Current Cabinet Activities (Winter 2007)

by Robert Wilson Hoge

Researches and Reflections

It is always a pleasure for me to relate the variety of “close encounters of the coin kind” that have occupied us in the curatorial section of the American Numismatic Society as we endeavor to assist people with their inquiries and to make the collections available for scholarly research and publication. These materials—treasures, if you will—are here for the benefit of all those who share a fascination with these precious little mementoes of the human experience. So whenever someone shows an interest in a particular item or series, I take it as an indication that others, too, might want a glimpse at something that might otherwise remain undiscovered or underappreciated in the “vault”!

The Ancient World and Not-So-Ancient Questions

Preparing a presentation this summer on forensic numismatics (the detection of counterfeits and alterations) for the students in the annual ANS Summer Graduate Seminar, I briefly searched through some of the specimen trays of nongenuine coins in order to find items to illustrate various aspects. Such acquisitions in the collection are routinely set aside, in effect incarcerated in perpetual confinement, as they are removed from the collectors’ and dealers’ marketplace. But among these there are a good many interesting items and pieces with unusual stories to be told. And, alas, there are some that have been wrongfully “convicted” and deserve to be released back into the realm of the real.

Fig. 1. Roman Empire. Diocletian (AD 285-305). AE bimetallic medallion, Rome mint. ANS 1944.100.3161, gift of Edward T. Newell, ex [Vincenzo?] Capobianchi coll., Rome) 50 mm.

I was surprised to find among miscellaneous copies of Roman coins and medals an example of a rare, bimetallic medallion of the emperor Diocletian (AD 285-305) (Fig. 1). According to its accession record, this piece from the great collection of Edward T. Newell had been condemned as false in the summer of 1998, with a notation that the “coin is made of two halves joined.” This piece has certainly suffered at the hands of Father Time, but its peculiarities seem more worthy of close investigation and speculation than summary condemnation. The piece has been only partly described in publication: Fagerlie observed that it “appears to consist of two bronze halves with an iron core between; pierced before the medal was split,” while Gnecchi had merely remarked that the medal was in pessima conservazione (“very bad condition”), although he mentioned that it was bimetallic, which Fagerlie did not.

I think this unique specimen may deserve a new hearing, and with this occasion to reexamine it, we can also illustrate it for the first time in color. Although somewhat worn and disfigured by accretions, it nevertheless exhibits attractive features. When new, its planchet, consisting of a central rondule and a surrounding ring of different compositions, would have presented a two-toned aspect not unlike those of the modern world’s recent bimetallic coinages.

The obverse presents a powerful effigy of the emperor, his laureate and cuirassed bust to right as seen from the front, wearing an aegis on his left shoulder and holding, to the right, an eagle-tipped scepter. The obverse legend reads IMP C C VAL DIOCLETIANVS P F AVG, although parts of some of the letters toward the end are somewhat obscured by the separation line between the two (bimetallic) planchet components, passing through their upper segments. The coin’s reverse depicts a sacrificial scene in front of a hexastyle temple of Jupiter, within the precinct of which is an enthroned image of the god facing, holding a fulmen and a vertical scepter. In the center of the pediment is an eagle facing, with wings spread. The sacrificial scene appears to consist of a central altar, to the left of which the emperor stands to right, togate, holding a patera; behind him stand two togate citizens, also facing right. To the right of the altar are two priests, raising between them a sacrificial bowl, and the victimarius. The reverse legend reads [IOVI CON] SER VAT ORI AVG. The letters are in some cases obscured by accretions or by the bimetallic separation line, which had evidently been planned to circumscribe the legends. It is, I think, possible that a second G might have been originally intended to end the abbreviation AVG[ustus]: there is space for it, but, if it was ever present on the die, it was subsequently thoroughly eradicated. Diocletian, of course, had identified himself with Jupiter, while his colleague Maximianus was identified with Hercules; the vignette on the reverse alludes to Diocletian’s piety toward his patron deity.

Stylistically, the medal exhibits normal lettering and other characteristics of the best of the Rome mint’s die-cutting work of the period. The legends on the dies were so placed as to correspond admirably to the positioning of the juncture line between the central and the outer ring components of the planchet. In the individual Newell collection box in which this piece is kept, along with its Newell tags there is another more recent one with the note “Probably modern fake (note signs of casting and unusual bimetallism)” on one side—with the word “probably” having been marked through—and “original in Rome” on the other. The note may explain part of what happened regarding this piece. Someone clearly misunderstood the minting technique and the subsequent damage displayed by the item, which in fact shows no indication of casting. They might have been confused by the nature of the bimetallism employed in the Rome mint and seem to have been unaware that this is the actual “original in Rome” to which Gnecchi’s reference pertained. Gnecchi was also improperly cited in the database record that had been subsequently prepared.

