Review: Coinage of the Achaean League

M. Oeconomides, M. Lakakis-Marchetti, and P. Marchetti
“Le Trésor de Zougra (IGCH 261) et la circulation monétaire dans le Péloponnèse au IIe siècle.” In Liber Amicorum Tony Hackens, ed. G. Moucharte et al., 379–433.
Louvain-la-Neuve, 2007. For a review of this book, see The Celator 22, no. 8 (August 2008): 35ff.

Warren, J. A. W.
The Bronze Coinage of the Achaian Koinon: The Currency of a Federal Ideal.
Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication 42, London, 2007. Hardcover with dust jacket, xvi + 212 pp., map, 39 pls.

In 1895, General Clerk, basing himself on Rudolph Weil and other earlier researchers, published his exhaustive and convenient study of the coinage of the Achaean League. For the silver, which rarely bore a clear inscription denoting where it was struck, he collected and listed the combinations of letters, monograms, and symbols found on the coins that enabled them to be attributed to specific mints; as for the bronze, which bore clear mint names, he collected all the variants then known (including some that did not exist!). The coins were all dated to the broad period running from the restoration of the League in 280 BC by Dyme and Patrae to the destruction of Corinth by the Roman general Mummius in 146 BC, after which the League itself was believed to have fallen into abeyance. However, in 1959 a hoard appeared that was to have profound implications for the study of this coinage, though a massive mistake in its cataloguing was to obfuscate the situation for a generation.

The Agrinion Hoard (IGCH 271) was unearthed in or around Agrinion, a city founded by the Macedonian king Cassander in 314 BC as a bulwark against the Aetolians; they captured it shortly later and it remained theirs from then on. The hoard contained a total of 1,348 silver coins: the largest component was of Achaean League hemidrachms, followed by a considerable number of hemidrachms of Megalopolis, Aetolia, and a variety of other Greek states; there were also, and this was terribly important, two discrete groups of Athenian New Style tetradrachms and Roman republican denarii. Since a distinctive form of corrosion covered all the coins, we can be certain they were all found together: there are no intrusions (eight coins were dispersed before the hoard was acquired by the ANS, but they were recorded). In her publication of this hoard (The Agrinion Hoard, ANSNNM 159, 1968), the late chief curator of the ANS, Margaret Thompson, came to a number of conclusions:

(1) She believed that, with the exception of some anonymous issues that had to date to the third century, all of the mass issues of the Achaean League must have been struck c. 196–146 BC. She placed the start after the Roman Flamininus’s proclamation of the freedom of Greece and the end with the destruction of Corinth. In fact, the ostensible start date could be slightly lowered since a number of cities only joined the league in the later 190s (like Elis and Lakedaimon).


Corinthia: Achaean League, Corinth. AR drachm, Thompson (1968), 242 (ANS 1963.31.367, purchase, from the Agrinion hoard).


Corinthia: Achaean League, Corinth. AR drachm, Thompson (1968), 584b (ANS 1963.31.376, purchase, from the Agrinion hoard).

(2) She divided the League coinage in the hoard into two groups by wear and style, an early series and a late series; almost every previously recorded variety of the two series was in the hoard. However, no coins of what she termed the final series were present in Agrinion, though they were not uncommonly found in other hoards or in public or private collections. Thus she concluded that the final issues were struck after the League component of Agrinion was closed.

(3) Thompson also observed that while earlier issues of Sicyon, Argos, and other cities were in Agrinion, later ones were not; she concluded that the later issues were contemporary with the final issues of League and that they too must have been struck after the League component in the hoard was closed.

(4) The Athenian tetradrachms were dated following Thompson’s chronology and ranged from 190/189 BC to 162/1 BC. They thus had no relevance for the hoard’s date of deposit but were contemporary with the hemidrachms.


Attica: Athens. AR tetradrachm. Thompson (1961), 407 (ANS 1963.31.270, purchase, from the Agrinion hoard). The latest issue to appear in the hoard.

