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Well... I guess I own a decent numismatic library now...


Harry G
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Hi all!

I just thought I'd share a purchase I made recently. Instead of buying some more coins for my collection, I decided that I wanted some good books to read and use to research.

I saw a nice lot of ancient coin books come up for sale, and decided to bid, and surprisingly, I won it for a very reasonable price! Unfortunately, the postage to receive them was about half what I paid for the books themselves...

Anyway, the books I will probably be keeping are these RIC volumes 1 - 5. Some are rebound (though quite nicely), and, I didn't know this while bidding on them, they all appear to be the original editions.

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Another two books I may or may not decide to keep are these two volumes. "A Descriptive Catalogue of Rare and Unedited Roman Coins" by Akerman (printed in 1834!). They have some neat plates in them, and are nicely bound.

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The bulk of the lot, however, are 23 (!) volumes of BMC: A Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum. Some are rebound (quite nicely), and all are the original editions from the late 1800s - early 1900s. They are all ex library and quite worn.

"Lycaonia, Isauria and Cilicia (1900)", "Cyprus (1904)", "Lydia (1901)", "Peloponnesus (1887)", "Corinth (1889)"

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"Seleucid Kings of Syria (1878)", "Central Greece (1884)", "Attica, Megaris, Aegina (1888)", "Italy (1888)", "Caria and Islands (1897)"

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"Macedonia (1879)", "Thrace (1877)", "Troas, Aeolis, Lesbos (1894)", "Lycia, Pamphylia and Pisidia (1897)", "Crete and Aegean Islands (1886)"

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"Phrygia (1906)", "Galatia, Cappadocia and Syria (1899)", "Ionia (1892)", "Parthia (1903)"

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"Cyrenaica (1927)", "Arabia, Mesopotamia, Persia (1922)", "Sicily (1876)" and "Pontus, Paphlagonia, Bithynia and Bosporus (1889)"

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Phew, that was a pain to type 😄

 

There were only two of the later reprints by Forni, and one (technically) non-Greek book.

"Greek Scythic Kings of Bacteria & India (1886)" (from BMC Catalogue of Indian Coins), "Thessaly to Aetolia", "Ptolemies Kings of Egypt" (these both Forni reprints)

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And finally, there were a few miscellaneous non numismatic books, my favourites being "British Non-Parasitical Worms in the Collection of the British Museum (1865)" and Mazzaroti" (a book on constellations with some plates from 1882)IMG_20220909_112544__01.jpg.fe56007f8fd008d20a04a717086bb6ff.jpg

 

I have no idea what I'll do with the Greek books (as I don't specialise in any Greek coins), so I may just end up listing them on eBay. The RIC books (and some of the others), however, will be mine to keep. Regardless, they will an be an interesting read!

 

Show me some of your numismatic books!

Edited by Harry G
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Congratulations ! it is an almost complete set of the Catalogue of the Greek Coins in the British Museum in 29 volumes.

each book is worth about 150$-200$ depending on the volume and the condition (the Forni reprints are of course less exensive)

Part of my library on greek coins :

Biblio2.JPG.2711ae7fa6fd49b16b13fad4975d7ab9.JPG

Edited by Brennos
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Fantastic group! I'd love to have all those. The Akerman look really beautiful. The plate you showed is much better than most of the digital copies I've seen. Deeply jealous of the BMC set!

1 hour ago, Brennos said:

each book is worth about 150$-200$

Depends on condition & volume, but i think nice originals of certain BMC Greeks can sell for much more. For instance, I've seen several copies of Corinth sell for $2k-3000-plus! ($2750+fees for the Salton Lib. copy, which was rebound, and a few other copies recently in that range. But, of course, you can also buy a complete set of 29 average used copies in that range too.)

 

P.s. if shipping was half the total then I'm assuming this must've been around $1000 or even less which strikes me as a great steal. Could be wrong depending on details, but I'd have paid a lot for these! 

Edited by Curtis JJ
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2 hours ago, Brennos said:

Congratulations ! it is an almost complete set of the Catalogue of the Greek Coins in the British Museum in 29 volumes.

each book is worth about 150$-200$ depending on the volume and the condition (the Forni reprints are of course less exensive)

Part of my library on greek coins :

Biblio2.JPG.2711ae7fa6fd49b16b13fad4975d7ab9.JPG

Woah, awesome collection! That must take a while to read end to end...

19 minutes ago, Curtis JJ said:

Fantastic group! I'd love to have all those. The Akerman look really beautiful. The plate you showed is much better than most of the digital copies I've seen. Deeply jealous of the BMC set!

Depends on condition & volume, but i think nice originals of certain BMC Greeks can sell for much more. For instance, I've seen several copies of Corinth sell for $2k-3000-plus! ($2750+fees for the Salton Lib. copy, which was rebound, and a few other copies recently in that range. But, of course, you can also buy a complete set of 29 average used copies in that range too.)

