pounds; this edition weighs 9¼ pounds!

There has been a serious attempt to be more comprehensive than the first edition. Even an odd coin of mine appears, on page 621 at number 116; a scarce antoninianus of Quintillus struck with an aureus die.

Here's a very basic comparison of the two editions. Opening at random to Geta, an emperor with only a moderate number of issues: the first edition shows photos of 5 bust types and 42 reverses. The second edition shows 7 bust types and 50 reverses. Where the same types are shown, some of the photos are the same, but others are of better preserved examples of the same coins. The colours in the second edition are brighter and more saturated, which might actually be less realistic, but does show up the details better.

The first edition was impressive; this one, if you are strong enough to pick it up, is more so.

I recommend reading Doug Smith's detailed review here: Doug Smith's review of ERIC II..

Le Monnayage des Villes en Mésie Inférieure et en Thrace pendant le IIe - IIIe s. Hadrianopolis by J. Jurukova, published in Sofia in 1987.

I know almost nothing about this book, I do not own a copy, but it and its companion volumes are referenced occasionally for obscure Roman provincial coins from Lower Moesia and Thrace, so I am mentioning it here for completeness. These books are included in the searchable Roman Provincial Coinage Online database.

Die Spätrömisch Kupferprägung (literally "The Late Roman Copper Coinage") by Guido Bruck, published by Akademisch Druck-U. Verlagsansalt, Graz/Austria, in 1961. Hardback. I bought a copy on eBay and it turned out to be a photocopy. This is a breach of copyright! Originally a large format hardback with about 102 pages.

This very useful book contains clear diagrammatic drawings of all the most likely bust and reverse types of Constantinian era bronzes. There are many of these, and it's not easy for a beginner to sort them out or distinguish between them, and this is an excellent guide. You don't even need to be able to read German – though it would be useful to pick up a few specialised words.

Ancient Coins of the Balkan Peninsula, by Nikola Moushmov. Translated and made available on line by a dealer's site, Ancient Coin Art, and accessible through the WildWinds site here: Moushmov On Line. (Later addition: As of 2012 those links don't seem to work any more. A pity, but not a big problem; these days it's not a very important reference book.)

This is a simple list of common coin types, with common legends, for these very variable coins. It does not look at timelines, different demoninations,or the other ways in which its types can vary in use. As a reference, it is now out of date, being superseded by books such as Varbanov, AMNG, Megaw and Hristova/Jekov, for example. But it is still sometimes given as a reference.

It covers Dacia, Moesia, Thrace, Scythia and Macedonia, and has sections on Athenian coins and ancient Bulgarian coins.

Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins in the University of Oxford Ashmolean Museum, by J. G. Milne. My copy is a hardback published in 1971, printed by Oxford University Press and sold by Spink & Son Ltd., but other editions exist, both earlier and later.

This is one of the standard references for Alexandrian coins, usually referred to simply as Milne, a precedent which I have followed on this site. There is an introduction which tells you about the mint and the coinage, with a chronological list of reverse types. The bulk of the book is the detailed catalogue of coins, and there is an addendum in this 1971 edition consisting of the important coin types added to the collection between 1933 and 1971.

There are 7 pages of plates — not a lot for a book of this size! — and two fold-out tables analysing coin frequencies in several hoards.

The descriptions are very detailed, although the information is scattered to the front and back of the volume and so requires a lot of cross-referencing and holding three pages open at once. But that work is rewarding, especially for the detailed reverse descriptions.

In fact, the reverse descriptions are probably the book's most helpful feature. Against each description is a list of the specific coin types that feature it. Now, Alexandrian coins often have legends that are very hard to make out, so a legend index is of less use than for some other types of coin. So this reverse description index is a useful and effective way of finding your coin.

This is a useful reference book for the serious collector.

Roman Gold Coins of the Medieval World 383-1453 A.D. by Harlan J. Berk, published in 1986 by Joliet, Illinois. Hardback, large format, pages not numbered but covers 368 coins.

This book, as the introduction states, is designed to allow you to quickly identify almost any Byzantine gold coin, and know its expected weight, date and place of minting, legend, and other reference sources. It is very clear and easy to use, with monochrome photos for every coin. I have two (2) Byzantine gold coins and one of them is covered in this book - though that's not a big enough sample to be meaningful.

