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Have Well-Known Numismatic Specialists Ever Helped You with Research?


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Some years ago, while working on an article for KOINON, I created a thread at CCF titled “The Kindness of Ancient Numismatic Scholars”. In it I wrote:


“I just thought I'd express my continuing amazement at how willingly some of the ‘biggies’ - the big names in the scholarly world of ancient numismatics - take the time to share their knowledge with us amateurs. I am engaged in a bit of research and, upon getting stuck on a few points, I reached out to Fred B. Shore (Parthian Coins and History: Ten Dragons Against Rome) and Michael Alram (well-known author of numerous articles and books on ancient Eastern series: Sassanian, Parthian, Kushan, Hephthalite, etc.).


“Both provided insightful, helpful responses - Alram's reply being the first email in my In-Box this morn. In Shore's case there were several replies a few weeks back as he realized that he wished to follow up on his initial response to my inquiry. I should add that he also helped me in the past, years ago, with other coin inquiries.


“Similarly, Wayne Sayles (of the Ancient Coin Collecting series, Turkoman Figural Bronze Coins, The Celator, Ancient Coin Collectors Guild, etc.) and Pieter Anne van't Haaff (Catalogue of Elymaean Coinage) have been quite kind to me in the past, spending some time at their computers to help me out. It's clear that all of these folks are seriously invested in the goal of educating us amateurs and fostering enthusiasm for our hobby.


“Just never ceases to amaze me. I'm sure there must be some arrogant ancients scholars out there who wouldn't give you the time of day, but I am pleased to say that I have not encountered them. I know some of the frequent contributors to this board have occasionally mentioned their correspondence with experts from their collecting areas too - with similar reports of generosity and support from the big guns. It really is a great, extended community that we are part of.”


Later in the thread, I mentioned the assistance that Brian Kritt (Seleucid Coins of Bactria, From Aï Khanoum to Samarqand: Seleucid Coins in Central Asia, New Discoveries in Bactrian Numismatics) gave me as a researched a mystery coin. I should mention also that the correspondence I had with Michael Alram several years ago, which extended over a number of weeks, included him scanning and sending me a relevant (to my research) long out-of-print article he had written. So impressive - both the article and the gesture. I've never forgotten it.


My good coin buddy Joe (who some of you probably know as cody111111 at eBay or as louisvillekyshop at CCF) has told me about the assistance given him by David Hendin (Guide to Biblical Coins) and other authors a number of times in the past.


With that in mind, if you'd like to give a shout-out here to the “biggies” who may have assisted you, please feel free.

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Thanks, @Kamnaskires, for your own generosity in posting this, and for giving the rest of us the opportunity to follow your example.

I've had irreplaceable help, both with attribution and acquisition, from two numismatists.  Both are, as you note, as admirable as members of the species as they are estimable in their published capacities. 

I forget how I even met Alan DeShazo ...online, somehow (--mmMaybe, Oh No, back to when US ebay was good for something, on more than a random basis).  But he alerted me to his very cogent thesis that one principal Norman denier of Richard I (Count of Rouen 943-996) was actually a co-issue with the late-Carolingian king, Lothaire (954-986).  He sent me both issues of The Celator in which his explication of this had appeared.  (Vol. 23, No. 11, Nov. 2009; and 24, No. 2, Feb. 2010.)  --He was persuaded to inscribe both of them!  Above and beyond this, he turned me on to a listing of an inexpensive example on VCoins, itself citing Dumas' catalogue of the Fecamp Hoard.

Ancient Coins - France, Rouen. Richard I, 943 - 996. AR Denier (1.12 gm, 20mm). Dumas, Fécamp, 4147

(From Duplessy:)  Richard I, denier, last and second common type.  

Rev.  "Monogramme ?" /Insignia of Lothaire.  (From 1 o'clock:) +ROTOM/\CVS (Rouen).

Obv.  Cross; +RIC/\RDVS.  (Duplessy 18, with the caveat, as of 2004, that "L'attribution [of the 'monogram' to Hugh, the archbishop of Rouen] est tres contestable.")