 

P.s. if shipping was half the total then I'm assuming this must've been around $1000 or even less which strikes me as a great steal. Could be wrong depending on details, but I'd have paid a lot for these! 

Wow, do you have a link to that Corinth sold listing? I was looking at the CNG sold listings, and prices seemed healthy (but not that much!)

I paid £280 hammer for the lot + £70 fees + £140 postage, so a little under £500 in total.

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Note: For anyone interested, here a copy of BMC Corinth online Forum Ancient Coins (Joe Sermarini), direct to PDF file

1 hour ago, Harry G said:

Wow, do you have a link to that Corinth sold listing? I was looking at the CNG sold listings, and prices seemed healthy (but not that much!)

I paid £280 hammer for the lot + £70 fees + £140 postage, so a little under £500 in total.

Oh my gosh ("I just threw up in my mouth a little bit"), now that I've read that, once I complete this comment I'm going back to bed to cry under the covers for the rest of the day... maybe weekend too... That price is SO unfair!!! I would've totally sold my Prius and tried to outbid you!

That's why I love Konvolute (the Germans have the perfect word for it, which I think is used in other languages and, in my opinion, should be adopted by all English-speaking book collectors!). Sometimes you can find the most wonderful groups of books much cheaper than they have any right to sell for.

You're right that most copies of BMC Corinth are not as expensive (usually a couple-or-few hundred, and damaged copies with original cover as low as $100-150, probably some even less).

I'm not an experienced enough book collector to know what makes some copies worth 10X more than others, but I imagine small gradations in quality at the higher end result in huge increases in price. (Provenance may matter too, but maybe not as much as for coins, sometimes just in generating excitement and bids for an important library, like the Mark & Lottie Salton at Kolbe-Fanning or Poinsignon at Kunker.)

Here's the recent $2.750 + fees Salton re-bound original BMG Greek Corinth (note that the description mentions a previous sale of a copy for $1,600 hammer):

https://bid.numislit.com/lots/view/1-4Y4151/original-bmc-corinth

[Edit, another] $1,600 + feeshttps://bid.numislit.com/lots/view/1-4JAYOD/original-bmc-greek-on-corinth-colonies

Kolbe & Fanning also recently had one listed on their website for a comparable fixed price (2k range, I believe), but apparently it sold, since I don't see the listing. I believe they've sold others in that price range. I'll edit in some other examples if I can find them. But apparently they weren't just a "one off" or "two off" -- there were multiple. For some of the other volumes in the BMC Greek set too, but I can't remember which, exactly, I've seen bring 4-figure prices.

BTW, here's my BMC Corinth, which I've shown before (it lives inside a custom box with my BMC Central Greece [1884], both from part 1 of the Hermann Lanz [1910-1998] library in Jan. at G. Hirsch). The cover is damaged along the spine (but internally perfect), but I really wanted this copy for G.F. Hill's (1867-1948) bookplate (the famous numismatist, Director of the British Museum, author/editor of several volumes of BMC). The 150 EUR hammer seemed surprisingly low given the "object biography," but that goes to show I don't understand book prices that well:

image.jpeg.03abe36ebf12564e78bf2a172edeb839.jpeg

Edited by Curtis JJ
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Oh, p.s., speaking of numismatic libraries....

the other day I made a little video (~75 seconds) and titled it "Time to Reorganize my Ancient Coin Library" (Sound On: a version of "walk the line" that was reportedly public domain)...

several decades of book acquisitions there:

 

Edited by Curtis JJ
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Re: Akerman:  I have had his book set for many years and find it interesting since it dates to a time two centuries ago when rarity was what made a coin collectable. Akerman does not even list the common coins of Rome but gives the ones to be sought out as rarities and ranks the most rare type for that ruler.  Of the Severans he notes as most rare, I have only one (a Geta).  I don't agree with all of his choices but it is interesting today when more people want condition rather than rarity.   I would have sold mine long ago were it not for the fact that a previous owner had the pair rebound with a pair of signed letters from Akerman tipped in.  I suspect that makes my volumes as rare and valueless as the books themselves.  The plate drawings are pretty but not especially accurate. 

Edited by dougsmit
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On 9/9/2022 at 5:39 PM, Curtis JJ said:

Note: For anyone interested, here a copy of BMC Corinth online Forum Ancient Coins (Joe Sermarini), direct to PDF file

Oh my gosh ("I just threw up in my mouth a little bit"), now that I've read that, once I complete this comment I'm going back to bed to cry under the covers for the rest of the day... maybe weekend too... That price is SO unfair!!! I would've totally sold my Prius and tried to outbid you!

That's why I love Konvolute (the Germans have the perfect word for it, which I think is used in other languages and, in my opinion, should be adopted by all English-speaking book collectors!). Sometimes you can find the most wonderful groups of books much cheaper than they have any right to sell for.

