Attributing Ancient
Greek-Era Coins

Athenian Owl tetradrachm, c. 431-413 BC, Sear 2526, SNG Cop. 38, SNG Fitz. 3070, SNG Lewis 661, Dewing 1621, Kroll 8c, Szego 15, an example of a coin whose attribution has been disputed*

IN A NUTSHELL: Attributing an ancient coin provides valuable information about it, but not all sellers who attribute do it accurately or honestly. In fairness, attribution can be time-consuming and tricky. (Note: This document is copyrighted. Please don't republish elsewhere.)

 

Attributing an ancient coin is a way of putting it in context. You compare it with other coins for similarities and differences, learning about where and when and by whom the coin was minted.

The most commonly used attribution reference, at least in the U.S., for ancient Greek-era coins (see links at the bottom of this page for attributing ancient Roman coins) is David R. Sear's two-volume
Greek Coins and Their Values (GCV or Sear Greek), published in 1978 and 1979. Sear plans to publish an updated version, just as he's doing for his Roman Coins and Their Values series. Sear's books are very useful, among the indispensable first books of a serious collector, helping you learn about and appreciate coins you have or coins you're considering acquiring. But his books are meant to be overviews, not comprehensive catalogs of all the coins of a particular city-state or ruler or all the varieties of a particular coin type.

Sear may be all you need, but if you want further detail, you'll need to consult other references. After Sear, the most commonly used attribution reference in the U.S. for ancient Greek and related coins is SNG Cop. This stands for
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum: The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum (in Copenhagen). SNG Cop. was originally published as a 43-volume set from 1942 until 1979 and was reprinted as an eight-volume set between 1981 and 1994 (a supplement of more recent acquisitions was published in 2002). It's valued for its comprehensiveness. Among other things, compared with Sear, it includes many more Greek-era coin types and varieties of the same coin type as well as Greek Imperial/Roman Provincial coin types. What's more, compared with some other SNGs, it covers the entire range of Greek-era coins, rather than just one or several regions, and it's in English, so it's nearly universally accessible. The original 43-volume set is more difficult to find and use but has better quality photos, with the photos in the eight-volume set being second-generation copies.

Many other SNGs exist as well and are used to attribute coins, since far more coin types and varieties exist than are documented even in SNG Cop. The Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum (translation: Collection of Greek Coins) began as a British Academy research project to catalog and illustrate Greek-era and Greek Imperial/Roman Provincial coins kept in museums and selected private collections in the United Kingdom, with the first publication being SNG Spenser in 1931. The big SNG innovations compared with previous works were putting text and illustrations on facing pages, conveniently preventing you from having to flip back and forth from text to illustrations, and giving greater prominence to illustrations. Most of the earlier SNGs were printed using the large 10x15-in. folio format, while some of the later ones, beginning in 1986, were printed using the smaller 8-1/2x12-in. format.

Since its inception the SNG project has spread beyond the U.K. to other countries, including Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Israel, and the United States. In still other countries SNGs are in various stages of discussion, planning, or preparation.

Many other collection catalogs and references are used as well for attributing ancient Greek-era coins. The most ambitious is the oldest attribution reference still widely used, the massive 29-volume
A Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum (BMC), which comprises a total of 10,688 pages. The first volume was published in 1873, and along with the next three volumes included just woodcut illustrations of coins. The last volume was published in 1927. Much of its dating and other attribution information is now obsolete, but it can still be useful for identifying varieties. BMC was reprinted in the 1960s.

A host of other published collections, public as well as private, are used as attribution references. The following are among the most widely used or interesting general collection references, listed below starting with the most recently published (this is not an attempt at a complete list):

  • Greek and Roman Coins from the du Chastel Collection, Coin Cabinet of the Royal Library of Belgium (Chastel) -- 1999
  • Catalogue of the Classical Collection, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design: Ancient Greek Coins (Holloway) -- 1998
  • Ancient Greek Bronze Coins from the Lindgren Collection (Lindgren III) -- 1993
  • Ancient Greek Bronze Coins, European Mints, From the Lindgren Collection (Lindgren II) -- 1989
  • Ancient Bronze Coins of Asia Minor and the Levant (Lindgren I) -- 1985
  • Catalogue of the Calouste Gulbenkian Collection of Greek Coins (Gulbenkian) -- 1989 and 1971
  • Griechische Münzen in Winterthur (Winterthur) -- 1987
  • Arthur Dewing Collection of Greek Coins (Dewing) -- 1985
  • Early Greek Coins from the Collection of Jonathan P. Rosen (Rosen) -- 1983
  • Catalogue des monnaies grecques antiques de l'ancienne collection Pozzi (Pozzi) -- 1979
  • Greek Coins and Cities: The Norman Davis Collection (Davis) -- 1967
  • Catalogue of Greek Coins, Boston Museum of Fine Arts (Boston MFA) -- 1955
  • Collection R. Jameson: Monnaies grecques antiques (Jameson) -- 1913-1932
  • Weber Collection of Greek Coins (Weber) -- 1922-1929
  • Catalogue of the McClean Collection of Greek Coins (McClean) -- 1923
  • Catalogue of Greek Coins in the Hunterian Collection (Hunterian) -- 1899-1905
  • Traité des Monnaies Grecques et Romaines (Traité) -- 1901-1932
  • Die antiken Münzen von Makedonia und Paionia (AMNG III-2/Gaebler 2) -- 1935
  • Die antiken Münzen von Thrakien (AMNG II) -- 1912
  • Die antiken Münzen von Makedonia und Paionia (AMNG III-1/Gaebler 1) -- 1906
  • Die antiken Münzen von Dacien und Moesien (AMNG I) -- 1898

