|by Robert Wilson Hoge|
Ancient and Medieval Coins
Our great collections of ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine coins are so well known world-wide that they are the subjects of constant inquiries and research projects.
Because of the significant depth of the cabinet in terms of die varieties, we can often provide exact die matches for comparative purposes in questions of authentication. A recent example is the Syracusan tetradrachm no. 264 in the ANS volume on this section in the Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum (Tudeer 33). Ancient coins specialist Herb Kreindler made use of this coin, which was part of the wonderful bequest from Edward T. Newell, in an authentication undertaken for the International Bureau for the Suppression of Counterfeit Coinage (operated by the International Association of Professional Numismatists—the IAPN).
Sicily: Syracuse, AR tetradrachm, ca. 400 BC. ANS SNG 264; Tudeer 33. (ANS 1944.100.55775, bequest of Edward T. Newell) 26.4 mm.
Research inquiries often relate to pieces that are not in the collection, for we can frequently elucidate them by other means. Andrew McIntyre contacted us regarding a royal Seleucid coin of Alexander Balas from the mint of Sidon of the year 163 (150 BC). His available documentation indicated no other known examples. As the foremost such resource in the world, he sought to check the ANS Library for any possible published references to a similar piece. Likewise, Gar Travis purchased an interesting large bronze of Commodus (AD 175-192) from Mytilene, on Lesbos, and applied to us for some corroborating data. Here, the ANS card file was able to help: a specimen of this issue appeared twice at auction early in the last century (Santamaria, 1910, no. 255f; Egger 46, 1914, no. 215), matching another in the collection of the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow.
Panagiotis Takis Antonopoulos, Assistant Professor of Byzantine/Mediaeval History at the University of Ioannina, in Greece, contacted us to inquire whether we had any examples of the coinage of the Lombard King Cunincpert for a survey he is conducting. Although the Society does have a somewhat representative collection of the Lombardic series, I found that there are no issues of Cunincpert in the cabinet. Any donors out there?
Svein H. Gullbekk, Associate Professor at the University of Oslo, made an inquiry from the University Museum of Cultural Heritage’s Coin Cabinet relative to the famous 11th-century Norwegian penny reputedly found in Maine at the Goddard site. The puzzle over this piece, reportedly found by amateur archaeologist Guy Mellgren in 1957, was recently addressed by Edmund Carpenter, who had also contacted us due to the coins of identical type in the ANS collection. These coins have been attributed to Magnus I “the Good,” his powerful uncle Harald III Hardrada, or more recently to Harald’s son, Olav Kyrre (Olaf III, “the Peaceful”; 1067-1093). Although a couple of examples came in earlier (in 1921), most of the ANS’ specimens were part of an acquisition (lot 663) from the Grunthal-NFA sale of June 1, 1948. It seems probable that all of the ANS’ coins (and the Goddard piece?) came from the important Gressli (Graeslid) Hoard, found in 1878; the 13 ANS Magnus/Harald/Olaf coins from lot 663 coins were part of a group of 118 pieces with this provenance. Over the years before the ANS acquired its specimens, hundreds of other Graeslid coins had been dispersed. There is no reliable confirmation on the documentation of the Goddard coin, and much circumstantial evidence suggests that someone was deliberately trying to manipulate or obfuscate the situation. The Norse coin from Maine should probably be considered a hoax.
Norway: Olaf III “the Peaceful” (1066-1093), AR Penny, blundered. (ANS 1948.79.188, purchase) 17 mm.
Quite a few requests come in from people who are hoping we can help them identify mysterious numismatic pieces they have encountered. This is even part of the unlikely story attached to the Goddard coin. Usually we are able to attribute the items, provided we are given a good, clear description of the item and are sent images. Sometimes, we are able to assist with even less data. One correspondent from Long Island found what we can easily classify as a silver teston of Jeanne d’Albret, the mid-16th century queen of Navarre. Little known today, she was the Protestant ruler of the tiny monarchy surrounded by Catholic Spain, with Catholic France to the north, and was reputed to have been poisoned by the notorious queen Catherine de Medici, widow of Henri II of France. The marriage of Jeanne’s son Henri de Bourbon to Catherine’s daughter, Princess Marguerite (“La Reine Margot”), culminated in the horrific St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. Henri lived to establish the Bourbon dynasty on the French throne, as King Henry IV, and declared religious toleration. Navarre, the old bastion of the Basques, was incorporated into France at this time.
