World Coins

Whitman issues second edition of ancients book

The second edition of “Top 100 Ancient Coins” is being published by Whitman Publishing.

Images courtesy of Whitman Publishing.

Whitman Publishing has announced the release of the second edition of the Top 100 Ancient Coins book.

Dealer Harlan J. Berk, a specialist in ancient coins, wrote the 144-page hardcover coffee-table book, which will debut March 12. 

In this richly illustrated volume, Berk takes the reader on a personal guided tour of the numismatic antiquities of Greece, Rome, the Eastern Roman (so-called Byzantine) Empire, and other parts of the ancient world.

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The new second edition includes a foreword by British numismatist and author Italo Vecchi, who calls the book “a remarkable catalog of 100 exceptional coins” and “invaluable for all serious ancient-numismatic academics, historians, dealers, and amateurs alike.” 

In addition to coin-by-coin essays updated with the latest research, the second edition features many upgraded photographs, and new content. 

That includes a narrative on “How to Collect Ancient Coins, and What to Avoid,” with advice from Berk’s 55-plus years of experience. This includes insight on how to get started, where to find ancient coins, how to specialize, wise long-term decision-making, and storage and insurance. 

Berk discusses how to authenticate, grade, and assign value to ancient coins. The introduction includes an image gallery of denominations of coins, showing 55 Greek, Roman, and Byzantine coins — gold, silver, bronze, and copper — ranging in size. 

He describes the importance of artistic quality and how it changed over time. His market-oriented advice addresses determining the value of ancient coins, awareness of counterfeits, and buying online. Berk offers market values for each of the individual specimens pictured in the book. And “The Education of a Numismatist” gives the reader resources on major numismatic associations, the importance of building a personal library for research, and extensive suggested readings, both general and specialized.

Berk has pointed out that a good number of the 100 Greatest are readily collectible for $100 or less. Others are valued in the thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of dollars.

A two-page spread is devoted to each of coins No. 1 through No. 10, with Nos. 11 through 100 enjoying a full page. In the banner at the top of each page is the coin’s rank; a descriptive title; the city, state, or region from which it hails; and its date of striking (or an approximation). Beneath is an enlarged illustration of the coin; a notation of its actual size in millimeters; and, ghosted in the background, the numeral of its 1–100 rank. This is followed by an essay that sets the coin in its historical foundation and describes the virtues of its numismatic greatness. At the bottom of the page, a timeline charts the coin’s position in history, with the birth of Christ marked for context.

100 Greatest Ancient Coins is not just a price guide or a fancy picture book,” said Tucker. “This is a fascinating introduction to collecting and studying these important coins. Many hobbyists have been inspired and energized to start or expand their collections after reading Harlan Berk’s work.” 

The book is available from the publisher's website.  

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