Current Cabinet Activities (Spring 2003)

by Robert Wilson Hoge

The cabinets, the coin rooms, and their attendant staff remain ever-busy at the ANS as we look toward the impending move to a new home on William/Fulton Street. A number of readers have expressed satisfaction at learning just what kinds of activities are going on and seeing a selection of miscellaneous items from the Society’s magnificent collections. We continue presenting a look at recent visitation, inquiries and collections usage in this context.

For over a month, we were inundated with Spanish-language inquiries resulting from a series of short programs on a local television station. Naomi Pestana, Chief Assignment Editor of “Noticias 41,” for Univision (WXTV Channel 41, New York) contacted us to do a numismatic series on each weekday morning during the November “sweeps.” We selected a coin for each day. The presentations turned out to be both popular and misleading. These programs, entitled Monedas Millonarias (“Millionaire Coins”), gave the viewing public the impression that if they had any coins resembling those shown, they could just claim their fortune! Of course our intention had merely been to pique local interest in numismatics and the ANS, so we permitted the station to use a variety of selections, among them colonial New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other New England issues as well as coins related more specifically to Hispanic heritage. The latter included New World “treasure” pieces, Medieval and Renaissance highlights, and the famous, internationally-important “pieces of eight.” Programs also featured oddities—mint errors—which one might find in accumulations of small change.

United States: New Jersey copper, 1787, Elizabeth Town (Ogden and Rindell) mint, Maris 34-J. (1945.42.688)

Spain: Ferdinand and Isabella (1469-1504), AV double excellente, Sevilla Mint. (1964.79.8)

United States: 1963 cent, a rare mint error, struck on a silver dime planchet. (1983.132.1)

Numismatics clearly retains its popular attraction for the media. Additional contacts utilized materials from the ANS, among them New York Daily News photographer R. McAlpin, who visited us to get a numismatic slant on current finance, and Marisa Cespedes, News Correspondent for “Noticieros,” Televisa NY, preparing a story on collectable monetary items.

As staff time is taken up by activities generated by the renown of the ANS’ collections, additional help becomes all the more valuable. It is a pleasure to acknowledge these contributions. We were fortunate to have had Eric Lee Cheung, of Stanford University, work with us this past summer in a student internship as a temporary curatorial assistant. His extensive knowledge of Early American coinage was helpful in preparing a survey of this portion of the cabinet, and he also helped add more items to the accession catalog data base. Julia DuBois, from Fordham University, again helped us as another temporary curatorial assistant, as did Andrew Schloss, of Rochester University. Our splendid volunteers Kenneth MacKenzie and Ted Withington continued their regular work, the former cataloguing remaining sections of the great Jem Sultan collection of Turkish and Indian coins and the latter inventorying the cabinet trays onto a data base.

Many researchers regularly make use of the Society’s resources in wide-ranging fields of numismatics. Wei-Tsu Fan visited the cabinet to investigate early machine-struck Chinese coins. Eduardo Levante and Michel Amandry both worked on Roman provincial coinages for future publication in this field. María Cruz Cores reviewed Visigothic gold for a new Spanish catalog under production by Jesús Vico. Emilio Ortiz examined Cuban proclamations while Jim Tippett continued pursuing his quest for engravers’ marks on die varieties of Civil War store card (merchants’) tokens.

Spain: Visigothic Kingdom, Sisenand (AD 631-636), AV tremissis, Mentesa mint. (HSA 1001.1.16214)

Among other visitors were the Dekkers family, looking at Ottoman and U.S. currency; Ashley Logan Brenner, reviewing U.S. paper money for possible financial brochure publication; Hisham Bissat, to study Islamic coins; and Gwen and Gary Vetter, trying to learn about possible mint errors while L.O. Sanford wished to examine early “Cob” coinage of the Potosí mint. F. Gordon Frost, Ursula Kampmann, Bill Leitold, Barbara Mundy, Robert Schaaf, James A. Schwartz, Stuart Sears, David Tripp, and Alexander Naymark with fifteen of his students from Hofstra University, all also visited the coin rooms recently, for one sort of consultation or another.