It is no doubt the condition of the piece that had led to confusion. Only the edge between 8:00 and 11:00 (in reference to the obverse) had not been sawn through in antiquity, leaving a large slot partly separated and filled, today, with oxidized ferrous metal. There is also a perforation about 3.5 mm in diameter, at 7:00 (again, as seen from the obverse), which passed completely through the planchet, leaving an “exit wound” slightly smaller in diameter on the reverse. This piercing is filled with the same sort of material (rust) as the slot. Due to the iron “core,” some corrosion has permeated the juncture of the two orichalcum components of the medal, leading to deposition of oxides on the surface. It seems clear to me that this rare and important medallion must have been misjudged for reasons that will not stand up to scrutiny.

In reality, the detrimental features of the medal might even favor its authenticity: the possibility occurs to me that it might have been modified in antiquity to serve as a phalera, an ornamental disk of the kind worn as military decorations on a harness over a soldier’s breast, atop his armor, or attached to a standard or some other piece of military equipage. The “slot” through its edge might have been cut to enable it to be fitted onto a strap, and the piercing might have helped secure it (although this would seem rather a wasteful use of a piece as sophisticated as a bimetallic Roman medallion).

Some Recent Researches in Islamic Coinage

Richard Accola was fortunate to acquire the Ghurid coins from the former collection of our late benefactor William F. Spengler. This was an area on which the Indian specialist Spengler had devoted much time and interest, having pursued a postgraduate thesis in the coinage of this important Turkic dynasty, which laid the foundations for the formation of the great Dehli Sultanate of India. Accola studied the ANS’s holdings of Ghurid coins, particularly those of Mu‘iz al-din (also named Shahab al-din) Muhammad bin Sam—“son of Sam”—Ghuri (1171-1206), the conqueror of the Rajputs and the central figure of the dynasty (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2. Ghurid Empire. Muhammad bin Sam. AV dinar, Firuzkuh mint (month of Ramadan) AH 599 (= AD 1203). (ANS 1971.160.5, purchase) 26 mm.

Ed Hohertz has for some years been working on a corpus of the square silver dirhams of the Muwahid (Almohad) dynasty of North Africa and Spain and the contemporary imitations of this prolific coinage (called millares). He visited the coin room to examine the Society’s fairly extensive holdings of such pieces and was able to make additional progress toward his publication. The Muwahids arrived in Spain in 1147, and within a few years their coinage had become one of the principal monetary forms of the western Mediterranean.

As part of his long-term study of coinage of the Mughal Empire, Robert Johnston came by the Coin Room again to work with coins of the emperor Shah ‘Alam I (1643-1712; reigned from 1707), particularly to investigate the weights of the series. One of these pieces stands out for me personally: a rupee from the mint of Tatta (Fig. 3), the ruins of which I had the pleasure of visiting while in Pakistan some years ago as a participant in the International Partnerships Among Museums program. Mu‘azzam Bahadur Shah (Fig. 4; usually called Bahadur Shah I as well as Shah ‘Alam) ascended the Peacock Throne in the power struggle following the death of his father Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir, overcoming his two younger brothers. Aurangzeb was a simple and pious man but a harsh Islamist, strictly imposing the Sharia law and killing hundreds of thousands of nonbelievers. Bahadur, much more tolerant and moderate than his father, inherited a chaotic state infused with bitterness and rebellion caused by his father’s wars and religious bigotry. He did what he could to hold the empire together, but soon died in the gardens of Shalimar, outside Lahore. As it happens, I was also able to visit this magical place while on my sojourn with the National Museum of Pakistan, so this is a coin that conjures for me an enjoyable recollection of my time there.

Fig. 3. Mughal Empire. Bahadur Shah I (Shah ʾAlam I). AR rupee, Tatta mint, AH 1120, year 2 (1708/9). (ANS 1973.20.1, gift of G. J. Verhulst) 20 mm.

Fig. 4. Mughal emperor Shah ʾAlam (Bahadur Shah) I, second son of Aurangzeb. Miniature painting, ca. 1675. Watercolor, ink, gold on paper. (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) 101.6 x 179.4 mm.

Medieval European Issues

Dr. William Monter, professor emeritus at Northwestern University, visited the cabinet in connection with his work on a book dealing with the sovereign European queens of the Middle Ages and early modern period. Naturally, a number of these historic women have left a numismatic legacy, and the ANS is fortunate to be able to represent them. Some are relatively well known today; others, scarcely at all. Among their coins are issues of the two regal sisters Maria of Hungary (Fig. 5) and Hedwig (Jadwiga) of Poland (Fig. 6), respectively the heirs to two portions of the realm of the great Angevin king of Hungary Louis I. Both were political pawns, child-brides married to major potentates who dominated them, but both exercised a brief period of real authority and issued coinage in their own names. In 1364, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV made a pact with Louis, pledging to join in marriage their future children. In consequence, Louis’ eldest daughter Maria was engaged to the prince imperial Sigismund of Luxemburg (1368-1437), the margrave of Brandenburg, who eventually became king of Bohemia and in 1433, Holy Roman emperor.

Fig. 5. Hungary. Maria of Anjou (1371-1395; wife of Sigismund of Luxemburg, the Margrave of Brandenburg). AV ducat, n.d. (1382-1386). On this coin, which more closely resembles a florin than a ducat, the standing figure of St. Ladislas replaces that of his Florentine precursor, St. John the Baptist. (ANS 1957.149.1) 20 mm.