Navarre: Jeanne d’Albret (1562-1572). AR teston, Pau mint, 1565 (ANS 1969.222.2591, gift of P. K. Anderson) 30 mm.
M. Garry Saint, Esq., a member of the Société Haïtienne de Numismatque (Haitian Numismatic Society) was wondering about digital images of any Haitian coins we might provide for use on their website. Unfortunately, to date only a small number of Haitian items are catalogued onto our on-line data base but several have images shown, offering an idea of what we can provide. Another member of the Haitian Numismatic Society, Joseph Guerdy Lissade, visited the coin room to examine pieces for his research on early Haitian cut and countermarked coins. His findings suggests that the palm tree mark heretofore believed possibly to have been applied in Barbados was more likely employed in Haiti during the period 1811-1814.
Haiti. Cut and countermarked (Palm), Spanish Colonial Mexico. AR 2 Reales, 1784 FF. Pridmore 9. (ANS 1923.51.2, purchase) 27.7 mm.
It seems there are always a number of inquiries having to do with Latin American topics. Tom Natale, Sr., sought information on Peruvian proclamation medals, dating from 1834 to the mid 1920’s, wanting to know about their mintage, scarcity or value. This is a library research project in itself, with more questions than we can answer. Jerry Shupe asked for advice on identifying a Spanish Colonial 8 piece which turned out to be a silver 1763-M 2-reales piece minted by King Charles III of Spain (ruled 1759-1789) from the mint of Mexico (City). (KM# 87 in the Standard Catalog of World Coins, 18th Century Edition.) The M mintmark indicates the assayer (ensayador) or another official in charge, either Manuel de la Peña or Manuel Assorín.
Mexico. Charles III (1759-1788). AR 2 reales, 1763/2, M. (ANS 1933.126.8, purchase) 26.3 mm.
Our Summer Graduate Seminar student from last year, Christoph Rosenmüller (now at the Department of History at Middle Tennessee State University), has been pursuing exactly this question: how the assayers’ marks can be attributed to specific individuals in the Mexican mint administration and what this can tell us about policy and management. He was back in touch for information relating to the introduction of machinery in Spain and in Mexico. By 1732, when the screw-press was introduced there (the first in the New World), the Spanish peninsular mints had all adopted machine technology. The first was Segovia, in the 1580s, where Austrian roller-presses were set up through cooperation between Philip II and his Imperial Habsburg connections. The old mint of Segovia (Casa Vieja) continued for some time hand-striking coins, but the new, mechanized mint (Ingenio) eventually superceded it. The other Spanish metropolitan mints were much slower to mechanize. Through the 17th century there were certain hand-struck issues still appearing, and during the usurpation of the Habsburg Charles III, there were even some irregular hand-struck issues in the early 18th century.
In Mexico (and elsewhere?), the fabric of planchets suggests that roller mills for preparing the strip were introduced before the use of the screw press. Then there are also those well-made, enigmatic round coins of the 17th and early 18th that emanated from the New World mints which were otherwise normally striking crude “cob” coinages. Many questions still perplex scholars of the Colonial Spanish series.
United States, the Strawberry Leaf/Wreath Cent 1793 Workshop
American large cent specialist Dan Holmes brought in his two examples of the famous 1793 “Strawberry Leaf” issue as well as other varieties from his collection, permitting us to hold a small workshop on the Wreath cent. Not only were we then able to compare three of the four known Strawberry Leaf coins (including both reverses, D and E), it was also possible to compare the dies and edge markings of every variety in the series. Our thanks go to Dan and to Jim Neiswinter for bringing in specimens for study, and to participants Bob Grellman and John Kleeberg for their contributions in making this a rewarding session for us all.
United States. AE cent, 1793 “Strawberry Leaf” variety, Sheldon NC.2 (the unique Crosby 5-D; Courtesy of Dan Holmes); Sheldon NC.3 (two of the three known examples of Crosby 5-E; courtesy of Dan Holmes and ANS 1906.99.52, gift of J. Sanford Saltus) 28 mm each.
Close examination and comparison of all the specimens then available revealed that, contrary to what has been stated and believed heretofore, the Wreath cent varieties Sheldon 5, 6, 7, 10, and 11a, as well as the Strawberry Leaf coins NC.2 and NC.3, all shared the same “Vine and Bars” edge marking, while the varieties Sheldon 8 and 9 share edges marked by a different “Vine and Bars” die. The large cent fraternity will now hope to learn whether this observation may hold true for all other specimens of the wreath cents. Jim Neiswinter followed our study by examination of the edges of 1793 Chain cents, and reported that the Vine and Bars edge markings that he was able to verify matched the variety found on the S.8 and 9.
