Thursday, December 18, 2008

Reading list for the Eric P. Newman Graduate Seminar in Numismatics

The American Numismatic Society offers a yearly eight week course in numismatics to graduate students in art history, textual studies, and archaeology. The Seminar is designed to take an expert in a field related to numismatics and make that person an expert in numismatics capable of doing coin research.

ANS members can get permission to sit in on some of the lectures. The ones I attended were quite good!

A numismatic researcher needs to understand the techniques of numismatics and be able to find out what other scholars have written on the subject. There is very little written on how to do good numismatic research. You won't find courses at your local college explaining how to use Clain-Stefanelli's Numismatic Bibliography. Your local library probably doesn't even have it! How does a collector who isn't a graduate student learn to navigate numismatic literature?

Take a look at the Seminar reading lists. The lists reveal the books the ANS curators feel provide the numismatic background to get started with serious research.

The general reading list provides the foundation. It begins with two bibliographies.

The very first book on the list is Clain-Stefanelli's Numismatic Bibliography. This book is small but very thick — 1848 pages! It costs about $200 used (there are two copies on VCoins now). I use it less now that the ANS library catalog and Google books are around but still consult it regularly.

The next book is Grierson's Bibliographie numismatique. I've never seen one in person. It's in French. There are two editions but I don't know the difference. Charles Davis describes a copy he has for sale as “A necessary supplement to Clain-Stefanelli with considerably more attention to auction catalogues.” I've avoided this title because I don't easily read French. (If any readers who don't read French find it useful please let me know. There are three copies on VCoins (one is part of a lot) for between $35 and $75, and others on

Not included in the ANS' list of bibliographies is Kroh's Ancient Coin Reference Reviews. Kroh's cheap book ($25) is not a scholarly bibliography but useful for independent scholars on a budget because Kroh attempts to discuss the usefulness, price, and availability of the references. (Unfortunately Kroh's availability and pricing information is now two decades out-of-date.)

There are many more gems on the ANS lists, as well as intriguing works I've never seen, so... to be continued...

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dhd said...
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