Sasanian Numismatics by Robert Göbl, copyright 1971 but reprinted in 1990 by Sanford J Durst Numismatic Publications, Rockville Centre, New York. Paperback, 97 pages plus appendices and 16 pages of plates (including one page of modern counterfeits).

This is THE standard reference book for Sasanian coins. It consists of a text section covering all aspects of the coin design, types, methods of minting and so forth; a set of diagrams of each different variation; some simple tables; and a set of monochrome plates. It gives a guide to reading the legends, mintmarks and dates, which are written in Pahlavi. That might take a bit of work, but the material is all there.

Standard Ptolemaic Silver by Edward T Newell, copyright 1941 but reprinted in 1981 by Sanford J Durst Numismatic Publications, Rockville Centre, New York. A slim paperback booklet, 18 pages.

This is a very handy and inexpensive reference to the Ptolemaic tetradrachms, which are not easy to tell apart because they all use the same basic portrait of the first Ptolemy. Includes many monochrome photos. A useful guide.

Coinage and History of the Roman Empire c. 82 B.C. – A.D. 490. Volume 2 – Coinage by David L. Vagi, published in 1990 by Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. Hardback, two volumes. Vol. 2 is 656 pages.

Volume 1, the history, is covered in the section on historical books. Volume 2 covers the coinage, and like any one-volume catalogue of all Roman coins, is limited by not being able to cover more than the best known coins. It would make a good introductory reference book, perhaps better than Sear's 1988 volume, but Sear is a widely used reference and this is not, so this is, in the end, less useful.

Greek Coin Types and their Identification, by Richard Plant. Published by Spink in 1979. I have a 2004 reprint. Softback, 344 pages.

This book contains 2,748 diagrams of Greek and Hellenic coin types, with references to what they most likely are if you find one like it. A good basic reference book for starting Greek collectors or those who, like me, only have a few. It includes Roman provincial coins (sometimes called Greek Imperial).

Greek Imperial Coins and their Values, vol. I: Dacia, Moesia Superior and Moesia Inferior by Ivan Varbanov. English language edition. Published by Adicom ET, Bulgaria, in 2005. Hardback, 457 pages plus map, index and bibliography.

This book covers Roman provincial coins of Dacia, Viminacium, Callatis, Dionysopolis, Istrus, Marcianopolis, Nicopolis ad Istrum, Odessus, and Tomis, so it is a very specialised reference. It is the size of a normal library book, but heavy because it is printed on glossy paper. It is expensive, too. My (reduced price) copy cost me $115. However, it is one of the best references for the interesting and often attractive coins of Moesia Inferior, much more detailed and specific than Moushmov's "Coins of the Balkan Peninsula," whose only advantage is that it is available on line. The Varbanov is profusely illustrated on every page. Against it is the fact that it does contain some errors, often down to a careless description of the coins which are clearly illustrated, and also that it seems to be easy to find coins which it does not list, as so many new varieties are becoming available in recent years. Also, it's a pity that it lists the reverses in alphabetical order of the legend, rather than by date or type, which would be more informative. But it is nevertheless a very useful guide.

There are some detailed reviews and discussions on line here, on the Forum Classical Numismatics Discussion Board. I have captured two detailed reviews here in case the thread is deleted from Forum.

Coin references, on this site and elsewhere, that are not specific might refer to the Bulgarian version of the book (which has a different numbering scheme) or to a different volume.

Greek Imperial Coins and their Values, vol. II: Thrace (from Abdera to Pautalia) by Ivan Varbanov. English language edition. Published by Adicom ET, Bulgaria, in 2005. Hardback, 458 pages plus map, index and bibliography.

This book covers Roman provincial coins of Abdera, Ainos, Anchialus, Apollonia Pontica, Augusta Traiana, Bizya, Byzantium, Deultum, Hadrianopolis, Maroneia, Mesembria, Nicopolis ad Nestum, and Pautalia. It has the same faults and virtues as the previous volume, and is recommended despite its faults for anyone interested in coins of these towns.