Fig. 6. Poland. Jadwiga of Anjou (1374-1399), wife of Yogaila of Lithuania. AR denar, Cracow mint, n.d. (1384-1386). (ANS 1948.30.81, gift of A. Orlowski) 11.5 mm.

King Wenceslas IV of Bohemia, Sigismund’s older stepbrother, sent him to manage Poland following the death of their father, Charles IV, in 1378. There he proceeded to make himself unpopular with the gentry by his intrigues. In the meantime, Louis’ younger daughter Hedwig was originally promised in marriage to William of Austria, but this was not to be. Casimir III, the last of the Piast kings of Poland, had died without surviving children and bequeathed his kingdom to his sister Elizabeth and her son, his nephew. This was none other than Louis of Anjou, upon whose death Poland rejected the succession of Maria on account of opposition to her husband-to-be. As a fallback measure, then, when the Poles obstructed the Angevin inheritance, the princess’s astute mother, the dowager queen Elizabeth of Bosnia, arranged for the throne to pass to her younger daughter Hedwig (Jadwiga), who was consequently crowned “king” (not “queen”) of Poland, in 1384, in demonstration of her sovereignty. But the next year she was married to Grand Duke Jogaila (Jagiello, baptized Wladyslaw) of Lithuania, who probably held most of the power thereafter. Jadwiga became renowned over the years, however, for her cultural, charitable, and even diplomatic achievements—so much so that in 1997 she was officially designated a Catholic saint (the patroness of queens and of a united Europe). In the ANS cabinet we are fortunate to have several of Jadwiga’s Cracow denars, from the great donation of Polish material made by Alexandre Orlowski.

Each of the little Angevin queens enjoyed a brief period of rule, but these were desperate and bloody times. Marrying Maria in 1385, Sigismund staged a coup the next year to make himself king of Hungary, murdering the queen mother and having his bride imprisoned by rebels. Her freedom was obtained by Venetian intervention, but the couple then lived apart until she died, pregnant, under suspicious circumstances in 1395. In 1387, Yadwiga invaded Hungary to dispute the succession there, but settled matters peacefully. After she died in childbirth in 1399, her husband Jogaila was able to retain his wife’s Polish throne, which eventually passed in conflict to heirs of his second wife. Jadwiga, however, had become a legend during her lifetime, fabled for her good works.

Another evocative medieval coin of a female monarch coming under Monter’s purview is a Cypriot grosso of Caterina Cornaro (Fig. 7), who as a young girl was married by proxy to the Lusignan heir James II (James “the Bastard”). Caterina was a descendant of one of the most illustrious Venetian families, to whom the Lusignans had been turning for aid for several generations. Upon the death of her husband in 1473, Caterina, who had been officially entitled “Daughter of the Venetian Republic” by her countrymen, became the sovereign queen of Cyprus as part of her marriage contract. But by 1489, the Venetians were able to completely take over the kingdom and depose their puppet queen (she was immortalized in the eponymous 1844 lyric opera by Gaetano Donizetti). Caterina died in 1509 in Asolo, in the Veneto, where her court in exile gained fame as a Renaissance cultural enclave.

Fig. 7. Cyprus. Caterina Cornaro (1474-1489). AR grosso. The queen is portrayed in a manner consistent with the representations of the former Lusignan kings, only traces of her veil and a long robe revealing her robust effigy to be feminine. (ANS 1998.127.1, purchase) 25 mm.

Delving Into the German Reformation

Justin Hall, a Ph.D. candidate at the Kley Laboratory in the department of anatomical sciences of the Health Science Center, Stony Brook University, was looking for help for his mother to obtain information about an old coin found about twenty-five years ago. The American Museum of Natural History, with which Hall is affiliated, suggested he direct his inquiry to us. The coin turned out to be a taler (or thaler) of the Duke of Saxony Johann Friedrich I, der Grossmütige (John Frederick “the Magnanimous,” 1503-1554), a leading figure in the early Protestant Reformation in Germany. This particular issue, which precisely matched a coin in the ANS cabinet, features on its reverse Duke Moritz of Saxony (Maurice, 1521-1553), Johann Friedrich’s cousin and eventual successor, making it an example of a Gemeinschaftsprägung, a “collective/alliance coinage”—one with an improbable and complicated story behind it (Fig. 8).

Fig. 8. German States: Saxony. Ernestine-Albertine unification issue, Johann Friedrich, with Moritz. AR thaler, Annaberg mint, 1543. Davenport 9730 (ANS 1905.57.646, gift of Daniel Parish Jr.) 39.8 mm.