(5) Thompson believed that the denarii were the key to the date of the hoard and, following Michael Crawford and Rudi Thomsen’s analysis of them, placed the burial in 135 BC. Since she firmly believed that the Achaean League coinage must have ended in 146 BC, she had to find a reason for the lack of all the final Achaean League coins and contemporary or earlier civic issues. What she did was to maintain that the final issues of the League and all the later civic issues were struck in a massive outpouring of coinage produced in the run up to the war with Rome, c. 150–146 BC. The fact they were not in a hoard interred at least ten years later than she believed the coins were struck was explained by her theory that, with the exception of the denarii, all the remaining coins in the hoard dated to before c. 150 BC and that Aetolia was so remote that newer coins had not arrived there in time to be buried in this deposit.


Rome. AR denarius, Q. Philipus. Crawford 259.1; Thompson (1968), 717 (ANS 1963.31.39, purchase, from the Agrinion hoard). The latest denarius to appear in the hoard.

This reconstruction can no longer stand today.

The major change is in the dating of the New Style tetradrachms of Athens. As is well known, Thompson was convinced that these coins were first struck in 196/5 BC and that they continued without a break until the Sullan sack in 86 BC. Her arrangement of issues was unchallenged, but her chronology was seen by most scholars to be impossible (for example, it resulted in a small issue signed by one King Mithradates being assigned to 121 BC on the occasion of an unknown visit of Mithradates V to Athens, rather than to 87/86 BC, when Mithradates VI held the city). In the end, Thompson’s chronology was revised downward by a generation: the coinage began in the 170s and ended c. 40 BC with some breaks in the series, especially in the years after 86. So now, when we turn to the tetradrachms in Agrinion, we find that the last is dated to 130/129 BC and is accompanied by coins mostly dating to the 140s and 130s: while the earlier pieces are worn, the latest are fresh. Astoundingly enough, by 1974, when Crawford’s Roman Republican Coinage was published, his revised dates for the denarii in Agrinion resulted in a group primarily from the 130s, with a closing piece that also dated to 129 BC (these coins are virtually unworn). Thus the hoard’s date of deposit has to be lowered to the mid-120s at the earliest, and the lack of any of the final Achaean League issues or any of the late issues of other mints, all supposedly struck c. 150–146 BC, becomes even more perplexing (it should be noted that these are not small, rare issues, but very extensive ones). If numerous Athenian and Roman issues of the 130s could manage to get to “remote Aetolia,” why couldn’t Peloponnesian coins of the 140s get there too?

The obvious answer is that these coins had not yet been struck.

This answer was first proposed by the eminent German scholar Christof Boehringer (for references, see the bibliography and discussion in the auction catalogue LHS 96, Coins of Peloponnesos: The BCD Collection, May 8–9, 2006) who made the startling proposal that the final issues of the Achaean League, as well as the latest civic issues from a number of cities (Sicyon, Patrae, Messene, Korone, Lakedaimon, Argos, and Megalopolis), were primarily struck during the first century, some around the time of the Roman general Sulla and others down until the battle of Actium in 31 BC. After all, not only is there ample proof that the League continued to exist after 146 BC, but the reissue of coins of an earlier type for trade purposes was often done in antiquity (as the posthumous Alexanders). Boehringer based himself on Agrinion and on the Poggio Picenze Hoard (IGCH 2056), in which datable coins of the first quarter of the first century BC were combined with mint-fresh Peloponnesian material. His theory was initially met with some skepticism, but it rapidly received a great deal of support, most enthusiastically, perhaps, from Jennifer Warren, an expert on the coinage of the Peloponnesos. She provided a good deal of supporting evidence, including epigraphic, prosopographic, and stylistic links, and produced a number of articles building on Boehringer’s foundations (again, see LHS 96 for the bibliography and commentary, and also, most recently, C. Boehringer, “Quelques remarques sur la circulation monétaire dans le Péloponnèse au IIe et au Ier siècle a. C.,“ in Le Péloponnèse d’Épaminondas à Hadrien, ed. C. Grandjean, 2008).

However, not everyone is convinced. A number of scholars, especially in Greece, strongly disagree with Boehringer’s and Warren’s “new landscape” and prefer to see all the final League issues and all the late Peloponnesian civic issues in silver as having been struck in a single burst of frenzied activity c. 150–146 BC in preparation for the Roman attack; thus, in their view, no silver was produced anywhere in the Peloponnesos after 146 BC other than two issues that must have been struck by Patrae in the 30s BC.

