Does anyone actually use RIC?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by savitale, Jan 17, 2022.

  1. savitale

    savitale Well-Known Member

    Every time I see a set of Roman Imperial Coinage for sale I think, "I should buy that". Then after a few minutes deliberation I remind myself that resources like OCRE, acsearch, and Wildwinds contain the same information, are likely more up to date, and are probably more useful thanks to modern photography. So I keep the $700+ in my pocket. What do you do?
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  3. Inspector43

    Inspector43 Collecting Since 1948 Supporter

    I don't buy coins for my collection other than uncleaned. When it comes to attribution, I use Wildwinds and RIC.
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  4. Jay GT4

    Jay GT4 Well-Known Member

    I use my RIC II (Vespasian-Domitian) almost every day. It is invaluable for confirming references. Buy the volume(s) you would use the most.
    Orfew, benhur767, furryfrog02 and 2 others like this.
  5. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark all my best friends are dead Romans Dealer

    online resources are great if you just want a catalogue number...which is kind of funny if you do not actually have the book. Most of the RIC volumes contain a lot of information- some of them are numismatic history books.
  6. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I do use RIC and have all 10 volumes, but not the updated volumes (yet). The online resources -- particularly acsearch and wildwinds -- are full of errors.

    FOR THE MONEY, the best Roman coin catalog is Sear. Next best for the money is BMCRE.
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  7. savitale

    savitale Well-Known Member

    I guess my follow-up question is: How is the physical copy of RIC II superior to, for example, OCRE which is free?
  8. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter


    Tons of errors that get repeated. One dealer that is very accessible online lists it as RIC X, people look up their coin and repeat the error, so on and so forth. I have seen a few coin types with dozens of incorrect attributions probably occuring that way, since they are commonly attributed to the same incorrect attribution.

    I have the RIC but don't use it much since I am not a roman imperial collector per se, but whatever series you collect you should own the prime references if possible.
  9. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    I use Sear and van Meter, and what I can find online. For specific coin types I have other books, e.g. the book by Hill. I don't have many, I have trouble finding good sources for variants, or coins of which there are no or just a few examples online. Sometimes sellers of the latter coins use different references, which makes it impossible for me to use.

    Perhaps it's a silly question, perhaps it's due to my location, but I have trouble finding RIC books online (google search...). I keep ending up with the same West-European orientated online stores (darn you cookies!!) and out of stock messages. Can anyone help me with that? Are these still being printed and offered? Or available as second hand books only? Same goes for the BMCRE volumes...
  10. Jay GT4

    Jay GT4 Well-Known Member

    I've never had reason to use OCRE so can't say. Sorry.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2022
  11. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    I don't own any physical reference books besides "Byzantine Coins" by P.D. Whitting. I would love to have a nice big reference library but space and more importantly monetary constraints make it so that I am consigned to using online resources.

    I would love to read through the actual books but unfortunately that's not possible. As for the catalogue number; for me, it is more of using it as a specific identification of the coin. I don't "really" care about the catalogue number. I care more that I can use that catalogue number as a proper id for coins that are the same. I can google that RIC and come up with a bunch of other examples, down to mintmarks and such. If that makes sense?
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  12. Aleph

    Aleph Well-Known Member

    Aside from the satisfaction to hold a book in your hands, the books provide context, related issues, and commentary. Ocre is great but it is just the bare bones. It is nice to see more photos on OCRE, but the quality varies. Just remember that OCRE is only as good as the book. For flavians and Hadrian, the catalog is great. For a lot of eras where RIC has not been updated, you should either look for a specialist study, e.g., something like MIR or something more narrow, or if your interest is not that deep, use Sear.

    As to whether anybody actually uses RIC, it highly depends on era! Again Flavians, RIC is great; things like Severans, not so much.
  13. Fugio1