You're right that most copies of BMC Corinth are not as expensive (usually a couple-or-few hundred, and damaged copies with original cover as low as $100-150, probably some even less).

I'm not an experienced enough book collector to know what makes some copies worth 10X more than others, but I imagine small gradations in quality at the higher end result in huge increases in price. (Provenance may matter too, but maybe not as much as for coins, sometimes just in generating excitement and bids for an important library, like the Mark & Lottie Salton at Kolbe-Fanning or Poinsignon at Kunker.)

Here's the recent $2.750 + fees Salton re-bound original BMG Greek Corinth (note that the description mentions a previous sale of a copy for $1,600 hammer):

https://bid.numislit.com/lots/view/1-4Y4151/original-bmc-corinth

[Edit, another] $1,600 + feeshttps://bid.numislit.com/lots/view/1-4JAYOD/original-bmc-greek-on-corinth-colonies

Kolbe & Fanning also recently had one listed on their website for a comparable fixed price (2k range, I believe), but apparently it sold, since I don't see the listing. I believe they've sold others in that price range. I'll edit in some other examples if I can find them. But apparently they weren't just a "one off" or "two off" -- there were multiple. For some of the other volumes in the BMC Greek set too, but I can't remember which, exactly, I've seen bring 4-figure prices.

BTW, here's my BMC Corinth, which I've shown before (it lives inside a custom box with my BMC Central Greece [1884], both from part 1 of the Hermann Lanz [1910-1998] library in Jan. at G. Hirsch). The cover is damaged along the spine (but internally perfect), but I really wanted this copy for G.F. Hill's (1867-1948) bookplate (the famous numismatist, Director of the British Museum, author/editor of several volumes of BMC). The 150 EUR hammer seemed surprisingly low given the "object biography," but that goes to show I don't understand book prices that well:

image.jpeg.03abe36ebf12564e78bf2a172edeb839.jpeg

Interesting, the Corinth book is probably the nicest of the lot. It is rebound, but not unattractively.

IMG_20220909_161922.jpg.95ed7d0ca0129eb11b0138f6ae021a74.jpg

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IMG_20220909_162000.jpg.935f168d77dfa614b2963b4e3772c6e4.jpg

 

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IMG_20220909_162020.jpg.f3a3abe0fd836ea12b0ce473ae9ce941.jpg

 

I think mine's still certainly on the low end of that estimate... 😄

21 hours ago, Curtis JJ said:

Oh, p.s., speaking of numismatic libraries....

the other day I made a little video (~75 seconds) and titled it "Time to Reorganize my Ancient Coin Library" (Sound On: a version of "walk the line" that was reportedly public domain)...

several decades of book acquisitions there:

 

 

Thanks for sharing! That was an interesting video. Lots of excellent books

 

14 hours ago, dougsmit said:

Re: Akerman:  I have had his book set for many years and find it interesting since it dates to a time two centuries ago when rarity was what made a coin collectable. Akerman does not even list the common coins of Rome but gives the ones to be sought out as rarities and ranks the most rare type for that ruler.  Of the Severans he notes as most rare, I have only one (a Geta).  I don't agree with all of his choices but it is interesting today when more people want condition rather than rarity.   I would have sold mine long ago were it not for the fact that a previous owner had the pair rebound with a pair of signed letters from Akerman tipped in.  I suspect that makes my volumes as rare and valueless as the books themselves.  The plate drawings are pretty but not especially accurate. 

Haha, I think you're right there. Looking through now, only the rarest coins seem to be there, and the illustrations, while interesting to look at, are quite unlike the coin they're supposed to be showing.

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Phew, the plates of BMC Corinth are just... beautiful. Nothing else is quite like seeing the world's greatest collection of Greek coins on their original plates, produced to the most exacting standards, and the 20th century world's highest quality reference....

I get choked up seeing them -- it gets me every time 🥲

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16 hours ago, Curtis JJ said:

Nothing else is quite like seeing the world's greatest collection of Greek coins on their original plates, produced to the most exacting standards, and the 20th century world's highest quality reference.