Previous auction catalogs are sometimes used to attribute ancient coins, particular rare ones not seen in the commonly used reference catalogs. Still other attribution references, and there are many of them, include specialized books, book chapters, journal articles, monographs, and papers about one specific coin series, theme, ruler, or region. The backs, or fronts, of auction catalogs typically include lists, some long, some short, of attribution references used in ancient numismatics. The bibliography of Classical Numismatic Group (CNG) is particularly comprehensive, and it's now available online. Such lists can be especially useful for spelling out the full names of attribution reference abbreviations used in auction catalogs.

Numismatic journals and magazines are also often abbreviated. An excellent Web resource for deciphering these abbreviations is the American Numismatic Society's
"Periodical Abbreviations" (about a quarter of the way down the page). This list is part of a larger ANS effort called "Numismatic Literature," an annotated bibliography of published work in all fields of numismatics that's maintained by Sebastian Heath and Oliver Hoover with the help of others around the world.

SNGs are deliberately designed to minimize the background historical information provided, so for this you have to look elsewhere. The two best collector-oriented overview books about ancient Greek-era coins in my view are Wayne G. Sayles' 1997 Ancient Coin Collecting II: Numismatic Art of the Greek World and John Anthony's 1983 Collecting Greek Coins. The two best scholarly overview books about ancient Greek-era coins in my view are Colin M. Kraay's 1976 Archaic and Classical Greek Coins and Otto Mørkholm's 1991 Early Hellenistic Coinage from the Accession of Alexander to the Peace of Apamaea (336-188 BC). Many other books as well as journal articles deal with narrower areas. My page,
Alexander III Coin References, is an example of an online bibliography that lists such resources.

SNGs, like other collection catalogs, consist of the best, most credible, information that the author or authors could find about the coins they're cataloging. Sometimes along with researching the die, hoard, and other studies done by others, authors incorporate their own primary research as well. SNG authors are unheralded and largely anonymous. SNGs are typically referred to using the name of the institution that houses the collection, the individual who built the collection, or the city or country where the institution resides. Some SNGs are created with more care and attention to detail than others, with clearer photography, better descriptive information, and useful indices.

Auction houses and dealers often do a very good job attributing coins, going to the original SNGs or other printed reference sources. In some cases, dealer attributions and included background material are exquisitely informed, pointing out fascinating information you didn't know or where to look up fascinating information you don't know about a coin you're considering buying or already have.

Not all ancient coin attributions, however, are created equal. Sometimes a seller describes a coin as "unlisted" or "possibly unlisted," suggesting a rare variety not yet published, when it's clear that the seller hasn't consulted the relevant references (on the other hand, some coins are in fact completely unlisted or unlisted in the commonly used references for that coin series). Many dealers follow the convention of indicating when they're attributing a coin of a variety that's not listed in a particular reference to a variety that is listed or to a group of similar coins that are listed. The abbreviation "v." or "var." after a catalog number means "variation" or "variant," "cf." before a catalog number means "confer" or "compare with," and "f." or "ff." after a catalog number means that the coin is being compared with the coin referred to and the one coin after it (f.) or all coins of the type after it (ff.). But sometimes this convention isn't followed and the coin is just referenced to a coin of the same type without attention given to the variety.

Varieties are determined by larger and more obvious or smaller and more subtle differences in a coin's flan, devices, inscriptions, or mint marks. Mint mark varieties are easiest to distinguish, though the meaning of mint marks isn't always clear. These small subsidiary markings, typically abbreviations, monograms, or symbols on the reverse, may refer to the city or mint where the coin originated, the ruling authority of that city or the larger region in which the city is situated, the mint magistrate responsible for the particular issue of coinage, the celator who cut the die, the officina (mint workshop) used, and/or the period or date when the coin was minted. The one or more mint marks on any given coin may be designed to hold those who minted the issue responsible for its weight, purity, and production qualities, to serve political or propaganda purposes, and/or to provide internal bookkeeping controls. Many coins don't have mint marks, with varieties distinguished in other ways.

In some cases a seller attributes a coin according to a specific SNG or other reference catalog number, but when you refer to that reference, the coin referenced is a different variety. This often happens because the seller reused the attribution of a fellow auction house or dealer or a previous attribution by someone at the same auction house or dealership and didn't get the variety quite right. Sometimes a seller uses the correct reference catalog number but the wrong dating -- with posthumous Kroisos and Alexander the Great coinage, for example, using as dating the years of the respective ruler's reign rather than the years when the variety was minted and creating the impression that the coin is a more desirable lifetime issue. Sometimes a seller cites an impressively obscure reference, which typical collectors don't have and may even have difficulty locating, when other widely available references would be just as or more suitable for that particularly coin type and variety. Sometimes a seller attributes a coin according to an older reference when widely accepted newer research indicates it's a coin of a different ruler or people. Sometimes when U.S. coin grading services encapsulate, or slab, ancient coins, their attributions are wrong or excessively generalized.

Perhaps the single most interesting thing about ancient coin attributions is the uncertainty of many of them. Rarely will a seller mention in a reference or description the existence of debate in the literature about the correct attribution of a particular coin type, even when the debate is widespread, well known, and more or less evenly divided. Perhaps the seller wasn't aware of it. Perhaps mentioning it would require more words in the catalog than the seller wants to use -- words take up pages, and pages cost money. Perhaps the seller doesn't want to create confusion in the minds of buyers about coins they're considering bidding on.

But this uncertainty and debate can make a coin type more appealing, not less, if approached from the right perspective. If you're given the opportunity to minimize the uncertainty yourself by having it pointed out to you, you can weigh the evidence uncovered by others and the arguments made by others and make up your own mind. Along the way you'll pick up thought-provoking, intriguing information about your coin you didn't already know.

The above kinds of attribution practices are engaged in by high-end auction houses and boutique-style numismatist/dealers as well as volume eBay sellers and collectors selling their own coins, though the higher-end sellers are more likely to have the knowledge and the library to do attribution correctly. In defense of dealers and auction houses, it has been said that relatively little attention is given to attributions in auction catalogs and fixed price lists because most collectors don't care about precise attributions, that they just want interesting, attractive coins. This doesn't apply to all collectors. It should also be said that attribution can be a time-consuming and sometimes tedious process. Finally, not even the most learned dealer can be expected to be a specialist in every coin series. Successful dealers are experts in buying and selling coins, gaining knowledge about sources of supply, active collectors, venues, and pricing and gaining enough scholarly knowledge about the coins they buy and sell to buy and sell them well. Some dealers are experts about coin series that are of particular interest to them.

In an online message, collector Andrew McCabe expressed it well: "The question is how far auction houses are expected to travel along the path from identification/authentication to accurate research. Personally I think auction-house responsibility stops at authentication and attribution to some well-known catalog, regardless of whether or not that catalog is current. Each collector is responsible for accurate attribution and keeping up to date with current research. I like to have moderate expectations and then be pleasantly surprised if an auction house goes beyond a simple attribution to an old catalog."

I believe the vast majority of dealers and auction houses, given their time constraints, try to do the right thing. I also believe you can trust that most dealer attributions will get the most important information right and that you can enjoy any given coin as is. But if you have the inclination, you'll get more accurate results in general if you attribute your coins yourself. Doing your own attributions can also broaden your knowledge of the number and extent of the varieties and denominations of a particular coin type and related types and deepen your appreciation for your own coins.

One pastime that some collectors find enjoyable, along with acquiring background information, is trying to attribute a favorite coin or favorite coin set or sets using as many attribution references as they can find. In this case, in addition to collecting the coin, you're also collecting information about it. Some collectors feel it's especially rewarding to discover they have in their collection a "plate coin" -- the very same coin that was illustrated on a plate (page of photos) in a particular attribution catalog or other reference work.

The Internet is increasingly helpful in attributing ancient coins, but as yet it's far from a panacea. The Web site
WildWinds is a comprehensive, useful catalog of completed ancient coin auctions, including prices realized, primarily from eBay but from other ancient coin auctions as well, and is particularly useful in gauging current market pricing. The attributions there are done by sellers and are as good as their attribution skills and effort.

The same can be said for
Acsearch.info. It's another excellent resource, providing attributions and prices realized for ancient coins from European and U.S. auction houses, which typically are higher end, and higher priced, than those sold through eBay. It recently, however, went from a free site to one with executive-level subscription pricing.

The above two sites are very convenient and well worth spending time with. They can be helpful among other ways in pointing you in the right direction if you've bought a coin that's unattributed. Both sites are becoming more comprehensive with each passing year, though neither is as comprehensive as the standard printed references.

Two books that can be helpful in attributing ancient Greek-era coins by type, when you don't know the type, are Richard Plant's
Greek Coin Types and Their Identification, published in 1979, and Severin Icard's Dictionary of Greek Coin Inscriptions: Identification of Coins by the Key-Letter and Fragmented Letter Method, Applied to Greek and Gallic Coins, published in French in 1929 and reprinted in 1979 with an English translation of the introduction.

Another way to get pointed in the right direction, or even get a precise attribution, is to ask online. There are numerous online discussion groups that deal with one or more aspects of ancient coins, but the two most active online forums about ancient coins in general are
FORVM, a Web site run by coin dealer Joe Sermarini, and Moneta-L, a Yahoo Groups discussion list run by coin dealer Kevin Barry. You'll be more likely to get responses if you post a photo or scan of the coin online rather than just describing it and if you show that you've first done some work yourself. People are often eager to help others in this way, but this eagerness will stop if it appears you're taking advantage of it by asking too often or too much.

Yet another way to gain attribution information about an ancient coin is to ask a dealer in person, at a coin show or in his shop. Dealers are often eager to help, but they will likely be more eager if you're a customer or have been in the past and if they're not busy at the time with other matters.

One example of an excellent effort that combines the comprehensiveness of print with the accessibility of online is Barry Murphy's
The Coinage of Thracian Cherronesos. It deals with one denomination of one coin type (an interesting and popular one), but it lists more than a hundred different varieties and provides attributions of them to appropriate printed references. This points to the future if more dealers and collectors make similar efforts. One of the magical things about the Web is how it lowers or eliminates traditional barriers to publication. Today, virtually anyone can publish helpful information by putting up a Web site, and in numismatics, many have chosen to do so.

When attributing your own coins, one confusing thing about the SNGs is that the same one can be referred to using different abbreviations. In the list below, I first indicate what appears to be the most commonly used abbreviation then include, in parentheses, other abbreviations that are sometimes used.

The abbreviation ANA or ANS in parentheses indicates that the library of the
American Numismatic Association or the American Numismatic Society has all or some of the volumes of that particular work (you can check the respective library's Web site to see exactly which volumes of a particular work that it has). ANA members can borrow these and other numismatic books from the ANA library by mail for the cost of round-trip postage and insurance. You have to consult the ANS's holdings in person at its New York City location. Both libraries will take and mail photocopies to you. The ANS charges 25 cents per page with a $10 minimum, though it can do this only in limited quantities. The ANA charges 25 cents per page with a $5 minimum, though in its case it charges a research fee of $50/hour for larger projects. Neither library will photocopy an entire book because of copyright laws.

The ANS's holdings of material about ancient coins are more comprehensive, though the ANA has a great deal to offer as well. The librarians at both institutions, Francis D. Campbell and his associates at the ANS and Amber Thompson and her associates at the ANA, are exceedingly helpful.

Larger university libraries in the U.S. often have one or more of the SNGs as well, though none are as extensive with regard to coins as either the ANS's or ANA's. University libraries in Europe are likely better stocked than American university libraries with regard to SNGs and ancient coin references, given the greater popularity of ancient coins there. The numismatic holdings, including SNGs, of the library of the
Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge are particularly rich. You can use the Web site WorldCat to find nearby libraries with online catalogs that have a particular book, including an SNG. Using your local library's interlibrary loan program is another option, though it can sometimes be difficult to obtain a book in university libraries from local public libraries.

Various efforts have been taken to make the full text of ancient coin attribution catalogs and other printed references available online. Typically, though not always, such references are older, out-of-copyright, books, and the information in them is primarily useful for tracing where numismatic scholarship has come from rather than where it is today, as the information has frequently been superseded by newer information obtained by hoard, die, and other studies. The work of 19th century numismatists created the foundation knowledge for many coin series, but in many cases that knowledge has been revised or completely overturned.

iNumis is a site in French and English that as of this writing offered 23 older numismatic books for free viewing online, two of them, about Roman coins, in English. LEETOONErarebooks from British numismatic book dealer Lee Toone is a compilation of Web resources about coin books. Numislit aficionado par excellence Ed Snible has put online the 1911 edition of Barclay Head's Historia Numorum: A Manual of Greek Numismatics, with other numismatic books online, partially online, or in the works. Ed has also compiled a list of numismatic books that primarily relate to ancients available for free online viewing through Google Book Search. His blog, "A Gift For Polydektes," has lots of material about numismatic books.

Some collectors find building their own print numismatic library no less enjoyable than building a numismatic collection, taking to heart the maxim "Buy the book before you buy the coin," which was first issued by numismatic book dealer Aaron Feldman (1894-1976). Prices for coin books, however, can be relatively high compared to other books because of the limited print runs, though they can be more than worth it in helping you make good buys and better appreciate coins you have. The
Celator magazine includes ads from book dealers who specialize in ancient coins. NumismaLink: Numismatic Books is a listing of Web sites from Andrew W. Pollock III where you can buy coin books. Coin dealers and auction houses also often sell coin literature as well as coins. You can also buy coin books in person at some national and local coin shows. Other options include but aren't limited to buying new or used books online through eBay, Half.com, Amazon.com, Alibris, or BookFinder.com.

Just as some coin dealers are better than others, some coin book dealers are as well, though as with coin dealers the vast majority of numismatic book sellers appear to be extremely trustworthy. Still, it doesn't hurt to ask around about a numismatic book seller you don't know. Some collectors have reported very slow delivery times in some cases and muddy coin photographs in reprinted books in other cases, though as a whole this appears to be very much the exception rather than the rule.

It's best to ask questions such as this to a group such as
Moneta-L or FORVM. The latter even has a specific discussion area called "Books and References" where people ask questions and share experiences about numismatic books in general. Ancients.info, the excellent collector sister site to the VCoins coin mall, both of which are from Bill Peutz, has a similar discussion area called "Publications." It can also be a good idea to ask online about CD-ROM versions of ancient coin attribution resources. Sometime pirated versions are sold on eBay, though legitimate CD-ROM references are sold too.

There are a number of other excellent Web sites specifically targeted toward those interested in coin books.
LibraryThing provides interesting tools for cataloging your own library, and Bob O'Hara has created through it a group for those interested in numismatic books. NumiBooks from Dave Millington is a fledgling numismatic book review site and deserves more reviews from people who read coin books. The Numismatic Bibliomania Society and its associated email newsletter E-Sylum, edited by Wayne Homren, are great ways to delve more into the love and arcana of numismatic books. For those who produce numismatic literature, the Numismatic Literary Guild, headed up by Ed Reiter, is a membership organization.

Yet another way that some collectors like to attribute their coins is through different auction catalogs. Sometimes you're even able to track the travels of a coin in your collection through multiple sales. Typically though it's difficult to get any information about who owned any given coin before you even when you ask. As with books, some collectors enjoy collecting auction catalogs, with the best among them featuring coins and coin photography whose beauty rivals the best coffee table coin books. Warren Esty has an excellent site called
Ancient Coin Auction Catalogs. Doug Smith has some excellent information about the need to read catalog information critically.

The SNGs, however, remain the biggest single type of source for attributing ancient Greek-era coins. Just as changes are taking place in the other areas of publishing, the future of SNGs may change as well. Because of the high cost of print publication and the low cost and increasing access to Web publication, future SNGs may appear on the Web rather than in print, according to the October 2005 newsletter of the
International Numismatic Commission. Even today some SNG material, as indicated below, is online as well as in print.

SNG volumes or parts that are missing in the list below are likely still in the planning or preparation stage. I haven't included coin numbers data for all of the SNGs below; unfortunately, not all use a sequential numbering system for all the coins in a particular volume. Thanks to Ted Buttrey for his comments and suggestions.

This Web page is a work in progress. Though I've taken care in putting this together, updates and no doubt corrections as well will always be needed, and appreciated. If you spot anything, you can send them
here.

SNG Aarhus -- Aarhus University, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1986-1987. In English. 1,608 coins. (ANS). You can also do an online search of SNG Aarhus.
Vol. 1: Collections of Herman Ernst Freund and William Larsen
Vol. 2 (or
SNG Fabricius): Collection of Knud F.K. Fabricius, consisting largely of coins from Sicily and southern Italy

SNG Aberdeen -- Marischal College, Aberdeen, Scotland, 1936. In English. (ANA, ANS)

SNG Alpha Bank (or SNG Greece II) -- Alpha Bank Collection, Athens, Greece, 2000-. In English (ANS)
Macedonia I: Alexander I to Perseus. 1,148 coins.

SNG ANS (or SNG American Numismatic Society or SNG America) -- American Numismatic Society, New York, U.S., 1969-. In English. 12,041 coins. (ANA, ANS)
Part 1: Etruria-Calabria
Part 2: Lucania
Part 3: Bruttium-Sicily (Abacaenum-Eryx)
Part 4: Sicily (Galaria-Styella)
Part 5: Sicily (Syracuse-Siceliotes)
Part 6: Palestine-South Arabia
Part 7: Macedonia (Cities, Thraco-Macedonian tribes, Paeonian kings)
Part 8: Macedonia (Alexander I-Philip II)
Part 9: Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek

SNG Ash. (or SNG Ashmolean or SNG Oxford) -- Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England, 1962-1981. In English. 3,934 coins. (ANA, ANS)
Part 1: Etruria-Lucania (Thruium)
Part 2: Lucania (Thurium)-Bruttium, Sicily, Carthage
Part 3: Macedonia
Part 4: Paeonia-Thessaly

SNG Belgium -- Collection of Greek bronzes of Marc Bar, Royal Library of Belgium, 2007. In French. 1,373 coins.

SNG Berry -- Collection of Burton Y. Berry, Indiana University, Indiana, Pennsylvania, U.S., 1961-1962. In English. 1,506 coins. (ANA, ANS)
Part I: Macedonia-Attica
Part II: Megaris-Egypt

SNG BM Black Sea (or SNG BM) -- British Museum 1: The Black Sea; London, England, 1993. In English. 1,642 coins. (ANA, ANS)

SNG BM Spain -- British Museum 2: Spain; London, England, 2002. In English. 1,802 coins. (ANA, ANS)

SNG Braunschweig -- Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig, Germany, 1998. In German. 1,815 coins.

SNG Bulgaria -- In English.
Vol. 1: Deultum. Roman Provincial coins of the Roman colony of Deultum in Thrace, 2005-. 2,010 coins.

SNG Christomanos (or SNG Greece III) -- Collection of Antoine Christomanos, Numismatic Museum of Athens, Greece, 2004. In French. 898 coins. (ANS)

SNG Cop. (or SNG Copenhagen or SNG Dan.) -- Danish National Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1942-1977 (originally published in 43 smaller volumes, reprinted since then in eight larger volumes). In English. 22,012 coins. (ANA, ANS)
Vol. 1: Italy, Sicily
Vol. 2: Thrace, Macedonia
Vol. 3: Thessaly-Aegean Islands
Vol. 4: Bosporus-Lesbos
Vol. 5: Ionia, Caria, Lydia
Vol. 6: Phrygia-Cilicia
Vol. 7: Cyprus-India
Vol. 8: Egypt

SNG Cop. Supp. (or SNG Copenhagen Supp. or SNG Dan. Supp.) -- Danish National Museum, supplement, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2002. In English. 1,341 coins. (ANA, ANS)

SNG Delepierre (or SNG BN or SNG BN Paris) -- Collection of Jean and Marie Delepierre, National Library, Paris, France, 1983. In French. 3,130 coins. (ANS)

SNG Dreer (or SNG Österreich or SNG Klagenfurt or SNG Dreer/Klagenfurt) -- Collection of Franz Dreer, Kärnten National Museum, Klagenfurt, Austria, 1967-. In German. (ANS)
Part I: Italy-Sicily. 612 coins.
Part II: Spain-Celtic Gaul. 220 coins.
Part III: Thrace-Macedonia, Pannonia

SNG Evelpidis (or SNG Greece I) -- Collection of Réna H. Evelpidis, Athens, Greece, in which bronzes are particularly well represented, 1970-1975. In French. 2,045 coins. (ANS)
Part 1: Italy, Sicily, Thrace
Part 2: Macedonia, Thessaly, Illyria, Epeiros, Corcyra

SNG Fitz. (or SNG Fitzwilliam or SNG Cambridge) -- Leake and General Collections of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England, 1940-1971. In English. 6,125 coins. (ANA, ANS) You can also do an online search of the SNGs of the British Isles.
Part 1: Spain (Emporiae, Rhoda)-Italy
Part 2: Sicily-Thrace
Part 3: Macedonia-Acarnania.
Part 4: Acarnania-Phliasia
Part 5: Sicyon-Thera
Part 6: Asia Minor-Phrygia
Part 7: Lycia-Cappadocia
Part 8: Syria-Nabathaea

SNG France (or SNG Paris) -- Cabinet des Médailles, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France, 1993-. In French. 11,284 coins. (ANA, ANS)
(Vol. 1 SNG Delepierre)
Vol. 2: Cilicia
Vol. 3: Pamphylia, Pisidia, Lycaonia, Galatia
Vol. 4: Alexander I, Augustus-Trajan
Vol. 5: Mysia
Vol. 6, Part 1: Italy (Etruria-Calabria)

SNG Hart (or SNG Blackburn) -- Collection of Edward Hart, Blackburn Museum, Blackburn, England, 1989. In English. 1,316 coins. (ANS)

SNG Helsinki (or SNG Finland or SNG Keckman) -- Collection of Erkki Keckman, Skopbank, Helsinki, Finland, 1994. In English. 1,747 coins. (ANS)
Part 1: Karia
Part 2: Asia Minor except Karia

SNG Hungary (or SNG Budapest) -- Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum, Budapest, Hungary, 1992-. In English. 3,136 coins. (ANS)
Vol. 1, Part 1: Hispania-Apulia
Vol. 1, Part 2: Calabria-Bruttium
Vol. 1, Part 3: Sicilia
Vol. 2: Dacia-Moesia Superior
Vol. 3: Moesia Inferior

SNG Hunterian -- Collection of Roman Provincial coins of William Hunter in the University of Glasgow, Scotland, 2004-2007. In English. (ANS)
Vol. 1: Spain to Asia Minor. 2,428 coins.
Vol. 2: Cyprus to Egypt. 2,581 coins.

