Numismatic Detective Ron Guth published a blog post this week listing a number of useful numismatic resources for collectors and researchers. With permission we're republishing it here. Great list (which includes The E-Sylum! Thanks
for the shout-out, Ron. -Editor
Numismatic detectives rely on a number of different sources for information on the coins they are pursuing. Traditional (pre-Internet) sources included physical sale catalogs, in-person attendance at major auctions, trade publications, club
newsletters, show participation, correspondence with fellow researchers, and trips to museums and institutions to view actual coins.
In practical effect, numismatic research was constrained by time and money. For instance, a trip to the National Archives in the early 1980’s required time off from work, hotel accommodations, some sense of what was in the collection (gained from
the curator and published finding aids), then a lengthy process of manually transcribing documents or purchasing copies of documents taken from microfilm. Today, most museums and institutions have begun publishing their collections online, making it
much easier (and less expensive) for researchers to complete their investigations.
The Internet has changed everything for numismatic researchers. The amount of data that is available has increased exponentially and access to the date is essentially free. This allows researchers to work faster, smarter, and more accurately,
often from the comfort of their own home or office. Even the act of publishing has evolved, allowing authors to self-publish boutique works that might otherwise never see the light of day. A limited audience is no longer the death-knell for obscure
As someone who researches rare coins as a living, I find myself being drawn to a number of resources that have proven invaluable. These are a few that I use on a daily basis, with a description of why they are important to me. Their order is of
no particular importance, as all are extremely useful.
The Newman Numismatic Portal (NNP)
Part of the Newman Numismatic Portal’s philosophy, as published on their website, includes: “Books, periodicals, ephemera, as well as online forums and auction offerings will be captured in one location, freely available, and searchable from
anywhere in the world. With unprecedented knowledge at their disposal, collectors and researchers will gain greater appreciation for numismatic science and more clearly discern fact from fiction.” One of the most significant features of the NNP is
the digitization of hundreds (thousands?) of old rare coin auction catalogs, including obscure and rare early works (as of May 10, 2020 the NNP has scanned 3,123,209 pages and 39,535 documents). The collection of digitized auction catalogs on the
NNP has eliminated the need for a physical library. On the positive side, this frees up floor space in our homes and saves us from having to purchase individual catalogs, which can sometimes be quite expensive. On the negative side, those of us with
extensive libraries have seen the value of their books and catalogs drop in many cases. As a result, many of my more common catalogs have either been handed out to fellow collectors or sent to recycling. However, the trade-off of easy access is more
than worth the sacrifice. For research purposes, I visit the NNP several times a day.
PCGS CoinFacts is a one-stop venue for information about U.S. coins. PCGS offers population data, auction prices realized, and historical narratives for all U.S. coins. And, of course, there are those amazing True-View images, taken when the
coins are still “raw” and before they are encapsulated. I use this site many times a day.
Each of the major auction houses maintains their own proprietary website, and I visit all of them frequently. However, Heritage has the largest database of information by far, and the information they provide is invaluable for numismatic
research. As of May 10, 2020, Heritage listed 2,492,321 sold items in their coins and currency section…and that is just what they’ve sold. That number represents over half of the 4,800,955 auction lots listed in the PCGS CoinFacts Auction Prices
Realized. As a result, I visit the Heritage website as often as any other.
Every Sunday evening, I look forward to receiving an email from Wayne Homren, the editor of The E-Sylum, the electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. Each week, as he has done ever since 1998, Wayne aggregates news,
announcements, updates, discoveries, and all things numismatic into a tight email newsletter that goes out to 6,116 subscribers (as of May 3). Of all the trade publications I receive, I consider the E-Sylum to be the most interesting and
informative. If you’re not already a subscriber, I recommend you sign up for this free resource today.
Paint.net is a free image and editing software that I use every day for manipulating pictures of coins, which are an important part of the Visual Condition Census I am building. I use Paint.net to resize images, crop them, join obverses and
reverses, and save them in a variety of formats. While not as powerful as some of the big-name photo editors, Paint.net has handled all of my editing needs for many years. And, the price is right.
Numismatic research is no fun if done in a vacuum. I rely heavily on fellow numismatic detectives who have their own areas of specialized knowledge. We collaborate, bounce ideas off each other, share discoveries, and support each other. I’ll
forego naming some of the individuals in lieu of a future blog dedicated to them.
To read the complete article, see:
Useful Numismatic Resources (https://numismaticdetectives.com/blog/f/useful-numismatic-resources)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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