CATALOG OF PRE-MODERN CENTRAL ASIAN COINS 1680–1923 Janid (later period) – Bukhara – Tashkand – Shahrisabz – Khoqand – Khiva – Khorezm Republic – Dzungar (later period) – Islamic East Turkestan. By Vladimir NASTICH and Wolfgang SCHUSTER. ― Moscow ‒ Vienna 2016. ― 306 pp., above 820 illustrations throughout the text, 8 tables and 1 map. ― Bibliography pp. 291‒301, ― Russian summary pp. 302‒306. ― ISBN 978-3-00-055514-5. Available from: The Bremer Numismatische Gesellschaft e.V. ― https://www.bng-bremen.de/ver%C3%B6ffentlichungen ― Dr. Christoph Stadler, Parkallee 42, 28209 Bremen, Germany, ― T +49 4213039395, F 04213039564, E [email protected]
― € 39.- Reviewed by Dick Nauta, Dieren, the Netherlands. This work concerns an entirely new Catalog of a field of numismatics that so far has been poorly served by scattered publications of widely varying substance, academic quality and visual impact, not to mention perceptible lack of accessibility. With the present work, the authors have maintained high professional standards in every sense and have succeeded admirably in putting Central Asian coinage on the map, so to say. This publication, an international project, is the result of a fruitful collaboration between a Russian professional orientalist and an Austrian expert numismatist; it took more than ten years to complete. What originally started as a modest but much needed revision of the relevant entries of the SCWC grew into an impressive comprehensive treatise of these coin series. This is not surprising in view of the fact that no compilation of previous work, hailing back to the late 17th century, on any aspect of Central Asian coinages exists. Collecting, selecting and sifting information, translating, critically assessing, separating historical fact from fancy, collating and analysing all that has been published and illustrated in a wide array of periodicals and other scattered documents in archives and museum collections, required the command of about a dozen different languages; this has been the leading author's great merit. The co-author has supported this daunting process by making sense of the information about frequently highly confusing coin types and series, presenting them in as much of a systematic manner as possible. The authors, more than once, acknowledge to have benefited from expert assistance provided by many specialists in related and complementary fields, an indication of the complexity of the topic. It can be said that Central Asian numismatics is not for starters. This is immediately clear from the fact that coin legends may occur in Arabic, Persian, Turkic, Uighur, Russian, Manchu and Chinese, presented in several different scripts, each with a choice of calligraphic renderings, whereas existing literature on these coinages, scattered over time and place, has been published in yet other, different languages. As Dr. Judith Kolbas, the former director of the Central Asian Numismatic Institute (CANI), Cambridge, UK, writes in her professional assessment of this work, this unusual breadth and depth of knowledge has all been rendered into English, so that the Catalog's vast content is now accessible to a very large numismatic community, which in recent years has grown considerably. This Catalog is so far the only resource to cover the historically important transitional period from the late medieval to modern times in the pivotal area of Central Asia, which by its geographic location touches upon numerous adjacent regions, while by its vast extent it was able to maintain its largely pastoral pursuits and related traditions up to the present day. To assist not only the beginner, but also the well-versed numismatist, a very thorough general introductory chapter together with sections on how the catalog has been composed and how to use it make its content readily accessible to all users. All recorded and reported coin types, subtypes, varieties, metal compositions, legends, mint names and their epithets, as well as years of issue are covered and described, together with main design features, latinized readings of coin inscriptions and metrological details as well as physical appearance. Every listing is provided with an estimation of relative rarity using a scheme of six indications from common to exceptionally rare which reflect the catalogers’ personal consideration and experience. Almost all type and variety entries are provided with one or more colored coin illustrations, more than 820 in all. Combining historical facts, basic data and images, the coins themselves almost come to life which makes the catalog easy to use for scholars, museum workers, collectors and coin dealers. The entire content of the Catalog under review is partitioned between the thematic parts listed in its subtitle. It covers the coinages of Central Asia from the late period of the Janid Khanate (late 17th century) through separate issues of different political entities within its territory until the end of the Bukhara Emirate and the Khanate of Khiva, finally resulting in the Khorezm People’s Soviet Republic, also known as Russian Turkestan, as well as the Dzungar Khanate. From East Turkestan, today Sinkiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China, a