Byzantine book review

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Valentinian, May 23, 2020.

  1. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    I was asked to recommend a book or books on Byzantine coins. He wrote, "I have been OK using the internet but book(s) are easier on the eye."

    I have posted a web-page with resources, including links to web pages, reviews of books, and a list of auction-sale catalogs.

    Let's use this thread to post reviews of books related to Byzantine coins.
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  3. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    Thanks! I always appreciate more references!
  4. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    I would generally agree with your page sir. I own most save for the very esoteric ones like the Italy volumes. If you have Sear and DOC you are very comprehensive. Byzantine coins are more concise than Roman and therefor some could achievable collect them all.
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
    Broucheion likes this.
  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Quoting Warren's page:

    Whitting, P. D. Byzantine Coins. 1973. In the "World of Numismatics" series. Hardcover. 311 pages. Beautifully printed. 457 enlarged photographs of sides of coins within (usually both sides in two photos, but sometimes only one side, and many in color). Much scholarly information, but directed toward people with a deep interest but not a lot of previous knowledge. Very entertaining and informative. You will learn what makes Byzantine coins interesting. A fun read. Highly recommended.
    This is an excellent book on Byzantine coins, This would be my top or second-favorite book (Grierson is the other) for general knowledge about Byzantine coins. It is more lively and entertaining than Grierson and the enlarged photos are more fun to look at, but the text is less systematic and thorough. I love this book and would recommend it right after Sear as a book for collectors. I think he wrote this book because he loved how interesting Byzantine coins are and it shows. As I write Amazon has one "like new" for $35 plus shipping and at that price it is an excellent deal. Buy it!

    I agree so much here that I looked just now and Amazon has good used for $36 and more well used for $25. I really think that anyone remotely interested in coins of this period should have bought one of these before reading this far in the post. These are probably cheap because many were once in Libraries that deaccessioned theirs because no one was checking them out. If you are too good to buy a used book, suffer.
  6. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    I agree. It has always been the most available of the three from the series for some reason. I have bought extra copies cheap over the years simply to give to YNs. Of course, I also have a brand new extra copy of Grierson sitting in my den because someone was selling it too cheap.
  7. EWC3

    EWC3 (mood: stubborn)

    Yes. The main problem about this is next to nobody checks out most books any more, and even taking them off the shelves for reference seems to be getting unusual. Its very rare I go to a shelf and the book I want is not there. Nice for me, but on that logic - libraries probably will not last much longer.

    I got familiar with Islamic coins back in the 1970’s from the complete set of 11 BM volumes in my local reference library. Many years later I came across a guy who seemed to own said volumes himself. Got them very cheap. So I went to the library and they were indeed gone. I asked to see the Chief Librarian, and he led me to a dark corner and said they ‘de-accessioned them because no one was checking them out’. Above his head I could see Raverity’s victorian translation of medieval Afghan verse, still on the shelf and looking kind of dusty, and so I pointed to it. He conceded my criticism, and then admitted he predecessor in the job was picking stuff to sell off that people were likely to pay for. Which logically one would assume were the ones people might actually want to see in the library………

    Rob T

    PS Whitting was an engaging speaker, but was on a bit of a mission to get people to collect photographs of coins. That went down like a lead balloon at my society as I recall
    svessien likes this.
  8. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    This was very useful, thank you for the efforts you make to share your knowledge, @Valentinian
    Do any of you know if «Coinage and money in the Byzantine Empire» by Hendy is a useful book to have?
  9. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

  10. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    My advanced page says

    "Coinage and Money in the Byzantine Empire, 1081-1261 by Michael F. Hendy, published by Dumbarton Oaks. A monumental early scholarly study, now largely superseded by his "Volume 4" of DO above. This book is for very advanced specialists."

    It has the photos referenced by Sear for that time period (Sear was published before DO IV came out). If there were to be a third edition of Sear, it would certainly reference DO instead.
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
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  11. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Libraries are not just about books anymore. They are all into information services. They have computers for use by people who do not have them. They have WiFi for people who do but want a place to study away from their homes. They provide training on how to use things. Ours has run a class on locksmithing and making costume chain mail shirts among other things. They have Makerspaces with 3D printers, sewing machines, power and hand tools etc. They have online books to check out to your e-reader. Most are over the period when they had a lot of movies on tape or disc but some still have entertainment to borrow. Remember that most libraries are free to users of their town or school so they don't have to make a profit. They just have to adapt to the new way. Our local public library is checking out books. You go online and reserve what you want. They tell you when to come and they place your book on a table outdoors. No book is due until they reopen after the Covid break so they are running out of popular titles. I wonder how many books will be returned even then but the lifespan of a circulating book is not that great anyway so I doubt they care all that much. Libraries are not just about books anymore. They are all about what their people need to learn in this day and age.
    EWC3, Valentinian, DonnaML and 2 others like this.
  12. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    Our local library was thriving until everything shut down. Everything ranging from preschool story time to highschool study sessions. They had job placement seminars, 3d printing capabilities, all kinds of other “skills” classes, as well as movie and book check outs. All for free. The public library is an amazing place and I hope their doors never close permantly.
  13. BenSi

    BenSi Supporter! Supporter

    One missing.

