Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Note on Rarity

At the end of the description of each Type, there is a regularly updated summary. The rarity assessments given in this Catalogue are based on thousands of coins known to me from published and private collections, scholarly studies and sales catalogues, websites, auction listings, eBay, VCoins, and many other commercial sources, though I have been cautious with unreliable information souces like Mionnet. The references to RPC IV and VI are to the ongoing online documentation of the material, and the catalogue numbers given are therefore provisional.

I have been surveying the material for some years, and the Catalogue should give a reasonable idea of the respective rarity of different items. In the style of RIC, I have described coins known to me from only 1-2 specimens as RRR (extremely rare); 3-4 specimens as RR (very rare); 5-6 as R (rare); 7-10 as scarce; and more than 10 as common or even very common

One weakness of this approach is that the great rarities are over-represented in public collections and auction catalogues, while commoner items tend to be on dealers’ trays or even in rummage boxes. (By this method, highly desirable coins like the EID. MAR. denarii of Brutus or the decadrachms of Syracuse would have to be described as common.) Another is that certain cities have been much more exhaustively studied and catalogued than others—for example, thanks to the fine work of David MacDonald on the coins of Aphrodisias in Caria, these would appear to be rather commoner than practical experience shows.

This project remains ongoing, and will be updated as new or additional material comes to light (e.g., the flood of coins of Parium in Mysia that started to hit the market in 2016).

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