Dan Holmes holding three 1793 “Vine and Bar” edge wreath cents to compare the markings applied by the Philadelphia Mint’s Castaing machine.
Other United States Activities
Jamie J. Cimino contacted us to research a grandmother’s Colonial New Jersey Note, a 3-Pound issue from Woodridge, New Jersey, dated April 1762, with a signature of one Thomas Rodman. This issue is listed in both Krause-Mishler’s Standard Catalog of World Paper Money (S1798), and Eric P. Newman’s Early Paper Money of America. Our collection includes a representative example from the former H. P. Beach collection.
United States: New Jersey Colonial. Issue of April 8, 1762: 3-pound promissory note, printed by James Parker. (ANS 1945.42.796, purchase) 100.6 x 55.6 mm.
On our website, at http://www.numismatics.org, our archivist, Joe Ciccone, is presenting background information on past ANS officers, one of whom is pioneer historic preservationist Stephen Hyatt Pelham Pell, a great collector of American Colonial materials and also of Civil War tokens. Upon reading about Pell, alert Early American specialist Ray Williams thought to inquire about Colonial period donations from Pell, who was a great enthusiast of that era. But regrettably, Pell apparently only gave us items of other kinds, as well as his services. We do have one 18th century coin with a Pell provenance, however: a 1787 Connecticut cent of the “Horned” variety from an H. Pell. Thanks to the request to check on the possible Pell acquisitions, though, I was able to correct the accession data on this piece, which had been catalogued with an incorrect, provisional number (ANS 1936.999.189).
United States. Connecticut, AE penny or cent, 1787. Miller 4-L, the “horned” variety, early die state. (ANS 1936.115.1, gift of H. Pell) 28.3 mm.
Probably the largest numbers of our inquiries involve miscellaneous United States coins and currency, as represented by these few examples. C. Herbert Gilliland contacted us regarding a Fugio cent counterstamped twice with appears to read either “BSO” or possibly “BSC.” The piece in question is somewhat worn and the counterstamp is worn about as much as the coin, suggesting that it could have been added early in the time of the coin’s circulation. There is no example of an issue marked in this manner in the ANS cabinet. Working on a study of 1794 cents, Al Boka contacted us in an effort to track down 18th-century minting images. Jesse Sheidlower, Editor-at-Large for the Oxford English Dictionary (American Edition), inquired about some technical points on the “penny” in American usage. He was seeking the earliest example we have of the term “penny” being used specifically in reference to a US one-cent coin (in contrast to an actual British coin being used as currency in the US during the early Federal period), about the “official” use of the term “penny” in the US, and whether it has ever been discouraged—not the easiest questions to answer. Carlisle Lee Morgan visited to examine early $5 and $10 gold pieces (as well as some ancient Roman and Russian Imperial coins).
Nancy Griffin asked about the origin of the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. Maybe others would care to have a brief summary of this aspect of our money as well, so here is a note on my reply. This motto, which was not called for by earlier official coinage acts, was added to US coinage as a result of religious fervor arising out of the horrors of the Civil War. Actually, we know that several variants were initially considered: “God our Trust,” “Trust in God.” Patterns for new coins were prepared in 1863 by order of US Mint director James Pollock, designed by Mint Chief Engraver James Barton Longacre. The new two-cent piece, introduced in 1864, was the first coin to carry the motto. Its design and inscriptions were selected by Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, who may have adopted the idea of the motto from that of his alma mater, Brown University, which is “In Deo Speramus” (“in God we hope”).
The copper-nickel three-cent piece introduced in 1865 was the second coin to bear the new motto. As numismatists will recall, the story goes on, with the motto being added to the other denominations after the war, until, with the introduction of the Lincoln cent in 1909, it was to be found on each denomination then being minted. This practice did not proceed without controversy, however; President Theodore Roosevelt tried to have the motto removed, on religious grounds, when the new $10 and $20 gold coin designs by Augustus Saint-Gaudens were introduced in 1907. He believed that it was sacrilegious to invoke the name of the Deity on something commercial, like money, which would fall into the hands of the sinful. But the Congress, taking an opposite view which members probably thought would go over better with a less-sophisticated public, had the motto added back onto these denominations. For whatever reasons, no one seems to have seriously considered adding the religious motto to paper money until the 1950s when, headed by American Numismatic Association President Matt Rothert, a movement sought to place it there as well. It appeared on the 1957 series, and has been used since that time.