The Coins of Moesia Inferior I-III C. A.C., NICOPOLIS AD ISTRUM, by Nina Hristova and Gospodin Jekov. Bulgarian language. Published by Southwestern University "N. Rilski" Press, Blagoevgrad, 2009. First edition. Hardback, 476 pages including a bibliography and a short index (in Bulgarian).

The Coins of Moesia Inferior I-III C. A.C., NICOPOLIS AD ISTRUM, by Nina Hristova and Gospodin Jekov. Bulgarian language. Published by Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" Press, Blagoevgrad, 2011. Second edition, edited by Hans-Joachim Hoeft. Hardback, 476 pages including a bibliography and a short index (in Bulgarian).

This is the most comprehensive yet reference for Roman Provincial coins from Nicopolis ad Istrum. It is a large and heavy hardback published and bound in Bulgaria. I have an early copy, a gift from a friend, but it should soon be available from specialist dealers. Probably not from Spink, who can't make a high enough profit for their liking from Bulgarian books.

The introduction is in both Bulgarian and English and tells you how the book is organised, the simple but useful numbering system for the coins (which works for all 13 mint cities in this region, some already covered by other volumes in the same series), a brief introduction to the mint, and a guide to rarity and pricing.

Although the catalogue is all in Bulgarian, nearly every coin is illustrated, often with several specimens, so it is quite simple to follow. You will soon be able to read out the Bulgarian comments, though knowing what they mean is a different matter.

The numbering system is straightforward and encodes the mint city, the ruler (with 0 for semi-autonomous coins), the reverse type, and the specific die pair.

The second edition corrects many legend errors and adds quite a few coins, and there is some renumbering. References from these books will need to say which edition they are from.

The Coins of Moesia Inferior I-III B. A.C., MARCIANOPOLIS, by Nina Hristova and Gospodin Jekov. Bulgarian language. Published by Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" Press, Blagoevgrad, 2011. The first edition came out in 2006; this is the second edition, read and checked by Hans-Joachim Hoeft. Hardback, 307 pages including a bibliography and a short index (in Bulgarian). There are also two colour plates.

As good for Markianopolis as the other volume is for Nikopolis ad Istrum. I do not have the first edition to compare this with, but I would expect some renumbering here as well; for clarity, the edition will need to be referred to.

You might see this series of volumes referenced as HR/J. For clarity, I will refer to them here as Hristova/Jekov. References to the second editions are given as Hristova/Jekov (2011). You will need to decipher which mint city volume is meant from the first number of the reference. For Nikopolis ad Istrum, all the references begin with 8; for Markianopolis, they all begin with 6.

Die Antiken Münzen Nord-Griechenlands, volume I, Dacien und Moesien, by Behrendt Pick. Berlin, 1898.

This book is out of copyright and I own a print-on-demand photographic reproduction in paperback. It can also be downloaded from here: AMNG vol. I download. It is a German-language reference. Despite its age, it is still regarded as a good quality reference work for Roman provincial coins of Dacia and Moesia, so that the Varbanov book described above gives AMNG references where they exist. In coin attributions, you might find it listed as "AMNG" or as "Pick".

There are 10 pages of plates. It is not hard to pick up enough numismatic German to understand the listings.

Here is Curtis Clay's description of how it is organised, written as a recommendation of good practice:

1. Separate not only the emperors and empresses, but also the coins of emperors showing different ranks: coins of Caracalla Caesar before those of Caracalla Augustus, and so on.

2. Under each emperor or rank of an emperor, list first all coins that name a governor or local magistrate, bringing together all coins naming the same magistrate because they were obviously struck during one and the same period, and arranging the magistrates in their apparent chronological order. Under each magistrate, separate the denominations, listing the largest coins first and the smallest last. Finally under each denomination, list the coins in the order of their reverse types, for example first gods and goddesses, then the emperor, then architectural types, then animals, then inanimate objects.

3. Second under each emperor or rank of emperor come the coins WITHOUT any magistrate's name, again divided by denominations, and within each denomination by reverse types.

It is worth downloading a copy.

Fel Temp Reparatio by Harold Mattingly, an article from 1933, reprinted as a short booklet in the Numismatic Chronicle Reprint Series; New York Attic Books, Ltd. 1977; ISBN 0-915018-22-5.

