Show Us Your Ancient Coin Library Here: A Numismatic Literature Post

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Curtis, Jun 6, 2023.

  1. Curtis

    Curtis Well-Known Member

    It seems like it's been a long time since there were any posts on collections or accumulations or piles of ancient coin literature (books, auction catalogs, article offprints, periodicals, etc.). It would be great to see what kind of ancient coin books other people have recently bought, collected, and/or use as their essential references.

    Personally, I view my collections of ancients coins and ancient coin literature as inseparable. I'm not even sure any more if the coins are part of my library or the books are part of my coin collection.

    Here are some of my favorites.

    Roman Egypt, Alexandria.

    "Glamour shot" with some of my favorite books on the coins of Roman Egypt, Alexandria (Hadrian Drachm & Tetradrachm at bottom for scale):

    1 - Alexandrian Books Glamour Shot-ed.jpg


    Most of mine are for reference (especially books that aren't available digitally), but others are more in the category of "collectables." I've added a few more since taking the photos (most notably a Select Numismatic Bibliography inscribed by E.E. Clain-Stefanelli [1965]), but here are some volumes with author signatures/inscriptions and/or written correspondence:



    Sale Catalogs.

    I have one set of shelves dedicated to my ancient coin auction catalogs & fixed-price lists (incl. bibliographies). Unfortunately I couldn't quite get enough focus to read all the spines, but many wouldn't have spine labels anyway (a mostly-complete list on my catalog webpages):

    Dup shelf Auction Catalogs Bookshelf 254.jpg

    Numismatic Bookplates.

    I also keep track of my "numismatic bookplates" and other physical indicators of past ownership or book use. (I'm one of the few book collectors who loves ex-library volumes!) Here are most of my favorites:

    bookplates address labels correspondence collage 2600x1k.jpg

    Please share some ancient coin literature of any kind! Doesn't have to be as prepared as all that (my photos were taken for other purposes over the past year or two). Discuss a favorite book, show your most heavily used volume -- I'm sure we'll be interested to see!
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  3. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Well, my own numismatic library is threadbare by comparison, but here's a view of the single shelf it occupies:
    And we can look at each shelf individually. The bottom shelf:
    Key works here are a full set of Michael Mitchener's "Oriental Coins and Their Values" volumes (Ancient and Classical World, Non-Islamic States and Colonial Series, and World of Islam), the first three volumes of Roman Imperial Coinage, and Krause's catalogues of modern world coinage and paper money.

    The second shelf is, broadly, coins of Asia. The left side features Ancient Persia and includes the Sunrise Collection and key works on Parthian (Sellwood, Shore), Sasanian (Gobl), and Persis (van't Haaff). Next are some works on Islamic coins (including Album, and Plant's "Arabic Coins and How to Read Them"), Indian coins, Hendin's guide to Biblical coinage, Plant's invaluable "Greek, Semitic, and Asiatic Coins and How to Read Them". Finally there are books on Chinese and other "cash"-style coinages.

    The third shelf is mainly "classical" (Greek and Roman) ancient numismatics. There's a five-volume set of Sear (2 volumes Greek, 1 volume [4th edition] Roman, Greek Imperial, and Byzantine), Barclay Head's "Historia Nummorum", and Stevenson's very useful "Dictionary of Roman Coins." At the right are some more general books.

    The left of the fourth shelf features Fuld's catalogs of US Civil War tokens, a "Red Book" of US coins, a catalogue of post-WWI German notgeld tokens, and the most popular guidebook (in Italy) to Italian coins. The right side is yet more various books.

    Some interesting books included (not necessarily the most useful, just interesting for some reason):
    -"Tesoros del Gabinete Numismatico": A large-format catalogue of 100 selected coins, medals, and other numismatic objects from the collection of the National Archeological Museum of Spain. Features beautiful color photos of each item, with informative text (in Spanish). I bought this at the Museum in Madrid, and it is quite a satisfying souvenir.
    -"Coin-Collecting in Northern India, by Charles J. Rodgers, Honorary Numismatist to the Government of India". Published in Allahabad, 1894. Long since surpassed by more modern catalogs, but fascinating as a snapshot of the hobby at the time, and a relic of the British Raj.
    -"Counterfeit, Mis-struck and Unofficial U.S. Coins", Don Taxay. Lots of great stories here, including unauthorized emissions from the US Mint, important forgeries, and fascinating characters like C. Wyllys Betts (a Yale student who created several fantasy types of US Colonial coins that fooled some experts).
    -"Confessions of a Numismatic Fanatic: How to Get the Most out of Coin Collecting", Frank S. Robinson. The famous coin dealer shares lots of good advice, as well as plenty of stories from his collecting and selling career.

