Current Cabinet Activities (Spring 2006)

by Robert Wilson Hoge

“Cabinetry” Work

The heart of the American Numismatic Society is its splendid cabinet of items of all kinds, items donated over the years by many dedicated benefactors and sometimes supplemented by judicious purchases. The contributing collectors, scholars, dealers, and others can be justly proud of the extent and organization of this magnificent educational and cultural resource. In addition to curating the cabinet as it grows, the renown of the collection, which is recognized and appreciated worldwide for its magnificent holdings in many fields, means that our small professional staff and volunteers at the Society stay busy fulfilling requests for service. Members may or may not be surprised by some of the activities, but I think a brief review of the wealth and variety of items that have lately come under scrutiny may fascinate others as they do me.

Interest in Ancient Coins

Scholars universally recognize the great importance of the ANS collection of ancient coins of all series, and we receive constant requests regarding this portion of the cabinet. Former ANS Seminarian Melanie Grunow Sobocinski, for instance, had an article on the Ludi Saeculares (“saecular games”) accepted by the American Journal of Archaeology, for which we were able to provide images of a couple of pertinent Roman imperial coins. Saecular games—meaning games held, ostensibly, once in a hundred years—were staged by the emperor Domitian in AD 88 to commemorate the establishment of a public festival by Augustus in 17 BC. Considerable issues of coinage were minted as part of the observances of this spectacle. We know from classical sources where the specific functions of the celebration were held, but correlating these locations with the images of structures shown on the commemorative coins is not straightforward.

Fig. 1. Roman Empire: Domitian. AE sestertius, Rome mint, struck AD 88/9. The Ludi Saeculares commenced with preparation ceremonies, including the distribution of purifying elements (suffimenta) to the populace, as depicted here. On the reverse, Domitian is seated l., before the façade of a tetrastyle temple, on a platform inscribed SVF P D, while handing suffimenta to a male citizen; a child extends its arms upward toward him. RIC 376. (ANS 1001.1.22970, collection of the Hispanic Society of America) 34 mm.

Fig. 2. Roman Empire: Domitian. AE dupondius, Rome mint, struck AD 88/9. This issue represents the sacrifice of ovines: a black sheep and goat were sacrificed to the Moirae on the first night of the ceremonies. On the reverse, Domitian stands l. in front of a hexastyle temple, sacrificing over an altar; to left is the victimarius, with a goat, distinguishable by its upright horns, on l., and a sheep; behind the altar are two musicians, the one on l. playing a double flute, that on r., a lyre. RIC 381. (ANS 1944.100.42606, bequest of Edward T. Newell) 29 mm.

As usual, specimens from the cabinet have continued to prove helpful in questions of authenticity. One such example is a case on behalf of the IBSCC (International Bureau for the Suppression of Counterfeit Coins), the authentication arm of the International Association of Professional Numismatists. A piece that had been referred for examination purported to be an example of a rare issue commemorating the deification of the emperor Pertinax under his eventual successor, Septimius Severus, in AD 193. Fortunately—or unfortunately, depending on how one might look at it—in the ANS reference collection of spurious items there was a match for the coin in question, although the ANS has no genuine specimen of this issue.

Fig. 3. Roman Empire: Pertinax deified (died AD 193). AE sestertius. Forgery. (ANS 1949.98.316, gift of H. Chapman) 31.8 mm.

Portrait iconography of the peculiar boy-emperor Elagabalus (AD 218-222) is the subject of the research of Clare Rowan, of Macquarie University, in New South Wales, Australia. While visiting the Society, she was able to examine the varieties of his effigy found on both metropolitan and provincial series, looking especially at the little extrusion sometimes found above his forehead and typically called a “horn,” as well as representations of the Baetyl of Emesa, the sacred stone for the cult of which he was the high priest.

Fig. 4. Roman Empire: Elagabalus. AR denarius, Rome mint, AD 221 RIC 49. (ANS 1944.100.52352, bequest of Edward T. Newell) 17.3 mm.

In preparing some information for a novel he is writing, Robert Adams had an inquiry about “royal warts” in antiquity. Many numismatists will realize that his question presumably refers to coinage issues of the ancient Kingdom of Parthia, among which there are royal effigies depicted as having a small dot (a wart?) somewhere on their faces. Some scholars believe this may have been an accurate rendition, and suggest it might reflect a genetic peculiarity of the ruling Arsacid dynasty. The presence and placement of the “wart” is in some cases utilized by researchers to help attribute certain issues to specific rulers. In any event, the “warts” are not consistently present, so may we also speculate that the Arsacids sometimes availed themselves of cosmetic surgery?

Fig. 5. Parthian Empire. Vonones II (ca. AD 51-52). AR drachm, Ecbatana mint. Sellwood 67.1. Note the spot above the king’s left eyebrow. (ANS 1944.100.83249, bequest of Edward T. Newell) 22 mm.

Medieval Issues

The ANS cabinet of European medieval coins, while weak in some areas, is nevertheless quite outstanding in others. Altogether, it presently includes 44,381 items catalogued in our database. The English section is spotty at best, but it has a major strength in the Lorin L. Kay collection of copper stycas from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, dating from shortly prior to the time when this region fell to the Viking invaders. The Spanish section is excellent overall, thanks to the great collection of the Hispanic Society of America, developed and placed with the ANS by the great benefactor Archer M. Huntington. Past curators built up the collection of German bracteates, so that this section, too, is an important resource today. Our Russian/Lithuanian collection is uneven, perhaps in large measure because it has not received as much serious attention as the complex series of little wire-money pieces require. There are a number of provocative and attractive specimens in this section, however. In a recent instance involving it, Dr. Audrius V. Plioplys was interested in the medieval Russian (or Lithuanian) silver bars, known as grivna or grivanka, in the cabinet. We are fortunate to hold two nice examples of these, typically marked by a series of striations. Rare today, they were the original “rubles”—a coin term surviving to the present.