Quite a few individuals have contacted us from afar regarding specific materials in the collection. Fielding requests for photographs and information on items in the cabinet remain a constant and important part of our public outreach effort. The Society’s modest fees and high-quality digital images help contribute to this demand. Nancy Ellen Roth, Assistant Editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, ordered photographs of a fine Judaean bronze of Herod Agrippa II (AD 50-95) from Caesarea Panias, for use in the November/December issue. This coin, previously published in the Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Vol. 6, of the Society’s collections (as no. 315), is a fine, readable example dated to the 35th year of the era (interpreted as AD 94/5).

Judaea: Herod Agrippa II (AD 50-95), AE 26.5, Caesarea Panias mint, year 35. RPC 2296. (1944.100.62898)

Don MacKay contacted us with a question regarding the coins with the mint mark MACP on the reverse. This is the Greek form of the Arabic word Masr or Misr, meaning “Egypt” and also designating the mint of Alexandria. It appears thus on some of the earliest Muslim coins demonstrably attributable to Egypt. Fortuitously, these Arab-Byzantine coins have recently been published in “Copper Coinage of Egypt in the Seventh Century,” by Lidia Domaszewicz and Michael L. Bates, in the recent Fustat Finds, Beads, Coins, Medical Instruments, Textiles, and Other Artifacts from the Awad Collection, Jere L. Bacharach, editor, a publication of the American University in Cairo (noted in ANS Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 2, p. 45).

Egypt: Early Islamic Arab-Byzantine (ca. AD 700), AE fals, with Egyptian (“Masr”) mint name. (1984.100.147)

Lutz Ilisch, from Tuebingen, was conducting research which focused upon an unusual Islamic gold piece dated 157 AH (AD 773/4) in the cabinet. His study identifies it as one of a small group of contemporary European imitations of an ‘Abbasid gold dinar. These pieces are apparently of Carolingian origin and presumably represent the gold mancus of medieval documents. The unique English dinar imitation bearing the name of the Mercian King Offa, in the collection of the British Museum, is another 157-dated European example.

Carolingian Empire: AV mancus, 157 AH (AD 773/4), a European imitation of an ‘Abbasid gold dinar. (1931.115.1)

Susan L. Ward, Professor of Art and Architectural History at the Rhode Island School of Design, requested images of an English penny from the reign of William I (1066-87) and of a late 11th century penny from Le Mans, France. The PAXS penny shown is from the famous former Norweb collection. For the Colonial Newsletter, editor Gary Trudgen inquired about the suspicious characteristics of the Society’s example of the gold St. Patrick “farthing”—another Norweb coin—in connection with a ground-breaking paper on the St. Patrick coinage by Brian Dansforth.

England: William I “the Conqueror” (1066-87), AR “PAXS” penny, Colchester mint, moneyer Wulfric. (1974.34.20)

Colonial New Jersey: St. Patrick “farthing” (ca. 1682), Gold forgery. (1988.166.1)

An investigator of the early coinages of Chile, Carlos Jara, questioned whether the 1767 J 8-reales piece from the Santiago mint in the ANS cabinet is actually a rare genuine coin rather than a forgery as has been supposed. It appears to be the product of the same obverse die as a genuine 1765 example, and shows some other features which point toward its authenticity although its surfaces look rather unconvincing. Only two other specimens have been reported.

Spanish Colonial Chile: Charles III, AR 8 reales, Santiago mint, 1767 J. (1991.78.161)

Robert Levinson, a specialist in early Anno Domini-dated coins, requested clarification on several pieces in the cabinet relating to his areas of interest. Three Saxony half-schwertgroschen, in a box labeled with the date “1493”, upon examination prove to be issues of 1495 with a curiously-rendered late-Medieval digit. Another piece is a similar coin with the last digit of the date having been recut on the die, either 9/2 or 2/9. The Society’s collection of European coinage from this time period is quite good, although donations of additional items to fill lacunae are always welcome in this as well as in all other sections of the cabinet.