Struck in the mint of Annaberg in 1543, the coin bears on its obverse the portrait of Johann Friedrich, with the legend IOHAN F. ELE. DVX. SAX. BVR. MAG Z. Its reverse bears a likeness of Moritz, with his legend MAVRI. DVX. SAX. FI. IVS. 1543. ANB? (the mintmark). This issue marks a brief moment of concord between these two contentious kinsmen, brought about through the good offices of none other than the father of German Protestantism, Martin Luther, during the tumultuous period of the War of the Schmalkalden (the mutual-defense alliance of the princes who were also religious reformers, formed at Schmalkald in western Thuringia). Both of the potentates involved with this issue were members of the “Wettin” dynasty of Saxony, but Johann Friedrich I belonged to the senior “Ernestine” line, and Maurice, to the “Albertine”—two rival branches of the family, in competition with one another for lands, titles, and influence. Both of these characters are interesting and historically important figures—allies and enemies, transplanting each other as occasions and circumstances changed.

As a boy, Johann Friedrich was tutored by Georg Spalatin, a friend and advisor of Martin Luther. Johann I (called “the Steadfast” or “the Constant,” 1468-1532; Elector from 1525), Johann Friedrich’s father, had been one of Luther’s first converts to the reforming religion. In consequence, the Saxon electoral heir became devoted to the principles of the revolutionary monk, whose special protector he later became. In addition to his religious outlook, Spalatin provided Johann Friedrich with an outstanding education: the prince’s knowledge of history became comprehensive, and his personal library, which extended over all the sciences, was eventually one of the largest in Germany. In 1526, the zealous young scholar married fourteen-year-old Sybille of Julich-Cleves-Berg (the elder sister of Anne of Cleves, who was to become in 1540 the fourth wife of King Henry VIII of England). He soon joined his “Steadfast” father in conducting diplomacy. In 1527, Lutheranism was declared the state religion of Ernestine Saxony, with Johann I as the chief bishop of the church. Following the second diet of Speyer (1529), Johann Friedrich drew up a federal statute for the Lutheran Evangelicals to become the established religion, and in 1530 accompanied his father to the diet of Augsburg, where both became signatories to the famous Augsburg Confession, defining the beliefs of the Reformation (Fig. 9).

Fig. 9. German States: Saxony. Johann Friedrich (1532-1547). Gilt silver portrait medal, by Matthes Gebel (ca. 1500-1574). Habich 1080. (ANS 1946.54.3, gift of Wayte Raymond) 44 mm.

Succeeding his father as imperial elector of Saxony in 1532, Johann Friedrich assumed a major role in the theological politics of the day, strongly advocating the reforms of Martin Luther. He became a principal member of the Schmalkaldic League (the alliance of the Protestant princes) formed in 1530 for the protection of Protestants in opposition to the imperial government and its Catholicism in the great struggle that was developing. Many antagonisms arose among the various factions and personalities, however, in spite of efforts at concord and conciliation. In 1544, an accord seemed to have been reached at the fourth Diet of Speyer. The Habsburg Emperor Charles V (Fig. 10) needed allies against France.

Fig. 10. Holy Roman Empire. Charles V. Gilt silver portrait medal, with loop, by Hans Reinhart, Leipsig?, 1537. Bernhart 93; Domanig 33; Habich 1926. (ANS 1969.146.1, gift of Carroll Bayne) 64 mm; with loop, 71 mm.

In 1546, the Schmalkaldic War broke out. While Johann Friedrich was engaged in the south, his Albertine cousin Moritz invaded his territories, necessitating his return. The rascal Moritz had been nearly routed from the Ernestine fiefs when he was joined by Charles’s imperial forces, who defeated Johann Friedrich in the battle of Mühlberg, on April 24, 1547. Tensions among the Protestants had vitiated their command structure, and the emperor Charles’s landsknecht mercenaries and Spanish tercios cut the Schmalkaldic forces to pieces, inflicting a gruesome wound to Johann Friedrich’s face, taking him captive, and sentencing him to death. Meanwhile, the elector’s wife, Sybille, held out with his family, besieged in Wittenberg. Charles wanted a rapid settlement, and quickly an agreement was reached whereby Wittenberg would surrender and the Ernestine Wettins would be spared, but Johann Friedrich would give up his office of elector to his cousin Moritz and remain a prisoner for life.

It was during his time of imprisonment that Johann Friedrich earned his reputation as “the Magnanimous” (Fig. 11). His calm and benign behavior, unwavering faith, and steadfastness in misfortune—as shown by letters written to his intimates—revealed a man tempered in adversity. Although he was offered several opportunities to be released, he would not accept the religious compromises their acceptance would have entailed.

Fig. 11. German States: Hessen. Philip (“der grossmutige”). Silver-plated AE coin-like medal, 1537. Habich 1901 (ANS 0000.999.36131, gift of Daniel Parish Jr.) 38.3 mm.

Raised as a lax Catholic, during his early teenaged years Moritz had lived with his godfather, Albrecht, the cardinal and archbishop of Brandenburg. He was educated as a Catholic until his father, Duke Heinrich, converted to Protestantism in 1536. In 1539, the young man himself converted and was sent to live with his reform-minded cousin, the elector Johann Friedrich, whom he came to despise. On the other hand, during these years Moritz formed a close bond with another of his cousins, Philip, the landgrave of Hesse and cofounder of the League of Schmalkald (1509-1567; like Friedrich Johann, also known as der grossmütige, “the Magnanimous”). Moritz fell in love with Philip’s daughter Agnes and despite their consanguinal relationship and his parents’ disapproval, they married in 1541. Their daughter Anna eventually became the wife (later divorced) of William “the Silent” of Orange-Nassau, the Father of the Dutch Republic.