    De Munzen Des Byzantinischen Reiches 491- 1453 by Andreas Urs Sommer -Interesting catalog but written in German and not all issues but most are included, however the prices in Euro and are far more accurate than Sears catalog written decades before. Most European dealers use this as commonly as Sear.

    It is the genesis of the knowledge of the coin reform, in DOC IV Hendy sites his own book for details, it does include hoard information in detail, however as stated above most of its most of information is rewritten and updated in DOC IV and that was published 30 years later.
  14. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

  15. EWC3

    EWC3 (mood: stubborn)

    A valid point Doug. I should explain the incident I cited happened about 2004. At that time the web was a lot smaller. The sort of overview I got from the BM catalogues in the 1970’s could be bettered by going to zeno on the web today. (although interesting to note - as I understand it - that is a private initiative in the English language by that great Russian guy Vladimir Belyaev).

    Further – it sounds like you have a great local library. I find they vary a lot depending entirely on the particular attitude of the staff. And many of them are great.

    However, what you can get off the web is still behind what we find in books. Especially things from the independent minded amateurs of previous generations. For instance – we recently touched on the Yuan Feng issues put out under Wang An Shih in the latter part of the 11th century. Well, the wiki page on him is not bad, but does not really bring out how big a figure he really was. A sort of cross between Octavian and Voltaire…..

    As one part of his policy, to boost markets and thus spread wealth, he pushed coin production to five billion cash per year. I do not think that was matched anywhere before the US did it in the 20th century

    My knowledge of him came from a book written in the 1930’s - as I recall by some American missionary fellow. A few years back I was delighted to discover a local library had a copy so I went to look at it a second time. But they had locked it away in the disposals cabinet. According to a policy - because it had not been checked out for 10 years. I fear that policy seems to lock us into some kind of downward spiral.

    Rob T
  16. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Curious: Is there more on Wang An Shih available online in Chinese than in English? This thread has recommended several books in languages I do not read. Some books (Cohen comes to mind) can be used by people who do not read the language but who have picked up a few words or have a basis in Latin. I do not buy books or visit websites in languages I do not read but that does not mean that the scholarship is not there. I am not much of a scholar. A college professor friend was interested in Roman Provincials from the reason and taught herself Bulgarian because there were several books then that had been published in that language. A college professor of mine was 4F in WWII so he taught the school's Spanish classes when that entire staff had been drafted even though he had no background in the subject on day one. He read Greek, Latin, Egyptian and a couple of the cuneiform languages so picking up Spanish was not a big thing. The world of books and the WWW expands considerably for those who read a dozen languages. I had trouble with Greek and gave up on hieroglyphics.
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  17. catadc

    catadc Well-Known Member

    I got the "Byzantine coins" of P.D. Withing in French, as an ex-public French library book (Bibliotheque des Vosges), because it was cheaper than the EN version (30 EUR shipped). And because both EN and FR are foreign languages for me, and a little diversity is not bad.
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  18. EWC3

    EWC3 (mood: stubborn)

    Sure Doug – a Chinese reader can read the Official History of the Sung dynasty, published in 1346 – all 486 chapters. I think no English translation exists of this, and no doubt a great deal of other material.

    I am a hopeless linguist myself, so other may think me biased, but the ability to learn foreign languages seems to be a genetic thing, some people are born that way - some are not. Reading original text seems vital to me, and even better in the original language. However, most of us do not read Chinese and never will, so its important that we get and rely upon translators who properly understand what they are translating. That is clearly far from always the case.

    My little book on Wang Mang in part was written to specifically address that issue. Homer Dubbs for instance did a great service in translation say the Chinese “Food and Money” but his footnotes to the text sometimes seem absurd (and would in any language). Life is complicated, and we must do the best we can on what we have.

    Our amateur Victorian forebears translated huge amounts of text out of Sanskrit and Arabic, and there were important somewhat independent translations of Chinese texts by both old time French and US guys. (Maverick in the US did some great work back in the day – long since I corresponded with his son trying try figure out the background to his particular brand of independent translation)

    Translation efforts seem to me to have nearly stopped in Universities today – I do not seem to see much new translation work going on.

    Rob T
  19. Voulgaroktonou

    Voulgaroktonou Well-Known Member

    Our research library has been acquiring books for ca. 150 years and many of our oldest ones remain vitally important for Classical scholarship. The discipline itself remains overwhelmingly print-based, although because we have been closed over the last 2 months, we have been purchasing more electronic books and journals so our faculty and graduate students can continue their research from home. Still, I imagine that of the universe of research materials we acquire, no more than perhaps 10% of them can be purchased in digital format. So I guess that makes me a fossil in the trend libraries are today moving. We still buy books. I select the ones we purchase and that comes to 4-5,000 books yearly. But I will be buying more electronic editions than I have before, but I will also buy the print.
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