by Julien Olivier
August 11, 2016 – Digital mediation on Gallica.fr is making the Bibliothèque nationale de France’s Coin department’s collections more accessible. The development of thematic itineraries through the Greek and Roman coins collections aims help users navigate the 171,000 coins currently online on Gallica.fr. Since 2012, almost a third of the département des Monnaies, médailles et antiques de la Bibliothèque nationale de France’s collections have been digitized, representing over 171 000 coins, to date the largest public coin collection online.
Such a quantity of documents can be hard to navigate, especially considering that Gallica.fr has no dedicated search engine for numismatics. In order to make this material more easily accessible, a specific page has been created for all digitized coin collections, “monnaie” with subdivisions by field of numismatics. In addition to that, two specific itineraries are being continually developed, the first dedicated to the Greek series, the second to Roman imperial coins, and projects exist for other collections.
The itinerary for Greek coins
Two ways into the collection are currently possible. The first displays the Greek coin series by region and city of issue. The profusion of mints represented in the Greek collection (about 1800) makes it necessary to group them into larger areas, themselves sorted into regions, to make navigating them as convenient as possible. Each entity is introduced by a brief paragraph recalling its main geographical and historical characteristics as well as some numismatic remarks and a short bibliography. So far, only Sicily and Lucania are available, but several parts of mainland Greece and the Levant will soon be published.
A second way into the Greek coins of the Bibliothèque nationale is designed to present the various private collections which have over the centuries supplemented and enriched the Bibliothèque nationale de France. These private collections, gathered by collectors before being integrated into the national collections through bequests, donations or purchase, count among the most impressive those of the Duc de Luynes (1862) or Jean and Marie Delepierre (1966). Each is introduced with a quick portrait of the collector, a short presentation of his collection and of the date and the terms of its integration to the Coin department.
The itinerary for Roman imperial coins
For Roman imperial coins, a mode of access by dynasty and by reign has been preferred. Each reign allows for searches by mint, by denomination or by metal. In each section, a short text provides the main historical and numismatic elements relating to coinages presented. Covering the reigns of Julio-Claudian, from Augustus to Nero (14 BC-AD 68) and the “Year of the Four Emperors” (68-69 AD), this itinerary should in short order extend to Flavian (69-96 AD) and the Antonine dynasties until the death of Hadrian (AD 138).
In addition to enrichments of the first two itineraries, digitization of other sections of the collection – coins, tokens, objects (the Grand Camée) or heritage spaces (the Louis XV salon) from the Coin department – will in the future occasion a similar work.
You can find out more on Gallica.fr.
There you also can find Babelon’s catalogue of the Collection de Luynes Volume II.
A lot of other numismatic works of Jean Babelon can be found there.