When Duke Heinrich died in 1541, Moritz became the Albertine contender as duke of Saxony. Although a Protestant, he allied himself with the interests of the emperor Charles V (Fig. 12), but then he proceeded to “nationalize” the properties of the Catholic Church in the manner of Henry VIII of England, using this wealth to establish a series of secular schools, the Fürstenschulen, in his territories. Moritz would not go so far as to join the Schmalkaldic League—even though his friend and father-in-law Philip was its leader—because of his dislike of Johann Friedrich, the league’s cofounder. During Holy Week of 1542, in fact, Moritz and Johann Friedrich nearly went to war in the “Easter Flatbread Incident,” restrained only by their cousin Philip and Martin Luther himself. Uneasily reconciled with his cousin (as indicated by the thaler we have examined above), in 1546 the crafty Moritz went over to the emperor again. Following the battle of Mühlberg and the defeat and capture of Johann Friedrich and the treacherous imprisonment of Philip by the emperor, Moritz was elevated to the electorate of Saxony, gaining extensive lands (as well as the opprobrium of the reformers: they gave him the epithet of the German “Judas”).

Fig. 12. Holy Roman Empire. Charles V (1519-1556). AR (lightly gilt) cast rhomboid medal, Leipzig?, by Hans Reinhart, 1547. Bernhard 96; Habich 1929. (ANS 1988.60.1, gift of Catherine Bullowa-​Moore) 37.6 x 45.6 mm.

In 1552, the impetuous Moritz turned on his imperial benefactor and attacked. Stinging from his fellow Protestants’ disparagements and feeling betrayed and humiliated by the emperor’s treatment of Philip of Hesse, Moritz had just been waiting for his chance when, sent to capture the rebellious Lutheran city of Magdeburg, he used this appointment as imperial military commander to make a pact with the French and to realign himself with the Protestant princes. He thus enabled King Henry II of France (Fig. 13) to seize Cambrai, Metz, Toul, and Verdun, while he himself invaded Bavaria, forcing Charles to flee. The emperor then acceded to the Peace of Passau, whereby Lutheranism was recognized and the Schmalkaldic leaders Johann Friedrich and Philip were released. While some warfare extended until Charles’s abdication in 1556, by then both of the contentious Saxon dukes were gone. Moritz had been killed by a gunshot wound sustained in the battle of Sievershausen (July 8, 1553), against the turbulent Margrave Albrecht “Alcibiades” of Brandenburg-Beyreuth, his former friend and companion-in-arms. Perhaps surprisingly, in death Moritz was respected as a diplomat and successful strategist who had enlarged and enhanced his domains and fostered peace and education. Johann Friedrich, who had returned in triumph to his reduced territories, upholding his faith and endowing education, died within two years of having been set free; he was fondly mourned as a great soul and defender of early Protestantism (Figs. 14-15).

Fig. 13. France. Henri II. AR teston, Paris mint, 1558-A. (ANS 1942.23.853, Saltus fund/general fund purchase, ex Ferrari coll.) 28 mm.

Fig. 14. German States: Saxony. Johann Friedrich. AR medal, commemorating investiture as Elector of Saxony, by Hans Reinhart, 1535. Habich 1935; Tentzel 7, 1. (ANS 0000.999.37965, gift of Daniel Parish Jr.) 64.3 mm.

Fig. 15. German States: Saxony. Johann Friedrich. Wooden “checker” simulating the investiture commemoration medal by Reinhart, n.d., ca. 1532-1535). (ANS 1971.42.128, gift of Jay Donald Rogasner) 56 mm.

I have digressed into the historical background of the Saxon dukes because of their connection to significant items in the ANS cabinet. In the process of preparing our 2005 exhibit of German Renaissance portrait medals, I sought to improve their cataloging. Some pieces relate closely to the inquiry that we had from Justin Hall, while others are simply remarkable in their own right. One of the most outstanding specimens in the cabinet is the Trinity medallion (Fig. 16) by the great sixteenth-century medallist Hans Reinhart (ca. 1510-1581). It had been assigned a “dummy” (provisional) number without a record of its accession data, but while working with this material, I was able to determine its proper accession reference number and relate it to the article by former curator Henry Grunthal on its acquisition, as a purchase from Hans M. F. Schulman in 1972. This elaborate medal was a masterwork of the German Renaissance and is one of only fourteen specimens located by Grunthal.

Fig. 16. German States. Saxony. Moritz. AR (gilt) Holy Trinity medallion, by Hans Reinhart, 1544; mounted with later three-chain loop attachment and ornamental pendant with glass bead. Tentzel III, 85; Habich 1962; Domanig 758; Grunthal 109-112, pl. 18-19 (ANS 1972.17.1, purchase). Suspended length: 185 mm; diameter, 101 mm.

