Report of Elena Stolyarik, Collections Manager
October 29, 2016
During this fiscal year, the ANS coin cabinet continued to receive interesting new donations. Over 1542 objects were acquired through generous gifts as well as purchases.
We would like to express our deep appreciation to all of our donors who continue to fill gaps in our collections. We acknowledge and thank them all.
Abraham and Marian Scheuer Sofaer continue to enrich our collection of ancient Judaean coins. This fiscal year the Sofaers donated over 270 examples. Important highlights include a Ptolemaic silver hemidrachm with a paleo-Hebrew inscription, a coin of Herod I with the first "graven image" on a Jewish coin and a coin of Herod Philip that is the first coin struck by a Jewish king with his own portrait.
The ANS is glad to add over 300 important items of the Holy Land coins from our Adjunct Curator David Hendin. Among the interesting coins acquired are a silver obol of Gaza imitating an Athenian type; a very rare bronze prutah of Judah Aristobulus I, the first ruler of the Hasmonean dynasty to declare himself “king”; and a fine portrait coin of Tigranes V, king of Armenia and a descendant of Herod I.
A remarkable donation came from ANS fellow Jonathan Kagan. It is a unique silver tetradrachm of the Sicilian mint of Camarina. The reverse of this coin bears an artistic innovation; the head of Heracles faces left but turns slightly to front, and from this perspective can be seen the lashes of his right eye
We are very grateful to our long-time member David Mitten, professor emeritus at Harvard University for an important group of early Greek electrum and silver coins and to our Fellow, Edward Allworth, professor emeritus at Columbia University, for a gold tilla of Shah Murad, struck at Bukhara mint .
A generous gift came from our fellow and devoted friend, David Feinstein. The core of his donation is a group of bronze coins reflecting David’s interest in the Roman provincial mint of Nemausus in Gaul.
We are extremely grateful for a donation from a very generous benefactor of 584 coins of the Visigothic kings from the former collection of the Hispanic Society of America, formed by past ANS President Archer M. Huntington. With this gift, the ANS collection of Visigothic coins is elevated from the largest in the Americas to the largest in the world. This group covers almost the entire range of Visigothic regal coinage. From the same donor our Medieval Department also received another large group from the former HSA collection: 189 early Spanish billon coins from the kingdoms of Castile and León.
The collection of the medals issued by the ANS has been improved by a gift from the Society fellow Scott H. Miller. He donated a pair of uniface bronze casts of the original design submitted by Marcel Jovine for the ANS 125th Anniversary medal. This design was initially selected, but later replaced with a different design by Jovine. However, some members of the Committee who had chosen the original design commissioned twelve sets of uniface bronze casts from the artist. We are glad that one of these sets has now been added to the collection.
Another aspect of our curatorial department activities is the ANS Museum Loan Program. Currently, around 431 objects are out on loan to 15 permanent and 6 temporary exhibitions. Here are some recent highlights.
In early April, four coins from the Society were lent to the Art Institute of Chicago for the exhibit A Portrait of Antinous in Two Parts. This exhibit brings together a broken portrait of an exceptionally beautiful Greek youth, who was a favorite of the Roman emperor Hadrian. Our coins demonstrate iconographic features that were likely inspired by sculptures of Antinous.
In April, the Metropolitan Museum of Art unveiled a spectacular new exhibit Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World. This exhibition brings together some 264 artworks from the Hellenistic period—to the establishment of the Roman Empire. The ANS has lent to this show a remarkable silver decadrachm of Poros and two silver tetradrachms struck in Babylon.
Another interesting exhibit, Court and Cosmos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs, also opened in April at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This was the first major exhibition to present the art of the Seljuqs, a Turkic dynasty that in a short time conquered a vast territory stretching across present-day Turkmenistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. The exhibit featured 13 coins from the ANS, including gold dinars of the 11th century, as well as copper coins that show artistic borrowing from earlier Greek, Roman, and Byzantine coins.
A special exhibition Roman Myth and Myth-Making, featuring over 60 coins from the ANS collection, was opened in September at the Jundt Art Museum of Gonzaga University, in Spokane, Washington. This show explores how the Romans chose to interpret their mythical-religious past through iconographic representation on everyday objects. ANS coins in this exhibit show Roman gods and allegorical personifications of imperial virtues.
An exciting new exhibition, Time and Cosmos in Greco-Roman Antiquity opened on October 19 at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World of New York University. The exhibit explores the ways time was conceived in the Greco-Roman world. ANS items include over 40 coins and gemstones, which illustrate celestial phenomena, astronomical deities and zodiacal symbolism.
In recognition of the gift of service we would like to express our sincere and special thanks to our very valuable volunteers Ted Withington and Ken Edlow and also to our intern Taylor Hartley for their priceless help and generous assistance with many curatorial functions.
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