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A Complete World Coin Catalog

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Valued Member
Belgium
186 Posts
 Posted 04/01/2017  3:52 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add TheCoinDom to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
[To Staff: Please move this topic if I posted it in the wrong forum]

Hello everyone,

I don't know how about other collectors, but I'm pretty dissatisfied about the fact that there isn't any good reference about world
coins pre-1600.

The Krause catalogs only give information about coins post-1600 and they are sorted by years (which is very inconvenient if you try to collect geographically).

So I thought; what about writing a complete, exhaustive catalog of all coins ever minted, sorted geographically? Could be something like a series of books, one about each specific region of the world (some continents such as Asia would need to be broken up into smaller parts).

This is an ambitious project and certainly not a project to be done by one person. I would like to hear your thoughts about such an idea:

1. Would it benefit many people, or just a handful of collectors?
2. Do you think it is doable?

Note this is purely hypothetical and (for now) is just an idea, but if you are interested to participate in such a project please PM me.

Waiting for your feedback
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United States
18290 Posts
 Posted 04/01/2017  5:03 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@DWSB, interesting topic for discussion. I happen to collect by date, so the Krause format worked quite well for me (at least until I reached the 1400s, and then books are generally region-specific (with Levinson's book on dated European coinage being a notable exception).

I'm trying to imagine the scale of what you are describing. Depending on whether you are intending to include pics and prices for the coins, I'd guess that you need at least 25 Krause sized books, and likely more. That sems like a gimungous project.
"If you climb a good tree, you get a push."
-----Ghanaian proverb

"The danger we all now face is distinguishing between what is authentic and what is performed."
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Valued Member
United States
113 Posts
 Posted 04/01/2017  5:22 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add wadahek to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
This sounds like a rather interesting project. I'm a graphic designer, and I've gotta say that even after all of the information/content is collected and sorted digitally, it would still be hundreds of hours spent laying it out in book form. It would likely be faster to create some sort of website with a catalog/directory through a Content Management System (WordPress, Drupal, etc), and enter each coin as a separate item/page.
This sounds very interesting to me, and I wish it were feasible for me to participate. Either way, I'm very interested in watching the progress you make.
Edited by wadahek
04/01/2017 5:23 pm
Pillar of the Community
Russian Federation
3319 Posts
 Posted 04/01/2017  5:52 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add january1may to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Isn't Numista basically trying to be this in online form?

I think it's a nice idea, but for some coin types the information is extremely obscure, some aren't identified very precisely and/or might fall on a boundary between regions, and some regions just don't have a lot of coin types at all (the non-micronational coin types of Antarctica could probably all fit on one page, Australia would maybe take a thin booklet, and even South America shouldn't need that big of a volume), while others (Greece, Germany) had a ludicrous lot of assorted stuff.
And I won't be surprised if some of the info will be copyrighted too strictly.

Also, it's unclear what counts as "coins" (as opposed to tokens, fantasy issues, and so on).

I'd follow that project if it was actually started, but I'm not sure it's even possible - even if it gets ten million dollars on Kickstarter.
Valued Member
Belgium
186 Posts
 Posted 04/01/2017  6:06 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add TheCoinDom to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@Spence It certainly is a gimungous project, but the main problem here is the fact that there are some place-period combinations for which there just isn't a coin reference book about.

@wadahek Well, it could be possible to do that digitally because if I do that it will be mainly as a hobby and not necessarily to make profit.

The other problem that arises in this case is: what exactly is a coin? Which issuing entities are considered to issue coins and which issue tokens? This is especially true for medieval coins as they were often issued by individual cities. Somehow the split needs to be made anyway...

Well that is a really hard thing to do.