The Trinity medal was noteworthy in its time, and became so popular that it was reproduced on a number of occasions, in 1556, 1561, 1569, and 1574, and even after Reinhart’s death seven years later. Duke Moritz commissioned Reinhart to make the Trinity medal in the effort to strike a note of unification among the religious contenders in Germany during the Schmalkaldic War. Catholics and Protestants alike shared the dogma of the Athanasian Creed (the Quicunque vult or Symbolum quicunque), the Christian statement of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. By emphasizing the Creed at this time, including several of its passages on the medal, Moritz hoped to show the shared understanding upon which those of differing faith could base a common rapprochement. This may not be the place for a lengthy discussion of the various aspects of the Trinity medal, astonishing in its busy detail, but its design, technique and contextual implications have earned it such acclaim that it deserves to be illustrated in color. In Grunthal’s words, “the medal itself is of the finest craftsmanship. The thin cast planchet rises slowly toward the edge which carries the legend…. The main relief, the richly ornate throne and gorgeous dress of the Father as well as the foot rest, is not very high, hardly exceeding the height of the edge. All the other parts such as the Father’s crowned head, the hands with scepter and orb, the crucifix with the dove and the angel figures were separately cast and chased before being soldered to the medal” (Grunthal 1972, 111).

The “Virgin Queen” and the ANS Cabinet

We have had several requests for publication of images of coins of Queen Elizabeth I of England (1558-1603) (Fig. 18). A search like this provides me with another occasion to survey an area that holds particular appeal to me, and so I return to a curious parcel of English coins in the cabinet, hammered silver pieces that came to the ANS as a donation in 1961 from Weber de Vore. Although this group of 480 small-denomination silver coins still remains to be fully catalogued into the collection, it has been briefly published by Michael Dolley, in 1953, in the Numismatic Chronicle, while in the possession of the London dealer A. H. Baldwin & Sons, who later sold it to de Vore. Dolley stated that the coins “at one time had obviously formed part at least of a hoard. Inquiry established that the coins in question had always been kept together as coming from a single find, and also that there was a strong tradition to the effect that the 480 coins were substantially the whole hoard. The exact circumstances of their discovery cannot now be evoked, but it is believed that the coins were unearthed in the early part of the last century [the early 1800s] if not even earlier. Unfortunately there is no record of a find spot, but the provenance is believed to be the West Country, with a slight bias in favour of Somerset” (Dolley 1953, 153).

Fig. 17. England. Elizabeth I (1558-1603). AV ryal, mm. escallop. (ANS 1954.237.67, bequest of Herbert E. Ives) 35 mm.

Fig. 18. Queen Elizabeth I of England, the “Ermine Portrait” attributed to William Segar (formerly, to Nicholas Hilliard), 1585. Oil painting for William Cecil, Lord Burghley. (Hatfield House, collection of the Marquess of Salisbury)

The salient features of this hoard (ANS accession registration number 1961.8), evidently deposited ca. 1646, may be outlined as follows (after Dolley):

Great Britain, Mary to James I, minor AR (West Country Hoard).

A. England

  • Mary: 31 groats (heavily worn)
  • Philip & Mary: 8 groats (heavily worn)
  • Elizabeth: 34 shillings, 246 sixpences, 16 groats, 2 threepences
  • James I: (first coinage) 10 shillings, 22 sixpences; (second coinage) 10 shillings, 15 six pences; (third coinage) 1 shilling, 3 sixpences
  • Charles I: (Tower mint) 7 halfcrowns, 68 shillings

B. Scotland

  • Charles I: (fourth coinage) 1 4- penny piece

C. Ireland

  • James I: (first coinage) 1 shilling; (second coinage) 1 shilling, 1 sixpence

D. Also included in the find were two contemporary forgeries of English James I shillings (one each of the second and third coinages).

Dolley regarded the hoard as noteworthy “for its unusually complete run of Elizabethan sixpences which account for more than half of the total” and also for “its comparatively late date.” He observed “two details perhaps worth remarking”: (1) “that certain coins with mint-mark ermine may well be ermine over castle—the coins are generally in too worn a condition for superimposition of mint-mark always to be established”; and (2) “that in the case of Charles I shillings with mint-mark altered from star the triangle in circle is in each case inverted.” The mintmarks referred to on the coins of this era are markings of administrative control in the Tower of London, often called “initial marks” or even “privy marks.” Although not normally designated in the literature, it is possible to distinguish different varieties of some of the markings, including two forms of the “ermine” mark of Elizabeth, used from 1572 to 1573. Heraldically speaking, the “ermine”—the European stoat in its winter coat—is a cluster of the little weasels’ tails that, in full-color version, would have shown black tips against the white of the rest of the fur: a pattern of dots. In the abbreviated form employed for the English moneyers’ punches, ermine is depicted as a bunch either of three or seven tails bound together at the top (Fig. 17).