    Fugio1 Supporter! Supporter

    I use RIC VI by Sutherland and Carson extensively (Diocletian's reform to the death of Maximinus). I know of no better general reference than this that covers the coins of this period. Its very readable and has an extensive historical introduction, plus introductions to each mint (its organized by mint). Maybe it's just because I am particularly interested in this time period, but I think this is the best of the RIC volumes. It is easy to follow, well organized allowing me to find things I'm looking for, and for a reference that was published more than 55 years ago, it's relatively complete and up to date.
  14. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    One other aspect about books is another reason I buy them. Numismatic research and publication takes lots of money. Books are one of the primary sources of income for this research. As such, I feel I am contributing to further research by buying their book, building for future generations if you will.
  15. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    Ditto Victor and Fugio. The general introduction and introductions to each mint are full of great info still too often neglected. I put together a full set for my university library, and then I’ve bought a couple of individual volumes from my personal use. I’m still keeping a lookout for a cheap volume six. Most collectors don’t really need the whole set, at least not if they specialize in a period.
    philologus_1 and Oldhoopster like this.
  16. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    I have all of RIC and use it every day (I'm retired and do lots of coin research for fun). If you only want the ID number of a coin, you can probably find it on-line somewhere. But if you want to know what types were issued at the same time, which coins preceded it, which followed, and the related history and probable reasons for the issue and choices of types, RIC is a one-stop shop. (Actually, BMC volumes 4 through 6 are better than the corresponding volumes of RIC. They are far better illustrated and more up-to-date. However, they stop at AD 238.)

    If you collect coins you probably appreciate the value of assembling a collection. I feel that way about assembling a collection of reference works. You can feel good about owning a nice coin. Me too. But I can also feel good about having important books in a good reference library. Does that mean I have two collections--coins and books about them? I feel I have one numismatic collection in which the books are an important part which enriches my experiences with the coins.

    Many of you know I write webpages on ancient coins:
    I couldn't do that without owning reference works like RIC.
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  17. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

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  18. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    A caveat to consider. When taking reference numbers from a source other than the reference itself, it can be difficult to know what criteria the author of the original reference used to distinguish one number from another. In one case, a very minor difference may result in different numbers and in another, significant varieties may be subsumed under a single number. In the case of collection catalogues such as the BM series, there may be a run of virtually identical duplicates, each given a separate number, while important types may be missing altogether. In addition, there is always the possibility that second-hand references simply have it wrong. A listing scraped from eBay, for example, is only as accurate as the eBayer who originally listed the item.
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  19. maridvnvm

    maridvnvm Well-Known Member

    I will provide my own answer which is similar but also different to those above.

    I own a full set of RIC use them regularly depending on the coin that I am dealing with.

    I agree with all the above comments around not just using RIC to obtain a reference. It gives a chronology, placing the coin within a dated issue allowing you to see what else was produced within the same issue and adjacent issues for example. Consider a coin from Trier minted under Constantine the Great. You can place the particular coin with particular mintmarks within the entire series of similar coins differentiated primarily by their mintmarks but you can also see how size and weight have changed over the adjacent issues too. This might not be of interest to everyone but if you have a particular interest in the series then it may be very interesting.

    Not all volumes of RIC have the same degree of integrity of data.

    I collect coins of Probus and particularly from Lugdunum. RIC V covers this but I do not use it in the same way as I do for other volumes of RIC. It is in my opinion next to useless with regards to chronology and also has other issues as to determining whether a coin exists or doesn't exist and on top of this there are huge numbers of errors. Whilst I do allocate a RIC reference to all my Probus coins they do not act as the primary reference. For Probus coins of Lugdunum I use Bastien as the primary reference and chronology etc.

    I also collect the eastern coinage of Septimius Severus. Here I use a combination of RIC and BMCRE as the primary references with BMCRE being ahead of RIC.

    I do not actively use OCRE but have dipped into it over the years. I don't use it enough to have a strong opinion but the few times I have used it for my specialist areas there are errors or they have brought forward the same issues that exist in RIC.

    For Probus coinage of Lugdunum I find OCRE almost useless. For many entries the coins in the database are the wrong coins e.g. coins of Diolcetian. For others the attribution at source is incorrect e.g. a museum has incorrectly attributed a coin from Rome to the mint of Lugdunum where the coins as the same type. Many other entries are simply incorrect. From spending 10 minutes looking at OCRE I simply couldn't use it due to the high number of errors inherited from RIC but also inherited from the incorrect attributions.

    Having looked at OCRE for the eastern issues of Septimius Severus it would appear to be in a better place that Probus but still brings forward historic problems of coins that have been mis-attributed primarily by the museums. I can give examples if that helps. As it stands I would not choose to use OCRE in preference to RIC or BMCRE.
  20. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Volumes VI, VII, VIII, IX and X are really useful.
    sand likes this.
  21. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    Try Under "Title" I put Roman Imperial Coinage in quotation marks and got these results.
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