Many people wonder how to proceed to obtain valuation information, or how to obtain grading opinions, and we receive constant inquiries along these lines regarding all sorts of items. We always try to emphasize to our correspondents that it is advisable for them to educate themselves as much as possible, then contact reputable dealers in their area or beyond, and consider utilizing the services of a third party grading service. These matters may seem basic to any numismatist, but to an inexperienced new collector or heir to one, the prospects may seem baffling or overwhelming. There can be no end to the variety of questions that arise. Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm Wells inquired in connection with a recently inherited a small collection of coins, among which is a 1908 Indian Head $10 dollar gold piece. Edward S. Hess hazarded a question about an apparent 1997-D with a gold coloration (no doubt some sort of oddity perpetrated outside the mint, since all the cents issued since 1982 should be made of copper-coated zinc; what is going on?). Do the weight and specific gravity check out? Could the coin be a mint error or rare variety?
Andy Lustig and Seth Chandler visited the coin room to study some pioneer gold pieces, while Rob Moore inquired about a recently acquired Parson’s & Co. gold ingot. This latter would be an example of the relatively well-known forgeries that have plagued the world of numismatics since the 1950s, but which have only lately been conclusively demonstrated to be counterfeit. Another of our inquiries involved the 1891 pattern variety of the Barber dime (Judd 1760; Pollock 1974). While there are two examples of this variety believed to be extant today, the ANS does not have one in its cabinet (both are in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution).
Modern World Coins and Paper Money
At the ANS, there is no single truly clear line of demarcation between Medieval and Early Modern numismatics, just as sometimes there are not clear delineations between what constitutes a coin, a non-circulating coin, a bullion coin, a commemorative coin, a token or a medal (not to mention the difficulties in defining what is a medal, anyway?). We merely work with the collections as they occur, as do other scholars and researchers. Alan Walker visited and took the time to help try to identify some of the various accumulated hand-hammered materials that have entered the collection over the years wholly or partly lacking attributions. James Ricks studied examples of the siege pieces from Pontefract, during the English Civil War, when he visited the coin room. Some of the hand-struck coins are, of course, from the 17th century and even later although we may have them grouped for departmental purposes as being in the “Medieval” cabinet.
Michael Nelson inquired about our specimens of Danzig (Gdansk) donative (medallic) gold pieces of the period 1582-1685. In the cabinet, we have only a couple of examples, plus one other related one from Thorn, but these are important and handsome issues from the great age of Polish power, and worth being brought to your attention. A splendid 12-ducat piece of Wladislaus IV (1632-1648) shows the king as embattled Hercules overcoming the three-headed monster Cerberus, and bears the inscriptions (on the obverse) VLADISLAO IV POLONIAE ET SVECIAE REGI HERCULI PACIFICO / CIVIT. GEDAN / F.F. (“To Wladislas, the Peace-making Hercules, King of Poland and Sweden, made in the city of Gdansk”) and (on the reverse) DUM / MOSCHUM BELLO,/ TURCAM TERRORE/ SUECUMQUE/ OSTENSO AD PACIS FOE/ DERA MARTE TRAHIS/ VLADISLAE, / TIBI DEBETUR GLORIA/ TRIPLEX,/ HERCULES ET MERITO/ DICERE PACIFICUS (“Since you brought the Muscovite by war, the Turk by terror and the Swede by martial display to the alliances of peace, Wladislas, triple glory is due to you, and [you are] Hercules the Peace-maker, truly said”). It dates to 1637.
Poland. Wladislaus IV (1632-1648). AV medallic 12 ducats, Gdansk, 1637. (ANS 1905.57.85, gift of Daniel Parish, Jr.) 46 mm.
Sylvia Tomczyk, our graduate student intern this past summer, reports that her experience in cataloguing German currency from the period of the First World War and the Weimar Republic is proving very useful. She decided to write her thesis about the emergency money of the Weimar Republic, especially considering and analyzing anti-semitic motifs. She was able to obtain an appointment with Prof. Wippermann of the Freie Universität of Berlin, who is a specialist in the field of Anti-semitism and Totalitarism, and is starting by comparing Notgeld collections in Germany, specifically the ones with anti-semitic motifs. Her University offers scholarships for thesis research, which may bring her back to the ANS for further work with the collections here.