EDIT: @january1may Sorry for the duplicate things in my post I started writing before you posted.
Edited by TheCoinDom
04/01/2017 6:08 pm
Valued Member
Belgium
186 Posts
 Posted 04/01/2017  6:12 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add TheCoinDom to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@january1may Well Numista is fine for all the coins that are in the Krause book, but when I checked medieval coins for various countries (Poland, Belgium, France) on Numista, it just contained literally a few example types, nowhere near a complete list. Plus Numista doesn't contain prices.
Pillar of the Community
Russian Federation
3319 Posts
 Posted 04/01/2017  9:06 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add january1may to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Well Numista is fine for all the coins that are in the Krause book, but when I checked medieval coins for various countries (Poland, Belgium, France) on Numista, it just contained literally a few example types, nowhere near a complete list. Plus Numista doesn't contain prices.
They're working on it - some countries have pretty decent coverage (look up Hungary), some are slowly getting there (Poland just has so much stuff that there's still an awful lot to add; a few weeks ago they also added several hundred types from medieval Germany).
OTOH, their medieval Russia is crap (IIRC, they have literally only one type - ludicrously badly described at that, seriously, see for yourself - from the entire pre-1535 period).

They're much weaker on ancients, I admit - they might only have like two or three different coins from some places (the Bosporan region comes to mind) that actually have wide variety. (Then again, their Judea looks close to complete.) Also working on it, but a lot slower.

(And they plan to add prices soon too, incidentally.)
Valued Member
Lithuania
363 Posts
 Posted 04/02/2017  12:26 pm  Show Profile   Check giedrius's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add giedrius to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I'm working about 10 years in very narrow theme - Lithuanian half-groats 1495-1529.With co-authors,and they are in theme more than 10 years both. http://goccf.com/t/282866 Issued the book last month and understood,that nearest 5-6 years I will spend in this theme too to increase the catalogue. Think,it's impossible to write the complete catalogue or it needs hundreds or thousands of numismatists to work hand in hand.
Catalogue of Lithuanian half-groats 1495-1529 http://goccf.com/t/282866
Edited by giedrius
04/02/2017 12:30 pm
Valued Member
Belgium
186 Posts
 Posted 04/02/2017  12:43 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add TheCoinDom to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Actually the hardest part to do would be the coins of Europe and Asia as:
- No coins were minted in Africa or Oceania before
the early 19th century;
- American coins are generally well described and catalogued (both North and South America).

In my opinion this kind of catalog is a doable project, however time-consuming and hard.

@giedrius Well I looked up your catalog and it's a very complete one. Look, the Red Book is considered as a good reference for US coins and it doesn't include every possible die variety (for cents there is the Sheldon catalog, for example). I think about writing a complete catalog which contains only the major varieties and not every single possible one. You took the example of Lithuanian half-groats, so I'll tell you there is a more general and 99%+ complete online catalog of all coins of Poland with only the major varieties
(including Lithuanian coins from the era of the Commonwealth) called Fortress Catalogue and it certainly didn't take 100 years to make.

P.S.: This is not to discourage you as I really appreciate your work on Lithuanian coins

So my opinion is: yes it IS doable.
Edited by TheCoinDom
04/02/2017 12:52 pm
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United States
9121 Posts
 Posted 04/02/2017  1:28 pm  Show Profile   Check paralyse's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add paralyse to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The fun starts when you get into hammered European coinage of the 13th-16th centuries, where branch mints had their own engravers and moneyers of varying skill and artistic ability. In addition, dozens of workshops turned out dozens of imitations of varying quality, all of which circulated along with the real coins. And this was an era when almost every town, city, bishopric, duchy, etc. was coining its own money due to the lack of a "national" currency (really, the lack of a nation.)

This is the sort of work which is usually done in specialized volumes on a per-ruler or per-area basis; you could endeavor to write a single volume book on the hammered silver coinage of England with full photos of every known obverse and reverse combination, of every denomination, and not only would it be a long effort, the result would probably weigh 15 pounds and be useful as a blunt weapon. Even "general" books such as North's 2 volumes on English Hammered Coinage which focus only on major types are 320 pp. each and those don't list mules, imitations, or die varieties for the most part.
Longhorn Coins & Exonumia
Member ANA - EAC - TNA - SSDC - CCT #890

"Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done." -- Louis D. Brandeis
Pillar of the Community
United Kingdom
1884 Posts
 Posted 04/02/2017  6:24 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Pertinax to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I began collecting when the only world coin catalog was by RS Yeoman - very rudimentary, only 1 grade with an ambiguous definition and prices that didn't make much sense. Later came the Schon catalog. I suppose that if these authors had looked at all the difficulties, they would never have started.

