Beginners sometimes ask "What should I collect?" Our members have been generous with good advice and I give links to some relevant old CoinTalk threads below. Actually, I'm not sure a beginner can do much better than to watch CoinTalk threads for a while and get a feeling for what they like.
However, they might wonder about reference works. I have been assembling pages of sale-catalog references organized by collecting theme for many years. I finally decided to improve those theme pages by including relevant books. To link the themes together I created this web page
with two goals:
1) Give beginners an idea of the wide variety of ancient coins and potential collection themes.
2) List reference works collectors could consult to learn more, or much more, about those themes.
I hope to improve those reference pages (I solicit your suggestions).
For example, one theme might be "specific victories":...
After just over four years of bloodshed, General-in-Chief Robert E. Lee met Lieutenant-General General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia in the early afternoon of April 9th, 1865. They had met during the Mexican War, and discussed those days for nearly half an hour before Lee suggested they address the matter at hand. The terms for surrender were as agreeable as Lee could hope for; his men would not be imprisoned or prosecuted for treason. Officers were allowed to keep their sidearms, horses, and personal baggage. While other Confederate troops would officially surrender in the days and months to come, the Union terms were accepted by Lee, effectively ending the American Civil War.
In a war that was marked by such divisiveness and bitter fighting, it is remarkable that it closed so simply. However, relief that it was over turned to disbelief when President...
Medieval numismatics can feel a bit like a swamp to novice collectors: impossible to navigate, easy to get stuck in, full of alligators and blood-sucking insects.
First of all, there currently is no single catalogue that would allow a collector a useful overview of medieval European coinage. While there are comfortably usable reference works for some areas (e.g. crusader states), the literature on other fields (e.g. the German-speaking lands) can be very confusing and requires reading skills in multiple languages. Secondly, medieval coins can be much harder to ‘understand’ than ancient coins, particularly due to the widespread absence of clear legends or ethnics as well as an iconography that is not intuitively accessible for modern collectors. Finally, more common and thus affordable medieval coins are regularly sold either without any references, with only vague attributions, or accompanied by false information. Though this might in some cases be part of a ‘sales strategy,’ it more...
Sometimes it is worth to pay attention to Rome's enemies too. Here I share a drachm of the Sassanids, because I came across new and interesting historical stories being worth to be mentioned.
Sassanid Empire, Hormizd II, AD 302-309.
AR - drachm, 3.8g, 27.2mm, 90°
obv. Legend in Pahlevi (abbreviated and bungled, from r. to l.):
.ly. .KLM n.KLM [ydzmrhw'] ygb nsd [y?]zm
(= The devotee of Mazdas, the devine Hormizd, the king of kings of Iran, who has descended from the gods)
Bearded bust r., crown with eagle r., carrying in beak a pearl, above korymbos (Göbl Kronentyp I)
rev. Fire altar, decorated with taenias, in the flames bearded bust of the Zoroastrian god Ahuramazda l.; at the l. side Hormizd with eagle crown and korymbos l., at the r. side bearded priest with mural crown, both wearing Turkish trousers and holding with both hands a sword (Göbl Revers 1a); on the base of the altar 3 globuli one above the other;
behind legend in...
Dear Friends of ancient mythology!
Here is another deity of Asia minor: Zeus Kasios
Syria, Seleukis and Pieria, Seleukeia Pieria, Trajan, AD 98-117
AE 23, 12.65g, 0°
struck AD 100/101 (RY 4)
obv. AVTOKP KAI NEP TPAIANOC APICT CEB ΓEPM ΔAK
Laureate head r.
rev. CELEVKEΩN - ΠEIEPIAC
Perspective view of the tetrastyle temple of Zeus Kasios with canopy-like roof;
on the top of the roof a flat base, on it an eagle with open wings. Inside a conical
stone decorated with a knotted ribbon/pearl string.
in r. field Δ (= year 4)
in ex. ZEVC / KACIOC (Z mirrored)
ref. BMC 274, 39; SNG München cf. 990ff. (without Δ); Price - Trell 212, fig. 445; Sear GIC 1081
About VF/F+, brown patina with earthen highlights
Seleukeia was founded simultaneous with Antiocheia ad Orontes as its harbour 300 BC by Seleukos I. The history of Seleukeia was connected closely to that of Antiocheia, the capital of Syria. Due to the boom years in Roman times Seleukeia was a...