    Hope that's a useful account. If anyone wants to know more about one of the books shown, just ask.
  4. cmezner

    cmezner do ut des Supporter

  5. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    Mine is scattered in two locations—work and home—and completely disorganized, which is quite sad seeing as I am a librarian!
    svessien, Clavdivs and Tall Paul like this.
  6. GinoLR

    GinoLR Well-Known Member

    My own modest numismatic library

    For the biggest part I should post the photo of a hard drive full of pdf files. A lot of references are now available on the web. Seleucid coins, Roman Republican coins, Roman Imperial coins, Roman Provincial coins are searchable databases, and we may also browse the collection of ANS, British Museum, BNF, and many other collections in Vienna, Berlin, Munich... Of course there are also the archives from dealers and auctioneers like CNG or others, and searchable websites like Coin Archives (but I don't go beyond the paywall) and AC Search. Old versions of the British Museum Catalogue are downloadable through, and so on. A lot of articles are downloadable through Persee, JSTOR and

    Of course there are references that exist only on paper, like rare manuscripts which were rumored still existing in some remote abbey you had to travel to at your own risk through dark forests and face wolves and bandits. Howgego's Greek Imperial Countermarks is one of them. I also have some photocopied references from the time before the smartphone and the USB storage. Or interesting rarities such as Josette Elayi's Why I Became A Terrorist.

    @cmezner asked. In my small library there is one, The Caesars by the emperor Julian, a French translation by Spanheim commented with more than 300 illustrated ancient coins. Amsterdam (François l'Honoré) 1728. It's more a curiosity than an actual numismatic reference, there was no scientific spirit in numismatics back then, some of the illustrated "médailles" (that was the word for ancient coins) just... seem to not exist.


    One example is a (bronze) coin showing a bust of the Tyche of Arabia wearing mural crown and holding two children. Here is what Spanheim says about it (I translate in English) : "I will report here three beautiful and rare medals of Trajan about his glorious expeditions in Orient, that are in the King's cabinet. The first one, as we can see, represents a woman with towers on her head and two infants in her arms, symbolizing the two Arabias, Felix and Petraea. What is noteworthy is that the name of Trajan is inscribed in Greek all around, AYTOKPATΩP KAICAP TPAIANOC ΔAKIKOC, and below in Latin letters ARABIA, probably meaning that Trajan conquered her and made her a Roman province".

    hadrien arabia.jpg

    The problem is that such a coin does not exist. It is obviously an Hadrian provincial bronze coin most calalogues attribute to the Bostra mint (I think it is much more probably from the Petra mint which, unlike Bostra, was already active under Hadrian, and no specimen of this coin has ever been found near Bostra). And there is no Trajanic legend around the Tyche of Arabia.

    Spanheim said he saw this coin in the King's cabinet, which is now the BNF collection. So, let's go to the online BNF catalogue. They have 5 specimens of this Hadrianic bronze coin, and checking provenances I can see that three are from the collection of François Chandon de Briailles (1892-1956), one from the collection of Henri Seyrig (1895-1973), and only one has no provenance but an old accession number "Fonds Général 63". That's it ! That's the very specimen from Louis XIV's collection Spanheim examined. Taking notes with a goose feather he just forgot the Greek legend was on the other side of the coin and, thinking the imperial bust was Trajan, he deciphered correctly the beginning of the legend, but instead of AΔPI[...] he read ΔAKI[KOC]. This is probably how he forged that monster, illustrated in his book.

    Beg your pardon?... The question was "how to store antiquarian numismatic books"? Oh, yes, sorry... I just store them on the bookshelf, with the other ones.
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  7. cmezner

    cmezner do ut des Supporter

    That's really fascinating all you found out. I don't use mine either - they are written in Latin and so old that as a reference they might be outdated.