Alan has gone on to provide invaluable help --including more links to specific listings-- with Sasanian dirhams --or, as he has observed, the more philologically accurate "drahms" (sic --specifically in reference to the Sasanian Pahlavi).  Nothing against @Parthicus, but if you're watching, his level of erudition in this series is easily on your level!

Then there's Chris Sabine, an expert on several of the more arcane aspects of 12th-century Crusader material.  I ran into him on UK ebay, during the same, halcyon days of the 2000s.  ...And he was selling off some of his collection.  Yes, it was kind of bittersweet, meeting him more or less at the end of his numismatic career.  Here are two examples that are easy to find pics of.  The first is an AE pougeoise (thank you, fractional denier) of Raymond III, Count of Tripoli 1152-1187; a later issue, from c. 1173 (Malloy p. 171, no. 13).  "+CIVITAS [/ From 9 o'clock:] +TRIPOLIS." 


Next is one of yours truly's three examples of the commonest 'DAMIATA' issue of Jean de Brienne (...and Yep, I want All of 'em).



He ended up sending me a total of three of his articles in The Numismatic Chronicle (1978, '79, and '81), reprinted (with the NC imprimatur) in pamphlet form.  --Yep, at my insistence, he inscribed each of them.  ...He also sent something in similar format that eludes finding right at the moment (presumably because it was on a commensurately different, but medieval subject), which was inscribed to him by Mark Blackburn. 

...No, I know that will turn up, inside of some operant book.  Except, for any of you who do medieval, um, just say, Mark Blackburn.  For an inscription, even at that kind of remove, the only thing better would be Grierson.  ...Or Poey d'Avant, in a book that would run that high in the antiquarian market.

Thanks again, @Kamnaskires.  This was as fun as the plaudits were long overdue.

Edited by JeandAcre
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Not scholarly research but I’ve had people like Andrew McCabe help me with anonymous RR bronzes and Curtis Clay provide valuable contextual information on Severan coins and others. It’s cool to get these and many other experts look at my scrappy budget buys.

I mentioned two experts that came to mind… but here, at FORVM and at CT, there are many very knowledgeable people/experts to help across many topics (Ptolemaic, Flavian, Probus, Byzantine, etc.). We’re lucky to be able to connect so easily these days to such a wide variety of people interested in ancient coins and the history attached to them.

Edited by Orange Julius
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I've had pleasant and helpful correspondence with Sam Moorhead and also Lee Toone regarding my coins, both of which were more than glad to help me out.  I wouldn't hesitate to reach out to other people in the future.  In my experience they are at least as enthusiastic as I am, hence their position.  It makes collecting a researching even more enjoyable than it already is.

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I've reached out to three academics on Academiu.edu and not heard back, even though it seems they're somewhat active on there. Though I don't hold that against them, I have no idea how busy they might be or whether they have a bunch of spam in their mailbox so don't bother using it. I also wouldn't be surprised if they're not even aware I've emailed them as Academia.edu tends to spam you with notifications for irrelevant things. It's been a few months but I might try them at their email addresses directly if I can find them.

I have had some luck though. I've chatted with one numismatist briefly on Academia.edu but they're also present on FORVM (and maybe CT/here, haven't checked) and I've also chatted with a French archaeologist who had published some articles on specific types of bronze age spears that I wanted to read but couldn't find online (free or paid) versions available.

Edited by Kaleun96
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@curtislclay has helped me innumerous times with my eastern Severans as has @dougsmit and Barry Murphy. I had the pleasure of spending an hour in his company in his office in Chicago a few years ago.

Dr. Sylviane Estiot has helped me with my Lugdunum obsession and many years ago I received a large package of literature from her which I still refer to weekly.

Richard Schaefer helped me confirm my more obscure Papius coins.

Lee Toone has helped me with my occasional farays into London mint coinage.

There are many who have helped me on my way. Far too many to list.

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