Oeconomides, Lakakis-Marchetti, and Marchetti are proponents of this early dating and their publication of the Zougra Hoard (IGCH 261) presents that point of view. Zougra is the site of ancient Pellene, and it was there in 1859 that one of the largest hoards of ancient silver coins ever found in Greece was discovered. It consisted of 9,171 pieces, virtually all hemidrachms; the total weight of the hoard when found was 17.25 okas, or 22.8 kg. The coins were presented to Queen Amalia of Greece, who in turn gave them to the Numismatic Museum in Athens. More than half of the coins were of the Achaean League, but there were small groups from central Greece and civic issues from some Peloponnesian mints. However, between 1859 and 1967, when Mando Oeconomides, then the director of the Numismatic Museum, began to search for the coins from this hoard in the vaults of the museum, the vast majority of the pieces presented by the queen had disappeared. Were they disposed of as duplicates? Were they melted down? No one knows. Were the coins that were kept retained as a representative sample of the hoard’s original contents, or were they held simply because they were coins that the then curator felt the museum needed? No one knows. In any event, there are only 771 identifiable pieces left, and it is on this small fraction of the original hoard (around 8.5 percent) that the three authors have based their theories; I admire their confidence, but I certainly cannot share it.

The present inventory is as follows (the figure in parentheses refers to the number of coins when found as given by Noe in A Bibliography of Greek Coin Hoards, 2nd ed., ANSNNM 78 [1937]: 1186):

Ainianes 1 (“Thessaly” 13)
Lamia 1 (“Thessaly” 13) Epirus 0 (1)
Aetolia 15 (421)
Locris 6 (146)
Boeotia 31 (289)
Aegina 1 (14)
Corinth 1 (0)
Sicyon 11 (0)
Elis 0 (1)
Messene 2 (3)
Argos 91 (1409)
Megalopolis 45 (“Arcadia” 1185)
Achaean League 564 (5689)

The coins have been carefully described and a considerable number have been illustrated. One surprise is the presence of the eleven coins from Sicyon: Noe does not mention any in the list he took directly from J. de Witte’s original notice of the coins in the Revue Numismatique of 1862 (pp. 170–71: the information came from A. Postolacas, who had been charged with the publication of the hoard by Queen Amalia). It is impossible that nineteenth-century numismatists such as Postolacas or de Witte could have mistaken them for something else—so how could they have missed them? Could they have been misfiled in modern times? Another surprise is the way the Achaean League issues have been treated: rather than ascribing them to the mints to which they have long been attributed, the authors have, without any explanation, simply listed them in thirty-three series. These are, presumably, taken from a rather revolutionary study of the Achaean League coinage that Lakakis-Marchetti is preparing, but it would have been helpful had some inkling been given to the reader. If she thinks none can be ascribed to individual mints, she should say so: otherwise, why not note, for example, that those pieces marked ϜΑ were from Elis, those with ΛΑ from Lakedaimon, and those with ΩΝ from Aegium? In any case, the coins include early, late, and final Achaean League issues, as well as both earlier and later issues from Sicyon, Messene, Argos, and Megalopolis. Thus, we can be sure that Zougra has to be later than Agrinion—the question is how much later.

Unfortunately, unlike in Agrinion where the Athenian and Roman republican contents date the deposit to the 120s, or in Poggio Picenze, where the date in the mid 80s is provided by the Pontic, Cappadocian, and Sullan issues, there are no coins in Zougra that are independently datable. For the authors there is no problem: the date of the hoard has to be 146 BC, as it is for every other hoard containing Achaean League coins. Lakakis-Marchetti categorically dismisses the chronological relevance of Agrinion and Poggio Picenze, as well as any other hoard that seems to support the arguments of Boehringer and Warren, by saying that since they turned up in trade their value as evidence is null (see M. Lakakis-Marchetti, “A propos du monnayage achéen et des trésors qui le font connaître,” in ΧΑΡΑΚΤΗΡ, Athens 1996, for a blanket condemnation of all opposing theories). She assumes the Athenian and Roman parts of Agrinion were simply added to it by the finders or by local middlemen to make it more attractive financially, yet she does not deign to explain how these locals could have managed to produce two groups with exactly the same closing date, especially in the 1950s, when those dates had not yet been determined by scholars!

