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Museum Collections of Ancient Coins 

(that are available on the web)

By Paul H. Marshall

As a collector of ancient Roman and Greek coins there is a need to continuously learn about the subject.  An invaluable resource is the extensive collections of ancient coins housed in museums around the world.  Unfortunately, most of us are not able to travel around the world to see these collections, however many museums are now scanning their collections of coins and including then in databases that are accessible on the Internet.  Below are a few of these collections that are available and can be used as a reference and give us a window into the huge number and varieties of these small treasures. 

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

There are presently about 150 ancient coins from Asia, the Middle East including India and  Iran.  The pictures and descriptions are of moderate quality.  If a keyword search is simply done for coins you will be able to view these coins from their collection.  


The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna

This museum has a huge collection of coins, but only a very few can be seen from this site and the coins that are available are associated with titles in German.  If the user clicks on the links located on the left hand side of the page located under history you will see coins of their collection.  One can only hope that more are added in the future and that a searchable database for their coin holding are added. 


Biblioteque National de France

One of the largest museum collections in the world.


Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum

This is a project to publish Greek coins held in private and public collections found on the British Isles.  This is an invaluable resource where thousands of ancient Greek coins can be searched and viewed online.  There is a searchable data-base link located on the right hand side of the page.  I found the pictures were not very sharp but the descriptions and other information on each coin was extensive.  This site is a must for any collector of Greek coins.

Link:  http://www.sylloge-nummorum-graecorum.org/ 

Fitzwilliam museum

This museum has a very extensive collection of coins that can be searched and viewed on-line. Additionally you can browse their, if you have the time. This site is another must for someone wanting to see other examples of ancients including Greek and Roman.  I personally found the picture quality not very sharp but the coin descriptions were quite good

Link:   http://www-cm.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/coins/

Münzkabinett of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

This museum has a phenomenal collection of ancient Greek and Roman as well as other coins.  Their collection can be searched several ways, and the pictures are quite nice, but the descriptions are in German.  This is another must for the serious collector to visit. 


Harvard University Art Museum 

The collection of coins located in the Harvard University collection is a surprising jewel. The data-base is quite easy to use and their collection is quite extensive.  The picture quality is not always that sharp and the coins are not always of high quality, but their collection make a great resource for the collector.


American Numismatic Society

The ANS collection is both extensive and a resource all collectors should visit.  The collection is vast and the database is easy to search. 


The Princeton University Numismatic Collection Database

The collection of Princeton's coins is quite extensive and the data-base is quite easy to use.  The pictures are of good quality and the descriptions are of good quality.  More coins are being added to the database over time. 


Boston Museum of Fine Arts

The collection of coins included in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is not huge, but the quality, especially of their Ancient Greek coins, is phenomenal and is a must visit on the web.  The database is easy to search and the quality of photography is superb, even allowing the user to zoom in for incredible detail


Ashmolean Museum

This collection is limited to Roman Provincial coins, and is an invaluable resource to the collector of Roman Provincial coins.  The pictures are quite nice and the descriptions are very extensive. 

Link: http://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/

The British Museum

At the pinnacle of Numismatic collections is the British Museum.  They have an extensive collection, many of the coins have high quality pictures and descriptions.  This is another database that must be searched and be ready to be impressed with the quality of their collection.  A true treasure. 

Link: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/advanced_search.aspx

Yale University Art Gallery

There are 100,000 coins in the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery making it an quite extensive collection and one that makes for a good resource when searching for other examples of a coin.  The picture quality is not always the sharp and the descriptions are not extensive, but the data-base is easy to search.


Capitoline Coin Cabinet - Rome Italy

Although there is no database associated with this coin museum, they do have pictures and short descriptions of some of their coins.  Hopefully they will have a web based database in the future.  This museum is located in Rome and would be a must see for anyone interested in coins. 


Other Museums with Numismatic Collections

Avignon Musée Calvet, France
Berne Bernisches Historisches Museum, Switzerland
Bologne - Museo Civico Archeologico, Italy
Brugg Vindonissa-Museum, Switzerland
Bruxelles Bibliothèque Royale, Cabinet des médailles, Belgium
Bucarest Muzeul National de Istorie a României, Romania
Budapest Musée national de Hongrie, Cabinet des monnaies, Hungary
Cardiff The National Museum of Wales, Department of Archaeology and Numismatics, United Kingdom
Copenhague Nationalmuseet, Kongelige Mont-og Medaillesamling, Denmark
Dijon Musée archéologique, France
Dumbarton Oaks The Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Washington D.C., United States
Florence Monetiere del Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Firenze, Italy
Forli Museo Civico Archeologico, Italy
Glasgow University of Glasgow, Hunterian Coin Cabinet, United Kingdom
Leeds University of Leeds, Art Collections and Gallery, United Kingdom
Lyon Musée des Beaux-Arts, Médaillier, France
Madrid Museo Arqueologico Nacional, Spain
Marseille Archives municipales, Cabinet des médailles, France
Munich (AS) Archäologische Staatssammlung, Germany
Naples Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Italy
Nîmes Musée Archéologique, France
Porto Museu Eng. Antonio de Almeida, Portugal
Rome (MC) Medagliere Capitolino, Italy
Rome (MN) Museo Nazionale Romano, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Italy
Saint-Omer Musée de l'Hôtel Sandelin, France
Trèves Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier, Germany
Turin (MA) Museo di Antichita, Italy
Turin (RN) Raccolte Numismatiche Torinesi, Italy
Utrecht Geld Museum (Pays-Bas)
Vatican Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Gabinetto Numismatico, Vatican
Venise Museo Correr, Italy
Vérone Museo di Castelvecchio, Italy
Zagreb Arheološki musej, Croatia
Zurich Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum, Landesmuseum Zürich, Münzkabinett, Switzerland


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