Sunday, August 18, 2013

Waxing Classical

"Classical Coins" Dealer Waxes Classical
by Paul Barford

"Californian dugup dealer Welsh ('Barford the Ignoramus Redux', Sunday, August 18, 2013 ) asks:

"Quousque tandem abutere patientia nostra?"
Bearing in mind some of the intemperate rants we've read from him recently and what he wrote in the above-mentioned blog text, it seems to me an adequate response is to quote back at him the second line of Oratio in L. Catilinam Prima:
Quam diu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet?"


Clearly the abuse of Senatorial patience and the furor which Cicero accused Catiline of being the instigator are, in this case, the result of Mr. Barford's deliberately provocative and insulting language. How would Barford like being described as "a sometime grave-robber and involuntary expatriate, who could not stay employed in  British archaeology due to his unpleasant and abrasive personality?"

In an immediately preceding post Mr. Barford wrote:

"m-e-t--h-o-d-o-l-o-g-y, watch the lips

I fail to see where the confusion arises. A bunch of guys tells us we should treat them nicely because they practice some serious scholarly discipline with a load of decontextualised dugup coins from other countries.

"OK", you say, "very interesting, discipline you say? What's the body of methodology and theory at its basis?"
"Eh?"  the reply.
"the body of methodology and theory at its basis" you explain.
"errr..." is the reply.
"You are an idiot! A mate of mine whose name I cannot reveal says he knows you and he says you are an idiot!" jumps in Cultural property Research Institute Director Houghton, foaming at the mouth.
"which is why I'd like you to give me the references so I can learn" you reply calmly.
"Yes, you are an ignoramus" Dave the dealer accuses, "My library's bigger than yours I'll bet", says Dealer Dave, "I have read and comprehensively understood every one of these many thousands of references! It is upon that extremely solid foundation that I assert that my knowledge of the science of numismatics is very likely far more detailed and complete than Mr. Barford's knowledge of the so-called science of archaeology, i.e. glorified and academically formalized grave-robbing!".
And so on.  More insults.

What is the problem with just saying where the methodology of this academic 'discipline' is codified?
Welsh points me to a  list of reference works on a trade site of catalogues and descriptive works (what we call here in Polish archaeology "materiałówki").* This is not an exposition of methodology, it is not the presentation of a body of theory. We seem to be talking at cross purposes. Welsh seems to think I am asking about "books" in general, as if having books in the house automatically guarantees you scholar status (maybe it does in California, who knows?).
 According to Mr Welsh, numismatics is "a science whose published literature easily equals (and in my opinion probably surpasses) everything published on the subject of archaeology". If that IS the case (and is "size" always what matters?) then the coineys should have no difficulty whatsoever finding among that mass of high quality literature ten textbooks on the methodology and theory of dealing with decontextualuised coins on a table, n'est ce pas? But the man who has digested a mountain of books sems to have precisely such a problem. He excuses himself from the task by saying: "heap of assorted coins on a table numismatics is not a subject of interest to anyone other than [Mr Barford] himself and the few benighted souls [...]". Well, hang on a moment, we were told, were we not, that 50000 US collectors of assorted and contextless dugup ancient coins are engaged in the scholarly study of precisely such material. That is hardly a "lack of interest". It is also a whopping big market for somebody who's digested a whole mountain of books in his 15x15m Goleta housing estate bungalow, to write the next edition of "Theory and Practice of Classical Numismatics".

You cannot have it both ways. You cannot claim that home study of imported coins bought through US dealers is a "discipline" with a methodology of its own and its very important, but that "nobody but a few benighted souls are interested in such a discipline", can you?

Maybe Mr Welsh could explain that to this "ignoramus", or better still, just stump up a list of the books on  the m-e-t-h-o-d-o-l-o-g-y (watch the lips) of what these people do on their kitchen tables with all the coins they buy. Not the catalogues, not the picture books, not the results of their art-historical seriation,  not an "all the coins from Miletus" corpus, but a presentation of the theory and methodology of a certain type of numismatics, because that is what they insist they have.
* By the way the purpose of Welsh's "booklist" is as a key to explain the shorthand terms used in the sales offers of individual coins for sale to give the types a name and make the presentation look as if the dealer knows his stuff well enough to find a picture of a similar one in a reference book. So, it explains that "C." is the abbreviation for "H. Cohen, Description Historique des Monnaies Frappeés sous l'Empire Romain. Paris, 1880-92 (Reprint)". Note neither the original place of publication or publisher are cited in this booklist, nor any of the details about the "reprint"."


