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Past Meetings - September 2003

Numismatic Literature & Reference Materials for Collectors

Presented to the Orange County Ancient Coin Club

September 13, 2003

Chris Hoelzle
Ebay seller: coin-slave
949-249-3947 FAX

Once you have been bitten by the “Coin Collecting Bug”, you'll find yourself wanting to learn more and more about numismatics. People are amazed to find the wealth of information available to help them with their new obsession.

Books about coin collecting date back to the 1500's. Such ancient manuscripts are still on the market for purchase - at a steep price, of course.

Following is a list of books and materials to assist you on your quest for more numismatic knowledge. The literature and reference materials I am presenting here will help you in your collecting of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Oriental coins.

I am listing the books as Entry Level, Reference Level or Advanced Level (in depth study).

I STRONGLY recommend the book by Dennis Kroh, Ancient Coin Reference Reviews. It sells for $25.00 and will save you many times that amount in buying books that just don't do the job you want to accomplish. You know the phrase “buy the book before you buy the coin.” Well; in this case, it is “buy the book before you buy the book”!

General Ancient Coins

Klawans, Handbook of Ancient Greek and Roman Coins. Incorporates an abbreviation of his more extensive works on Greek and Roman Coins. Inexpensive at $15.00. Entry.

Sayles, Ancient Coin Collecting 6 volumes plus Classical Deception. Pick an area, and one of the books will cover it. He does a very good job in examining the general coins and history of the area, be it Roman or Greek or Counterfeit Detection. List at $25.00. Generally available at about $18.00 per book.


Sear, The Emperors of Rome and Byzantium. Great, flip chart format with a thumbnail description of each Emperor. Out of print. $35.00 if you can find a copy. Entry.

Van Meter, The Handbook of Roman Imperial Coins. The poor man's RIC. Much more extensive than Klawans, less expensive than Sear. Only $35 in card cover, $100 in hard cover (Only 250 produced!). Reference.

Sear, Roman Coins and their Values. Covers all Roman Republican and Imperial Coins. Get the 1988 Edition - others have different numbering of the coins! Out of Print. Moderate $65.00 if you can find it. Until the Millennium series is complete, this is still THE book on the series. Reference.

Sear, Roman Coins and their Values The Millennium Edition Volume I & II. Takes you through AD 235. More in-depth than the previous one volume work. It will be three volumes when complete. Each volume is about $85.00. Reference.

Seaby, Roman Silver Coins. Five Volumes. If you only collect silver coins, this is the ideal set. Out of print. Volume I is important and sometimes goes for up to $70.00. Most of the other volumes are about $30.00 each. Much more detail than Roman Coins and their values. Reference.

Vagi, Coinage and History of the Roman Empire - Two Volumes. David writes much more about history in these volumes than does Sear. One whole volume is on history; the other is on the coins. He delivers new theories that shatter some old beliefs of coinage in the Augustan era. Pricing in 3 grades on the coins. Great Book. With references to RIC. About $120.00 Reference.

RIC - The Roman Imperial Coinage. This is the BIG 10 Volume set. If you do Roman Coins, and you want definitive attributions, this is the sourcebook. (There are still a few Roman Coins not included here, but they are scarce) Written mostly in the 1920's. The most recent volume came out in 1994. Are there errors and omissions? Yes, but it is still the best attribution reference for Roman Coins. Many updates and editions - Be Careful! I recommend only the most recent editions. $1200 to $1500 for a complete set. When Volume V was out of print, copies went for $500 for it alone. Now it can be had new for $250. Advanced.

Hunter - Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet. There was a real competition going on. RIC came out and Hunter could not be outdone, neither could the British Museum. These sets are costly and have little to add over the RIC set. Advanced.

Roman Imperial - Sometimes known as Greek Imperial

Sear, Greek Imperial Coins and their Values. A standard work in the area. About $80.00. Reference.

Roman Republican

Yes, you will find these coins in Sear, Sear Millennium, RIC and Roman Silver Coins Volume I, but for further information you may need the following. You will find the quick reference chart in RSC Volume I tremendously helpful, and there are Crawford reference numbers listed.

Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage. THE modern work on the area. He includes a concordance to Sydenham and Babelon. Listings include reference to BMC Roman Republican numbering. Americans prefer Crawford. Plates are good. If you can afford the big bucks, buy the original, not the reprint, which has much better plates. The reprint can run $250.00. Reference.

Sydenham, The Coinage of the Roman Republic. A fine work, but many newer variations appear in Crawford. The Europeans still use Sydenham almost exclusively. This is why you need Crawford to correlate the numbers. Not cheap. Nice plates. $175.00. Advanced.

BMCRR - Coins of the Roman Republic in the British Museum. The British Museum collection is extensive. Great work, but I seldom use it as I find the combination of Crawford and RSC I easier to use. Hard to find and out of print. About $200.00. Advanced.

Banti, Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. 9 Volumes. An absolutely exhaustive research on the Republican series on a die-by-die examination. Expensive. Advanced.