    Since they are very brittle I thought that maybe they should be stored in a special way.
    Curtis likes this.
  8. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    I have been told that, for older books that may be fragile, you should store them flat on the shelf instead of upright. Keeping books upright in the shelf puts strain on the spine, which may be okay for a recent book but can be too much for older, decaying, damaged books.
    cmezner and Curtis like this.
  9. Curtis

    Curtis Well-Known Member

    Great posts! I love that you can look at different personal libraries on roughly similar topics but each one has a multiple great texts not included in the others.

    I think I'll break this reply into a couple by topic...

    @Parthicus -- beautiful set of Eastern references, there are a bunch I'd love to add some day. The Mitchiner sounds fantastic!

    I'm curious: Have you noticed or checked if the hard copy of van't Haaff Persis is substantially similar to the draft CNG posted online?

    I've got Shore's Ten Dragons, but I'd really like to have Sellwood's Parthia and Gobl's Sassanian. As a compromise, I have Sellwood et al. Sassanian...but inscribed to Gobl! Of course, all that leaves me a bit reluctant to read it too much:

    Sellwood Gobl Sassanian Collage.jpg

    I love the unusual style of the Sellwood books -- the distinctive calligraphy/font and drawings!

    Plant's Arabic Coins... is also on my list. I have his Greek Coin Types. I got interested in Plant (1928-2020) when I noticed his coins for sale at Dix Noonan Webb & then Naville Numismatics (where I bought a handful) and realized he had died. (I made a blog post about his collection w/ a short bibliography.)
    svessien, Broucheion and sand like this.
  10. Curtis

    Curtis Well-Known Member

    @GinoLR -- That Spanheim is fantastic! I love that you were able to find the coin in question in the BnF from Louis XIV's collection.

    Howgego is one that I really value. Such a monumental work, and there still doesn't really seem to be any substitute for it. (But RPC Online now has many countermarks indexed and cross-referenced with Howgego: ; and there are some other scholars who have posted useful countermark references online, e.g., Werz, Ulrich ; Campana, Alberto ; Pangerl-Baker; R. Martini.)

    Those Meshorer books (the 1999 Samarian Coinage with Qedar) and the Sofaer Holy Land volumes are both on my list. I've got the 1991 Meshorer & Qedar, which has the full Samaria Hoard illustrated/described in detail, so I'd like to see how they compare. And most of the other ANS volumes in the Ancient Coins in North American Collections series; I still need Sofaer and Houghton (the big ones!).

    What you say about the references available online and/or in PDF now is very true. Because of that, no matter how many print copies of books or auction catalogs one owns, it's still the case that everyone's library is now 90% (or more) the same, since so much is publicly available (of course, the 10% includes a lot of the most important, like RIC, etc.). Especially counting all the articles/books on Academia, JSTOR, and similar places.

    Of course, there is also the good old fashioned brick-and-mortar library! Fortunately, my local university library has a great numismatics section. (Harlan Berk and Shanna Schmidt both went to school here; I know HJB donated a bunch of coins to the museum's collection, so some of the books may be theirs too.)

    I've been visiting more recently. There's more, but here are a couple of the shelves I been getting into, including the SNG's (Lockett, von Aulock, Levante), which I don't have:

    University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Classics Library (May 2023)
    Shelves Collage UIUC Library.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2023
  11. Curtis

    Curtis Well-Known Member

    I usually store my fragile and older (19th century) volumes flat. I think people do store them upright sometimes, especially if they're in good shape and you have other similarly sized books to stack them comfortable against on the shelf.

    But my favorite is to use a "clamshell" or "book box." (Partly because then you can safely stack them, otherwise flat books take up a lot of space.) There are archival ones made of non-acid boards or plastic. But I also just make DIY clamshells with an appropriate size box, adding some felt or sometimes a plastic sheet/bag (unsealed so it can "breathe").

    To customize I print copies of the title page, etc., and glue or tape them to the cover & spine.

    The one below isn't exactly antiquarian, but my BMC Corinth (1889) used to be G.F. Hill's (1867-1948) & then Hermann Lanz's (1910-1998), so I take special care of it.