Fig. 6. Russia/Lithuania. Principality of Riazan, Ivan Fedorovitch (1429-1456). AR ruble bar or grivna. (ANS 1948.30.1345, gift of Alexandre Orlowski) 130 x 16.4 mm.

The earliest coins that can lay claim to being considered “modern” are the important specimens that the European Swiss scholar Fabrizio Rossini, working on a study of Italian Renaissance portrait coins, sought images of from the ANS cabinet. In this field, the Society is very fortunate to have been the beneficiary of Herbert Scoville’s generosity. His magnificent collection of very well-chosen pieces makes this area one of the great strengths of the medieval cabinet. The Scoville collection was complemented by pieces from the collection of ANS President Herbert Ives, providing a splendid run of Florentine fiorini d’oro in particular.

Fig. 7. Italian States: Mantua. Francesco II Gonzaga (1484-1519). AR testone. CNI 63. (ANS 1954.203.117, gift of Mrs. Herbert E. Ives)

Fig. 8. Italian States: Asti. Ludovico d’Orleans (1465-1498). AR testone. CNI 20. (ANS 1937.146.782, bequest of Herbert Scoville) 27.5 mm.

Issues of Charles I, the second Stuart monarch of Great Britain (1625-1648), constitute an area of notable strength and interest in the cabinet, particularly the famous obsidional pieces, of which the Society has a fine representative collection thanks to the generosity of Emery Mae Norweb. All of the siege coins except those from Newark, 1645-1646, are considered rarities today. Several visitors to the Society, including advanced collector Geoffrey Cope, have enjoyed studying them in recent months.

Fig. 9. Great Britain: England, Siege of Carlisle, October 1644-June 5, 1645. Charles I. AR 3 shillings, struck in May, 1645. (ANS 1977.207.16, gift of Mrs. R. Henry Norweb) 31 mm.

Fig. 10. Great Britain: England, Siege of Pontefract, June 1648-March 1648 (1649, New Style). Charles II (struck after Charles I’s beheading on January 30). AR shilling. (ANS 1976.64.1, gift of Mrs. R. Henry Norweb) 29.8 mm.

Fig. 11. Great Britain: England, Siege of Scarborough, July 1644-July 1645. Charles I. AR half crown, or 2 shillings 6 pence. (ANS 1977.207.19, gift of Mrs. R. Henry Norweb) 30.2 x 41.8 mm.

Another issue of Charles I, the extremely rare pattern gold unite (or broad, of twenty shillings), which we had not long ago added to the collection of images accessible via the ANS website’s database, was brought to my attention through a question from Simon Widmer. Although this piece is a handsome, seemingly machine-struck issue, it is included in the Medieval section with hand-hammered pieces, to keep it with its contemporaries, before the regularization of milled coinage in Britain under Charles II in 1662.

Fig. 12. Great Britain: England. Charles I. Pattern AV unite, Tower mint, probably by Abraham Vanderdort. This rare piece was probably intended as a pattern for a unite, the gold 20-shilling piece, a pound or broad, but might have been intended for the one-shilling denomination. (ANS 1905.57.629, gift of Daniel Parish, Jr.) 29.5 mm.

Modern Material

The Modern section of the ANS cabinet includes three departments: (1) coins, tokens, and paper money of the United States (US); (2) all coins, tokens, and paper currency of Latin America (LA), including the hand-hammered series; and (3) the corresponding objects of all the rest of the world since the establishment of mechanization in the production process, with several notable exceptions mentioned below (MO). We will review the activities relating to the United States separately.

A question regarding the Austrian (Holy Roman Empire) 3-kreuzer issue of Leo “The Hogmouth” (the Habsburg emperor Leopold I, 1657-1705) was received from ANS donor and authority on small silver pieces Roger DeWardt Lane. Having found an example of the 1693 Vienna mintage, KM 1169 (formerly 1855), which is listed in the third edition of the Krause-Mishler seventeenth-century volume of the Standard Catalog of World Coins without valuation, DeWardt Lane wished to know whether it matched a specimen in the ANS cabinet, intending to donate his coin if it varied. Although from different dies, I determined that the ANS specimen did match the DeWardt Lane piece in all respects. How scarce may this coin be?

Fig. 13. Holy Roman Empire (Austria), Leopold I. AR 3 kreuzer, 1693 Vienna mint. (ANS 1934.93.17, acquired by exchange) 22 mm.

I was glad to have had this issue of Leopold brought to my attention, since it had been erroneously catalogued with one of our ubiquitous “provisional numbers” (ANS 1934.999.1439). From the indication still present on its individual box, it was easy for me to learn that this attractive coin was one of 57 small foreign silver issues that had been acquired “by exchange” in June/July 1934. Possibly buried somewhere in our archives there may be information about what would have been given in return for this Austrian coin and the other pieces acquired at the same time. Only 17 of the total of 84 pieces in this acquisition have now been accessioned with their proper record number; I perceived with satisfaction that several of the others are also noted as rarities!

To be included in publication of another forthcoming book, we were able to provide a number of images of the Franco-American coins and jetons for professional numismatist Jean Lecompte. French royal jetons at this time were minted basically as donatives for government bureaucrats or other favored sectors of society. The artists employed to create their dies were the same who engraved the effigies for the monarchy’s commemorative medals and prepared the master dies for the French mints. In addition to their place in the numismatic history of France, these pieces are also part of that of North America—both the United States and Canada, as well as the French Caribbean islands. These fascinating pieces provide us with a glimpse at the European perspective on North America during the period of the great contest between Britain and France in the 1750s.

