Nikola Moushmov's Ancient Coins of the Balkan Peninsula, an Introduction

Nikola Moushmov's (1896 -1942) Ancient Coins of the Balkan Peninsula and the Coins of the Bulgarian Monarchs, was published in 1912, originally in "Old Bulgarian" (that is, using archaic word forms that would confound automated translation software) plus Latin translations of headings. It is particularly comprehensive for Roman Provincial coins of Moesia and Thrace, rather like an old form of today's excellent "Greek Imperial Coins" volumes by Ivan Varbanov.

The original book is arranged alphabetically by city and chronologically by ruler within that city, then alphabetical by reverse type, e.g. Aesklepios before Apollo, before Artemis, before Athena. [Note that the English translation does not have the reverse types in alphabetical order.]

There are 500 pages of listings plus 68 plates (on 6" x 8.5" pages), and a total of 7460 numbered types. For comparison, Moushmov lists 43 types for Geta from Nikopolis, SNG Copenhagen lists only one, Varbanov lists 108.

Moushmov is less than fully definitive on each listed type, and employs a clever trick with the plates. He lists the various possible legends for the ruler(s) at the beginning of their sections, then lists the types (e.g "Concordia seated with patera & cornucopaie") for them, but without associating specific legends of either the obverse or the reverse with that entry. It is therefore most likely that there are a number of different possible legends, legend breaks, legend configuration, bust types, sizes or magistrate's name for any given Moushmov number. Such differences are not vars. I would say that a var is only one which is not listed in other, more precise works, e.g. AMNG, Varbanov, RecGen, BMC etc.

Moushmov's photographic plates provide examples of most reverse types, using the illustrations of generic types, so he uses, e.g. a coin from Markianopolis to illustrate the same type from Nikopolis, Tomis and Kallatis - a clever way to save space in his plates, but which may cause confusion among beginners, so hopefully they will read this intro first!

- Dave Surber, March, 2003
- Dane Kurth, May 2009

Return to the Moushmov index.