Sear, Byzantine Coins and their Values. Great book done in typical Sear fashion. Descriptions of rulers and mints and pricing that we can all argue over. $90.00. Reference.

Wroth, Imperial Byzantine Coins in the British Museum. Lots of history here to complement his very thorough listings. $125.00. Advanced.

Dumbarton Oaks and Hendy - Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection. 10 Total Volumes. The big daddy of Byzantine coins. Hendy wrote his books on the very late Byzantine coins. Expensive. Advanced.


Of course the least expensive entry-level book is Klawans, listed above in the General section. Also the Sayles books on Greek coin collecting are inexpensive.

Sear, Greek Coins and their Values Two volumes covering Europe and Africa/Asia. Seems expensive, but in the realm of Greek Coins, this is a “must have” set. Sear illustrates all the most common Greek coins and gives pricing. Each volume is about $75.00. Reference.

Plant, Greek Coin Types and their Identification. Line drawing pictures help you find the Greek coin by city and state. Then you can use Sear. This is the poor man's Anson. Important, and not expensive. About $40.00. Reference.

Anson, Numismata Graeca. This is the set of books that gave plant the idea. This is an exhaustive reference tool to find the coins attribution by the type. Expensive. Advanced.

Icard, Dictionary of Greek Coin Inscriptions. If you work better with letters than pictures, then this is the reference on Greek coins that will point you in the right direction. About $60.00. Reference.

BMC Greek - A Catalogue of Greek Coins 29 Volumes. The best reference yet, even though most volumes were written in the 1870's and 1880's. Includes line drawings. Vital for the professional. About $3000 for the set. Advanced.

Boutin, Catalogue des Monnaies Grecques Antiques de L'Ancienne Collection Pozzi. One of the greatest collections of Greek coins ever assembled. This can be considered a picture book of Greek type coins. Generally, if it is not here, it does not exist. Incredible collection. This set of 2 volumes is inexpensive - about $50.00. Reference.

An additional work with better photos is the Ars Classica Auction of the Pozzi collection. Scarce. Expensive.

Other Significant Auction Catalogs are important to collectors -as an example, the Lockett Collection, or the NFA liquidation by Sotheby's. Trident Auctions are among the best. Don't discount auction catalogs as a reference works!

SNG - Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum. Various Museums and educational institutes have had their collection of Greek coins preserved via photos in the SNG series. Probably the easiest to obtain is the SNG of the American Numismatic Society. The best set overall is considered to be the SNG Copenhagen (also known as the Danish Museum). Best bang for the buck is the SNG Von Aulock (be sure to also buy the index). Generally speaking each volume can be $65.00 to $100.00 per volume. SNG ANS Has 9 Volumes as an example. SNG Copenhagen can cost $1200!


Mitchiner, Oriental Coins. A series of three volumes “Oriental” coins that cover The World of Islam, Ancient and Classical World, and Non-Islamic coins. If you have one of those “what the heck is this” kind of coins, this is where you will find it. Great Reference, but expensive. About $100.00 per book.

Mitchiner, Indo-Greek and Indo-Scythian Coinage. A Great 9 Volume series of “Oriental” Greek Coins such as Bactrian, etc. About $20.00 per volume. Reference.

Bopearachchi, Monnaies Greco-Bactriennes et Indo-Grecques. Exhaustive collection that is well documented. About $175.00. Advanced.

BOB - (Books on Books)

How do you look it up? You need a book to find the book! It is called a Bibliography.

To repeat, do not forget the vital work by Kroh, listed above. Additional works of merit are:

Daehn, Ancient Greek Numismatics - A Guide to Reading and Research. An in depth work on book about Greek coinage. About $40.00. If you are really into Greek coins, you will want this book! Reference.

Clain-Stefanelli, Numismatic Bibliography. Contains more than 18,000 If you are going to do research on numismatic topics, this is among the best sources. $200.00. Advanced.

Dekesel, A Bibliography of 16th Century Numismatic Books One Volume, and his work on 17th Century 3 Volumes. Incredibly detailed information about every early numismatic work to include pagination, bindings, etc. Collectors of books need these books. About $200 per volume.

Lipsius & Leitzmann wrote Bibliographies in the 19th Century and cover most of the 18th Century and earlier works. Important for research.

Auction Catalogs

Auction catalogs are an important source of Numismatic Literature information. If you see a coin in a catalog, generally speaking it will have an attribution number. Check the Bibliography in the auction catalog for the reference meaning - and if the area intrigues you, buy the book!

Additional Assistance

I can help you find books. I work with printers and publishers all over the world. Books are not cheap and shipping can be expensive, but I will get you fine books at reasonable prices. I love books and enjoy helping collectors get the material they need to successfully attribute coins. Feel free to contact me at the above email, phone or fax if I can help you!

www.numismaticliterature.com / choelzle@cox.net / eBay seller: coin-slave
TEL: 949-249-3948
FAX: 949-249-3947