Fig. 14. France, Louis XV. AE Franco-American jeton, 1752. The reverse features Mercury, the god of merchants (and thieves) flying over the seas, with the legend translating as “He makes commerce for both worlds,” and, in the exergue, “French colonies of America, 1752.” Breton 512; Betts 386. (ANS 1967.99.55, gift of Mrs. R. Henry Norweb) 28 mm.

Fig. 15. France, Louis XV. AE Franco-American jeton, 1753. This jeton’s reverse depicts the sun shining on a map of both the eastern and western hemispheres, with the legend SATIS UNUS UTRIQUE (“one is enough for both”). Breton 513; Betts 388. (ANS 1967.99.56, gift of Mrs. R. Henry Norweb) 28 mm.

Fig. 16. France, Louis XV. AE 12 deniers, 1717, Perpignan mint. This specimen is an example of one of the few coinages known to have been minted by law specifically to pass current in New France. The spread, flat fabric, strike irregularities, and flan cracking on this example are characteristic of the issue. Breton 504; Breen 258. (ANS 1966.252.2, gift of Mrs. R. Henry Norweb) 31.2 mm.

While extensive, the Latin American series represented in the ANS cabinet are not truly as well-balanced as one would like. While there are a great many important coins present thanks to the generosity of a number of serious collectors, dealers, and other scholars, there are still enormous gaps in the holdings. Still, we are able to provide much material for researchers and for publication. As mentioned in the summer 2005 issue of the ANS Magazine, we were contacted over the past couple of semesters by Casiana Ionescu, research assistant for Dr. Marc Shell of Harvard University, in connection with a book he is doing on money in early America, with a focus on Indian wampum and its various potential exchange equivalents. Shell finally decided which images of specific kinds of coins he needed, and we were able to provide virtually all of them, including some Latin American pieces. Among other investigations in the LA department, Luis Ponte-Puigbo requested photos of certain additional pieces from the region of Colombia and Venezuela.

Fig. 17. Mexico. AV 8 escudos, 1823, Mo, J.M. (ANS 1941.134.1, purchase) 40.5 mm.

Fig. 18. Colombia: Spanish Colonial Nuevo Reino de Granada. Philip IV. AR 4 reales, 1664, Santa Fé de Bogotá mint, PoR. (ANS 1936.141.24, purchase) 30 mm.

Fig. 19. Chile. AR 8 reales, 1839, Santiago mint, I.S. (ANS 1934.1.453) 38.8 mm.

Brian Danforth was researching English and Irish homeland coins that circulated in British North America during the colonial period for an article in the Colonial Newsletter, while Oliver Hoover sought images of the Irish harp on coins for the same period, for our excellent sister publication on early Americana.

Fig. 20. Great Britain. Charles II. AR groat (4 pence), third issue. This piece of Maundy money, dating ca. 1662, is one of the last hand-hammered coins in the English series. Effectively, it is thus a part of the ANS medieval department cabinet. (ANS 1963.6.3, gift of R. Henry Norweb, Sr.) 22 mm.

Fig. 21. Great Britain. Anne. AR Crown, 1713, with plumes and roses. (ANS 1905.57.418, gift of Daniel parish, Jr.) 39 mm.

Fig. 22. Great Britain. George I. AR Crown, 1718/6. (ANS 1954.203.223, purchase) 39 mm.

Examples of coins that were part of the American mercantile world of the late eighteenth century are being investigated by Leo Shane in connection with his research on a period document, the Ready Reckoner or the Trader’s Sure Guide, of 1789, naming the various different issues with their comparative values in New York and Pennsylvania. We were able to assist in finding illustrative examples of the coins that must have been referenced, mostly of the ducat denomination, named for the traditional designation of the standard Venetian gold zecchino, on account of the last word found on that coin’s legend.

Fig. 23. German States: Brandenburg. Friedrich-Wilhelm I. AV ducat, 1740. (ANS 0000.999.30611]], gift of Daniel Parish, Jr.) 22.5 mm.

Fig. 24. Austria-Hungary. Maria-Theresia. AV ducat, 1765. (ANS 1930.164.21, purchase) 22.5 mm.

Fig. 25. Netherlands: Holland. AV ducat, 1776. Holed. (ANS 1924.69.45, gift of Columbia University, ex Eno collection) 21.9 mm.

Fig. 26. Sweden. Ulrika Eleanora. AV ducat, 1720. A very rare coin. (ANS 1930.62.8, purchase) 21.8 mm.

Fran Cackowski and Dave Bailey made an appointment to examine eighteenth-century British trade tokens in the cabinet, pieces sometimes referred to as “Conder tokens” out of respect for the early cataloguing effort of James Conder, An Arrangement of Provincial Coins, Tokens, and Medalets, Issued in Great Britain, Ireland, and the Colonies, within the Last Twenty Years … (1798). Although in comparison with the corpus of specimens, and in reference to the listings in Dalton and Hamer’s standard catalog of the series, the ANS cabinet is lacking in many rarities and other varieties, it nevertheless holds a very respectable run of these charming pieces. Thanks to the policies of the government in the 1780s and 1790s, the supply of official small change was wholly inadequate, giving rise to a vast host of imitations, counterfeits, and merchants’ or localities’ token issues. This was the period when the Machine Age was first beginning to make itself felt, and the plethora of tokens became a vanguard of industry. The detailed workmanship and high quality of production found on many of the “Conders” makes them highly attractive, historic collectors’ items today. While most were made in Birmingham or London, they represent a wide range of people and places around the British Isles.

Fig. 27. Great Britain. Mathew Young, Cu penny token, London, 1798. Young was an early-day coin dealer, as indicated by the reverse of his souvenir store card. The edge is inscribed in raised letters ** PROMISSORY PENNY TOKEN | PAYABLE ON DEMAND. D & H 41. (ANS 1966.147.127, gift of Mrs. R. Henry Norweb) 36 mm.