In the catalogue of the Zougra hoard, opposing dates are either dismissed without comment or ridiculed. For example, on p. 386 they mention, and then ignore, the fact that Grandjean dated the two Messene hemidrachms in Zougra to the late second–first century. Turning to p. 390, in their note 20 to coins 4349–4350, late Argive hemidrachms signed by Lydiadas, they imply that the cataloguer of the BCD Peloponnesos collection must have been an idiot, because they say that he claimed that this magistrate (see BCD lot 1174), with a good, old Greek name, was possibly a Roman (thus supporting the date of c. 80s–50s used in BCD for this series). And the cataloguer would have been, had he done so: in fact, had they bothered to read the commentary correctly in BCD (p. 279, note to lot 1161), they would have discovered that the magistrate identified as a Roman had the decidedly Roman sounding name of Leukios (Lucius) and that the BCD cataloguer had made no comments about Lydiadas whatsoever. Rather intriguingly, magistrates named Leukios only seem to turn up in relatively late contexts on Greek coins and almost certainly indicate a Roman, or at least Italic, origin: one appears as the first magistrate on an early post-Sullan New Style tetradrachm of Athens struck in the 70s (Thompson 1227; see also for an earlier case, S. B. Zoumbaki, “Prosopographie der Eleer bis zum 1. Jh. v. Chr,” Μ40, Athens 2005, A114, pp. 111–113; and M16, pp. 256–257, for a notorious Roman mercenary named Leukios who was in Elis during the 270s). They also (p. 423 and n. 55) dismiss Kroll’s dating of the late silver of Aegium, which is, in fact, firmly connected with the late bronze, which is, in turn, firmly dated to the 30s (see BCD pp. 120–121), by using the amazingly circular argument that since one piece is still in Zougra (p. 396, 3365) and Zougra has to date to 146, it has to be earlier.

Despite all the effort put into resurrecting the Zougra Hoard, basing conclusions on a mere 8.5 percent of its original contents strikes me as unwise; ignoring and belittling any evidence that goes against some deeply held ideas does not make those ideas any righter. Yes, there are good historical reasons for thinking that the League coinage ended in 146, but the actual physical evidence makes it clear that it did not: dismissing that evidence will not make it go away. Two perfect parallels for these problems caused by holding on to preconceived ideas both come from Margaret Thompson, one of the great classical numismatists of the twentieth century. The first was, of course, Agrinion. As we have seen, since she firmly believed that the League coinage had to have ended in 146, she had to bend over backward to create a reason (the supposed remoteness of the site) why all the final League and all the late Peloponnesian coins were not in Agrinion, a hoard she dated to 135 BC. She managed to get away with that idea as long as the Athenian material was dated to the 160s but, as we have seen, the whole scheme collapsed when the latest Athenian coin was redated to 130/129 BC. The second parallel comes from the famous Dipylon Hoard of 1875 (IGCH 339), which contained Athenian New Style tetradrachms going down to the issued signed by King Mithradates (T 1143–1146), along with four tetradrachms of Mithradates VI dated to 87: to maintain her chronology, Thompson was forced to postulate a simply impossible gap of thirty-four years between the last Athenian coin and those of Mithradates VI! In any case, nothing in the Zougra Hoard can be used as any kind of proof for the validity of the high chronology.

J. Warren’s study of the bronze coinage of the Achaean League is on quite another level. It consists of an astonishingly detailed catalogue and commentary on the 929 known legible examples of League bronze coins (from forty-five or forty-six mints): every coin is individually described with die links noted and, in a second list, given its full provenance. This catalogue is amazingly complete: it includes all legible and illegible examples from public and private collections and commercial catalogues and scholarly publications going back to 1682, when the first piece, which is now in the British Museum, was published by G. Wheler (A Journey into Greece, London 1682). She even goes so far as to include some unillustrated pieces from earlier publications that can now no longer be traced (though not all: she has left out lots 2421–2423 and 2425–2427 in Rhousopoulos; while those are surely all unidentifiable, 2422 was an extremely rare piece from Hypana that sold to Froehner—might it be Warrens’s 334 = BCD 700?), as well as misattributions and one forgery (it is hard to believe anyone would fake one of these things, but it was possibly made in the nineteenth century, when a number of collectors avidly competed to find rarities and new mints in this series). A fascinating section is what Jennifer Warren terms a “chronological bibliography, [a] survey of interest in the bronze coinage of the Achaian Koinon”: the books and articles range from 1644 to 2006.