Saxony, Ernestine Line: Friedrich III, Albert and Johan (1485-1500), AR half schwertgroschen, 1499/2 or 1492/9. (1947.61.760)

John N. Sitton inquired about a medallic issue of Catherine the Great of Russia struck in 1779 to commemorate the birth of the second grandson of the Empress. We do have in the cabinet an example of this piece, in copper (seemingly a cast). On the obverse is a bust of Catherine; on the reverse, figures of Faith, Hope and Charity and the inscription “Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich born in Tsarskye Selo, April 27, 1779.”

Russia: Catherine the Great, AE 64.3mm Grandson’s birth commemoration medal, 1779. (1933.64.30)

Numismatics can be a rewarding part of genealogical research. W. David Perkins, in the process of pursuing information on tokens connected with his ancestors, contacted us concerning two 19th century Canadian tokens issued by J. Dubois of Quebec, good for a meal for employees of Perkins Mills. He also sought information on Detroit, Michigan Civil War Storecard tokens, two of which were issued by his great-great-grandfather, William Perkins, Jr.

Canada: Quebec, J. DuBois, Miner’s Restaurant, 24.5mm brass Perkins Mills “good for” token. Breton 653. (1966.252.88)

United States: Detroit, MI, CN(?) Civil War store card of Perkins Hotel. Fuld MI-225BC-3d. (0000.999.53382)

James O. Sweeny, in the course of a major study of calendar medals, contacted us regarding several issues of W.W. Kitchen, of Rochester, NY (these were issued from about 1876 through 1894—some of the later ones apparently in anticipation of the Chicago World’s Fair). From the data base accessible through our public web site at, he downloaded the complete file of the ANS collection of Calendar medals, consisting of some 218 records (although this included only two Kitchen pieces, Acc. Nos. 1962.21.14 and 1965.2.25, donated by George and Melvin Fuld). He kindly proceeded to make a careful perusal of the records, noted omissions (mainly of issuers and references), some errors, and some questionable entries, and provided us with an annotated listing of corrections and additional information for upgrading the data base! Hats off to Mr. Sweeny, an ANS Museum volunteer from afar!

United States: AL 30.4mm perpetual calendar medal (ca. 1892), by W.W. Kitchen, of Rochester, NY. (1965.2.25)

One researcher contacted us seeking information on British “model” coins of the Victorian era—a field in which our cataloguing has lagged, although we do have a fair number of examples in the cabinet. Another area of British token coinage which came under investigation was that of the 1811-1812 time period. These copper and silver (and rare gold) pieces are being investigated by Conder Token Collector’s Club member Frank Gorsler, who was referred to us by former ANS curator Dr. Richard G. Doty, now at the Smithsonian Institution. The Society holds a significant collection of this type of material, many from the celebrated former Norweb collection, but lacked an inventory—these items not having yet been entered onto our data base. We were very fortunate to have been able to improve this situation through the help of student intern Andrew Schloss, who was able to catalog most of these pieces onto the data base during his winter break from classes. Thank you, Andrew!

Great Britain: Reading, Berks., AV 40 shillings, I. B. Monck token coinage of 1812. Dalton 1. (1968.235.83)

Curiously, a number of our recent inquiries concerned the Society’s attractive 1909 Hudson/Fulton medal issue, by Emil Fuchs, in its various ramifications. We refer those interested in this issue to Scott Miller’s article “The Medallic Works of Emil Fuchs” in the ANS publication The Medal in America, Vol. 2, Coinage of the Americas Conference, Proceedings No. 13 (1999), edited by Alan M. Stahl. We were also contacted regarding the handsome early issues of the Society of Medalists. For this series, again, the standard reference today is another ANS publication, “The Society of Medalists,” by Joseph Veach Noble, in The Medal in America (Vol. 1), also edited by Dr. Stahl as part of the Society’s Coinage of the Americas Conference, Proceedings No. 4 (1987).

US: ANS 76.3mm Hudson-Fulton medal by Emil Fuchs, Whitehead & Hoag, 1909, struck in gold. (0000.999.4357)

Public service of all kinds remains the hallmark of activities at the American Numismatic Society. The great resources of its Library and Cabinet exist to further education and to foster appreciation of the role of numismatics in civilization. The more complete the holdings are in any given area, the more we are able to provide answers to questions and illustrations for research needs. We invite everyone to learn about the collections and to let us help make them available.