Lenny Vaccaro contacted us for photos of the early US Mint’s Captain Thomas Truxton medal (Julian NA-2), celebrating America’s victorious engagement at sea during the so-called Undeclared War with France. This important issue, one of the first medals actually produced by the fledgling US Mint, is attributed to Robert Scot, but was probably actually engraved by John Reich. It celebrated the victory by the 38-gun frigate USS Constellation over our former ally’s 54-gun La Vengeance. There are five examples in the cabinet, none of them part of the initial production, sad to say. One is copper, without marginal inscription; one is a copper-plated lead piece, used as the illustration by Julian in his Medals of the United States Mint: the First Century, 1792-1892. Another is also lead, with obverse and reverse impressions more deeply sunken below the borders and with the border legends added with slightly different punches. Later restrikes are a bronze and a recent silver specimen.
United States. Naval Series, Cu-coated PB Thomas Truxton medal, 1800. (ANS 0000.999.38389) 57 mm.
The ever-popular Thomas Jefferson Indian Peace Medal was again a subject of inquiry for a couple of individuals. One wanted to know about size variation and authentication; another, the whereabouts of examples with a known provenance documented to the events of the actual expedition of the “Corps of Discovery.” He reported one was supposed to have been found in an Indian grave on a tributary of the Columbia River, and wondered whether this was in the ANS cabinet; he also wondered where other such pieces might be located. While one of our non-original examples was supposedly found “up the Missouri,” documentation of this kind is very rare. There was a partial example (reverse shell only, of the middle-sized medal), formerly in the collection of the State Historical Museum of Nebraska, which had reportedly been found in a Pawnee grave site. This piece was repatriated to the Pawnee Nation, and consequently reburied under poured concrete. Without authentic documentation, we can never know that such pieces were medals actually carried and presented by Lewis and Clark.
One of the many medals quests was for an 1893 Columbian Exposition medal (Eglit 101); another, for the Boston Common Tercentenary medal. Tom Natale was referred to us by Melanie Bower of the Museum of the City of New York in relation to a medal he recently acquired. This was an example of the New York City Hall counter, a product of the Lauer Company mint in Nuremberg, Germany, struck circa 1856 and imported in large numbers by Theodore Bolenhagen, who operated his large mercantile store a couple of blocks from where the ANS is now located. The medal is copper, 36mm in diameter, with a reeded edge. The obverse bears a head of Liberty facing left surrounded by a ring of stars. The reverse bears a radiant sun at twelve o’clock above the City Hall accompanied by the legend CITY HALL/ NEW YORK, below. Such a piece, normally made out of a brassy alloy of copper, is classified as Cit-10 (Kurth 61; Bushnell 111) in American Game Counters, by Russell Rulau and George J. Fuld, TAMS (Token and Medal Society) Journal, V. 12, N. 6, Pt. 2 (1972), where it is estimated that less than 500 are known.
Marilyn Lutzker, researching a struck bronze struck medal for the New-York Historical Society, wondered whether a piece with the inscription J./SANFORD/SALTUS and an image of a clothed male bust facing right on the obverse and a reverse showing a “shoulder-length portrait of a youth holding a torch and looking at a medal” (with the legend around the border: NEW YORK NUMISMATIC CLUB./ ORGANIZED 1908) was an example of the actual J. Sanford Saltus medal awarded for excellence in medallic art. This piece is, of course, one of the familiar New York Numismatic Club annual presidential medals, minted in honor of each of the successive club presidents upon the completion of their terms in office (J. Sanford Saltus’ medal dates from 1923, immediately following his untimely death in 1922). These medals were designed by John M. Swanson, whose initials JMS appear on them.
United States: New York. New York Numismatic Club AR Presidential medal, J. Sanford Saltus, 1923, by J.M. Swanson (1908), Medallic Art Co. (ANS 1985.67.549, bequest of Charles Heaton) 37.1 mm.
From our sister organization the American Numismatic Association (ANA), Assistant Editor Cathy Clark inquired about obtaining images of medals by Paul Manship for an article in the Numismatist. Fortunately, our collection holds many dozens of works by this premier artist, including pieces which he himself donated to us to hold for posterity. Also, Erik J. Heikkenen, Registrar at the ANA, was in the process of preparing an exhibit on the US Mint engravers John R. Sinnock, Gilroy Roberts and Adam Pietz and their sketches, designs and art work for various medals—in particular, Assay Medals they designed. He contacted us seeking 1929, 1930, 1932, 1937 and 1940 Assay Commission medals specifically but, unfortunately, the ANS cabinet is lacking in later Assay medals and does not have any of these. We do have, however, Pietz’ own personal example of the 1928 medal, struck in gold, which he executed with his US Mint Chief Engraver colleague Sinnock. This was a charming issue, with one of Sinnock’s beautiful portraits (here, of President Calvin Coolidge) on the obverse and Pietz’ commemoration of the coining of the first US Mint, with its 18th-century vignette, on the reverse.