Arcadia: Achaean League, Megalopolis. AE fraction (ANS 1944.100.40160, bequest of Edward T. Newell).

In her commentary, she points out that the original coinage was immense: the fact that the survival rate is much lower than it is for other ancient bronze coinages seems to indicate that the coins were actively withdrawn from circulation (probably after 146 BC, when its status as a nonintrinsically valuable fiduciary coinage would have become anomalous). Neither the reason why the coinage was produced nor the date when it was issued is clear. It was certainly partially for military reasons and partially to ensure that there was a uniform bronze coinage throughout the League. In addition, while the coins were surely valued as hemiobols it would have cost much less than that to make them; thus, the towns that struck them would make a nice profit. Warren discusses how the coinage was made, rightly assuming that official instructions were sent out describing how the coins were to look and what the legends were to be; her analysis of which mints struck first and how mint practice developed supports her theories in this regard. As to when they were minted, Warren is such a cautious scholar that she does not clearly state when this took place. She opts for c. 167–164 BC, but I was only able to find this out by writing to her directly! I know that many scholars are loath to ascribe absolute dates to coins about which they are unsure (even only a little bit, as with the early ANS Sylloge volumes), but since this kind of scholarly diffidence will drive the reader crazy, I think Warren should have bitten the bullet and put a clear statement into the text. The reader should also be warned that unlike other classical scholars who use notes solely for references, Warren seems to adore putting vast amounts of extremely interesting information into them. She is notorious for this, but luckily in this volume they appear as footnotes rather than endnotes, and thus the reader will not have to constantly flip back and forth to read them (and read them one must).

Even more than the Achaean League silver, which normally only bears an abbreviated name or symbol to denote its origin, the Achaean League bronze truly symbolizes the political union of the League’s members: the types are uniform and the ethnic is a double one, with the name of the individual city and of the Achaeans in the genitive. While unprepossessing and not particularly attractive, these coins are of real historical and numismatic importance for our understanding of the Hellenistic world. This is definitely not a book for everyone; it is only for specialists. As a work of scholarship, however, it is outstanding, and Warren must be congratulated for producing it; one hopes that soon we will be able to congratulate her when she completes her study on the silver coinage of Sicyon!

—Alan Walker

Note: Copies of Margaret Thompson’s The Agrinion Hoard are still available for purchase through the ANS, for $60. For further information, please contact Megan Fenselau at 212-571-4470 x117 or by e-mail at membership@numismatics.org.

Review: A Pocketful of History

Jim Noles
A Pocketful of History: Four Hundred Years of America—One State Quarter at a Time
Philadelphia: Da Capo Press, 2008. Hb., 324pp., b/w illus. throughout. ISBN 978-0-306-81578-2. $25.00.

In the acknowledgments to Jim Noles’s new book chronicling the history of the United States through the reverse types chosen for the U.S. Mint’s Fifty State Quarters Program (FSQP), the author refers to A Pocketful of History as the culmination of a “hare-brained scheme.” When the book first arrived on this reviewer’s desk, there were some concerns that this might be a fair summing up of the contents. Thus it was a relief and a pleasure to discover instead a well-executed attempt to use the current popular interest in images on pocket change as a means of fostering an appreciation of the American historical experience.

