American Numismatic Society
American Numismatic Society



Solidus of the Empress Irene, AD 797-802. (1968.131.249)

Byzantine

The first curator of Roman and Byzantine coins was appointed in 1946, and the post has been occupied ever since. The prior history of the department--as a branch of Greek numismatics--was dictated in part by the tradition of E. T. Newell, whose collections have so enriched the Society at large. There is some evidence to show that late in his life Newell became more seriously interested in coins of the Roman and Byzantine worlds, but his first and predominant love was always Greek numismatics. Nonetheless his 20,000 Roman and Byzantine coins still form the largest single component of the Roman and Byzantine collection, though in particular areas other individuals have made greater impact.

Even after the Newell bequest the ANS collection of Byzantine coins can hardly have numbered 1000 pieces; it was augmented by the bequests of William B. Osgood Field (1947) and the purchase of the Flinders Petrie (1947) and Gautier collections (1948, bought for the Society by A. M. Huntington). Growth was slower in the next decade, though all the tenants of the Roman chair were in fact Byzantinists by inclination. In the 1960s Joan M. Fagerlie acquired thousands of copper coins as well as the B. Y. Berry collection of 565 gold coins. During the 1970s and 1980s the collection approximately doubled in size, with large groups of copper coins contributed by H. C. Lindgren, Paul Bedoukian, David Milrod, and William and Robert Maksudian; and the Robert F. Kelley bequest (1977) included almost as many gold coins as the Berry purchase.

The collection is strong in virtually all areas except the coins of the Palaeologi, and is comparable in size to the better-known collections at Dumbarton Oaks (Washington) and Paris.

The collection is entirely recorded in the Society's computer database.

Inquiries about the Byzantine collection should be directed to Elena Stolyarik.

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