One cannot help but be struck by the odd fact that of the 298 coins of Elizabeth I present in the de Vore hoard, not a single one was minted by Eloye Mestrelle’s “mill.” This seems surprising in view of the presence of a number of the scarcer hammered issues and the relative frequency of the milled pieces today. One might wonder whether there was a contemporary tendency for the attractive machine-made coins of Mestrelle to enjoy a differential pattern of circulation or withdrawal, or whether any milled coins present had been removed from the hoard after its discovery. Their absence would seem unlikely to be completely coincidental. For the denominations on which the year is not shown, it is possible to date the Elizabethan coinage approximately by means of the mintmarks, although these, as noted, can have been subject to modification.

Coins and Medals in American History

While visiting the Coin Room during a trip to New York City, David Sundman examined pieces from several series, including the early Massachusetts silver. He noted particularly the ANS’s Noe 1 example of the New England shilling—probably the first coinage minted in what is now the United States (Fig. 19). For his work on the ANS Magazine and for illustrations to include in our forthcoming volume of the Coinage of the American Conference Proceedings covering last year’s event, as well as for other articles, Oliver Hoover busied us locating and selecting a variety of items for illustration. Richard Kjellgren, curator of the Tumba Museum section of the Royal Numismatic Collection Museum in Sweden, paid a visit to our cabinet to become acquainted with some of the materials here.

Fig. 19. United States: Massachusetts Bay Colony. AR shilling, Boston (Hull and Sanderson) mint, n.d. [1652]. Noe 1. (ANS 1911.85.2, gift of William Bradhurst Osgood Field) 30 mm.

ANS Trustee Syd Martin, came to the Coin Room to study the William Wood Rosa Americana series in the cabinet for the book on these pieces he is completing (Fig. 20). Tammy Vaught found an example of the 1776 Massachusetts “Pine Tree” copper replica and wished to know when it had been made. Typically, such pieces seem to have been mass produced as tourist souvenirs in the 1950s or 1960s—not to fool anyone, but who ever sees the genuine coins with which to compare these kinds of copies? Another early American copy, the “Washington the Great” satirical copper of ca. 1784, was researched by another of our Trustees, Roger Siboni, who ordered photos of the forged examples in the cabinet (Fig. 21).

Fig. 20. United States. William Wood’s Rosa Americana “Bath metal” (latten) twopence, 1722. Breen 90. (ANS 1886.1.2, gift of J. Evans) 31 mm.

Fig. 21. United States. “G. Washington the Great” satirical copper, ca. 1784 (modern forgery). Baker 8. (ANS 1989.99.232, gift of R. Byron White) 27.2 mm.

John Kleeberg visited the Coin Room to examine pieces for several investigations. He noted the IB countermarked Spanish Colonial gold piece, an example of an America-regulated issue (Fig. 22), as well as the contemporary counterfeit of a 1775 British halfpenny bearing the incused counterstamp GW in cursive script within a sunken ring with the raised legend *LONG LIVE THE PRESIDENT (Fig. 23). Presumably dating to around the time of Washington’s inauguration as president in 1789, the mark has been attributed to the Philadelphia pewterer George Will. The image of King George III that appeared on the obverse of the host coin has been all but obliterated by the counterstamp, and the seated figure of Britannia on the reverse has been likewise severely flattened, but no matter: this piece is a splendid example of very early American numismatic political memorabilia.

Fig. 22. United States. IB counterstamped Spanish colonial AV 2 escudos. (ANS 1934.92.3, purchase) 17 mm.

Fig. 23. United States. George Washington political token struck on contemporary counterfeit of British 1775 AE halfpenny. Brunk 15480; Baker 1030; Thorn p. 284. (ANS 1957.27.2, gift of Damon G. Douglas) 25 mm.

Robert Apuzzo has been working steadily on a book of the relatively well-known yet still very mysterious shipwreck of the HMS Hussar, which sank in New York’s East River off the southern shore of the Bronx in 1780. This British vessel was reputed to have been carrying a cargo of coins for a military payroll, and many have been the attempts to recover the gold guineas believed to be lying in the great waterway’s mucky bottom. To feature in his study of what is known of the salvage effort and its public record, Apuzzo ordered images of a contemporary issue of the kind that might have been recovered (or might still remain to be found!): the typical British gold from the Revolutionary era (Figs. 24-25). Several such coins are in the ANS cabinet; what is their imaginary history?

Fig. 24. Great Britain. George III. AV guinea, 1776/5. (ANS 1909.269.11, gift of J. Sanford Saltus) 25 mm.

Fig. 25. Great Britain. George III. AV guinea, 1776. (ANS 1944.49.121, gift of H. E. Gillingham) 25 mm.

Indefatigable researcher and ANS Honorary Trustee Eric P. Newman ordered images of the “New Haven restrike” dies of the famous Fugio coppers housed in our cabinet for a new study he is conducting. Curiously, there are two dies of the reverse (Figs. 26-28).

Fig. 26. United States. Steel “Restrike” die for 1787 congress copper (“Fugio” or “Franklin cent”). Obverse. (ANS 1894.6.1, gift of Scott Stamp & Coin Co., Ltd.) 34 mm.

