Sunday, January 14, 2007

Joseph Eckhel, Doctrina Nvmorvm Vetervm

I purchased two books this week. The first was Broome's A Handbook of Islamic Coins. Spink has reprinted it, and was selling it at NYINC for $50 although I couldn't find it on Spink's web site. (Used copies of the 1985 edition run about $300).

The other title was Antiquarian Books on Coins and Medals by Bassoli. This short book (88 pages) includes a 3 page chapter on abbot Joseph Hilarius Eckhel, author of the landmark Doctrina Numorum Veterum (1792-1798) (in Latin). This chapter begins with an odd anecdote about Eckhel refusing to use his connections to find his newphew a job, saying “anyone who can [read, write, and count] properly needs no other recommendations, and can make his way in life off his own back.”

I can't read Latin, but I can puzzle through basic coin descriptions and a lot of 19th century books cite it. Curtis Clay has praised the work. It was last reprinted in the 1830s, and is expensive. Spink wants $5000 for "a very fine set" "perhaps the very best set we've seen"; I couldn't find another copy for sale. So it's good news that Google has provided us with a digital copy:

[vol 1]
[vol 2]
[vol 3]
[vol 4]

[vol 5]
[vol 6]
[vol 7]
[vol 8]

Bassoli says these books have “some tables of coins”. I couldn't find them on Google's site (but didn't look to hard.) If you are interested in Bassoli you'll have to order it from Kolbe or Spink. Regular online stores don't carry it. Online book searches for Bassoli only yield the original Italian edition, Monete e medaglie nel libro antico dal XV al XIX secolo.

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