How to Arrange a Greek Coin Collection?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by gsimonel, Jul 6, 2020.

  1. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    I have recently won a few lots of Greek bronzes. I was planning to ID them, put them in flips and then sell them, but--dang it--I've gotten hooked, and now I will probably keep most of them.

    I'm curious how people who collect Greek coins arrange their collections. How do you order them? With Roman coins it's pretty easy--by Emperor or just Chronologically are both doable and pretty straightforward. But neither approach works with Greeks, so I assume auction companies use some sort of geographical approach. Is there a common, accepted arrangement? Can someone enlighten me?
    Pavlos likes this.
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  3. paddyman98

    paddyman98 Let me burst your bubble! Supporter

    They should be arranged alphabetically..

    From Alpha to Omega ;)
  4. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    I normally sort my Greek coins by King, and if it is a civic issue by City. I sort the kings then by Kingdom and the kings in the kingdom I then sort by time period (the oldest first). The cities I do not really arrange specifically, just the cities from the same region placed together.
    However, if the city or king is not really in my collection focus I sort it by region (for example Cilicia or Cappadocia).
    Kind of complicated but it works for me.

    When you look at Auction houses they indeed arrange it by geographical region. Starting by Massalia, Magna Graecia, Thrace, Illyria, Epeiros, Thessaly, Central Greece etc. with Syria and Africa being the last and then the oriental Greek coin start.
    DonnaML and NewStyleKing like this.
  5. akeady

    akeady Well-Known Member

    The standard approach is to follow Barclay Head's example in Historia Nummorum and start with Spain and work clockwise around the Mediterranean.

  6. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    The idea of Geographical arrangement dates back to an 8 volume book by Eckhel in 1792. Head is easier to follow than the Latin of Eckhel but Wildwinds is easier yet.
    While regions are listed by geography, cities within the regions are alphabetical. Laying out the cities in geographic order would be (a) complicated and (b) impossible since the exact location of a few cities is not certain. Alphabetical listing of all coins together also has a problem since more than a few places changed their names during the coin issuing period. Whatever method you choose will be 'wrong' in some way. I use the Wildwinds list since I prefer to keep, for example, all coins of Sicily together but I admit I wish there were ways to avoid learning which region contained which towns.

    Alphabetical has two advantages that I can see. (1) Computers can sort alphabetical lists. (2) It places all the towns with the same name together so you can compare and decide which of the 'Antioch' options you have. Few people in this computer age do the memory work required to avoid having to look things up in a resource book or site.
  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    The Wildwinds list takes 55 pages to print out. That is quite a checklist.
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  8. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    I just arrange mine by years like Romans and Medievals. Much easier for me.
  9. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ..i do mine mostly by time and place...that's how i keep up with them anyway..
  10. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I arrange my entire ancient collection in chronological order. Of course at first they are all Greek coins starting with an Aigina Turtle, circa 500 BC and then moving on from there. At about 200 BC the first Roman coins start showing up, but the two, Greek and Roman continue to be mixed, again keeping everything chronological, (including the Parthian and later Sassanian coins in the mix). Gradually the Greek coins become Greek Imperial or Roman Provincials. By about 150 AD it is almost an equal mix of the two, Roman Imperial and Roman provincials, and continues as such until, the great coinage reforms of Diocletian and they stay that way until the coinage reforms of Anastasias and morphing into Byzantine where my Ancients collection fades off into my Medieval, circa 800-900 AD or so. I prefer this, I suppose, from my teaching of history, where keeping things in chronological order gave me a temporal perspective that made it easy for me to see the individual as part of a broader pattern.
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  11. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    I have always semi-hated the geographical organization of "Greek" coins. Its somewhat understandable, yet I collect a lot of oddball things. Colchis is placed weird in the order. Greek geography is tough, being mainly city-states, and I never know where to look really. I wished they used computers better in auctions and had "greek" lots sortable alphabetically and geographically. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a coin sold a couple of months after the fact, a coin I would have bid on but did not see it in the auction.

    Don't even get me started on Cleopatra VII coins. Can we simply DECIDE what group her coins fall in, and ignore the historical niceties, "well this one is Greek because of X, while this one is provincial, while THIS one is Imperial". Impossible to find her stinking coins many times.
  12. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    I use the order of Sear's Greek Coins and Their Values, which is primarily geographic, left to right on a map, as far as possible. Of course, Sear is far from complete, but it always has something reasonably close to whatever Greek coin you have, so if a coin type is missing from Sear I just pick a place where it would go and add a suffix: 5565a is a coin that belongs after 5565. On my flip inserts at the top I put that number with the regular coin identification. Then any given coin is easy to find in my "Greek" coin box in the bank.

    Doug is right.

    Eventually, you get to know the geographic order of the regions. This is the same order most firms use in their sales, so it is time-tested by professionals. If you specialize in some way that causes you to want to use some other order for filing Greek coins, go ahead. But, the geographic method has been found useful for over two hundred years. Sear's two-volume series gives the order and a sequence of numbers which are easy to use.
  13. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    I basically go by geography except for my specialty collection of man-faced bulls. I also divide by metal type but since the vast majority are bronze that just means I have a small tray of silver and gold.

    Incidentally, I just switched back to clear coin flips (from trays) for my Greek bronzes. I want the tags with each coin and an easy flipping experience.
  14. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    That's why I use the chronological presentation. Cleopatra vii resides between her father, Ptolemy Auletes, and her husband Mark Antony, right where she belongs in my collection as well as in real life, regardless of whatever she thought of her ethnicity (if she thought about it at all).
  15. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    The geographic approach is certainly much more difficult when Roman influence becomes a factor. I have a few coins that are in the grey area between Greek and true Roman Provincial, but I keep them with my Greek coinage because I don’t really have a Provincial collection.
  16. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Eh, that is the reason why provincials follow Greek listing order. I would keep them the same as Greek do too. :)
    Nicholas Molinari likes this.
  17. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    I'd be hardwired to start with geography as the main criterion. There are some serious affinities between French feudal (more or less my center of gravity) and Greek. Especially with the shared element of hyper-regionalism, where issuing authorities are concerned, both before and after the Alexandrian empire. French references for the feudal series have always been set up that way. Because, ...well, what else can you do? Any given mint is going to have issues covering several centuries. To arrange them chronologically only adds to the already evident level of chaos.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2020
  18. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    This is the best reason I can think of, too. There are many Greek coins that are hard to date with certainty closer than a century so date arrangements might get pretty random.
    +VGO.DVCKS and Roman Collector like this.
  19. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Right, and besides that, any given town has issues ranging over several centuries. Would you really want an example from Athens, c. 5th c. BCE, to be next to one from somewhere, I don't know, in Thrace or Macedonia? Kind of Athenians, followed by hillbillies. With the same thing repeated a century, or three later?
  20. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    Some catalogues such as BMC make no distinction between Greek and Provincial. If you give every coin its own accession number, you can file them away in order by that number and use a spread sheet to arrange or rearrange the big picture any way and every way you like.
    dougsmit likes this.
  21. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I wish more beginning collectors would realize the benefits of selecting a way of filing their coins that would still work for them when their collection grows from 30 to 3000. It is a lot easier to plan ahead than it is to key in thousands of coins again. I have a system that works for me. That is all that matters. Being able to sort according to any of several fields is a great advantage of computers.
    Sorting every way you like and several ways you have not yet considered will seem more important to some younger people in fifty years than it does now.
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