Fig. 28. Great Britain. Robert Orchard, Cu half penny token, London, 1798. Orchard’s token showing Islington Old Church bears the incused edge lettering COVENTRY TOKEN, looking as though it has been partially ground away. D & H 403. (ANS 1919.71.9, purchase) 29.9 mm.

Peggy Dragon, from Trinity College, and Bruce Blumenthal viewed the Fugio coppers in the cabinet, the popular first issue of coins of the new United States, designed by Benjamin Franklin. While not complete, the collection includes a good number of the die varieties. And some of them are in an extraordinary state of preservation. The collection also includes interesting die states and brockages, as well as Betts’s “restrikes” and their dies.

Fig. 29. United States. AE “Fugio cent,” James Jarvis’ New Haven mint, 1787. This uncirculated example of the first official coin of the United States is from the famous Bank of New York hoard; die clash marks are very strong on both obverse and reverse. Newman 11-B. (ANS 1949.136.10, gift of the Bank of New York) 28 mm.

An inquiry about variety 21-I, one of the Fugios that we do not have represented in the cabinet, came from Greg Shane, who also wanted to investigate one of the interesting currency issues printed by Franklin under contract to the colonial governments. The cabinet is weak in a number of areas, and its representation of Franklin’s company’s products, epitomized by the ANS’s sole specimen of the 1746 issue, is surprisingly sparse. And our deficiency in Franklin notes brings to mind another area of singular weakness in the ANS collection: the field of the very earliest notes from the colonies. In hope of obtaining a photograph for publication, Paul Gilkes, senior staff writer for Coin World, recently inquired about the Massachusetts colonial emission of 1690—the first government-issued paper currency of the western world. Sadly, we have no representative. Even though the surviving exemplars of this production may all be contemporary counterfeits, it would be marvelous to have such a note in the cabinet. We could certainly use some donations in this field.

Fig. 30. United States: New Jersey. 12 shillings, July 2, 1746, printed by B. Franklin. Heavily circulated and eroded by wear, even during its time as currency, this note required repairs, becoming colonial “pin money”; evidence of sewn mending is also present. (ANS 0000.999.29765) roughly 89 x 49 mm.

While the cabinet may be deficient in early paper, the Society’s fine collection of early American coinage always receives its due measure of attention. Some months ago, we even hosted a little gathering of specialists who had a collective look at a number of the series. Dr. Roger Moore found several items of interest to him, including a St. Patrick “farthing” and American imitations of contemporary British half pennies. Other participants included Neil Rothschild, Roger Siboni, Ray Williams, and Dave Wnuck, specialists in various other areas of colonial and Confederate-period coins. To be sure, other correspondents and visitors have inquired in this area as well, Thanks to the genius and generosity of George Hubbard Clapp (1858-1949), the Society is well known for its essentially unsurpassed collection of United States large cents, which I have had occasion to feature previously in this column. Among those who have been studying examples of their favorite issues recently are Scott Barrett, Chuck Heck, and Jim Neiswinter, of the Early American Coppers group. Heck is working on a study of the die states of the multifarious and convoluted 1794 varieties, of which there are numerous examples among the Clapp coins (165, to be exact). Clapp was a remarkably astute collector, far ahead of his time in his comprehension of die varieties and die states. The backs of the individual boxes in which his coins are still housed at the ANS include extensive notations in his fine printing.

Fig. 31. United States: New Jersey. AE St. Patrick “farthing,” Mark Newby Irish issue (ca. 1679). Recently, students have made an increasingly detailed investigation of the die varieties, history, and manufacturing process of two St. Patrick series. (ANS 1931.58.400, gift of the New Jersey Historical Society, ex Canfield collection) 24.1 mm.

Fig. 32. United States. Contemporary imitation of British AE half penny, 1781. Vlack 42-81C. (ANS 0000.999.42267]], purchase) 28 mm.

Fig. 33. United States. Contemporary imitation of British AE half penny, 1785. Newman 51-85B. (ANS 0000.999.42268) 27.6 mm.

Fig. 34. United States. Cu cent, 1794. Sheldon 26. Clapp acquired this specimen, the only known example of this variety struck from perfect dies (die state I), from his brother C. E. Clapp in March, 1921. It was formerly in a “Phelps” collection (edge annotated “Phelps 15”). (ANS 1946.143.67, gift of George H. Clapp) 28.3 mm.

Fig. 35. United States. Cu cent, 1794. Sheldon 32. Of the six or seven recorded specimens of this die variety known that were struck from perfect dies (die state I), this specimen is the finest. (ANS 1946.143.86, gift of George H. Clapp) 28.2 mm.

The elusive United States half-disme issue of 1802 was the subject of an inquiry from Ginger Rapsus, who wanted to know if there was an example of one in the ANS cabinet. Generally speaking, any such coin will be found listed in our online catalog if there is a specimen in the collection, as long as it is part of a series that has been addressed in the course of our data entry. In the case of regular-issue U.S. coins, virtually everything but a smattering of relatively unimportant duplicate items and the bulk of the counterfeit collection has already been catalogued and entered. So alas, the fact that there is no listing for a 1802 half disme in the database does indeed mean that we have no example. Nor is there any example of the issues of 1803 or 1805. This is an area of serious deficiency. Are there any readers who could help fill this void? (Many other half-disme varieties are absent as well.)

For a new edition of Keith Davignon’s work on counterfeit United States bust-type half dollars, Mark Glazer ordered photos of three of the ANS specimens that had not been included originally in the catalog: 1826 D. 8-H, 1836 D. 2-B, and 1837 D. 6-F.