A Pocketful of History is not a numismatic book in the strict sense, nor is it really about the fifty state quarters. It is true that readers who are interested in the process of type selection for the FSQP will find brief anecdotes about the controversial decisions made by the U.S. Mint. Likewise, rare varieties in the series are mentioned very occasionally, but again, this is not a major area of interest. Instead, Noles takes the reverse type of each quarter as an excuse to present interesting vignettes of American political, economic, and natural history to the general public. Unencumbered by a strictly numismatic mandate, the author weaves impressively diverse stories for each quarter’s reverse. These range from tales of heroism in the Revolution, to the discovery of natural wonders (particularly in the West), to studies of technological and agricultural ingenuity. While this may seem like a relatively straightforward task on the surface, it is made difficult by the frequent tendency of the reverses to feature iconic (e.g., the Georgia peach, the magnolias of Mississippi, the star and state outline of Texas, etc.) rather than historical images and the occasional duplication of iconography (buffaloes on several reverses; the Wright brothers’ airplane on the North Carolina and Ohio quarters). Despite these obstacles, Noles is exemplary in his ability to take the iconographic straw at his disposal and spin it into literary gold.

Several of the chapters take staid and unassuming types and use them as springboards to tell brilliant stories only thinly connected to the images on the quarters. For example, the depiction of Longs Peak on Colorado’s quarter mentions the bunker of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) hidden in the Colorado Rockies, then segues into the story of Colorado’s Camp Hale, used by the CIA to train Tibetan freedom fighters in the 1950s and 1960s. Likewise, the magnolia flowers on the Mississippi quarter are not fodder for a horticultural account of the state but rather a thin excuse to chronicle the Civil War exploits of the Magnolia Guards, also known as Company K of the Seventeenth Mississippi Infantry Regiment. Perhaps most compelling, however, is Noles’s use of Mount Rainier on the Washington quarter to tell the story of Lieutenant August Valentine Kautz—the first white man to scale the mountain—and his courageous attempts to save the Nisqually Indian chief Leschi from an unjust death sentence in 1857.

The author also deserves praise for managing to come up with different and engaging anecdotes for the iconography duplicated on the quarters of several states, as in the case of the buffalo (bison) on the coins of Kansas, North Dakota, and Montana. The Kansas buffalo leads to the story of the African American regiments of the Tenth U.S. Cavalry, which originated in Fort Leavenworth and were known to the Plains Indians as “Buffalo Soldiers.” The tale of the slaughter of the great buffalo herds as the Union Pacific Railroad crossed the plains is told in the section on the North Dakota quarter. The American Prairie Foundation’s recent (if not entirely uncontroversial) rescue of the American buffalo from the brink of extinction is recounted in the Montana chapter.

Noles’s bravery as a writer is proven by his treatment of the Michigan quarter reverse, which has been almost universally condemned as the least imaginative in the FSQP. Faced with the dullness of this type (an outline of the Great Lakes), the author still manages to engage the reader with a dramatic account of the White Hurricane, which devastated areas around Lake Superior and Lake Michigan in November 1913.

While A Pocketful of History makes for a very pleasant afternoon of historical reading, it should be noted that the book is avocational. The author is a member of the legal profession, not a professional historian, nor does he claim any numismatic background beyond a personal interest in the FSQP. Bearing this in mind, readers must be cautious about taking all of the details of Noles’s lively narratives as absolutely correct.

While discussing Maryland’s status as “the Old Line State,” the author emphasizes the splendid appearance of the Maryland Battalion by mentioning its scarlet uniforms with buff facings. However, Noles seems to be unaware that these colors actually were prescribed for officers only. The rank-and-file of the Battalion’s nine Independent Companies generally wore hunting shirts as their uniform. They did not have a scarlet dress uniform that they exchanged for hunting shirts in the field, as Noles suggests. The Artillery Companies, which wore blue uniforms with red facings, and the 3rd Independent Company, which wore black uniforms, were the exceptions to the hunting shirt rule (see M. Zlatich, General Washington’s Army (1) 1775–1778 [1994], 8).

The author has a good grasp of American history, but he fumbles a little when he briefly crosses north of the forty-ninth parallel in connection with the fur trade carried on in Minnesota first by the French coureurs des bois and then by the members of the North West and Hudson’s Bay Companies. Noles correctly describes the suppression of the Red River Resistance (1869–1870) of Manitoba Métis led by Louis Riel as an indirect factor in the decline of the organized fur trade, but he mistakenly makes the defeat of the resisters an action of the British government. Although British regular troops were involved in the Red River Expedition, the decision to counter Riel and his followers with armed force came from the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada (confederated in 1867) and its first prime minister, Sir John A. MacDonald. The repression of the resistance was properly speaking a Canadian, not British, action.