Carus (Latin: Marcus Aurelius Carus Augustus; c. 222 – July or August 283) was Roman Emperor from 282 to 283, and was 60 at ascension. During his short reign, Carus fought the Germanic tribes and Sarmatians along the Danube frontier with success.
He died while campaigning against the Sassanid Empire, probably of unnatural causes, as he was reportedly struck by lightning. He was succeeded by his sons Carinus and Numerian, creating a dynasty which, though short-lived, provided further stability to the resurgent empire.
Two traditions surround his accession to the throne in August or September of 282. According to some mostly Latin sources, he was proclaimed emperor by the soldiers after the murder of Probus by a mutiny at Sirmium. Greek sources however claim that he rose against Probus in Raetia in a usurpation and had him killed. The often unreliable Historia Augusta is aware of both traditions, although it prefers the...
Dear Friends of ancient mythology!
I just discovered the thread on Commagene. This article about Zeus Kataibates fits well:
Syria, Cyrrhestica, Cyrrhus, Marcus Aurelius, AD 161-180
AE 23, 12.9g, 0°.
obv.: AVTO K M A[VPH] - ANTΩNINOC CEB
laureate bust r.
rev: [ΔIOC] KATEBATOV - KVPHCTΩN
Zeus Kataibates, in himation, std. l. on rocks, supports the right arm on his knee, holds thunderbolt in r. hand and resting with raised l. hand on long scepter; l. before him an eagle r.
Ref: SNG UK 1301, 660
Extremely rare, with attractive red, earthy patina
Kataibates (= descending) was an epiclesis of Zeus as the god of lightning (cf. Aeschyl. Prom. 358), to whom the places struck by lightning (Greek: elusia, enelusia, Latin: putealia, bidentalia) were consecrated (Poll. 9, 41). These were then surrounded by a fence or other enclosure and were considered sacred. There were cults for Zeus the...
A few years ago, one of the large coin magazines had an article on expanding your collecting interests and mentioned Wildman coins. I found the article interesting but kind of forgot about it until I ran across one on eBay. It had duel importance to me because it was also formerly part of the Eric Newman collection, a numismatist that I greatly admire. Side note: the Eric Newman biography "Truth Seeker" is well worth reading.
I grew up helping my grandfather with his collection. All of my early numismatic education came from him. His favorite coins were the "V" nickels. He talked frequently about the rare 1913 issue and told me stories about the "No Cents" issue. We would spend hours sorting coins and building Lincoln Cent sets that he gave to family members. He never purchased a coin even though it meant never finding his "No Cents" Liberty...
As an illegitimate son of Jean II, Jacques was skipped as a potential inheritor of the Kingdom of Cyprus in 1458, in favor of Charlotte, Jean's legitimate daughter.
Jacques, at that time Latin archbishop of Nicosia, refused to acknowledge her accession and in December of 1458 he left Cyprus to Egypt to secure an alliance with the Mamluks and gain the support of the Sultan of Egypt in his claim for the throne.
In September 1460, a Mamluk fleet under Jacques command reached Cyprus and most of Cyprus surrendered to him by the end of 1460. But the conflict continued between Charlotte and her husband Louis de Savoia who held Kyrenia on one hand and Jacques and the Mamluk mercenaries on the other until the autumn of 1464, when Charlotte renounced her claim and left for Italy.
During this period of de facto civil war, George Boustronios, the chronicler of Cyprus tells us that Jacques lacked funds so sorely that he had his troops scrap for copper fittings on private houses and public baths...
To my considerable regret, I've lately been too busy with personal negotium to post much — I'm never too busy to spend too much money on stuff I don't need, though. In that vein, I present my recentest acquisition, from last month's Roma auction:
Eucratides I Megas, c. 170-145BC: O: draped, cuirassed, diademed, helmeted bust right, bead-and-reel border / the Dioscuri mounted right, each holding lance and palm, ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΕΥΚΡΑΤΙΔΟΥ, monogram in right field. Seller's photo.
Absolutely impeccable style on this one, I feel — the portrait lacks the charming cragginess of some specimens but it's quite perfectly rendered to my eyes.
This will be a very short post because I think one would have to be rather brave, or foolhardy, to venture much about this fellow — for all his numismatic fame his biography is (to put it mildly) fairly obscure.
He was, we can say for certain, a powerful monarch of the Bactrians. His dates, as...
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