United States. Annual Assay Commission, U.S. Mint, AV Medal, by John Ray Sinnock and Adam Pietz, 1928 (ANS 1953.144.2, gift of Wayte Raymond) 50 mm.
Calendar medals cataloguer Jim Sweeney reports that he is coming along well with his work on American calendar medals. He contacted us in connection with working on a listing of the Anderson & Sons issues (of the period 1948-1988). We have several pieces of interest in the cabinet, as well as examples by other makers. Several items that he noted are as follow. One is by John Davey, for James Daley of Philadelphia, “Maker of Fine Segars” (ca. 1850s-’60s?); this is a shell advertising card with a paper label. Two were by Andersons, a Girl Scouts of America issue and one for Vahan Mozian, Philatelist; both of these two pieces are marked “Anderson & Sons, Inc./ Westfield, Mass.” Another was Walter Lampl, for Robert Walters, 1938-1943, and a last example was a fairly crude aluminum piece from the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915, with no maker’s name indicated.
United States. Anderson & Sons Steel Calendar medal, Girl Scouts of America 1957-1984. (ANS 1965.13.4, gift of Melvin Fuld) 42 mm.
Kelly Holbert, the Exhibition Coordinator for the Smith College Museum of Art, contacted us while in the process of writing a label for the “Cornish Celebration Presentation Plaquette” (1905-06) made by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a lovely item from the ANS collection included in the touring exhibition “Augustus Saint-Gaudens: American Sculptor of the Gilded Age,” which is being circulated by the Trust for Museum Exhibitions, with Smith as one of its venues. Curiously, there was no information on this piece in the exhibition catalogue so she asked about the event is being commemorated on the date given, June 23, 1905. Saint-Gaudens is known to have executed this work in appreciation for those who presented the masque (or were, perhaps, there in attendance) on the date stated in celebration of his 20-years residency at his Cornish, NH, home and studio Aspet. They were his beloved friends and family. The design portrays a temple with a fire on an altar, a Cupid with lyre to r., with the legend IN AFFECTIONATE REMEMBRANCE OF THE CELEBRATION OF JUNE XXIII MCMV. The ANS specimen is accompanied by three printed letters, with hand corrections and the artist’s signature, to relatives of Saint-Gaudens who attended the masque.
United States: New Hampshire. Aspet Masque AR plaquette, by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, 1905, (ANS 1961.137.3, purchase) 47 x 81 mm.
Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, of the Department of Art and Music at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, contacted us concerning a planned exhibition focusing on the imaging of Joan of Arc. Dr. ten-Doesschate Chu is the Academic Director MA Program of Museum Professions and Managing Editor of Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide. She sent two of the museology students to work with us in surveying and selecting medals for a display they are organizing at Seton Hall in the fall of 2005. They studied our on-line inventory, and described it as “very impressive! Your holdings of Joan of Arc materials…” Alia Noor-Elsayed and Betsy Malinsky visited the coin room to examine the Joan of Arc collection and select candidates for exhibition and photography.
United States. Joan of Arc Commemorative AE medal, by Paul Manship, 1915. (ANS 1920.173.4, gift of Paul Manship) 75 mm.
Our St. Joan series numbers some 260 items, including handsome pieces by important artists such as the plaque by Emile Dropsy illustrated in my previous column and a striking work by outstanding American sculptor Paul Manship. On this large medal, with the simple obverse legend JEANNE D’ARC, Joan is shown advancing into battle on horseback r., holding aloft a banner; above her, an angel flies r., holding aloft a sword. On the reverse, with the legend LA VIERGE HEROIQVE ET MARTYRE MCCCCXXXI (“The heroic virgin and martyr, 1431”), Joan appears tied to a stake, being burned alive with flames around her, a hand from the sky offering a wreath to her. The artist personally presented this medal to the society in 1920.