This is a handy little booklet setting out Mattingly's ideas about the types found on the various coins on the FEL TEMP REPARATIO series of the late 340s and early 350s. He also covers the naming of the coins of the period. Worth having, but Mattingly himself suggests some caution in accepting his theorising.

Coin Hoards from Roman Britain, Volume X edited by Roger Bland and John Orna-Ornstein. Published by the British Museum Press in 1997. Hardback, large format, 480 pages plus 48 pages of plates.

This is a compilation of reports of Roman coin hoards discovered in Britain which were reported on over the previous five years, most of them actually found within the previous 10 years. It gives basic information on the coin types found and their numbers, sometimes with short accompanying articles. It includes some interesting hoards, for example one of 110 plated copies of Claudius I denarii found in North Suffolk.

The G R Arnold Collection of silver coins of the Severan Dynasty, a catalogue of an auction at Glendining & Co, 7 Blenheim Street, New Bond Street, London on 21st November 1984. Softback, 60 pages plus 16 pages of plates.

Auction catalogues, especially the more recent ones, give some excellent opportunities to see examples of unusual coins and good examples of more common ones. The trouble with them is that they are not indexed. To find a particular coin you have to look in many cataloges, and there are hundreds. Most people will be just as well off using web resources such as the acsearch.info site or the excellent WildWinds.

Specialist catalogues are different. This one is excellent – it covers only Severan denarii and antoniniani. All the lots are illustrated with monochrome photos, some with enlargements.

Incidentally, this is the same G R Arnold who played the role of Tom Forrest in "The Archers"

--------------------------------- Books about Fakes and Copies ---------------------------------

It is worth any serious collector getting a feel for deceptive imitations and fakes that might appear on the market. There are many, many fakes and copies being sold all the time, and these books just give a tiny sample. It is also worth checking out the Forvm Fake Coin Reports for any coin about which you have any doubt at all.

Classical Deception: Counterfeits, Forgeries and Reproductions of Ancient Coins by Wayne G Sayles. Published by krause publications in 2001. Hardback, 196 pages.

Informative descriptions of the ways in which ancient coins have been faked, and how to detect them. One of the appendices is a catalogue of the 404 reproductions produced by Peter Rosa, with photos where available. A very useful introduction to the subject for an ancient coin collector.

The following four booklets are in the series "Coin Collections and Coin Hoards from Bulgaria" and they all contain details of counterfeit and imitation coins.

Modern Counterfeits and Replicas of Ancient Greek and Roman Coins from Bulgaria by Ilya Prokopov, Kostadin Kissyov, Eugeni Paunov; published by Balkan Press Ltd in 2003. Softback, 76 pages.

This small book is a collection of photographs, with sizes and weights, of coins forged on Bulgaria in recent years. It's a handy reference in particular if you are a collector of Thasos tetradrachms – there are 76 different dies illustrated here. The others are a mixed batch of a few Greek and Roman types.

Contemporary Coin Engravers and Coin Masters from Bulgaria – "Lipanoff" Studio" by Ilya Prokopov. Published by Balkan Press Ltd in 2004. Softback, 88 pages.

A catalogue of "art replicas" of Greek, Roman and Byzantine coins that could easily be sold as deceptive fakes. 148 coins are illustraed with actual size and enlarged photos.

Cast Forgeries of Classical Coins from Bulgaria by Ilya Prokopov and Eugeni Paunov. Published by Balkan Press Ltd in 2004. Softback, 88 pages.

Some struck, and many cast, fakes are illustrated from series that are widely sold and collected by the average enthusiast. For example, coins of Vespasian, Sabina, Marcus Aurelius, Antoninus Pius. Includes 16 pages of enlargements showing some of the betraying details. This series of booklets becomes more detailed and informative as it continues.

Counterfeit Studios and their Coins by Ilya Prokopov and Rumen Manov. Published by Balkan Press Ltd in 2005. Softback, 88 pages.

This book is more than a catalogue of fakes, which the earlier ones in the series are. It includes discussions of the methods of each studio and some of their distinguishing characteristics.

--------------------------------- Historical, Cultural and Art Reference Books  ---------------------------------

Greek Coins by Ian Carradice. Published by the British Museum Press, 1995.

