Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Eric P Newman Seminar reading list: the general Greek titles

(this is part 4 of a series on the ANS Seminar reading list. I haven't actually read any of the basic Greek titles so take this post with a grain of salt.)

Coinage in the Greek World has been reprinted by Spink for with new copies for £20. Charles Davis sells it in the USA. Surprisingly this book is totally unavailable new from the usual online bookstores. The first edition can be found used for under $40.

Jenkins was reprinted again in 2004 and that edition can be obtained new from the same dealers ($65 from Charles Davis). Used copies available under $50.

I've never seen the Kraay, Kroll, or Robinson papers but Journal of Hellenic Studies and the American Journal of Archaeology are available in most research libraries. JSTOR will sell “Dating the Earliest Coins of Athens, Corinth, and Aegina” for $10. Supposedly JSTOR has the Journal of Hellenic Studies but JSTOR wouldn't let me search for it as I lack an account!

The 1937 first edition Royal Greek Portrait Coins is seems widely available used for $6 plus; there is also a Durst reprint that is a little more.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Droit de suite

Europe gives artists a resale right called Droit de suite. Every time a painting is sold, the artist (and sometimes heirs after the artist death) receives a royalty of a few percent.

(More details on Droit de suite at Patry's blog).

If a system similar to Droit de suite was in place for ancient coins perhaps some source countries might come to believe that a trade in ancient coins is good for national pride?

I suspect that many of the restrictions on the coin trade were the result of source countries feeling left out of the market, and not a result of a strong national feeling about coins as cultural property. Here is a quote from Burton Berry's Numismatic Biography:

By the late 1950s, a new a strong trend was developing the
concerned every collector of ancient coins living in the Near East. First, prices were rising rapidly. Coins that I had purchased on the 1930s for $50 each were selling in public auctions in Switzerland for $1000.... And, more important, the attitude in the Near Eastern countries toward collectors was changing. Where formerly everybody was eager to help the foreign collector, people now were becoming suspecious, and even envious, that you, the foreign collector, saw value in objects in which they saw no value. Newspapers began to give prominence to stories of inflated prices that some antique objects brought abroad, and it was then but a step to accuse foreigners of carrying off the wealth of a nation! Certainly, there is a genuine grievance where newly discovered works of art are exported without authorization or where farmers are encouraged to dig for treasure on archeological sites on their land.... Many old friends who were officials had retired, and their replacements, regardless of their private feelings, were to this
new trend and found it expedient to go along with it.

Coins have never had a 'resale right' or tax sent directly to the creator, so at first it may seem rediculous to send money to the current government of Egypt whenever a Roman Egyptian coin is sold. Yet paintings didn't start out with a Droit de suite right either but the law is strangely popular and now covers California! Perhaps a new tax on antiquities, which could be called a 'right', would be beneficial to both collectors and source countries?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Vote for my web site on FORVM

My web site, http://snible.org/coins/, is a finalist for FORVM's 2008 Numismatic Excellence award. Click here to vote for up to three sites from a list of nine ancient coin sites.

I don't know if this blog is considered part of my site. Definitely included is the Digital Historia Numorum with it's links to Muensterberg's book on magistrates, the Christodoulous the Counterfeiter and other transcriptions of books on fakes, and a few articles I wrote on my gorgon collection. Probably the public domain hi-res ancient Greek maps are part of the site too.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Adam Savage on collecting, obsession, reproductions, and bronze casting

Adam Savage (host of TV's MythBusters) on his obsession with collecting, sculpting replica dodo birds, The Maltese Falcon, and bronze casting.


(17 minute video)

Imperial Coins Newsletter vol. 2

The latest Imperial Coins Newsletter includes interesting articles. Curtis Clay's piece on overstruck reverses is quite interesting. I also enjoyed Mark Passehl's article on Marcus Fonteius.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Translation of Numismatic Terms

Parthia.com has created a very nice translations of numismatic terms page. The languages are English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch.

The site is asking for translation help for a few terms.

Eric P Newman Seminar reading list: the ancients titles

(this is part 3 of a series on the ANS Seminar reading list.)

The first ancients title on the general list is Hacksilber to Coinage. It's in print, $50, but I think ANS members get a discount on ANS titles from David Brown Books. I I haven't read my copy but I flipped through it and it's good! (There is a good short description on the David Brown page.)

Next is an 11 page paper by Teresa Clay, "Metallurgy and Metallography in Numismatics." Hopefully your local University library has a good selection of Italian-language classics journals because thats the only apperance of this paper. I've never seen it.

Next are two hard-to-find books in French, Numismatique antique. Problèmes et méthodes edited by Tony Hackens and others, and Georges Le Rider, La naissance de la monnaie: pratiques monétaires de l'Orient ancien. The le Rider was reviewed by Bryn Mawr Classical Review.

George MacDonald's 70 page paper "The Original Significance of the Inscriptions on Ancient Coins" looks interesting. It's only appearance is in the 1910 issue of the Memoires du Congrès International de Numismatique. Good luck finding that! MacDonald also wrote Coin Types: Their Origin and Development; a 275 page book which is easy to find reprinted for under $20. Perhaps this is the follow-up? I read Coin Types but wasn't super-impressed with it. It felt more like a transcribed lecture than a book.