Fig. 27. United States. Steel “Restrike” die for 1787 congress copper (“Fugio” or “Franklin cent”). Reverse. (ANS 1894.6.2, gift of Scott Stamp & Coin Co., Ltd.) 34 mm.

Fig. 28. United States. Steel “Restrike” die for 1787 congress copper (“Fugio” or “Franklin cent”). Reverse. (ANS 1895.19.1, gift of Scott Stamp & Coin Co., Ltd.) 34 mm.

In a collection she inherited, Margie Jenkins discovered a coin/token that it was possible to identify, from her images sent to us, as one of the interesting American game counters of the mid-nineteenth century (Fig. 29). Matching a nicer specimen in the ANS cabinet, the item is classified as part of the California Gold Rush-era series known as the “Gold Miner counters.” The obverse presents a head of Liberty derived from the contemporary American gold coinage with the date 1849 below and surrounded by thirteen stars. The attractive reverse depicts a gold prospector kneeling to left, with a pick, spade, and “ore sack,” and with the word CALIFORNIA above and the date 1849 in the exergue; in the background is a horizon line with two palm trees. Believed to have been minted about 1852, the token was probably struck by the Scovill Manufacturing Company of Waterbury, Connecticut.

Fig. 29. United States: “California” (Connecticut). Gilt brass counter, 1849 (by Scoville, struck ca. 1852). Rulau and Fuld 1 var.; Kurth 3. (ANS 1973.179.3, a suspicious number, probably purchased from the American Philosophical Society) 22 mm.

Putting together an article for The Numismatist, Neil Berman contacted us to examine one of the few known examples of the 1921 “Zerbe proof” Morgan silver dollar (Fig. 30). This peculiar coin is certainly worthy of fuller examination. The story goes that numismatic showman Farran Zerbe was able to convince the U.S. mint in Philadelphia to produce for him a special striking of the revised Morgan dollar, reintroduced in 1921, when delays thwarted his efforts on behalf of initiating the new Peace Dollar coinage (Breen 1989, 220). Why the mint, or at least someone there, allowed itself to be compromised for the sake of the promoter remains obscure. It had moved away from the scandalous fabrications minted in the nineteenth century, but then the nefarious 1913 Liberty-head nickels had been struck and spirited out of the mint only a few years earlier. Properly speaking, the Zerbe coins may be considered as “presentation pieces.”

Fig. 30. United States. AR dollar, 1921 “Zerbe proof.” Breen 5704 (ANS 1921.80.1, gift of Farran Zerbe) 38.1 mm.

But the so-called Zerbe proof (somewhere between twenty and two hundred are believed to have been minted) definitely displays characteristics of proof coinage, including a relatively high polish on the fields and excellent sharpness (Van Allen 1991, 388). The coins can be recognized by a slight die-polish mark from the left serif of left upright of the second U in UNUM and through the upper loop of the S in PLURIBUS on the obverse. There are other faint die-polish marks visible as well, such as an arc from the dentils above the B, through the upper part of the U, and ending at the dentils above the S of PLURIBUS. On the reverse, the area around the bow of the wreath is virtually unpolished, but there are other slight diagnostics as well. Overall, there are considerable numbers of hairline polish marks, “lint marks,” and other “strikethroughs.” The ANS specimen shows a couple of small planchet imperfections, which one might not expect to be found on a true “normal” proof.

The World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, in 1893, was a watershed event in the United States’ cultural history. Numismatically, it provided Americans with a rich, if occasionally overlooked, heritage. Jonathan Farr made an inquiry about one of the many medals issued upon this occasion, a piece represented by a couple of examples in the ANS cabinet. This is the attractive New York City issue designed by Charles Frederick Naegele and engraved and produced by the Gorham (silver) Manufacturing Company (Fig. 31). Its obverse features a central roundel bearing a three-fourths left-facing head of Columbus wearing his familiar cap with upturned earflaps, surrounded by stylized but detailed renditions of the three ships of his first voyage bordered by a scroll representing waves of the ocean. The reverse, presenting the crowned arms of Spain (Castile-Leon quartered with Aragon, as used by Ferdinand and Isabella) at top and the arms of the United States (the “Shield of Union,” with stars in four rows across in chief) at bottom, carries a dedicatory inscription in Renaissance-style capitals reminiscent of the work of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The Society is fortunate to hold a substantial collection of the exposition’s “Columbiana,” some of which was in fact published at the time of its issue, in the first series of our American Journal of Numismatics.

Fig. 31. United States. World’s Columbian Exposition AE commemorative medal, Gorham Manufacturing Co., designed by C. F. Naegele, 1891. Eglit 98 (ANS 0000.999.26300) 57 mm.

Perhaps, like me, some of you will allow these various items, pieces that have in one way or another brought themselves to our attention, to transport your imagination to some distant time or place. The ease with which one can do this with numismatics is part of the great charm and beauty of this pastime. And by the same token (if you will forgive me), study of these materials cannot help but provide us with larger and deeper insights into mankind’s heritage. Let’s face it, insights are in short supply today: I think numismatics may even have a potential role to play in international understanding.


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