Fig. 36. United States. Contemporary counterfeit half dollar, 1826, Davignon 8-H.(ANS 1945.14.21, gift of J. F. LeBlanc) 32 mm.

Fig. 37. United States. Contemporary counterfeit half dollar, 1836, Davignon 2-B. (ANS 0000.999.47978) 33 mm.

Fig. 38. United States. Contemporary counterfeit half dollar, 1837, Davignon 6-F. (ANS 1989.99.267, gift of Mr. and Mrs. R. Byron White) 32 mm.

Having had a number of inquiries in this area recently, I asked ANS Museum volunteer Bill Sudbrink to help with long-needed cataloguing of the U.S. counterfeit collections. Since our move to all-digital images several years ago, accession numbers are required for specimens in order to file and access their images, whereas in the past, sometimes staff members could simply shoot and send photographs of items (and even exhibit them) without their having been adequately recorded and numbered.

The famous Confederate half dollar is routinely the subject of various inquiries. In comparison with it, A. Spiropoulos was curious about the so-called restrikes created years after the Civil War, when the J. W. Scott company obtained the original A. H. M. Patterson Confederate die and used it to overstrike planed-down genuine struck examples of the federal-issue 1861-O half dollars, which would have still been available in circulation at that time (1879). Interestingly, at least one specimen is known for which the Confederate die was used to strike a coin initially impressed by the 1861 New Orleans obverse die—recognizable from its characteristic cracking—that was actually used to mint the original issue. Among other investigations of American anomalies, George Stish wanted to know about the varieties of the 1974-D Lincoln Memorial cent. This was of course the year when the United States Mint introduced a new master hub, producing two new master die varieties, the so-called small- and large-date issues. In checking the ANS holdings, I found to my surprise that there were no examples of 1974-D cents in the collection; nor were there many examples of other recent-issue American cents from 1973 onward, with the exception of a grouping of San Francisco proofs generously donated by Stack’s; a selection of Denver mint pieces, from 1986, 1987, and 1988; and Philadelphia pieces from 1973, 1975, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1988, and 1999—a sad showing, to be sure.

Fig. 39. Confederate States of America. AR half dollar, 1861(-O), Scott “restrike.” One of 500 examples produced, the reeded edge of the original 1861 federal half dollar has been crushed as the result of the “restriking.” (ANS 1906.98.5, gift of J. Sanford Saltus) 30 mm.

Ophthalmologist Dr. Jay M. Galst is preparing a definitive catalog of numismatic materials relating to his profession. Among the many pertinent items in the ANS cabinet, we have been able to locate for him a considerable selection of illustrative pieces. One item, which had not yet been catalogued into our database before having been retrieved in connection with this project, is a nice example of an embossed merchant’s store card from 1868, issued by James Foster, Jr., of Cincinnati. I was happy to have been able to find this piece not only because Foster lists his business as “Optician,” but because the reverse design includes a fine representation of a pair of contemporary eye-glasses of the pince-nez type.

Fig. 40. United States: Ohio. James Foster, Jr., of Cincinnati, Optician. Brass embossed encasement store card token, 1868. (ANS 0000.999.55587) 33.9 mm.

“Oriental” Issues

Of course, calling much of the world’s principal landmass “oriental” implies a truly Eurocentric or even “Western-Hemispheric” point of view, but in the case of ANS holdings, the term can sometimes be useful as a kind of shorthand for describing what occasionally seems to me to be a rather unnecessarily complicated classification system. As mentioned above, the Modern section of the ANS cabinet includes virtually all world coins since roughly the seventeenth century, with three major categories of exceptions, the Islamic, South Asian, and East Asian departments (coded in our database as I, SA, and EA), headed until his recent retirement by Dr. Michael L. Bates. Department I includes Israeli and various other non-Muslim series (Sasanian Persian, Crusader imitative pieces, medieval Armenian coins, productions of European enclaves in North Africa, etc.) that happen to fall into closely related geographical areas and time periods (68,851 items are currently classified under this departmental heading in our database). SA basically encompasses the Indian subcontinent, including all issues, whether Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, colonialist, or what have you, as well as other “southern” regions such as Indonesia and the Philippines; all Kushan coins, for example, would come under the SA classification (39,714 pieces catalogued in the database currently). EA includes the northern Pacific Rim region of Asia: Korea, China, Mongolia, Japan, and Vietnam, but not Cambodia (49,743 EA items are currently in the database).

Despite the fact that the Society’s collections in the “Oriental” departments are truly outstanding, we were unable to help art historian Dr. Elizabeth Stone in her request for images of a particular gold issue of the Kushan Kingdom. We do, however, have a fine representative group of Kushan coins, including examples of most of the series.

Fig. 41. Kushan Empire. Wima Kadphises (ca. AD 105-130). AV double stater. (ANS 1967.154.4, bequest of Mrs. Edward T. Newell, ex R. B. Whitehead collection) 25 mm.

Dr. Wolfgang Schultze, updating a study of Arab-Byzantine pieces in the Society’s cabinet, ordered images of a coin from the former collection of the late ANS councilmember John J. Slocum. This piece is of the same type as another ANS specimen, which was featured in John Walkers’s classic British Museum catalog of Arab-Byzantine and postreform Umaiyad coins. These early Islamic coins are issues from the ancient mint city of Harran, the ancient Carrhae, which served as the capital of the province of Al-Jazira (the steppe region between the Euphrates and the Tigris, to the west of ancient Assyria) under the Umaiyads. Slocum was also the donor of a collection of 233 cut fragments of gold coins, some in imitation of Islamic issues, produced by the Crusaders—recently the subject of inquiries from Robert D. Leonard, Jr.