Next is Milne, Greek and Roman Coins and the Study of History which I've never seen but is easy-to-get, about $12+ for the 1939 original or the Obol reprint.

The final general / ancient title is C. H. V. Sutherland's 29 page Ancient Numismatics: A Brief Introduction. I've never seen it but AbeBooks reports a copy in Very Good at $26. It's an ANS publication. Google only has it in Snippet View which is quite irritating! (If anyone at the ANS is reading this, please note that Google will let you promote your books for free. There could be a nice free preview for readers with optional revenue-generating ads.) A footnote in Striking New Images: Roman Imperial Coinage and The New Testament World cites the Brief Introduction regarding the debate among classicists and historians about the value of numismatic evidence. Perhaps that is the subject of this mini-book?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Eric P Newman Seminar reading list: the general titles

(this is part 2 of a series on the ANS Seminar reading list.)

The first general title on the general list is about numismatic libraries. It's by former ANS librarian Frank Campbell: “Numismatic Bibliography and Libraries” from the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science. Amazon sells the Encyclopedia for $2065 but many libraries have it.

Google Books offers a preview that includes some of Frank's article.

Numismatics International reprinted Frank's essay. I purchased my copy from them. The Numismatics International web site is still offering the book for $5.

Much of the essay covers books that were significant when published starting with the little-used classics of the 16th century. There is also a list of research libraries with strong numismatic content. I recommending the NI reprint, especially for readers with an interest in the history of Numismatics who haven't read Kolbe's Studies in the History of Numismatic Literature v. 1-2.

I've never seen the rest of the general titles. The Casey can be found easily for $10-$20 online. Charles Davis is selling the Cooper for $275. Sellers on AbeBooks in various states of denial are selling the Grierson from $25 to $85. Both books containing Jones essay can be found used at high prices — a library might be a better alternative. The Morrisson seems unobtainable and in few libraries. The Williams is of a scarce kind of numismatic books — it's in print! (possibly as a second edition?) Amazon offers an online preview (click 'Look inside this book'). There are also many used copies of the first printing in the usual places starting at about $2.50.

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 AbeBooks.com.

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...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

January New York Sale

The New York Sale catalog is up. 474 ancient coins. Many Russian coins and very strong in Russian and Soviet military decorations.

The ANS Library: 150 Years of Learning



The American Numismatic Society in New York has a mini-exhibit on numismatic books, “The American Numismatic Society Library: 150 Years of Learning”, open during ANS hours through February 2009.

Photo-timestamp arrives!

Photo-timestamp arrives. The vendor is Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) using technology from Image Fortress.
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, the world's leading independent coin certification and grading service, has selected Image Fortress Corporation's DigitalFortress digital archiving service as the platform for NGC's online coin catalog, the first online photographic catalog of certified and graded collectible coins. DigitalFortress service was selected by NGC because of DigitalFortress' unique ability to provide trustworthy archiving of all digital files, which insures files archived within DigitalFortress are unalterable and tamper-proof.

One of the significant innovations introduced by NGC in their online catalog is the application of the DigitalFortress feature that digitally seals and time stamps every archived file, in this case the photographs of all coins being graded by NGC.
The press release goes on to say that over one million coin photos have already been made tamper-proof by DigitalFortress. NGC will let normal users start slabbing ancients on January 1st. I don't know the price; NGC is charging $16 for US non-gold coins worth under $300 and $125 for US coins valued below $100,000.

I still believe the cheap (<10 cents per coin) photo-only service that I proposed in my Celator editorial, without grading or slabbing, is economically viable.

More vendors are entering the timestamp market outside numismatics. A recent editorial by Jonathan Baily, “Is Copyright Non-Repudiation Worthwhile”, says several new non-repudiation vendors recently opened web sites.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Internet Archive makes it too difficult to report copyright violations

The Internet Archive's copyright policy provides a mechanism for reporting copyright infringement. The report must include a signed statement by the copyright holder!

I couldn't find a mechanism for the general public to report copyright infringement. The public can report 'errors' but perhaps no one reads them — I reported some copyright date errors and got no response.

Recently someone scanned some volumes of Roman Imperial Coinage (RIC) but mis-identified the copyright date, allowing works that I believe are still in copyright to be downloaded as large PDF files. Nearly 200 people have downloaded them. This could open the Archive up to big problems if the copyright holder notices.

I'm surprised the Archive makes it so difficult for the public to report potentially expensive problems.

New book on the Athenian Dekadrachm

The ANS is offering The Athenian Decadrachm, a new book by Wolfgang Fischer-Bossert, at a pre-publication price of $50. List price will be $95.

The book will include a die-study of forty genuine decadrachms. The book also promises a full account of forgeries including ninety examples. I'm hoping for a longer telling of the story of how the British Museum acquired the Christodoulous fake.

(Mark Jones (Fake? The Art of Deception) wrote “[George Hill] spotted it, it is said, at a social function, nestling in the bosom of an attractive Greek lady...”)

I encourage non-members join the ANS to obtain the $45 pre-order discount.

What Do Museums Have That Sporting Events Don’t?

Freakonomics asks “What Do Museums Have That Sporting Events Don’t?”
About 140 million people in the U.S. will attend a major-league sporting event this year, according to this NPR article.

But as the same article says, museums will draw about 850 million attendees this year.

So why do more people make trips to museums than to sports games? ...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008