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Too many medieval coins to remember!

The other day I finally completed compiling this list of coins from the Middle Ages, because I was hoping it would aid my memory and also serve as a resource for people doing research online. But, still I'm finding new medieval coins that I didn't even put on the list yet and can't possibly remember them all. Honestly, the fact that this is the case makes me happy because it would be sad if us modern folk had lost all account of the hundreds and hundreds of differing coins that existed before modern times.

Does anyone here collect medieval coins? If so, I'd be curious to know what resources you use to identify and put a value on them.

Another lover of medieval coins and beautiful landscaping. From Victoria BC, Canada.

Comments

  • SapyxSapyx Posts: 1,959 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Mediaeval coins (which I personally define as coins from AD 500 to AD 1450; your definition may vary) is perhaps the least popular area of coin collecting. They are, by any objective standard, less "pretty" than either Modern coins or classical Ancient coins (Greek and Roman). They tend to be small and thin, with difficult-to-read inscriptions written in highly abbreviated Latin.

    They are also poorly catalogued, compared to either ancient or modern series. In Europe, collecting mediaeval coins tends to be highly parochial: people in France collect French coins, people in Britain collect British coins, people in Serbia collect Serbian coins, and so forth. This means that many of the best reference works for the non-British coin series are not available in English. The best attempt at creating an English-language comprehensive mediaeval coin catalogue is probably "Medieval European Coinage" (MEC), which has taken decades to compile the first 14 volumes and is not yet complete.

    For identification, I tend to buy my mediaeval coins pre-identified. When I need help identifying an unfamiliar mediaeval coin, I first look in "Coinage of Mediaeval Europe", which is more a coffee-table overview book rather than a catalogue, but I can usually get some hint as to the timeframe and location. Then I search online for likely options.

    For valuations, there really aren't any "price guides" beyond the parochial guides for each country's series (MEC is a museum reference catalogue, not a price guide; it doesn't list prices). So all you really have to go off, if one is doing research into pricing a particular coin, is to look online and see if any similar have sold. CoinArchives is an excellent resource, though you have to pay a hefty annual fee to access their full record collection.

    @TimE91 said:
    ...it would be sad if us modern folk had lost all account of the hundreds and hundreds of differing coins that existed before modern times.

    Despite being "less popular" and less well-catalogued, we do tend to know more basic information about mediaeval coinages (which coins were made, where, and what people actually called them), because people in mediaeval times were writing stuff down and much of that writing has survived to the present day. This is due in large part to the mediaeval Church; whatever you might think of the Church's doctrines and practices, they were excellent record-keepers.

    Most of the mediaeval coinages, furthermore, were continued (in some debased form) into the modern era, thus creating a continuum that is largely absent from the Ancient series. We know that mediaeval English people called their silver coin the "penny", not just because the monks wrote that word down, but because that exact same "penny" continued to be issued by the English and then British government, in some form, right up until 1967, and its name is preserved in the modern British decimal penny.

    This simply isn't true for Ancient coins. Indeed, for many ancient coins, we can't even give a name to them; the names assigned to many ancient coinages have been lost. Either nobody bothered to write it down, or it was written down by somebody but subsequently lost. Even the Romans, with their usually excellent and well-preserved record-keeping, have neglected to inform us what any of the post-300 AD "Late Roman Bronze" coins were actually called. The names we use for these coins today are modern contrivances. Take "antoninianus", the second-third century Roman double-denarius coin; this is a name that modern numismatists made up because we had to call them something; we named them after the emperor who first introduced them, but what the Romans themselves called them is now lost to us.

    Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.
    Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations"

    Apparently I have been awarded one DPOTD. B)
  • scubafuelscubafuel Posts: 1,712 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Sapyx great post!

  • Bob13Bob13 Posts: 1,412 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 13, 2023 8:26PM

    @TimE91 - Welcome! And I enjoyed your website!

    @Sapyx , @John Conduitt - great posts! Never heard of some of the references - unfortunately doesn't seem like the "Medieval European Coinage" is cheaply available.

    I've always enjoyed some of the coins that @Tibor and @lordmarcovan have to share.

    Here are some medieval coins - a fiorino, a gigliato, and a grosso:



    And a gold solidus....

    I've been looking to get a nice Prague Groschen, some crusader coins among others.

    My current "Box of 20"

  • VasantiVasanti Posts: 425 ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 14, 2023 4:41PM

    Hammered coins are just gorgeous. Membership here is costing me money by inspiring me to chase them.

  • FrankHFrankH Posts: 756 ✭✭✭✭✭

    They lack the excitement of gladiators and despotic emperors.
    About all that happened was a bunch of disease. :s

    I do find myself browsing them occasionally though now that ancients have gotten to the price stratosphere.

    :|

  • NapNap Posts: 1,698 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I collect medieval coins of the British Isles (England, Ireland, Scotland), as well as the North Sea world (Scandinavia), and I dabble in French coins.

    I’ve been aggressively working on the collection for more than 10 years and it still has a ways to go. It cannot be completed (by any definition of the term) because some rulers and many types are not known outside of museums.

    While medieval coinage is challenging, there are many good sources and always opportunities for further discovery.

  • BjornBjorn Posts: 526 ✭✭✭

    I have collected medieval coins in the past, although I had to sell most of my collection to pay bills years ago - I concentrated on the original gros tournois from Louis IX onward, as well as the derivative civic issues gros (such as for Metz and Strasbourg). I meant to also move on to the derived denominations of grosso and groschen, but never got too far into those. My main reference was the Silver Coins of Medieval France by Allen Berman, but over the years I have read a number of secondary works discussing medieval history that will mention the various gros in terms of their introduction, circulation and the like in reference to larger discussions on the medieval economy.

    As Sapyx mentions, the historical primary sources regarding not just coinage, but monetary and economic issues, are far greater for the medieval period (at least from around 1100 onward) than they are for the ancient period. I have dabbled in medieval Islamic coinage (mostly Ayyubid/Artuqid issues), and Stephen Album released a checklist of Islamic coins that was a good introduction and list of various issues. Lastly, I think a lot of auction catalogs are good sources for further information on medieval coins, but often you would have sift through them - so useful, but a summary of the useful information in these catalogs for a particular series would be more so.

  • @FrankH said:
    They lack the excitement of gladiators and despotic emperors.
    About all that happened was a bunch of disease. :s

    Consider applying yourself to the study of medieval history, as I can hardly think of a more fascinating period. Hopefully stories of pious kings and chivalrous deeds will prove a good substitute for despots and gladiators :)

  • FrankHFrankH Posts: 756 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @seneschal said:

    @FrankH said:
    They lack the excitement of gladiators and despotic emperors.
    About all that happened was a bunch of disease. :s

    Consider applying yourself to the study of medieval history, as I can hardly think of a more fascinating period. Hopefully stories of pious kings and chivalrous deeds will prove a good substitute for despots and gladiators :)

    I don't dispute the ..uh....interesting activities during that period.
    Their coins just lack the aesthetics of the classic ancient time.
    It must have been a capital offense to mint a coin without a religious theme. :D

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