Search Tips

The CoinArchives search works like most Web search engines that you've probably used. But we've included a few customizations and features that are especially useful for searching auction records.

The quality of your search results is directly related to the quality of your search input. For that reason, it makes sense to spend some time studying this page to learn as much as possible about the features of CoinArchives.


1. General Advice
When starting with CoinArchives, it's good to keep some points in mind:

Think like a cataloger
Our databases contain the original text from auction catalogs. Therefore, it's helpful to think about how a numismatic cataloger might describe a particular coin.
For example, they might list a denomination, date, issuing authority, and reference number. They will probably abbreviate some words, and they are likely to use very specific terminology (very rarely general terms).
Consider multiple languages
CoinArchives contains auctions from all over the world, with records in English, German, French, Spanish, Czech, and Polish, among others. We have a built-in thesaurus that will automatically translate many common numismatic terms to help you.
To get the best results, consider that you may need to do multiple searches in different languages. If possible, try to use a term that will have a partial match in many languages.
Example: Typing in Hadri will match "Hadrian" (English spelling), "Hadrianus" (German spelling), and "Hadrien" (French spelling).
Use unique and universal search terms
To maximize your search results, and to avoid problems with language differences, you might try using a unique or non-language specific search term. Consider the following language-independent items frequently used in auction descriptions:
  • Coin legends in Latin and Greek, e.g. IMP CAESAR TRAIANVS
  • Proper names of people or gods depicted on a coin, e.g. Liberalitas
  • Dates, such as struck dates or regnal dates
  • Coin reference numbers from popular reference works, e.g. RIC 235 or DOC 13
When using coin reference numbers in your searches, please note that coin firms tend to use different citation styles for reference works. To account for this, you might try including the reference number only and leaving out the reference name entirely. Sometimes you need only a ruler name or date, along with a reference number, to find exactly the records you need.
To find good examples of unique search terms, check auction catalogs to see how coins are attributed and cited.
2. Search Modes

You can choose from two different search modes when using CoinArchives: the default mode, simple search, and the legacy (old-style) mode, Boolean search.

You can switch between the modes at any time by clicking on "Search options" below the CoinArchives search box. You can also save your favorite mode by putting a check in the box beside "Save my search engine preference."

Simple Search
The CoinArchives simple search mode is the one we recommend for most users. It's the easiest and most flexible search mode.

Just type in a few terms separated by spaces, and CoinArchives will find coin lots that match all of those terms, no matter where they appear in the record. Here are a few important notes about how the simple search works:

Partial terms (automatic term expansion)
CoinArchives will match any records that have words beginning with your search terms. In other words, we perform automatic wildcarding of all search terms.
Example: A search for Hadrian will match records with Hadrian and Hadrianus and Hadrianopolis. A search for den will match auction lots containing the words denar, denarius, denier, etc.
All terms must match
By default, CoinArchives will return results only if they match all of your search terms.
If this is not the case, CoinArchives will tell you that it can't find an exact match and will instead show you the closest matches it could find. This is usually an indication that you should retry your search with different or fewer terms.
Exact phrase
If you want to search for an exact phrase, put that part of your query in quotes:
Example: denarius "Marcus Antonius" will find all auction lots that include the word "denarius" and the exact phrase "Marcus Antonius."

Boolean (Legacy) Search
The Boolean (old-style) search mode supports the Boolean AND and NOT operators and uses special rules for processing the search terms. It has all the same features as our simple search -- only the syntax is different.

The Boolean search works the same way as the simple search described above, except for the following differences:

Exact phrase is assumed
When you search for several terms separated by spaces, only records with words in this exact order will be found. (This is the same behavior as using quotes in the simple search.)
Example: IMP CAESAR TRAIANVS HADRIANVS AVG will match any lot description that contains that exact legend.
Find multiple terms with "and"
You can use the and operator to include more than one search term. The search engine will find those terms located anywhere within the lot description.
Example: Hadrian and Liberalitas will match any lot that has both the words "Hadrian" and "Liberalitas" anywhere in its description.
To narrow this search even further, you could add additional terms with the and operator.
Example: Hadrian and Liberalitas and denarius will match any lot that has all three of those words anywhere in its description.
Exclude terms with "not"
If you want to exclude a term or phrase, use the not operator before it.
Example: Hadrian and Liberalitas not aureus will match any lot description that has both the words "Hadrian" and "Liberalitas" anywhere in its description, but exclude those that have the word "aureus."
3. Advanced Features and Operators

In addition to the examples above, there are some other features that you can access by using special operators or symbols. We strongly recommend that you use the simple search mode when including these operators.

Exclude terms with negation
If you want to exclude a single term, use the minus - symbol before it.
Example: Hadrian -denarius will match any lot that has the word "Hadrian" and does not have the word "denarius".
Make terms optional with an OR operator
If you want to search for two or more different terms in a single search, then separate them with the pipe | symbol.
Example: Hadrian denarius|aureus will match any lot that has the word "Hadrian" and either the word "denarius" or the word "aureus".
Group terms with parentheses
You can group more than one term so that operators apply to several of them.
Example: Hadrian -(denarius|aureus|quinarius) will match any lot that has the word "Hadrian" and does not have the words "denarius," "aureus," or "quinarius."