Saturday, September 30, 2006


New ancient coin blog: SCOTVS CAPITIS. I don't know the blogger, but he is the guy who digitally 'colorized' Roman coins.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Monnaies Grecques by Imhoof-Blumer

An important book, Monnaies Grecques (1883) by Imhoof-Blumer recently appeared on Google.

Just last week I made a special trip to the ANS to examine their copy. But of course that copy was too fragile to photocopy, so I ended up copying paragraphs longhand in a language I don't understand. Not fun. Furthmore, plate J includes a unique coin that I badly wanted a picture of. I usually bring a digital camera to the library to take pictures of fragile book pages but forgot.

So 'yeah!' to Google.

You can download a PDF copy (15.3M), but it won't have text and won't be searchable. If you have access it's better to read it online.

I recently made a CD-ROM for an acquiantance of various public-domain numismatic PDFs from Google. It came to 550MB. Google uses low-ish resolution and compresses agressively so a single CD can contain over 30 books. Next time I make such a CD it will include this classic.

Also new is De la valeur des monnaies romaines (1879) by Emile Levasseur.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Medici Conspiracy

I recently finished The Medici Conspiracy by Peter Watson and Cecilia Todeschini. It's good. It's about crooked antiquities dealer Giacomo Medici and the various looters and fronts he worked with.

There is nothing in this book about coins or coin dealers except for a few paragraphs about Bruce McNall, and that part contained an error (calling Athenian dekadrachms 'the world's rarest coin.')

I like to assume that the ancient coins I buy are not looted, smuggled, then fenced half-a-dozen-times to create a confusing trail before reaching the collector. From this book it seems that vases enter the market exactly that way, and are purposly broken and re-assembled as well! I always assumed that a dirty market couldn't exist, that markets self-police and the 'clean' dealers get fed up with the mad profits the looters made and inform on them. I guess that doesn't happen, at least not for Greek vases? I'm still a supporter of a healthy legal market as a way to avoid the excesses of criminals, but the market's self-policing sure failed in the cases discussed in this book.

In recent news, Medici is offering Italy 'Object X' in exchange for stopping his trial. He won't say what Object X is, just that it's really cool and valuable and stuff.

RPC IV Online

The University of Oxford has put RPC IV online. This is a big deal, as it hasn't even been published yet! The best database for provincial coins of the Antonines (138-193AD), with 9,061 images; 13,730 types; and 46,725 total specimens.

It's very handy and easy to use. The only oddness is that there is no way to specify if a search is to be done over the 9000 images or the 46,000 specimens. One does the search, then gets an option to go back and change the search settings.

The RPC numbers are provisional. However, for each result it will give other publications of the coin, so except for previously unpublished pieces there will be a safe, usable catalogue number.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

New York Invitational Coin Show

I went to the New York Invitational Coin Show yesterday. Although advertised as 100 tables, there were about 20 dealers. One dealer told me that some dealers skipped Friday because of Rosh Hashanah (and perhaps low attendance?) The room was set up for 100 tables so looked pathetically empty.

The ancients dealers were Freeman&Sear, Herakles, Barry Murphy, Smythe, and Dr. Saslow. (Louis DiLauro was there but didn't bring his ancients!)

Other years there have been many more dealers. I was also disappointed that there was no weekend day -- who wants to take a vacation day to see such a small show?

The dealers were grumbling about the venue -- the fifth floor of some old building. The room itself seemed fine to me. Usually NYC coin shows are held in hotels, because there is no nearby parking or security otherwise. Who wants to walk around the streets with $$$ in coins and heavy display cases?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What is ''?'s provider,, gives me statistics about how much traffic I receive and where it's coming from.

When uesrs visit through links (rather than bookmarks) the pageview rank is:

36% from
29% from other pages
10% from, google UK, and google Canada
6% from
2% from
1% from yahoo search

I'm certain the traffic from Wildwinds is people seeking ancient coin info. I get slightly more traffic from Google. I don't know the terms the Google visitors want, but I expect a lot of them are looking for coin and ancient greece info.

I was surprised to see in the top spot. 9185 requests for 'VerifyerLevel.php' from them. Some kind of bot or malware trying to hack me?

Requests from them just started this month. A few web sites have cashsoldier and VerifyLevel.php in their logs, but I haven't seen any report of what is trying to be accomplished by requesting that file from me 9000+ times.

PS This week is the New York Invitational Coin Show. No weekend hour for this show &mdash it's Wednesday through Friday. I am not sure I want to take a vacation day to attend a coin show. If I had a day for coins I'd rather go to the ANS library. Any readers going to the show?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Google Image Labeler

I've been playing a game called Google Image Labeler. Visitors are connected to another player, picked at random, and are then presented with a series of images. To score, the player must guess how the other player will describe the picture.

This is usually easy, as most of the pictures can be described as 'man', 'woman', 'people', 'building', 'stars', 'moon', 'weather', 'text', 'windows', or 'web site'. The fun comes from odd images that are difficult to describe.

Today while playing I encountered a picture of an ancient coin. After a few false stats my partner and I agreed upon the description of 'broken'. The picture, which can be seen above, comes from the Archeological Museum of Kazan State University in Tarterstan, Russia.

An hour ago I didn't know that there was a 'Tarterstan'! Another part of the fun of a game like Google Image Labeler is the chance to be exposed to random websites that one would never otherwise encounter.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Copyright, e-Sylum, need advice

Science fiction author Cory Doctorow has a nice essay on copyright on Locus Magazine's web site.

My reply to Kerry Rodgers and Bob Knepper on copyright and images of collectables appeared yesterday on the e-Sylum (a numismatic book email list). This week's e-Sylum isn't available on the website yet, but will be soon. Or subscribe.

Need advice: This blog didn't appear in The Celator's round-up of ancient coin blogs. Perhaps I am not promoting it correctly. Where is a good place to announce and promote coin blogs?