selection of coin issues demonstrating evidence of historical, ethno-cultural and linguistic interrelations with the coin issues of the above-mentioned areas has also been included. Not expecting the reader to know the main political and cultural currents and events during the period covered, the authors have generously included short histories of the rise and fall of each of the coin issuing entities. Dates of issue obviously are defining features in this respect; their use and place in the coin legends therefore receive a great deal of attention in the coin listings; this frequently bewildering subject is also extensively dealt with in a separate, descriptive section. All variants of numerals are illustrated in a table showing both common and specific graphic variants encountered on Central Asian coins. As Dr. Kolbas observes, a particularly valuable feature of the present Catalog, besides a handy AH×CE conversion chart, detailed listings of issuing authorities, local and regional mint names and mint epithets, is a map providing approximate locations of the Central Asian mints of the period. Moreover, there is a consistent analysis of the metrology of dynastic output followed by an analysis of the monetary system. Both these features are mostly lacking in other catalogs. Where possible, approximate exchange values between copper, silver and gold coins are attempted, and possible affiliations to adjacent currencies are suggested. These features provide a model for future works on any similar numismatic subject and provide subjects for possible interfaces with neighbouring monetary or numismatic systems. As mentioned, no other comprehensive catalog or detailed study covering all Central Asian coins of the period exists. Hence an autonomous numbering system (NS- catalog numbers) has been designed for easy use and reference. Where meaningful, cross references with other catalogs have been included. Dr. Kolbas writes: There are some specific non-conventional additions to this Catalog that need to be commented upon. In particular, the authors are careful to explain various terms that might be glossed over in other works. For example, the authors explain the Arabic origin for many of the names and relationships of the coins, showing that a 1300-year Islamic tradition held sway even into the second half of the 19th century and caused the strength of the pre-modern monetary culture of Central Asia to continue till overwhelmed by events of a wider world. Dr. Kolbas continues: The usefulness of the volume is extended by quite an imaginative internal organization. First, there is a summary of the main points in Russian, rather important since Central Asian specialists generally know enough Russian or are native speakers of it to access many of the publications cited. As important, Central Asia borders Russia proper, allowing much further original research by Russian scholars, all of whom may not be as proficient in English as the Catalog's authors are. The authors have made full use of the possibilities which present-day digital composition, lay-out and illustration offer. This is evident in the high level of presentation at which this work has been compiled. In a similar vein the bibliography is sorted in a handy manner that is easy to understand but unique, having the entries grouped by dynasty and then by date of publication, the earliest first, starting in the eighteenth century. Indeed, as the authors note, at first the bibliographic project was too daunting requiring even more effort than finding and checking the coins themselves. However, for the sake of being as complete as possible, they added years to the project by including all the references they could find. Users are invited to submit any supplementary source material for a future edition. This suggests that the field of pre-modern Central Asian coinage will continue to attract more and more enthusiasts. Thoroughly arranged and professionally formatted, combined with the amazing amount of illustrations, sometimes multiple ones of the same coin type, this publication will definitely provide optimal understanding of the coins and monetary systems of pre-modern Central Asia. In conclusion, Dr. Kolbas writes, she found the catalogue to be an exemplar of numismatic research and a significant contribution to a much-neglected field, but one that grows in fascination every year. The authors have covered a region and time period that will encourage more finds and scholarship, surely an admirable goal for publishing this work. It will lead to greater appreciation of the historical significance and cultural aspects, alongside the artistic and collectible appeal of this highly interesting and diverse range of coin issues that have come into existence in recent centuries, but have remained largely unknown. As the German expression goes: “Unbekannt macht unbeliebt” ― the present Catalog is bound to change that as regards Central Asian coins. Surely, the thoroughly researched text combined with the incomparable illustrations will make this Catalog a standard reference for the subject for a long time to come. This cornucopia of images is reason alone to acquire this volume without delay!