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Roman Imperial Coinage and OCRE

Roman Imperial Coinage (RIC) is the definitive corpus of coins issued under the Roman Empire. This 10-volume typology spans 460 years of Roman minting (from 31 BCE–491 CE), and its publication was itself a monumental undertaking. Begun in 1923 with a volume covering Augustus to Vitellius, the corpus was completed in 1994, ending with the emperor Zeno.

But numismatic knowledge is never crystallized. Spink releases updated volumes as necessary to reflect current research and progression in the field. In 2019, Spink released their latest addition to the RIC corpus. This updated version of RIC covers the Hadrian section of Volume II. It includes new finds, corrects old errors, and provides more detailed dating.

In response, the American Numismatic Society is updating its Online Coins of the Roman Empire (OCRE) digital corpus to reflect the new edition. This searchable database provides access to the valuable typologies published by Spink, and assembles more than 130,000 examples from the ANS collection, the Münzkabinett of the State Museum of Berlin, the British Museum, and 40 additional museums and archaeological databases. The OCRE project began in 2011 and was assisted by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The platform acts as an accessible catalog and a search tool for scholars and collectors alike.

OCRE provides more than easily accessible data: its digital nature creates a new analytical tool for researchers. The platform offers numerous options to refine searches, deepening user customization and allowing for more nuanced inquiry. The abundant samples of coinage types—drawing from three of the largest numismatic collections worldwide—create an unparalleled opportunity for die studies. OCRE’s high-resolution images make die studies easier on the eyes and permits study to occur remotely. The current OCRE update supports the ANS’ goal to offer the most contemporary resources available for numismatic study.

In addition to this digital initiative, the ANS is incorporating the updated numbering system into its own collections database. Each of the ANS’ 1,600 Hadrianic coins will be renumbered according to the new volume. The original volume’s classification system grouped similar coins together under a single number, making extensive use of subtypes (Hadrian 101a–c, for example, are identical except for slight obverse bust variations). The 2019 update moves away from subtypes and assigns each variation its own unique number. In addition, the new volume distinguishes obverse bust types with more granularity and assigns separate numbers for each bust variation. The ANS is editing its database, Mantis, to reflect this simplification of the typology.

To realize this important update, the ANS has hired a temporary assistant to incorporate the volume into OCRE and renumber their Hadrian collection. If you are an OCRE user, patron of numismatics, or passionate about digital accessibility, please consider donating to our GoFundMe page in support of this initiative.

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