    Nothing pretty, this is just a normal cardboard book box; the lid also doubles as a nice book stand; can stand upright on shelf if arranged properly:

    BMC Corinth Hill Lanz Triptych 25X1K.jpg

    I use these for old/fragile stuff, also certain thick folio types that are too heavy for their own weight, or anything I just want to be extra careful with (like the inscribed Sellwood Sassanian shown in a comment above).
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  12. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark all my best friends are dead Romans Dealer

    here's most of my library


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  13. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis

    My library is in a bit of a state of disarray at the moment. Ever since our son got here and my wife gave up her craft room to turn it into a nursery we have to split remaining shelf space, so most auction catalogues stay boxed up in the basement in storage but I do keep the more important references around. Crawford, RBW and HCRI get the most use but all are useful. Also represented are a few private printings and things I've picked up over the years. I'll also take a moment to mention Spring's wonderful book on Ancient Coin Auction Catalogues 1880-1980, highly recommended if you love catalogues!


    I also have this. Apparently almost 7000 files which even I find surprising. I keep it in dropbox but also have a couple of backups in safe places of snapshots of my entire digital "coin" data. This represents papers and other resources found on Jstor or Academia, scanned(usually manually, one picture at a time with a smartphone) at numismatic libraries like the ANA or ANS, or sometimes just requested directly from the author. Also some auction catalogues when I can find digital copies.

    And here's my only bookplate in my copy of Sydenham. Unfortunately I know nothing about the person who left it but I was very happy to find an Original 1950s blue Sydenham for $30 and even happier to find a bit of personalization in it
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2023
  14. sand

    sand Well-Known Member

    @Victor_Clark I like your RIC books.
    I like this thread. It's interesting to see, what books people have. I like books. A long time ago, I bought a Kindle electronic book reader, but I didn't like it much. I prefer paper books. However, for coins, there are some very helpful PDF books and PDF articles out there. For Byzantine coins, I have the Dumbarton Oaks books in PDF format, which have been very helpful. For ancient Greek early electrum coins, I have some very helpful PDF articles, the most helpful being the article "Excavations At Ephesus : The Archaic Artemisia" by David George Hogarth. And, there are very helpful auction archive web sites, where you can look at photos and descriptions of ancient coins sold at previous auctions, such as ACsearch, CNG Research, and CoinArchives. I use ACsearch often.
    Here's my numismatic library. On the 1st shelf, the left most book is almost invisible, because of shadows, and it has no title on the spine anyway. It is "Ancient Greek Bronze Coins : European Mints" by Lindgren. Also on the 1st shelf, the 2nd and 3rd books from the left are SNG Kayhan parts 1 and 2. Also on the 1st shelf, the thin orange book is "Early Greek Coins From The Collection Of Jonathan P. Rosen" by Waggoner. Also on the 1st shelf, the blue book with a globe at the top of the spine, is "Collecting Ancient Greek Coins" by Rynearson. Also on the 1st shelf, the 2 right most books are "Byzantine Coins" by Grierson and "Late Byzantine Coins" by Lianta. On the 3rd shelf, the gray book is "Ancient Jewish Coinage : Volume 1" by Meshorer, the 3rd book from the right is "Coins Of The Crusader States" 2nd edition by Malloy, Preston, and Seltman, the 2nd book from the right is "English Coinage" by Sutherland, and the right most book is "Coins Of England And The United Kingdom" the 1998 edition by Spink. On the 4th shelf, the thin red book is "Byzantine Coins" by Harlan J. Berk, which is a December 7, 1989 Berk auction catalog with a nice little introduction to Byzantine coins at the beginning. Also on the 4th shelf, the blue book to the right of the thin red book, is "Coinage Of The Byzantine Empire" by Goodacre, and the yellow book with yellow tape is "The Coin Atlas" by Cribb, Cook, and Carradice.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2023
  15. sand

    sand Well-Known Member

    P.S. : In my 2nd shelf photo, in my previous post above, I didn't notice, that my favorite Sayles book, "Ancient Coin Collecting VI", was hidden behind the book "Historia Numorum Italy". Here's a new photo, from a different angle, which shows it.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2023
  16. akeady

    akeady Well-Known Member

    Interesting to see books without the dust jackets - they look better!
    My books are all over the house and spreading - I'm working from home today while waiting on DHL to deliver some more from the last LAC auction.