Fig. 42. Islam: Arab-Byzantine, Umaiyad Caliphate. AE fals, Harran mint, “standing caliph” type (ca. AD 694-697). BMC.ANS 7. (ANS 1998.25.75, gift of John J. Slocum, Jr.) 22.4 mm.

Fig. 43. Islam: Arab-Byzantine, Umaiyad Caliphate. AE fals, Harran mint, “standing caliph” type (ca. AD 694-697). BMC.ANS 7; this coin. (ANS 1917.215.3376, gift of Edward T. Newell) 18.5 mm.

Studying coins from the Marinid dynasty of Morocco is a project that Mohamed Elhadri, a graduate student the University of Lyon (2), in France, has undertaken as a thesis topic. The ANS has thirty-two coins classified in the database with this distinction, most of them from the collection of the Hispanic Society of America. While Elhadri hopes to reexamine them in detail, the coins were studied by Harry W. Hazard and incorporated in his classic work The Numismatic History of Late Medieval North Africa, published by the Society in 1952. Another photo order for coins in the Islamic department came from Sherif Boraie, who is working on a publication Coins from the First Caliphate to the Ottoman Empire, for which he requested images of a selection of important types, among them Umaiyad, ‘Abbasid, Muwahhid, Mamluk, Persian, and Turkish examples.

Fig. 44. Islam: Morocco, Marinid dynasty; Yusuf ibn Ya’qub? (1286-1307). AV dinar, mint and date lacking. (ANS 1969.222.1284, gift of P. K. Anderson) 31 mm.

Fig. 45. Islam: Arab Byzantine, Umaiyad Caliphat. AV dinar (Damascus mint), 75 AH (=AD 694/5). The famous “standing caliph” transitional issue. (ANS 1970.63.1, gift of R. W. Morris, ex Bustros collection) 20 mm.

Fig. 46. Islam: ‘Abbasid Caliphate. Al-Muta’sim. AV dinar, Madinat al-Salam (Baghdad) mint, 222 AH (= AD 836/7). This coin is a standard dinar of the double-margin obverse type introduced by the caliph’s predecessor, Al-Ma’mun. (ANS 1917.215.340, gift of Edward T. Newell, ex Luria collection) 21 mm.

Fig. 47. Islam: Ottoman Empire. Ahmad III. AV zer-I mahbub, Islambul (Istanbul) mint, 1115 AH (=1703/4). A typical Turkish tughra is shown on the obverse. (ANS 1938.148.22, purchase, ex V. D. Starosselsky Collection) 18 mm.

Medallic Issues

The ANS cabinet is rich in medals, although its specific strength in various areas of the field is uneven. Our holdings of Renaissance medals, for example, while including a good number of handsome examples, are not particularly extensive, while our collections of the twentieth-century works of Karl Goetz, examples of all medals relating to architects and architecture, Indian Peace medals, and medallic pieces relating to the French Revolution of 1848 are among the cabinet’s foremost collections, probably unparalleled anywhere in the world.

Early American medals of all kinds are always a popular area of interest, as are pieces in the ANS’s famous collection of American Indian friendship medals. Of all the medals of the colonial or early Federal period, a 1757-dated George II Indian Peace medal is probably the most commonly encountered issue, thanks to modern reproductions by the U.S. Mint. Commonly referred to as the “Quaker Medal,” an inquiry about this issue came from Jim Hunt. We are fortunate to have in the ANS cabinet three original silver examples and one evidently in lead (probably a pattern piece). Helpful sources of information on these can be found in “American Indian peace medals of the colonial period in the collection of the American Numismatic Society,” by Alan M. Stahl and William Scully, in Money of Pre-Federal America (Coinage of the Americas Conference Proceedings 7, New York: American Numismatic Society, 1992). Another important source for these pieces is Medals of the United States Mint: The First Century, by Robert W. Julian.

Fig. 48. British Colonial North America: Pennsylvania, George II. AR Quaker-Indian friendship medal, 1757. Stahl & Scully 13. (ANS 1966.16.8, gift of Mrs. R. Henry Norweb) 43.7 mm.

Believed to have been engraved by Edward Duffield and minted by Joseph Richardson, Sr., these Indian Peace medals were issued by the Friendly Association for Regaining and Preserving Peace with the Indians by Pacific Measures (of Philadelphia). They were struck on Spanish colonial 8-reales pieces, of which surviving traces of the edge markings are an indication of authenticity. The medals are of slightly broader diameter than that of their host coins, since these were flattened and spread when they were overstruck (without a collar).

The Quaker dies of 1757 were saved and later presented to the U.S. Mint, possibly by 1800. Various silver and bronze restrikes were made to order for collectors thereafter. By 1861, when restrikes were offered for public sale, the dies may have already been cracked. In 1874, Mint Superintendent Pollack reported them as having been broken, and the last pieces struck from these cracked dies were minted in the second quarter of 1875 (last sold in the first quarter of 1878). Those original dies were replaced in fiscal year 1882 by copy dies, first used for striking in the end of 1885. While all mint restrikes have a plain edge, of which the thickness may vary, in the twentieth century, the medal has been extensively minted with a distinctively modern bronze finish. However, examples can sometimes be found silver-plated, holed, and/or otherwise artificially aged by modern-day “enthusiasts.”

In 1922, a handsome medal by the Medallic Art Company celebrated the fifty-year anniversary of the wedding of Emily Johnston (1851-1942) and Robert Weeks DeForest (1848-1931). It shows imagery symbolic of the couple’s families: the Walloon Huguenot de Forests, exiles from French-speaking Flanders who were among the first colonists from the Netherlands in what is now New York City; and the Johnstons, one of the renowned clans of Anglo-Scottish borderers. My attention was brought to their anniversary medal by one of our many correspondents seeking information. As sometimes happens to me when I am on a “data search” for someone’s inquiry, I digressed.

