"Buy the book before you buy the coin". A recommendation I heard as I started to collect. I have tried to heed this advice and now feel I have a much better collection and enjoy my collection more because of it. Here is what I think:
1. Get Sear. What ever your collecting field, buy his book. These books have simply become THE basic reference for each of the fields of interest. Van Meter's "Handbook of Roman Imperial Coins" is another very good basic reference available for $35.
2. The more serious Roman collectors with broad interests should probably get Sear "Roman Silver Coins" or at least the 3 volumes still available. (The 1st and 2nd volumes are almost impossible to find, buy them if you can find them.) Cohen numbers are the basis for these book's reference system.
3. Late Roman Bronze collectors should absolutely own Carson, Hill & Kent's "Late Roman Bronze Coinage". This was the Volume that preceeded the later RIC series. It is a bit difficult to work with but is a great resource for the bronzes after 324 AD. It is a book that will satisfy your urge to classify, more than just to Sear numbers, the late Roman treasures you have been collecting. You need to be able to make out the mintmarkings or else your frustration level will go very high. Mintmarks too worn? See the next book.
4. If your collection consists mostly of late Roman bronzes that you can barely distinguish by mint marking, there is still hope for further classification. This book is a great reference for late bronze collectors who deal primarily in uncleaned and lower grade material. Find "Die Spatromische Kupferpragung - Ein Bestimmungbuch fur Schlecht Erhaltene Munzen" by Guido Bruck, 1961 Austria. Very loosely translated as " The late mixed copper minting - One book for determining character of poor quality coins". By using this book, you should be able to determine the minting authority by reverse design type features. Although written in German, it is mostly drawings, I have found it to be a great reference for worn or incomplete coins from the 4th and 5th centuries. Very tough to find, buy it if you get the chance, or look for it in your local University stacks.
5. For the Byzantine bronze collector, get Berk's "Eastern Roman Successors to the Sestertius". It is a cheap (under $25) book that has great drawings for easy attribution, realistic price guide and lots of good information. If you don't want to shell out $95 for Sear, you need this book. If you do much with Byzantine coins, there is also a Sear cross-referenced manual, "Speedy Identification of Early Denominationally Marked Byzantine Bronzes ", by Dan Clark (Clark's Ancient Coins, 22220 McCarthy Drive, Tehachapi, CA 93561).
6. David Hendin's "Guide to Biblical Coins - 4th Edition" is a must for those of you that have any interest in the coins and history of the Holy Land. I have found it to be invaluable as well as a good general read. Find David on the web or write him (Amphora Books, P.O. Box 805, Nyack, NY 10960) and buy the book from him directly. He will send you an autographed copy at the same price coin book dealers would charge you. He is a great guy and really knows his stuff.
7. Wayne Sayles' series of books are quite good as general overviews of each of the major themes in ancients collecting. Your enjoyment of collecting and your ability to relate to other collectors, with their myriad of topical interests, will improve with using these books. Have your friends and family buy them for you as gifts, as they are almost always available in the big bookstores and are reasonably priced.
8. Buy Dennis Kroh's book. "Ancient Coin Reference Reviews" is a wonderful book to help try to decide which of the many books out there are likely to be practical to your particular interest in collecting. It covers the range from Greek to Roman to Byzantine.
9. Oh, yeah, Roman Imperial Collectors; Buy RIC as soon as you can rationalize it. Greek Collectors; Get SNG Copenhagen and Von Aulock. Owning these volumes are really the final steps towards total ancient coin addiction.
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This page last updated on 03/30/2002.
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