    I ran around and took some photos!
    Mostly Roman Republican, with some random ones and a nice Alberto Zecchi cabinet:
    More RR, Byzantine, Greek and other (Hiberno-Norse):
    ANS journals, some random Roman including Harl:
    Some that were too tall for other shelves - ICC, HNI, etc.:
    Krause and some books on older things:
    Hoover's HGC and some other things:
    Red Banti, plus some NC:
    Green Banti, HCRI, a couple of other things:
    Modern, Celtic, numismatic biographical dictionary, etc.:
    Some festschrifts:
    Some more, plus some SNGs:
    Spring, Testimonia Numaria, Grueber & Admiral Smyth:
    Greek - Sear, Historia Nummorum, GIC, Pozzi, Lindgren (finally got Lindgren I in Jan.!):
    BMCRE, Sear:
    Pegasi and a couple of others:
    Koinon & NSI Occasional Papers:
    Some random things, including a couple of duplicates:

    I have a lot of catalogues, some of which fell off a shelf when I went to photograph them. Here they are, stacked up again!
    most of the CGB stack:

    I'll spare people the rest of the mess :D

    Forgot - RSC, Varbanov, etc.:

    Last edited: Jun 8, 2023
  17. GinoLR

    GinoLR Well-Known Member

    It is true that the preservation of older books may always be a problem. When books are just stored on a bookshelf and stay there, being rarely taken by readers, they can stay intact for centuries. That's why there are still a few manuscripts dating back to Constantius II (for ex. the Codex Vaticanus, a 4th c. manuscript Greek bible on parchment of unknown provenance, which is kept in the Vatican Library since the 15th c.). This book has always been available for readers in some library, not like the Dead Sea Scrolls or even much older papyrus scrolls like some Egyptian Books of the Dead which have been well-preserved in tombs during more than 3000 years and are archaeological discoveries.

    I note that in late Antiquity and early Middle Ages, books were not stored upright but flat on the shelf. Here is a sarcophagus relief from Ostia, c. 300 AD, showing a physician reading a scroll taken from his own bookshelf:

    physician c 300.jpg
    This is how scrolls were stored in Antiquity. They also had portable "capsae", like hat boxes, to carry a dozen scrolls where they were needed.

    When they switched to the codex format in the 4th c. they just stored the books flat on the shelf :

    galla placidia maus codex amiatinus.jpg
    Left : the 4 Gospels in codex format, in a bookcase. Mosaic c. 450 AD in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna.
    Right : Ezra writing the Bible. Codex Amiatinus, England, c. 700 AD.
    Unlike the Roman physician's bookcase, these two have triangular pediments. The triangular pediment means "sacred". It is found on temple facades, sarcophagi, tombstones, everything that was sacred. These bookcases contain the Gospels, or the Old Testament books, all sacred books.

    In the 1400s - early 1500s there were many more manuscript books available, and early printed books started to flood Europe. Libraries and bookcases became a mess, books were stored flat on the shelf as before, but also standing upright, when they were not just left on the floor or piled in chests.

    1400 1500.jpg

    I have some old books at home, from the 16th to the 18th c. In Latin, in French, in Greek. Some are from ancestors, some others I acquired many years ago. They have very different sizes, and because I wanted them stored together, it's a mess, just like a 15th c. private library.


    The oldest one is Hesiod and other rare Greek poets (Theognis, Orpheus, Phocylides, the Sibyl, etc.), all in Greek, printed in Florence in 1540 (but the binding is 18th c.). Another one is Macrobius, in Latin, printed in Lyons in 1550.


    There are many others. My favourite one is an atlas, dozens of maps of the world in the 1780s. There is no year printed on the title page, it predates the French Revolution because France is divided in "généralités", but it already mentions the United States of America. This country has changed a lot since...


    "Ft (Fort) Chicagou" for example ! :happy:
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  18. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    My ancient coin library.


    Most, but not all of my whole library. It's 95% U.S. coins, medals and tokens.

    AA Library 2.jpg
  19. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    Happy to see so many book lovers!
    Here are most of mine. I don’t keep a lot of auction catalogs, they take too much space I think.

    IMG_0986.jpeg IMG_0985.jpeg IMG_0987.jpeg
  20. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    Delighted to see Koinon I-IV AND Potamikon! If I could give them to you for free I would.
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  21. akeady

    akeady Well-Known Member

    You mentioned a special on the Potamikon book, so I nipped in and ordered it!

    A few more arrived today :D Books are as nearly as much an addiction as the coins...


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