Additionally, in a few cases the narratives develop odd points of emphasis. For example, there can be little doubt that the Alabama authorities chose to depict the deaf-blind Helen Keller on their quarter as an icon of perseverance and bravery in the face of adversity, yet for some reason almost half of the Alabama chapter is given over to Keller’s prosocialist and communist political activism (real and reputed) later in life. The shock in describing Keller’s opposition to American entry into World War I hardly seems fair when one considers that up until 1917, isolationism had been the official policy of the United States (even after the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania, with 128 Americans on board).

As the book is intended for the general public, the prose is written in a light, conversational style, and the author frequently injects elements of humor. This is usually well received, but it is difficult to stifle a groan while reading the chapter on the Kentucky quarter. Remarking on the entry of Kentucky into the Union and the foundation of the U.S. Mint in the same year (1792), Noles jokes that this coincidence “perhaps explains Kentucky’s legendary affinity for the mint julep. Or perhaps not.” Perhaps not, indeed. The capitalization on the apparent Native American name for Nebraska’s Chimney Rock, which refers to a prominent feature of the male elk’s anatomy, also seems unnecessarily gratuitous and tends to detract from the account of hardship and triumph on the Oregon and Mormon Trails that it introduces.

Despite the relatively minor problems of historical and numismatic detail mentioned above, Jim Noles has done a masterful job of breathing life and interest into a group of quarters whose designs have been occasionally criticized by the less charitable as “uninspired,” “kitschy,” and in some cases even “ugly.”

—Oliver D. Hoover

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Peter Gaspar
Dr. C. Herbert Gilliland
Joseph S. Giordano Jr.
Jayseth Guberman
Leon R. Gurovich
Richard E. Gutman
Jerome and Josephine Haggerty
Dan Hamelberg
Kenneth W. Harl
Randy Haviland
Sebastian Heath
Eric Hildebrant
Jeffrey Hoare*
Byron Hoke*
Daniel W. Holmes Jr.
James P. Houghton
Leopold Isaac*
Jewish-American Hall of Fame
Jonathan Kagan
Don & Candace Kagin
Judith (Frank) Kaller
Robert A. Kandel
Charles Paul Karukstis
Frank Katen*
Kevin Lipton Rare Coins
Daniel L. Koppersmith
Chet Krause
Herbert L. Kreindler
John H. Kroll
Mr. Fred Lauritsen
Long Island Gospel Quartet
John P. Lorenzo
Ken Lowe*
Pierre MacKay
James J. Manning
Mr. Giovanni Mantia
Mr. Richard Mantia
Richard Margolis
Donald Mark
Sydney F. Martin
Thomas R. Martin
Werner G. Mayer
Marsha B. McCoy
Medieval Castle Tours, Ltd.
Dr. Sewall Menzel
Lester Merkin*
Metropolitan New York Numismatic Convention
Andrew E. Michyeta III
Scott P. Mitchell
Dr. Roger A. Moore
Tom Mulvaney
National Security Systems, Inc.
Robert W. Norton
Emilio M. Ortiz
Donald G. Partrick
W. David Perkins
Clifton W. Potter Jr., Ph.D
Mike Ringo*
Dr. Galen Blaine Ritchie
Dr. and Mrs. Agustin A. Rodriguez-Gonzalez
Douglass F. Rohrman
Dr. Frederick A. Rohrman*
Margo Russell
M. L. Sacripante
L. A. Saryan, Ph.D
C. Barry Schaefer
James A. Schell, M.D.
Dr. John A. Seeger
John J. Selig
Gene Sherman, M.D.
Robert W. Shippee
Roger S. Siboni
Barry Stallard
Jeanne Stevens-Sollman
Peter and Marian Z. Sugar
R. Tettenhorst
Margaret S. Thompson*
Peter K. Tompa
Scott A. Travers
David Enders Tripp
Susan Gerwe Tripp
Trump Management, Inc.
Joseph Uphoff
Mel Wacks
Dr. A. Peter Weiss
Ute Wartenberg Kagan
Whitney Numismatics, Inc.
Hon. John Whitney Walter
Phelps Dean Witter
Dr. David J. Wolf, M.D.
Charles Wormser*
Wyper Capital

