Mike Markowitz wrote a book review for CoinWeek on Coinage in the Roman Economy by Kenneth Harl. It opens with a wonderful description of why we numismatic bibliophiles love books, and why others ought to as well.
I’m always a little embarrassed when CoinWeek describes me as an “ancient coin expert.”
I know some of the real experts–people who’ve built up an encyclopedic database of numismatics over a lifetime, neatly organized and cross-indexed for instant access in their brains. I am awed by their abilities, but my brain doesn’t work that way.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to. I may not have all the information in my head, but I know where to find it. I have the books right here.
Normal people (those who are not coin geeks) often ask, “Why do you need so many damn books?”
It’s a fair question.
In Classical numismatics, as in so many other fields, we often find ourselves drowning in information but starved for context. Collectors experience a flood of ancient coins, beautifully imaged and meticulously described on dealer web sites or arriving in the mailbox with each season’s surge of new auction catalogs. But it’s not always easy to find resources that help us understand what these coins meant, and how they worked.
Coinage in the Roman Economy by Kenneth Harl provides that context.
Harl’s book is a scholarly work intended for academic readers. It assumes a basic familiarity with ancient history, but it’s also an accessible source for the kind of information that collectors of Roman and related coins need to know, to understand exactly what it is that we collect with such passion.
Here's another small portion of review. Be sure to read the complete article online.
Harl, Kenneth W. Coinage in the Roman Economy: 300 BC to AD 700. Johns Hopkins University Press (1996). 472 pages.
Packing a thousand years of economic history into a little more than 300 pages of text is a masterful accomplishment. While it’s not light reading, especially for beginners, the prose is lucid. Clear black and white plates illustrate 267 coins mentioned in the text. There is a glossary of English and Latin terms, and an Appendix explaining Roman weights and measures. A well-organized “Select Bibliography” fills 46 pages, providing a reliable guide to the current and classic literature of Ancient Roman numismatics in English, French, Italian and German.
The only feature I missed was a list of tables, since the tables scattered throughout the text provide a wealth of useful information. For example:
Table 3.1 Silver Bullion and Coin Available to Roman Mint 201-151 BC
Table 5.3 Standards of Alexandrine Tetradrachmae, Egypt 73-30 BC and AD 19-68
Table 9.3 Estimated Military Expenditures, AD 6 – 235 (in millions of denarii)
Coinage in the Roman Economy is a book every serious collector of Roman coins should consider. It belongs in your high-traffic reference library, on the shelf with David Sear’s Roman Coins and Their Values and David Vagi’s monumental two-volume Coinage and History of the Roman Empire (which I hope to review in a future “First Read”).
Kenneth Harl (B.A. Trinity College, M.A, Ph.D Yale) is a professor of history and Fellow of the American Numismatic Society. He has taught Classical and Byzantine history at Tulane University since 1978. He is also the author of two compact, inexpensive handbooks for archaeologists on Roman and Byzantine coins commonly found at dig sites in Turkey.
To read the complete article, see:
Coinage in the Roman Economy by Kenneth Harl, Ph.D.
Markowitz helpfully included a link to the publisher's web site, where the book has been marked down for its list price of $73 to just $25.
For more information, or to purchase, see:
Coinage in the Roman Economy, 300 B.C. to A.D. 700
Wayne Homren, Editor
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor
at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 1998 - 2020 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster