From the publisher's web site:
Emperors and assassins, owls and turtles, gods and goddesses, brave heroes and villainous rogues--all of these and more await you among the 100 Greatest Ancient Coins. In this beautifully illustrated book, Harlan J. Berk, one of America's best-known ancient-coin dealers, takes you on a personal guided tour of the numismatic antiquities of Greece, Rome, the Byzantine Empire, and other parts of the ancient world. Coffee-table-size, 144 pages, full color, with enlarged photographs and stories for every coin.
If you've already peeked at the cover photo, you know the winner of the polling for the top ancient coin: the Brutus "Eid Mar" Denarius, Rome, 42 B.C., struck to commemorate the assassination of Julius Caesar. As with all "Top-Whatever" lists, there can be endless discussion and argument about the ordering and which items should or shouldn't be included. The author addressed this latter issue appropriately in the acknowledgements:
Thanks are also due to the members of my advisory committee, who helped me to pick the candidate coins for the voting. They are Rob Freeman, Frank Kovacs, Victor England, Arturo Russo, Alan Walker, and Simon Bendall. If you can think of another 100 coins that could have been in this book, I am with you all the way, but we aren't rewriting the British Museum Catalog.
The book includes many coins that I was unfamiliar with, but that would be true of most of the BMC catalog, too. I'm not a collector of ancient coins (although every birthday my wife tells me I'm becoming an ancient collector). Yet I've always admired the beauty and history of ancients, and love looking at them. This is an ideal book for the lookers like me. The full color photographs are stunning. The accompanying text is long enough to cover a significant number of interesting facts about the each coin, but not so long that it gets tiresome.
Some of my personal favorites are:
In a departure from the other books in the series, the ancient book is arranged chronologically rather than by rank. I agree with this decision - I think it makes the book easier to read, allowing one to follow the course of history and development of coin styles and technology. A table lists all 100 coins in their rank order. There is a seven-page appendix called a "Gallery of Coin Sizes". It illustrates at actual size each of the coin types included in the book, to give the reader a sense of their relative sizes.
For bibliophiles the Introduction discusses a number of standard references and the relative merits of books, auction catalogs, and Internet sites. The author concludes with an excellent observation:
My last words are these: learn as much as you can about the area of ancient coins you plan to collect, and have a strong relationship with a very good dealer of your choosing whom you are constantly testing. As a dealer who has been in the business for more than 40 years, I can tell you that a really focused collector will know as much as, and sometimes more than, a very good dealer in the collector's chosen area of specialization.
For more information, see: 100 Greatest Ancient Coins (http://www.whitmanbooks.com/Default.aspx?
Wayne Homren, Editor
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