I think it is doable as a non-commercial project, if there are lots of numismatists contributing, whether from their own knowledge or by doing research using printed books or in museums It would certainly be useful and interesting to thousands of people and might tempt many to start collecting medieval coins.

Speaking as an IT project manager, it would be feasible to do this on the internet and fairly easy to build the structure that would be needed, however as Numista already exists, it might be convenient to use Numista, however we might need extensions, eg for prices and different structures. However, I've seen many websites come and go and I wouldn't be happy putting a lot of data into an existing online catalog unless I could download the data in a retrievable and re-usable form. The Numista founder might be comfortable about that or might not.

Such a project would need a board of directors or trustees to determine the general approach, strategy, to rule on disputes, and perhaps to raise funds.

In reply to DominikWSP, the Axum kingdom in what is now Ethiopia and Eritrea issued coinage from 270 to 610, and the Roman provinces of
Africa issued coinage, as did the Greeks and Phoenicians.

I think that while it would be easier to see progress by doing one century at a time, eg 1500 to 1599, that wouldn't please those whose period of expertise or interest is earlier.

I don't think we need to worry about whether coins are tokens or not; there were very few tokens issued before 1600. Certainly I regard all the coins issued by French feudal towns, abbeys, bishops, states, nobles as real coins.

I don't think we need to think about how many books would be needed if we have an internet catalogue and I doubt whether it would be commercial proposition in the short to medium term anyway.
Life Fellow, Royal Numismatic Society

My wants list: http://goccf.com/t/283145
Edited by Pertinax
04/02/2017 6:28 pm
Valued Member
Belgium
186 Posts
 Posted 04/04/2017  4:36 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add TheCoinDom to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@Pertinax I totally agree with you. However if such a project was started, it would certainly require all of the contributors to work together pretty quickly, not in the way it is done on Numista where there is more like a "one day maybe it will be complete" approach.

Well, I'm starting to think that I could launch such a project online with an announcement and wait a bit for some people to come, then progressively do the work but never stop in the Numista way.

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 Posted 04/28/2018  4:48 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I'm bumping this thread because I am doing more researching of pre-1600 coins than I have done before, including using Numista, since I have very few reference books.

As mentioned in an earlier post, the Numista coverage of some areas is rather light, and I was wondering if anyone here is contributing entries to help improve it? (There is also the matter of correcting mistakes). Or is it futile, and why bother to spend the time?

Pillar of the Community
Russian Federation
3319 Posts
 Posted 04/28/2018  6:04 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add january1may to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Numista is being incrementally improved all the time - though I admit that the improvement had slowed down somewhat lately.

Really the big problem in Numista coverage improvement is their relatively stringent rules on image copyright (as should be expected, since anything else would be a huge legal problem, but it does make finding usable images rather tricky).

...Come to think of it, in a lot of the less explored coinage areas (ancient India comes to mind), new types are being discovered all the time. So any theoretical "exhaustive catalog" would end up being quickly (somewhat) obsolete in some areas anyway.
Pillar of the Community
United Kingdom
1884 Posts
 Posted 04/28/2018  7:01 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Pertinax to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I imagine the Numista team are all volunteers, most of whom will have other commitments, jobs, families, communities, other interests.

It shouldn't be surprising if progress slows down or stops.

I think it would be difficult to replicate Numista's effort.

It's not futile to add entries. I suspect the more that are added, the more other people will start adding.

The only futile idea is that such a catalogue can be exhaustive.
Life Fellow, Royal Numismatic Society

My wants list: http://goccf.com/t/283145
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 Posted 04/28/2018  11:30 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the responses.

I've identified some types in my collection which are not in their catalog (Lorraine, Brabant, Italian States), so I'll slowly submit them.

Gee, I'll be retired in a couple of years, so maybe I should run for moderator for those areas!
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