Fig. 49. United States. AE fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration medal of Robert Weeks and Emily Johnston DeForest, Medallic Art Company, 1922. (ANS 1940.200.1, gift of Herbert E. Winlock) 52 mm.

A prominent member of the bar for half a century, Robert DeForest is known for his philanthropy and as a patron of the arts rather than as a lawyer. His bride was the daughter of John Taylor Johnston, the founder and first president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. DeForest later served as president of the Metropolitan Museum himself, and he and Mrs. DeForest donated the American wing of the Met in 1924. The DeForests were outstanding, public-spirited donors, so it is not surprising to find that we have other pieces in the collection thanks to DeForest generosity. In particular, along with William H. Perkins and James B. Ford, Robert DeForest purchased for the Society one of the most important Indian Peace medals from Wayte Raymond’s 1925 sale of the great W. W. C. Wilson collection: the 1766-dated “Happy while United” silver medal of George III (ANS 1925.173.1).

Fig. 50. British Colonial America: New York, George III. AR 1766-dated “Happy while United” Indian Peace medal, 1766. (ANS 1925.173.1, gift of R. W. DeForest, W. H. Perkins and J. B. Ford) 59.6 mm.

This issue, which was unknown to C. Wyllys Betts in his survey of medals from the colonial period, is believed to be represented by only one other example: a specimen in the McCord Museum of Canadian History, in Montreal. Made in the form of a hollow shell of two cast plates joined by a ring, with a crossed pipe and wing forming a loop attachment, the medal took its reverse inspiration from the 1757 Quaker medal. The Wilson specimen was acquired in 1913 from A. G. Parker, of the Union Pacific Railroad Co., who reported that it had been found in 1840 near Niagara Falls by his grandfather, Ezekiel Jewett, who was a post trader at nearby Fort Niagara. Fort Niagara was the site of much negotiation between the Europeans and the Indian tribes of the era.

As well as being an ANS donor, Robert DeForest was a leader in the formation of the New York City Welfare Council, which represented 1,500 charitable societies. He was president of the Charity Organization Society for forty years, and served on the Board of the pioneering Life Extension Institute—one of the earliest efforts to promote preventive medicine—formed in 1913 in the Guaranty Trust Company, with former President William H. Taft as chairman. An 1870 graduate of Yale University, Robert DeForest died of a heart attack on May 7, 1931, survived by his widow, two sons, two daughters, and two brothers. Understandably, as one of the finest benefactors of New York City, his loss was greatly lamented.

Ivy T. Schweitzer, associate professor of English and women’s and gender studies and East Wheelock Faculty Associate at Dartmouth College, requested an image of the silver oval George Washington Indian Peace medal for a forthcoming book, Perfecting Friendship: Politics and Affiliation in Early America. Although the ANS holds what is probably the best and most complete publicly accessible collection of Indian Peace medals of all kinds, it is nevertheless sadly deficient in some important areas. One of these is the rare series of silver oval medallions ordered in three sizes by President Washington. Indeed, though they have appeared repeatedly in publications, the specimens in the ANS cabinet do not all, alas, appear to be original issues, and none of them bears a silversmith’s hallmark. Many years ago, under the direction of Bauman Belden, the Society and its boardmembers in particular made a concerted effort to acquire Indian Peace medals. The importance of the cabinet today is a testimony to their dedication and farsightedness but, lamentably, very few worthwhile pieces have been added in the past sixty years.

Fig. 51. United States. George Washington, AR hand-engraved oval Indian Peace medallion, with loop. (ANS 1921.23.1, gift of Howland Wood and Elliott Smith) 81 x 124 mm.

The outstanding collection of medals by the great twentieth-century German medallic sculptor Karl Goetz in the ANS cabinet invites frequent attention. Henry Scott Goodman, who holds the copyright on the standard reference on Goetz’s work, by Gunter Kienast, was seeking information on opus number 684—one of the pieces, unfortunately, that is not a part of the Society’s holdings. But our Goetz series, including some works by the master’s son, Guido, does contain over 1,200 pieces. Most of the items in this great collection were generously donated by Ira, Larry, and Mark Goldberg.

Not long ago, I had occasion to investigate the striking medal that celebrated the creation of Rockefeller Center in the mid-1930s. Not to be fully completed for several more years, John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s visionary effort was one of the world’s all-time greatest urban construction projects. I believe the official medal commemorating this achievement is worth discussing, since I have noticed that it has appeared for sale several times on the Internet accompanied by incorrect information.

Fig. 52. United States: New York. AE Rockefeller Center commemoration medal, International Silver Company, n.d. On this medal’s obverse is a stylized partial view of the Center’s core buildings, looking northwest, with sunburst rays of light extending from it outward, and the legend ROCKEFELLER CENTER. On the reverse is Lawrie’s imagery from above the main entrance door at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the sculpture “Wisdom” in clouds, holding dividers. Lawrie derived this concept from the imagery of William Blake’s engraving of Jehovah. The reverse inscription reads WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE SHALL BE THE STABILITY OF THY TIMES, based upon Isaiah 33:6. (ANS 0000.999.8282) 69 mm.

This handsome, high-relief issue, very “art deco” in style, was produced by the International Silver Company, apparently toward the end of 1935, and was first offered for sale in the January 1936 number of The Numismatist. The mintage was 500, available in two versions: the standard bronze, which sold for $1.25, and gilded bronze, for $1.50. Curiously, the engravers and sculptors of the medal are not indicated, although the reverse design was very clearly taken from the Rockefeller Center’s monumental sculpture by Lee Lawrie. Although the company’s anonymous staff artists might have executed the commission, possibly Lawrie himself sculpted the medal. He would have been fully capable; his medallic output was not large, but he was honored by the American Numismatic Society’s prestigious J. Sanford Saltus Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Art of the Medal in 1937—only the second recipient of the award that decade.