A brief reading list is now presented for those pretentious ignorami who foolishly persist in commenting adversely upon the science of numismatics, without having any knowledge thereof. Those actually capable of (and sufficiently motivated for) reading these fundamental scholarly numismatic works might possibly gain enough understanding of the subject to realize that their present perspective is absolutely, spectacularly and ridiculously wrong:

ACGCC  Kraay, Archaic and Classical Greek Coins. London, 1976

Meshorer  Y. Meshorer, Ancient Jewish Coinage. 2 vol. New York, 1982

Babelon E. Babelon, Monnaies de la Republique Romain. 2 vol. Paris, 1885 (Reprint)

Babelon, Traité E. Babelon, Traité des Monnaies Grecques et Romaines. 9 vol.  Paris, 1901-1932 (Reprint)

BMC Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum. 29 vol. London, 1873-1927 (Reprint)

Göbl  R. Göbl, Sasanian Numismatics. Braunschweig, 1971

Göbl, Hunnen  R. Göbl, Dokumente zur Geschicte der Iranischer Hunnen in Baktrien und Indien. 4 vol. Wiesbaden, 1967

Göbl, Kushan  R. Göbl, Münzprägung des Kushanreiches. Vienna, 1974

Hendin  D. Hendin, Guide to Biblical Coins. Third Edition. New York, 1996

Houghton   A. Houghton, Coins of the Seleucid Empire from the Collection of Arthur Houghton. ACNAC 4. New York, 1983

Lacam  G. Lacam, La Fin de l'Empire Romain et le Monnayage Or en Italie. Lucerne, 1983

Lindgren  H. Lindgren and F. Kovacs, Ancient Bronze Coinage of Asia Minor and the Levant. San Mateo, 1985

Lindgren II  H. Lindgren, Ancient Greek Bronze Coins: European Mints. San Mateo, 1989

Lindgren III  H. Lindgren, Ancient Greek Bronze Coins. Quarryville, 1993.

LRBC  R.A.G. Carson, P.V. Hill and J.P.C. Kent, Late Roman Bronze Coinage. London, 1978

MACW  M. Mitchiner, Oriental Coins and their Values: The Ancient and Classical World. London, 1978

MIB  W. Hahn, Moneta Imperii Byzantini. 3 vol. Vienna, 1973-81

MIG  M. Mitchiner, Indo-Greek and Indo-Scythian Coinage. 9 vol. London, 1975-1976

Pozzi  S. Pozzi, Catalogue Monnaies Grecques Antiques. Geneva, 1921 (Reprint)

Price  M.J. Price, The Coinage in the Name of Alexander the Great and Philip Arrhideus. 2 vol.   London, 1991

RPC   A. Burnett, M. Amandry and P. Ripollès, Roman Provincial Coinage. Vol. 1. London and Paris, 1992

Sellwood  D. Sellwood, An Introduction to the Coinage of Parthia. 2nd Edition. London, 1980

SNG A   Sylloge Nummorum Graecorm, American Numismatic Society. New York, 1969-

SNG B  Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, British Museum. Volume IX, Part 1: The Black Sea. London, 1993

SNG C  Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Danish National Museum. Copenhagen, 1942- (Reprint)

SNG L   Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Switzerland; E. Levante - Cilicia. Bern, 1986 SNG R Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Schweiz II. Bern, 1993

SNG vA or von Aulock  Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Sammlung Hans von Aulock. Berlin, 1957-68 (Reprint)

Svoronos J. Svoronos, Corpus of the Ancient Coins of Athens. English Edition. Chicago, 1975 (Reprint)

Svoronos  J. Svoronos, Ta Nomismata tou Kratous ton Ptolemaion. Athens, 1904-08

T/V  B. Thurlow and I. Vecchi, Italian Cast Coinage. Dorchester, 1979

Thompson  M. Thompson, The New Style Silver Coinage of Athens. New York, 1961.

Vlasto   O. Ravel, The Collection of Tarentine Coins Formed by M.P. Vlasto. London, 1947 (Reprint)

Walker  J. Walker, A Catalogue of the Arab-Sassanian Coins. London, 1941



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