translated by Annika Backe
Jedrzej George Frynas, Medieval Coins of Bohemia, Hungary and Poland. London 2015, Spink. 340 p., color illustrations throughout, many tables. Hardcover. 14.5 x 22.3 cm. ISBN 978-1- 9074 27-52-7. 45 pounds.
Published by Spink, this new type catalog is not a price guide, though it is based on what we are accustomed to from price guides by now. Each of the four areas is kicked off with a historico-numismatic introduction. The catalog proper is next, arranged in strict chronological order according to rulers. Each ruler is introduced by a small biography prior to the lavishly illustrated catalog.
If you delve into the book, you will be pleasantly surprised. Since the work lacks a detailed table of contents as well as a keyword index, the reader is inclined to believe that he has to take the index of the rulers at the end of the book as a table of content. However, the author has also included the coinages of the cities, the dioceses and the principalities. It is a pity that no introduction is provided for these ‘dependencies’ because omniscient Wikipedia does not give any information on many of the occurring persons and areas, either.
We do not want to quibble, however, but rather enjoy the incredibly vast material the author has gathered. His catalog is said to comprise more than 1,600 coin types which means, on the other hand, that, in fact, considerably more types are being cataloged. Unfortunately, the reader has no chance of recounting for the author has chosen a somewhat complicated numbering system which consists of the initial letter of the holder of the right of coinage with a number for the prince and, subordinate to this, a number for the coinage. When referring to this book, it will be vital, therefore, to state the page number to make it easier to find a specific coin again.
Most of the coins are illustrated either by a photo, or – and this is almost better for the medieval coinages – with a drawing. There is also a brief description provided for each number, supplemented by a bibliographic reference. Although the author has decided not to mention any prices, his information about rarity is very helpful for the collector.
However, it takes a lot of browsing to make good use of this book. Hence it is highly likely that many users hope for the second edition to comprise a detailed table of contents, perhaps even a keyword index. Considering the hard work that has been put into this incredibly rich catalog, it should not fail because of these two trifles.