Joan of Arc afficionadoes will surely also recognize the name of the artist Anna Hyatt Huntington, who sculpted the well-known statue of the Saint in New York City. A volunteer with the Friends of Huntington Beach State Park, Patricia C. Lyons, contacted us regarding her work with this organization formed about two years ago. The project was initially to check for information in connection with the medal which Anna Hyatt, wife of the ANS’ great benefactor Archer Milton Huntington, designed for the Hispanic Society of America.
The Park is looking for relevant information or materials. Anna Hyatt Huntington was a prominent American artist, and her medal for the HSA—her husband’s protegé institution—is a handsome piece. It was an octagonal 1926 work commemorating the visit of the Hispanic American Press to the Hispanic Society of America, featuring the image of Pegasus with Bellerophon and the inscription LA PRENSA. The ANS has a large uniface cast of this issue.
United States: New York City, Hispanic Society of America, AE “La Prensa” plaque, by Anna Hyatt Huntington, 1926 (ANS 1990.54.1, purchase) 140 x 180 mm.
One of the special features of this State Park is Atalaya, the winter home of the Huntingtons—a Moorish-style structure designed by Archer and built in the early 1930s. The Friends hope to help preserve Atalaya and to develop an exhibit there featuring some of the Huntingtons’ interests. A. M.’s focus was on the history of Spain, the Iberian peninsula and the Hispanic overseas colonies, as epitomized by his foundation of the Hispanic Society of America. He was, of course, a great numismatist, and our Society is blessed to have in its cabinet his many thousands of Hispanic and related coins and medals on permanent loan from the HSA. This is indeed in some respects the finest Iberian and related collection in of numismatic material in existence. Huntington’s Visigothic and Islamic collections, which were largely published in the 1950s by ANS Curator George C. Miles, are possibly the best known, but the ancient Celt-Iberian, Roman and medieval collections are also very impressive. So numismatics is high on the list of interest for the Friends.
The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair US Mint Medal in silver was the subject of an inquiry from S. Walden. These were issued in two versions: the smaller (approximately 35 mm or 1.5 in.) was sold by the mint; the larger (approximately 64 mm or 2.5 in.) was intended to be given in actual presentations in connection with the fair. This Seattle Exposition official US Mint medal “Man in the Space Age” was designed by George Tsutakawa.
Other Medals and Decorations
The ANS always serves as an important resource for information about many foreign medals. One curious issue concerning which we had an inquiry from Belinda Loosen was the “Attila the Hun” medal. Now this famous barbarian, the quintessential marauding nomad of the steppes, is not known to have had any contemporary connection to medallic sculpture, but a strange group of medals, depicting him as a horned, pointed-eared satyr in a Roman cuirass, recalls his devastation of the Classical World. The medals are believed to date from the Italian Renaissance onward, more than 1,100 years after the barbarian king’s destruction of Aquileia in 452. Mrs. Loosen’s father had acquired an example many years ago in the region of Alsace.
Italy: Aquileia, AR Attila “the Hun” medal, ca. 1600? (ANS 1940.100.2782, bequest of Robert J. Eidlitz and gift of Mrs. Robert J. Eidlitz) 49.2 mm.
Hermann Maué, curator of the coin cabinet of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Münzkabinett, in Nürnberg, reported that his institution was able to buy an important collection of the works of the great 17th-century medallic artist Sebastian Dadler. Maué is now working on a catalog of the medals. In consequence, he reviewed the sixteen Dadler medals in our cabinet via our on-line data base, and inquired about an apparent discrepancy in what should have been duplicate issues of John George I of Saxony, the centennial commemoration of the Confession of Augsburg. We showed this issue, seemingly, as having two different legends (was one a hitherto unnoticed variety?). I went to locate and study these items in the collection. The problem was simply in our faulty cataloguing: two medals are essentially identical, ANS 0000.999.37995 being merely a cast copy of the medal exemplified by ANS 0000.999.37993 (Tentzel.46.IV). The actual spelling reads AETERNUM on the obverse and IOHANNS on the reverse on both pieces, but before Dr. Maué called this to my attention, and I was able to correct it, our entry for the former showed “ETERNVM” on the obverse and “IOHANNES” on the reverse. This observation underscores the on-going nature of our attempts to upgrade and correct the data base catalog, a monumental task.
Germany: Saxony, Albertine line, Johan Georg I, AR portrait medal by Sebastian Dadler, 1630 (ANS 0000.999.37993, gift of Daniel Parish Jr.) 57 mm.