Dr. Norma Eliscu Banas, daughter of the prominent twentieth-century sculptor Frank Eliscu (designer of the ANS’s 1977 members’ medal), is in the process of preparing a website with a history of Eliscu’s work. In this connection, she inquired about the 1979 issue of the Leo Baeck Institute, which was designed by her father. The Society is fortunate to hold twelve examples of Eliscu’s small body of medallic sculptures, including this evocative portrait piece.

Fig. 53. United States: New York. AE Leo Baeck Institute commemorative medal, by Frank Eliscu, 1979. Obv. RABBI LEO BAECK./ LEADER OF GERMAN JEWRY. Head of Rabbi Baeck, r. Rev. LEO BAECK INSTITUTE/…SO THAT THE MEMORY/ OF A GREAT PAST/ MAY NOT PERISH; in field, logo of the Leo Baeck Institute. (ANS 2000.1.186, gift of Daniel Friedenberg) 60 mm.

Rabbi Leo Baeck (1873-1956), the author of The Essence of Judaism (1905), was a “great scholar and compassionate soul,” who is celebrated today through New York City’s Leo Baeck Institute, an exhibition and lecture center with a research “library and archives offering the most comprehensive documentation for the study of German Jewish history.” The son of a rabbi, Baeck was born in Lissa, Poland, and attended the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau, followed by the Hochschüle für die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin. He studied philosophy at both the universities of Breslau and Berlin, and became an acclaimed authority on the Jewish origins of Christianity. Baeck hoped his work would better enable Christians and Jews to forge genuine and respectful relations.

Following the rise of Nazism in Germany, Baeck had numerous opportunities to escape, but chose not to leave his people. In 1943, he was interned in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. There, he “worked tirelessly to teach, counsel, support, and inspire his fellow inmates.” Surviving the Holocaust, he moved to London, where he chaired the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Until his death, he taught intermittently there and at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio—one of the nation’s great sources of classical literary materials.

Our summer intern last year, Sylvia Tomczyk, who is a graduate student at the Freie Universität, became interested in post-World War I German notgeld while working with the ANS collections. Upon returning to Berlin, she received permission to make the anti-Semitic themes displayed by some of these notes the subject of her dissertation, and obtained a foreign-study fellowship from the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutsches Akademisches Austauschdienst) enabling her to return to the ANS for her research. While here, conveniently, she was also able to take advantage of the unequaled resources of the Leo Baeck Institute.

Cabinet Review

We have reviewed a number of the activities that have been keeping my colleagues and me occupied in helping others over the past months. There are many other instances I would enjoy citing, but they will have to wait for another opportunity. I hope that the items we present here may give a glimpse of the riches of the ANS cabinet, and show something of the degree to which they provide information of many kinds and at many levels. In the effort to encourage use and appreciation of the Society’s superlative online database catalog, where more information may be found for any of the items cited, we always include both the accession number and enough other information to facilitate an online search. Remember that the items for which images are available are almost always pieces for which photos have been ordered and paid for by someone, enabling us to cover the cost of bringing them to you. We are working hard to serve you, and hope that as you enjoy the services of the ANS, you will support our many activities and programs, our “cabinetry at work.

For Further Reading

Betts, C. Wyllys. American Colonial History Illustrated by Contemporary Medals. Edited by William T. R. Marvin and Lyman Haynes Low. New York: Scott Stamp and Coin Co., 1894.

BMC. Catalogue of Oriental Coins in the British Museum: Arab-Byzantine and Post-Reform Umaiyad Coins (A Catalogue of the Muhammadan coins in the British Museum, Vol. 2), by John Walker. London: British Museum, 1956.

Breton, Pierre Napoléon. Popular Illustrated Guide to Canadian Coins, Medals, etc. Montreal: L’Imprimerie modèle, 1912.

CNI. Corpus Nummorum Italicorum (Rome, 1910-1943). Bologna: A. Forni, 1969-1971.

D & H. Dalton, Richard, and Samuel H. Hamer. The Provincial Token-coinage of the Eighteenth Century, Illustrated (Bristol, 1913). Stow, Mass.: A. D. Hoch, 1967.

Davignon, Keith R. Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars. Rocky River, Ohio: Money Tree, Inc., 1996.

Hazard, Harry W. Numismatic History of Late Medieval North Africa. New York: American Numismatic Society, 1952; and American Numismatic Society Museum Notes 12 (1966): 195-221, plates 53-55.

Kienast, Gunter. The Medals of Karl Goetz. Cleveland: Artus Co., 1967.

Krause, Chester, and Clifford Mishler. Standard Catalog of World Coins. Iola, Wis.: Krause Publications, 2002-2005.

Newman, Eric P. Early Paper Money of America. 4th ed. Iola, Wis.: Krause Publications, 1997.

Newman, Eric P. “Varieties of the Fugio Cent,” The Coin Collector’s Journal 16, no. 1 (Jan.-Feb. 1949): 3-13; 19, no. 4 (July-Aug. 1952): 10-20.

RIC. Roman Imperial Coinage. Vol. 2, Vespasian to Hadrian, by Harold Mattingly and Edward A. Sydenham. Vol. 5, Pertinax to Elagabalus, by Harold Mattingly. London: Spink, 1968.

Sheldon, William H. Early American Cents, 1793-1814. New York: Harper, 1949.

Stahl, Alan M., and William Scully. “Indian Peace Medals of the Colonial Period in the Collection of the American Numismatic Society,” Coinage of the Americas Conference, Proceedings 7. New York: American Numismatic Society, 1992.