The invention and development of coinage, and the history of Greek coins and their function in Hellenic society from the 6th century BCE to the first century CE, with lots of illustrations. If you are interested in ancient coins, this book is a good read, and though it is nowhere near a comprehensive reference, that is not its intention. Worth having.

A Dictionary of Roman Coins by Seth William Stevenson, F.S.A., C Roach Smith, F.S.A., and Frederic W. Madden, M.R.A.S. First published by George Bell and Sons, 1889. Reprinted by B A Seaby Ltd, London in 1964.

This book, though old, is hugely useful. For almost every legend on a Roman coin, or even everything mentioned on a Roman coin, there is an entry giving historical detail and some idea of the context of the subject. It covers the Republic as well as the Empire. My copy is a battered second-hand one bought on eBay. It is also on line on the Forum site in the Numiswiki section.

Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities by various writers, edited by William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D. Second edition; my copy was published by John Murray, Albemarle Street, London in 1872, though the preface to this edition is dated 1848. A big, chunky hardback. You should be able to find it second-hand.

This fascinating reference book contains huge amounts of cultural detail about ancient Greece and Rome. Want to know what a curule chair was, and how it was used? You are directed to Sella Curulis, where you find two columns with detailed drawings. Or the parts of a galley; what is an acrostolium? You are directed to Navis, and it's all there. A page at random has Porticus, Portorium, Poseidonia and a few more obscure items. One of those books that is fun to browse, if you have the slightest interest in its subject.

The Oxford Classical Dictionary by various writers, edited by N.G.L. Hammond and H.H. Scullard. Second edition; my copy was published by Oxford at the Clarendon Press in 1970. Again, a big and heavy hardback, almost A4 size, available on the second-hand market. There is also a third edition.

This is full of useful facts and information about the classical world; people, myths, functions, events and so on. No single volume could be as good a reference as, say, the 20-volume New Pauly, but that will cost you over £200 per volume and this one, an ex-library copy in excellent condition, cost me £20. It is very browsable. Just flipping pages, I see sacred springs, Greek pronunciation, oracles, Nero, Iceni, and I am not choosing my pages here. Recommended.

Carausius & Allectus, the British Usurpers by P. J. Casey. Published by Yale University Press, New York and London, 1995. Also published by B. T. Batsford Limited in the United Kingdom in 1994.

A book of some interest to British readers in particular, covering the British "Roman Empire" of 286-296 CE in what seems to be complete detail, amassing all the evidence (including the evidence of the coinage) and telling the story. There is also a section on the fantastic and inventive fiction about this episode that has accumulated since, much of it purporting to be fact.

Religions of Rome: Volume 1, A History by Mary Beard, John North and Simon Price. Published by Cambridge University Press in 1998.

This book gives a an informative view of the development of religious beliefs and practices in Rome. Roman religious life was complex and can be difficult to understand, and this is a good starter. It's not a dictionary of religions – you can't look up, say, "Mars Invictus" and find out everything that there is to know about that deity – but it gives you the background knowledge to understand how such a deity might have come to be worshipped, and what the Romans understood by that.

The Man in the Roman Street by Harold Mattingly, F.B.A. Published by the Numismatic Review, New York City in 1947.

This book gives a view of how the Romans thought. It sets the background and then talks about religion, the state, peace and war, and private life. The author is clearly a romantic, but a very well informed one who you might have spotted also wrote and edited some of the coin reference books. It is easy to read and is still readily available second-hand.

ROME — Its People Life and Customs by Ugo Enrico Paoli. Translated from the Italian by R. D. Macnaghten. My copy is a hardback published by Longmans in 1963. There is also a paperback published by Bristol Classical Paperbacks in 1990. First published as Vita Romana in 1940.

A very useful reference, full of facts about the structure of Rome as well as its life and customs. There are extensive footnotes at the end of each chapter, and the translator has provided a list of further reading for the non-specialist – by which he means a non-academic reader. If you are reading this book you may well already be an amateur specialist.

There are plenty of good plates, including two of coins showing Roman buildings, and the hardback has a fold-out map of ancient Rome.

Religion in the Ancient Greek City by Louise Bruit Zaidman and Pauline Schmitt Pantel, tranclated by Paul Cartledge. (Original title: La Religion grecque). Published by Cambridge University Press in 1992. My copy is a paperback reprint dated 1995.