We will all have to pick our preferences.  The BMC plates show plaster casts made from the coins and glued up on a board where they could be photographed to exact size with a process camera.  Things like toning don't show.  Later, they started shooting actual coins but paid little attention to things like lighting.  I prefer the plaster casts to those.  When photos were not pleasing, it became common to use line drawings like they had before photography but this time great attention was paid to getting the style right.  The early editions of Sear had some really fine drawings that were better than photos for identifying coins and could combine details from several coins to show what the die looked like.  This was especially great for issues that never are found well struck.  After that, illustrations were made using the finest known specimens of the coins but still shown in actual size which makes it hard to see clearly small details of small coins.  Later they realized some coins needed to be shown enlarged for detail.  Today we have digital photos with great detail that can be viewed small or large at the whim of the viewer.  My question is how many of these wonderful images will still exist for the education of 22nd century collectors and how many will disappear in a puff of electrons when someone decides they are a waste of bandwidth and no longer a return on investment.   I won't be here to care.  Our great great grandchildren probably won't care about coins and more than the generations between us and them.  I was introduced to coinage with penny candy but now the Dollar Tree chain no longer sells things for just a dollar.  When will children be born that have no need for exposure to round metallic disks?  Will they even know what our collectable coins were used for.  Today's kids often can not identify a rotary dial telephone.  

 

IMO, today is a golden age for coin illustration.  We have thousands of photos of coins not worth what it cost to make that photo.  What is the next step? 

 

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7 hours ago, dougsmit said:

Our great great grandchildren probably won't care about coins and more than the generations between us and them.  I was introduced to coinage with penny candy but now the Dollar Tree chain no longer sells things for just a dollar.  When will children be born that have no need for exposure to round metallic disks?  Will they even know what our collectable coins were used for. 

In the distant future, perhaps bullion coins will continue to be used, as a store of value, and as a hedge against inflation. Perhaps bullion coins will save the hobby of coin collecting. For myself, I got back into coin collecting, after a long hiatus, because of my interest in bullion coins.

Edited by sand
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9 hours ago, dougsmit said:

  Today we have digital photos with great detail that can be viewed small or large at the whim of the viewer.  My question is how many of these wonderful images will still exist for the education of 22nd century collectors and how many will disappear in a puff of electrons when someone decides they are a waste of bandwidth

[...]

When will children be born that have no need for exposure to round metallic disks?  Will they even know what our collectable coins were used for.  Today's kids often can not identify a rotary dial telephone.  

IMO, today is a golden age for coin illustration.  We have thousands of photos of coins not worth what it cost to make that photo.  What is the next step? 

Incidentally, what happened to all those 1,000s-of-1,000s of casts for European catalogs? And projector slides, 3-D acrylic impressions, foil impressions, and so on – all that “Paper, Plaster, Sulfur, Foil...“ as Oliver Hoover (2012) put it. (For those who have the hard copy of ANS Magazine [F21, # 3], another good article is Jesse Kraft’s "The Acrylic Slides of William Guild”; unlike Hoover, not online yet, though you can see an examples in the ANS 2021 Annual Report [to PDF].) I’m as fascinated by the history of imaging coins as with the genre of small-booklet FPL/auction catalogs by mail – I hope enough of these will be saved in the next couple decades.

Predicting technology or collecting trends may be risky, but I think one near future of imaging will be “big data” & “data mining” – the ability to instantly match dies and identify coins from photos, or send an algorithm to complete a die-study in seconds, to catch known fakes, recognize lost provenances… All those exist already but are unreliable, clunky. They’ll get more efficient & comprehensive.

The questions I have: whether they’ll be more accessible, or more stratified in who can afford to use them; and whether new collectors (or even scholars) will learn to ID coins, match dies, or recognize fakes once the computers can do it for them.

As far as collecting, I’m optimistic that even if new generations stop using physical coins (I doubt they will completely), it won't stop collecting. I think there’s something inherently, corporeally rewarding about them (hence their success), and new generations will recognize and want to be in touch with it. I think that as daily activities generally become less tactile and physical, and more rapidly-changing, people might even develop greater interest in the obsolete physicality of the 2nd millennium and before.

Same with books: There are very high quality digital 19th-20th cent. auction catalogs online now, but it doesn't seem to dampen the prices of physical copies at auction. Many people still want the “real” thing. (Even if only for prestige, since it's hard to show off your digital library and JSTOR account!) Personally, I love having both, being able to experience a physical copy just as people did when it was produced 25 or 125 years ago, and a digital copy for daily reading/research.

Edited by Curtis JJ
+"y" & + "digital"
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The advantage of digital is fields are searchable.  I have a few hundred catalogs from the pre2000 era.  Many have pen note codes on the cover (ruining their antique value) flagging them as including a noteworthy Julia Domna, Eastern Severus or Pescennius Niger coin (JD, ES, PN).  Being able to go to the CNG, acsearch etc. sites and type in key words is a lot more efficient.  I wish I know what to do with those catalogs besides the recycle bin when I am through but these are not the grade catalogs that become collectables and have color plates.  Most people would value them at less than postage.  I was going to get rid of them but enjoy looking at them more than at the current sales which have lesser coins for higher prices.  My wife was a librarian. She has a much easier time with the idea  running a 'kill shelter' for used books.  If books don't circulate in a small town public library, they are trashed. The same 'me' that wonders if 2320 kids yet unborn will understand coins make me wonder if they will know about books made from trees. 

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