SNG Turkey
Vol. 1: Collection of Muharrem Kayhan of coins mostly from western Asia Minor, Istanbul, Turkey, 2002. In English. 1,100 coins. (ANA, ANS)
Vol. 2: Roman provincial coins from from the Anamur Museum, 2007. In English. (ANS)
Vol. 3/1: Roman provincial coins from the Canakkale Museum, 2009. In English. (ANS)

SNG Leipzig -- University of Leipzig, Zeipzig, Germany, 1993-. In German. (ANS)

SNG Levante (or SNG Levante-Cilicia or SNG Switzerland I or SNG Schweiz I) -- Collection of Edoardo Levante, Switzerland, 1986. In English. 1,861 coins. (ANA, ANS)

SNG Levante Supp. (or SNG Levante-Cilicia Supp. or SNG Switzerland I Supp. or SNG Schweiz I Supp.) -- Collection of Edoardo Levante, Switzerland, supplement, 1993. In English. 435 coins. (ANA, ANS)

SNG Lewis -- Collection of Samuel Savage Lewis, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, England, 1972-1992. In English. 2,104 coins. (ANA, ANS)
Vol. I: Greek and Hellenistic coins
Vol. II: Greek Imperial/Roman Provincial coins

SNG Leypold -- Collection of Franz Leypold, Austrian National Bank, Vienna, Austria, 2000-. In German. 2,846 coins. (ANS)
Vol. 1: Pontos-Lydia
Vol. 2: Phrygia-Commagene

SNG Lloyd -- Silver and gold coins of Italy and Sicily from the collection of A.H. Lloyd, London, England, 1933-1937. In English. 1,705 coins. (ANA, ANS)
Parts 1, 2: Etruria, Thurium
Parts 3, 4: Velia-Eryx
Parts 5, 6: Galaria-Selinus
Parts 7, 8: Syracuse-Lipara

SNG Lockett -- Collection of R.C. Lockett, London, England, 1938-1949. In English. 3,529 coins. (ANA, ANS)
Part 1: Spain-Italy
Part 2: Sicily-Thrace
Part 3: Macedonia-Aegina
Part 4: Peloponnese-Aeolis
Part 5: Lesbos, Cyrenaica, Addenda

SNG Manchester -- Collections of Harold Raby and Alfred Gütherbock, Manchester University Museum, Manchester, England, 1986. In English. 1,472 coins. (ANS)

SNG Milano (or SNG Italia) -- Civic Archaeological and Numismatic Collections, Milan, Italy, 1988-. In Italian. (ANA, ANS)
Vol. 1: Spain-Non-Greek Gaul
Vol. 2: Greek Gaul-Social War
Vol. 3: Campania-Calabria
Vol. 4, Part 1: Lucania
Vol. 4, Part 2: Bruttium
Vol. 5: Sicily
Vol. 6, Part 1: Macedonia, Pannonia, Celts
Vol. 6, Part 3: Tauric Cherronesos, Sarmatia, Thrace, Thracian Cherronesos, Thracian Islands
Vol. 12, Part 1: Seleukids-Chalcidice
Vol. 12, Part 4: Judea, Baktria, India
Vol. 13, Part 1: Egypt (Ptolemies)
Vol. 13, Part 2: Egypt (Octavian Augustus-Lucius Verus)
Vol. 13, Part 3: Egypt (Commodus-Galerius Caesar)
Vol. 14: Kyrenaica-Mauretania

SNG Morcom -- Collection of John Morcom of Western Greek bronze coins, Oxford, England, 1995. In English. 900 coins. (ANA, ANS)

SNG München (or SNG Munich) -- Munich City Coin Collection, with bronzes particularly well represented, Munich, Germany, 1968-. In German. 10,393 coins. (ANS)
Vol. 1: Spain, Transalpine Gaul
Vol. 2: Etruria-Apulia
Vol. 3: Calabria-Lucania
Vol. 4: Bruttium, Roman Carthage
Vol. 5: Sicily
Vol. 6: Sicily, Punic Sicily, Lipara, Sardinia, Punic Sardinia
Vol. 7: Tauric Cherronesos, Dacia, Moesia Superior, Moesia Inferior
Vol. 10, 11: Macedonia
Vol. 14: Attica, Megaris, Aigina
Vol. 19: Troas-Lesbos
Vol. 20: Ionia
Vol. 22: Caria
Vol. 23: Lydia
Vol. 24: Phrygia
Vol. 28: Syria

SNG Newcastle -- Collection of the Society of Antiquaries, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, 2005. In English. 1,036 coins. (ANS)

SNG Pfälz (or SNG PFPS) -- Pfälzer Private Collections, Munich, Germany, 1993-. In German. 4,546 coins. (ANS)
Vol. 1: Autonomous
Vol. 4: Pamphylia
Vol. 5: Pisidia and Lycaonia
Vol. 6: Isauria und Cilicia

SNG Poland -- Archaeological and Ethnographical Museum, Lódz, Ploand, 1998-. In English. (ANS)
Vol. 4: Galatia-Zeugitana. 313 coins.

