This tutorial and the following ones assume that you want to identify a given coin and/or find a standard reference for it. With most coins there will be a number of different ways to achieve this. How best to proceed depends — to a large extent — on the user’s familiarity with the material. The more you can restrict the search criteria the smaller the number of positive returns and the faster the identification of the coin in question.
To facilitate the search process most fields of the “Identification search” (also of the “Advanced search”) offer lists from which to choose possible entries, and allowing for the selection of multiple search criteria. These lists might also include broad search terms — an example being “ANY Antonine emperor” in the “Obverse design” search field. It is, however, not obligatory to use these lists, as one can also enter search terms directly into the appropriate fields.
Let us now use the above coin as an example of how to identify a specific coin with the help of this website. You might recognize the emperor on the obverse, perhaps by comparison with his portrait in the “Imperial Family” section, as Antoninus Pius and the reverse as a bust of the goddess Athena. The most appropriate search to identify the coin in question is the “Identification search”.
Searching the database
Select menu “Coin Database”
Choose the second option called “Identification search”
Press the “List” button next to “Obverse design” in order to get a list of common obverse designs
Tick the box next to “Antoninus Pius”, which is the first entry on that list and press the “Continue” button. (Alternatively, you could enter the text “Antoninus Pius” directly into the “Obverse design” search field.)
Enter “bust Athena” into the “Reverse design” search field
Press the “Search” button
The search should return a small number of matching coin types presented by default in the “Abbreviated view”. (Please note that, also by default, only coin types are being shown for which there are images in the database. To find all the coin types of Antoninus Pius with a bust of Athena on the reverse you need to change the Search preferences as explained in tutorial 1.)
Follow the “Next” link at the bottom of the page to go to the next page of this dataset, until you find the coin of Pius/bust of Athena we are currently looking for (temporary coin type 1650). As you can see from the relevant record the coin was issued by the city of Miletopolis in the Roman province of Asia (conventus of Cyzicus).
In order to see the detailed record of this coin type, including inscriptions, references and individual specimens, either click on the coin image or its (hyperlinked) temporary number, here “1650”.
From a detailed coin type record you can access larger images of the coin type in question. For that you need to follow either the “Large image” or the “Full-size image” link below the coin image in the detailed view. These links will not be shown if the image is not available at higher resolutions. The third link, “All specimen images” allows you to compare all the available images of the current coin type. For temporary coin type 1650, however, this option is not helpful as there is only one image for this type.
The illustrated specimen, number 4 in the case of temporary coin type 1650, is highlighted in the “Specimens of this coin type” table.
Many references and abbreviations are hyperlinked to a list of abbreviations. If you click, for example, on the “O” in the “Reference” field of the first specimen of temporary coin type 1650, you will learn that this specimen is from the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Again, the relevant entry in the abbreviation list is highlighted.