Betty Wainwright sent images for identification of what appeared to be a copy of a coronation medal of the empress Catherine II “The Great” of Russia (1762-1796), dating from 1762. Original medals of the St. Petersburg mint commemorating this event are not uncommon. They were evidently signed by several different artists who used each others’ designs. The primary reference listing for this series (in Russian, by Smirnov) is S.246a. An attractive silver example in the ANS collection is of a slightly smaller size.
Russia. Catherine II “the Great,” AR Coronation medal, St. Petersburg mint, 1762. (ANS 0000.999.53485) 52 mm.
Marvin Finnley inquired about the rare “Upper Canada Preserved” medal, originally struck in 1815 to celebrate the defense of Canada against the American invasion during the War of 1812. Since records indicate that this production was destroyed without having been issued, surviving specimens are presumably later restrikes.
Canada. Upper Canada Preserved, AE commemorative medal, 1814. (ANS 1967.225.697, gift of the Wadsworth Atheneum, J. Coolidge Hills Collection) 50 mm.
The Victoria Cross is the foremost British military decoration for personal heroism, typically demonstrated in saving the life of another at risk of one’s own life (a considerable number have been, consequently and not surprisingly, awarded posthumously). In all but two cases, the VC has been awarded under combat situations. One of our recent inquiries, from Australian Peter Quinlivian, concerned a renowned example in the Society’s marvelous international collection of orders and decorations. This piece was awarded in 1867 to Timothy O’Hea “for conspicuous courage under circumstances of great danger.” It is one of only two VCs ever given for action outside of wartime, and the only one ever granted for action taking place in Canada. Dated June 19, 1866, our example is currently attributed as an old replacement copy.
British Empire. Victoria Cross, Military Decoration, June 19, 1866, named to Pvt. Timothy O’Hea. (ANS 0000.999.55053, gift of J. Sanford Saltus) height 41.2 mm (to fold of ribbon, 100 mm.
The young Irishman Private O’Hea, of the Rifle Brigade, 1st Battalion (Prince Consort’s Own), was accompanying a shipment of ammunition in Quebec, during the immediate aftermath of the abortive invasion of Canada by Irish-Americans of the Fenian Brotherhood, when a fire broke out in the railway car carrying the explosives. He seized keys from a bewildered sergeant as the other soldiers ran for cover, and rushed to the car where he single-handedly hurled out burning munitions-box boards and proceeded to put out the fire, thus avoiding a major explosion (which would no doubt have taken the lives, among others, of some hundreds of German immigrants waiting locked in adjacent boxcars).
The medal, presented to him the following January, is inscribed on the back of its suspension bar PRIVATE TIMOTHY O’HEA/ 1ST. BN. RIFLE BRIGADE, and on the back of the cross itself, 19TH JUNE/ 1866. The date looks rather as though it may have been added to the central circle after this was ground down somewhat. Like all VCs, the decoration is in the form of a double-outlined Maltese cross, in the center of the obverse of which is a crowned lion passant l., head facing, over a crown; below is a ribbon on which are the words FOR VALOUR.
We have documentation which adds some additional information regarding the specimen. Our medal was purchased at auction in 1900 for 57 pounds by Spink’s on behalf of ANS benefactor J. Sanford Saltus; it came to the ANS with his extensive collection of decorations. In our records, it is noted that in 1950 another medal named to O’Hea surfaced in Sydney, Australia. This piece came from a relative of a Major Crummer, to whom it is said that O’Hea was known to have given his medal before he set off into the Australian Bush in 1874 to look for a long-lost German explorer, never to return alive. This same medal was sent to Timothy O’Hea’s home regiment, the Winchester Rifle Brigade, in Winchester, England.
An inquest was held in 1953 at the offices of Spink & Sons, Numismatists, which included representatives of the War Office, the Winchester Rifle Brigade and the Military History Society, and evidently a representative of the manufacturer, Hancocks & Co. They compared our medal with the Sydney piece, and although the Hancocks representative considered ours the better cross and probably genuine, the inquest decided on the basis of the engraving and provenance that the Australian piece was the one personally given to O’Hea. Perhaps it is; perhaps not… The Australian specimen can be seen today at the Royal Green Jackets Museum in Winchester.
Ranging from detection of forgeries and authentication to sociological research and military history, from archaeology and linguistics to celebrations and saints, our numismatic collections and activities provide a tremendous resource for understanding the human condition. Your support of the Society as a member and donor makes all of this possible. We thank you. Please continue helping us to serve you, and let us know what interests you.