Categories for Numismatic Web Sites
Numismatic sites can be classified by origin: institutional sites, and personal sites, both of which can be further subdivided into for-profit and not-for-profit sites. These classifications determine the character and nature of the scholarship on the sites. Each class can contain scholarly historical information of varying levels in them, and whether or not they sell numismatic items tends to determine their historical focus. This focus may be divided into several general categories: a) sites primarily dedicated to the history of numismatics concentrating on the objects, b) sites that use numismatic objects or historiography for broader historical analyses, and c) sites which list types of currency for particular periods/cultures/countries with minimal text. Some sites combine the characteristics of all or some of these categories. Sites which fall solely under category 'c' will not be reviewed as their historical content is minimal and they provide few insights into the presentation of numismatics on the web.
These categories when combined with the classifications above allow for certain generalizations to be made about the genre of numismatic websites. For example, I have chosen only one for-profit site (Chinese Coin Guide) as the sites for reasons of space and the fact that any for-profit sites that do provide historical information tend to fall under category 'c' for obvious reasons: the creators of the site want to sell and are not particularly interested in expanding the historical knowledge of their readers - this site is an exception. Even this site displays the tendency for profit-oriented sites to present relatively limited numismatic studies solely on the material characteristics of the objects with little attempt to place them in a broader historical context (beyond where and by whom the pieces were made) or explore larger historical issues (such as social, military, political, etc. implications or revelations). Institutional not-for-profit sites tend to produce sites aimed at scholarly audiences or for educational purposes often depending on whether or not the organization has numismatists on staff or not. Examples of the former include the Fitzwilliam Museum Department of Coins and Medals and the Japanese Currency Museum, examples of the latter are the Hofstra Museum page and Beyond Face Value.