SNG Righetti (or SNG Bern or SNG Schweiz II) -- Collection of Jean-Pierre Righetti mostly of Roman Provincial coins, Bern Historical Museum, Bern, Switzerland, 1993. In German. 3,084 coins. (ANS)

SNG Saroglos (or SNG Greece IV) -- Collection of Petros Z. Saroglos, Numismatic Museum of Athens, Greece, 2005-. In English. (ANS)
Vol. 1: Macedonia

SNG Sassari -- Archeological Museum of Sassari, Sassari, Italy, 1994-. In Italian. (ANS)
Vol. 1: Sicily-Numidia. 868 coins.

SNG Slovenia -- The Coin Cabinet, National Museum, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 1996-. In English. (ANS)
Vol. 3, Part 1: Moesia Superior. 2,381 coins.

SNG Spaer (or SNG Israel) -- Collection of Arnold Spaer of Seleukid coins, Jerusalem, Israel, 1998. In English. 2,919 coins. (ANS)

SNG Spain (or SNG Madrid) -- National Archeological Museum, Madrid, Spain, 1994-. In Spanish. 2,060 coins. (ANS)
Part 1: Spain
Part 2: Spain (continued)

SNG Spenser -- In English. (ANA, ANS)
Part 1: Collection of E.G. Spencer-Churchill, 195 coins, plus the Salting Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, 51 coins, 1931.
Part 2 (or
SNG Newnham Davis): Collection of Newnham Davis, Marischal College, Aberdeen, England, 1936, 490 coins.

SNG Stancomb -- Collection of William Stancomb of coins of the Black Sea region (including Roman Provincial coins), Oxford, England, 2000. In English. 1,092 coins. (ANA, ANS)

SNG Sweden I (or SNG Forbat) -- Collections of King Gustav VI Adolf and Fred Forbat, Stockholm, Sweden, 1974. In English. 638 coins. (ANS)

SNG Stockholm (or SNG Sweden II) -- Collection of the Royal Coin Cabinet, National Museum of Monetary History/National Museum of Economy, Stockholm, Sweden, 1976-. In English. (ANS)
Part 1: Gallia-Sicily
Part 2: Thrace-Euboia
Part 3: Attica-Lesbos. 792 coins.
Part 6: Collection of G.D. Lorichs of coins from Spain. 2.073 coins.

SNG Tübingen -- University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany, 1981-. In German. 4,739 coins. (ANS)
Vol. 1: Spain-Sicily
Vol. 2: Tauric Cherronesos-Corcyra
Vol. 3: Acarnania-Bithynia
Vol. 4: Mysia-Ionia
Vol. 5: Karia and Lydia
Vol. 6: Phrygia-Cappadocia

SNG von Aulock (or SNG Aul.) -- Greek and Greek Imperial/Roman Provincial coins of Asia Minor (the best overall attribution reference for these coins) from the collection of Hans von Aulock, Berlin, Germany, 1957-1968 (reprinted since then). In German. 8,739 coins. (ANA, ANS)
Vol. 1: Pontus, Paphlagonia, Bithynia, Mysia, Troas, Aiolis, Lesbos, Ionia
Vol. 2: Caria, Lydia, Phrygia, Lycia, Pamphylia
Vol. 3: Pisidia, Lycaonia, Cilicia, Galatia, Cappadocia, Cyprus, Imperial Cistophoris, Posthumous Lysimachus, Alexander tetradrachms
Vol. 4: Supplement

SNG von Post (or SNG Sweden I:2) -- Collection of Eric von Post, Stockholm, Sweden, 1995. In German. 656 coins. (ANS)

More information about SNGs:

Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum

International Union of Academies

Van der Dussen Numismatic Books

Moneta-Obscura References

Bibliografia Numismatica - Greek 2
Bibliografia Numismatica - Greek 3

Attributing ancient Roman coins:

FORVM Ancient Coins

ACE Attribution Assistance Sites

NBS General Numismatic Bibliography

* This coin is a good example of how ancient coin attributions are often tentative and debatable. T.V. Buttrey of the Fitzwilliam Museum believes this is a fourth-century imitative Owl from Egypt, based on stylistic similarities to a hoard of Owls from the Fayum, Egypt, that he analyzed (and described in journal articles published in 1979 and 1984). In an e-mail message, he pointed also to coin's fabric, particularly the narrow lip around the edge on the reverse, indicating a large reverse die.

But unlike many other imitative Owls, including those from Egypt, this and similar coins are of fine style, without any barbarized features, and the reverse inscription remains the same as on official Athenian Owls ("Of the Athenians"). No die study of these coins has been done, which would provide more solid evidence. As it currently stands, coins of this style remain attributed as official Athenian Owls by dealers and auction houses.

Here's a fourth-century
Egyptian Owl that much more clearly indicates the coin's identity, along with more detail about this issue.

 

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© 2014 Reid Goldsborough

Note: Any of the items illustrated on these pages that are in my possession are stored off site.