This is a most enjoyable book, very readable, which explains what religion meant to the ancient Greeks and how it worked. It covers rituals, cults, rites of passage, myths and much more. I recommend it highly.

Coinage and History of the Roman Empire c. 82 B.C. – A.D. 490. Volume 1 – History by David L. Vagi, published in 1990 by Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. Hardback, two volumes. Vol. 1 is 638 pages.

Volume 2, the coinage, is covered in the section on coin reference books. Volume 1 covers the history. This is a very decent attempt to give some information about the context of every emperor and empress, and what happened during their reigns, with brief notes on the coinage. Not bad!

Monumental Coins – Buildings & Structures on Ancient Coinage by Marvin Tameanko. Published in 1999 by krause publications. Hardback, large format, 242 pages including 8 plates of coin photos.

This book does just what the title says. Chapter by chapter, it covers the structures and types of architecture depicted on ancient coins; their history and purpose, the styles of illustration used, and often, details of the feats of engineering which are represented. It is profusely illustrated with diagrams of structures and coins, and is a pleasure to read.

A Handbook of Greek Art by Gisela M A Richter. Published by Phaidon Publishers Inc, London in 1959. My copy is the second edition, dated 1960. Hardback, 421 pages, with 500 illustrations and a map in the end covers.

This can only be a primer for such an extensive subject, but from my position of ignorance it seems to be a pretty good one. It covers architecture, sculpture, gems, coins, jewellery, metalwork, pottery and vase painting, glass, furniture, textiles, paintings and mosaics.

Great Cities of the Ancient World by L. Sprague de Camp. Published by Doubleday & Company, Inc, Garden City, New York in 1972. Hardback, 510 pages including footnotes and index.

This is an excellent and very readable book by an intelligent and well-read amateur. He summarises the history of some of the world's most famous cities: Thebes, Jerusalem, Nineveh, Tyre, Babylon, Memphis, Athens, Syracuse, Carthage, Alexandria, Anurâdhapura, Rome, Pâtaliputra, and Constantinople. There are many photographs, most taken by the author on his travels, and he gives first-hand information to counterpoint the historical accounts. The more you read, the more you see how the histories of the cities and the civilisations they supported are intertwined. Many of these cities produced interesting coinage, and though the coins themselves are not covered here, their existence is, because of the impact of the development of money on the fates of cities such as Tyre.

It is worth noting that de Camp has also written several historical novels using some of these cities as a background - one of them is referenced below.

--------------------------------- Books on Miscellaneous Related Subjects ---------------------------------

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, translated by Martin Hammond. Published by Penguin Classics. Softback, 254 pages.

These are notes written for his own use, in the Greek used by literate Romans, by the famous stoic philosopher-emperor. The philosophy is interesting, but not always mind-shattering. For example, the part where he says it's better to get up and fulfil your purpose than stay in bed and enjoy the warmth.

Many editions and translations of this book are available.

(More to be added) 

--------------------------------- Fiction set in Ancient Cultures ---------------------------------

Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp. This has been printed many times since it was written in 1939. A search on Amazon reveals that it is still in print. My own copy is a Ballantine Classic paperback printed in 1974.

This is probably THE classic alternate history story. Martin Padway, an archaeologist, is in Rome when he is zapped into the past by a nearby stroke of lightning. He discovers he is in the 530s, and decides to do his best to prevent the collapse of civilisation as he sees it by using his knowledge of history and technology to stabilise the rule of the Goths over Italy. He has a lot of trouble with this .. King Thiudahad is weak, Justinian's armies are invading from Constantinople, the Goths are stubborn and backward-looking, he uses all of Rome's vellum supply for one issue of his newspaper .. It's an interesting and amusing book written by a keen amateur historian and archaeologist.

The Falco series by Lindsey Davis.

This series of books is about an informer called Marcus Didius Falco, who does occasional work for Vespasian. They are very entertaining, written with a touch of humour, and are excellent at giving you the feel of being in ancient Rome. They are educational, too, because the author pulls in information from the most recent finds and research and builds parts of her stories around them. There is a decent page on Wikipedia here which tells you about Falco, and includes links to summaries of the books.

(More books to be added)

The content of this page was last updated on 7 January 2012

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