Wednesday, October 1, 2008

28,000 Coins from the Fitzwilliam Museum Now Online

Last week I received a notice via the American Numismatic Society Alumni/Friends of Numismatics email list that 28,000 more coins have been made available online from the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. To access the images, go to the Fitzwilliam's Coins and Medals page and then click on "Search for a Coin." This brings up a list of time periods and one can then click "view" to get a list of all coins that are available online from a certain period. However, someone wishing to do a more specific search can scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the "OPAC Coins & Medals collection search form."



It's great that the content is there but frustrating that the search form doesn't allow searching based on the obverse and reverse description.

That's the kind of thing that computers are really good at! Clicking on a coin displays the information so the problem isn't the data itself.


Yes, unless I'm missing something, it does look like entering the name of a ruler or a specific mint is about as narrow as one can make the search.

Anonymous said...

Hullo. I'm the Documentation Assistant in the Dept of Coins and Medals at the Fitzwilliam, and searches in our catalogue directed us to this post. I'm slightly confused by the ANS announcement, as the catalogue is updated monthly with whatever we've completed in the preceding period. Over the last two years I've seen about 10,000 coins added, making something like 42,000 now online, but we certainly haven't added 28,000 in a lump!

The search form is old and one of my future tasks is to rebuild it so as to allow greater accessibility to the collections. At the moment, for example, it's very hard to search for any of our 17th- or 18th-century tokens, which have none of ruler, moneyer or mint... Any suggestions that you have will be much appreciated! But I don't think we have any plans to include searching for description data, I'm afraid. Description information was not recorded for some of the coins, and is obviously subjective in others; one would never know whether one's search had failed because the coin wasn't there, or because a cataloguer called a jug an amphora or vice versa... The Museum is going to make available a search-by-iconography for the whole collection which will try and solve such problems with a linked thesaurus, but even then for some items I'm afraid the data simply isn't there. Revisions to the search form are initially going to be aimed at allowing broader searches, not narrower ones! In the meantime, however, you may find that the Quick Search or the Who What Where When search at the Museum's main search page, both of which search whole catalogue entries and not single fields, will allow you to find things that the search form currently obscures. I hope that's some help.


Thank you for the information and clarification. I now wonder as well how the 28,000 number came up. I recall that it came through on the ANS alumni list and said 28,000 coins had been added. In any case, thank you for the additional information about the database and the search features.