In about 200 pages with over 200 photos in 10 chapters and 6 appendixes, Wayne Sayles masterfully brings together in his own unique and engaging style a wonder ful introduction to the ancient coin collecting hobby. The writer is the former publisher of the most popular magazine dedicated to the hobby of collecting ancient coins is written from the vantage point of an enthusiastic collector who knows.
The first chapter is a general history, the second forms the core of the 6 volume series - it outlines the Greeks, Romans, Roman Provincial, Romaioi ( Byzantine ) and Non-Classical cultures who made the coins that are part and parcel to the ancient coin hobby. The third speaks to the Antiquarian tradition, the fourth and fifth are sort of "news you can use" about clubs, shows, the market and the emerging internet's role in this hobby as well as other topics. Chapter six is about coin literature which is this author's strong suit as a former numismatic publisher and it lists by specialty a good bibliography of books to buy that are the standard references for that section.
The seventh chapter goes into great detail about identifying ancient coins and is copiusly illustrated and chock full of easy to read tables, charts and lists that are in eye friendly fonts, some books make you squint but not this one.
The eighth chapter chapter is more of the "news you can use" sort of info, it is focused on how to collect. Mr. Sayles shows some ways to collect thematically and tackles cleaning, slabbing, grading and authentication. The ninth chapter talks about aesthetics - the coin as a work of art. The tenth and last chapter ( one page really ) speaks to the hobby's former problem of it being a "Robinson Crusoe" hobby, the loneliness that used to be felt until the advent of the internet.
This book is full of personality and avoids the snares of some other introductory works like lengthy quotes printed in dead languages, eye reddening fine print and a lot of obtuse verbosity in general. This book could be just as easily digested by a precoscious 6th grader as it could by a seasoned classical coin lover steeped in years and experience. My only wish is that when it goes into a second edition that it include some topical index in the rear for speedy reference that more traditional reference works have. Otherwise this book is extremely well executed and it will be a long time before this book is replaced by a worthy successor. Mr. Sayles has done well by the hobby with this book.