 * = In Memory of

From the Collections Manager: Recent Acquisitions (Winter 2008)

by Elena Stolyarik

During the past season, significant purchases were made for the coin cabinet, a few of which may be singled out for special mention. From Classical Numismatic Group Auctions (CNG 76, 9/12/07; and CNG e-sale 9/27/07), the ANS acquired an extraordinary group of coins from the former collection of Christopher Morcom, founded by Col. R. K. Morcom (1877–1961), who, during the 1920s and 1930s, obtained many Greek bronzes of great rarity from the Allatini, Bement, Lambros, Michailovitch, Osman Noury Bey, Pozzi, Ridgeway, Rogers, Sydenham, Vierordt, Vlasto, Warren, and Weber collections. The ANS purchases from the Morcom collection include a group of fourth–third century BC Thracian coins from Madytos, Perinthos, Sestos, Myrina, and rare bronzes of the kings Ketriporis (c. 356–352/1 BC) and Rhoemetalkes I (ca. 11 BC–AD 12). Macedonian coinages from the end of the fifth to the first part of the fourth century BC are represented by an extremely rare bronze from Phrages (one of nine known) (fig. 1) and another rarity from Potidaia. We also acquired an exceptionally rare issue of the Thessalian mint city Phakion from the third century BC (fig. 2), as well as a rare bronze of the fourth century BC, struck in the name of Tirynthians, and an extremely rare silver obol—the latter two from the Argolid mint Halieis. Another interesting group consists of seven rare bronze coins of the late fourth through first centuries BC, all from the Cyclades.


Fig. 1. Macedonia. Phagres. AE coin, c. 400-356 BC. (ANS 2008.1.8, purchase) 11.0 mm.


Fig. 2. Thessaly. Phakion. AE coin, third century BC. (ANS 2008.1.12, purchase) 20.0 mm.

Additional parts of the Morcom Collection the ANS has acquired include the peculiar late fifth–fourth century BC cast coin in shape of a “dolphin” from Olbia, the Milesian city-state in the northern Black Sea region (fig. 3); a tiny cast wheel coin from Istros, another Greek colony on the Black Sea, founded near the Danubean Delta by Milesian settlers; a fourth-century BC silver hemidrachm from the Thracian Chersonesos; a small bronze from Mesambria; an issue of the Thracian king Lysimachos; Macedonian royal issues of Kassander and Demetrios I Poliorketes; and an issue of the Epeirote king Alexander I. Bronze coins of the third–second century BC from Illyria were represented by rare issues of Apollonia and Byllis. A further interesting addition to the collection is a rare and apparently unpublished coin of Lappa, in Crete, which probably should be attributed to Larissa Phrikonis in Aeolis (fig. 4).


Fig. 3. Sarmatia. Olbia. Cast AE fifth-fourth century BC. (ANS 2008.2.1, purchase) 25.0 mm.


Fig. 4. Crete. Lappa (?). AE coin, c. 200-67 BC. (ANS 2008.2.22, purchase) 10.0 mm.

From the Münzen & Medaillen BCD Sale Auction (10/18/2007), the ANS acquired a group of sixty-eight important Akarnanian coins. Among these are very rare fifth–fourth century BC hemidrachms and trihemiobols of Stratus, an extremely rare second-century BC silver stater from Leukas (fig. 5), and an exceptionally rare and unpublished Alyzian bronze of the fourth–third century BC (fig. 6). The Akarnanian mint city Anactorium is represented by a very rare third-century BC bronze coin and a silver drachm of the second century BC. Through this sale, the ANS obtained other extremely rare items, including the second known example from Astacus (fig. 7), a fifth–fourth century BC silver triobol and trihemiobol from Stratus, and one of the five known pieces from Aitolian Apollonia.


Fig. 5. Akarnania. Leukas. AR stater, c. 180-167 BC. (ANS 2008.10.7, purchase) 26.4 mm.


Fig. 6. Akarnania. Alyzia. AE coin, c. 330-280 BC. (ANS 2008.10.11, purchase) 18.0 mm.


Fig. 7. Akarnania. Astacus. AE coin, c. 360-330 BC. (ANS 2008.10.42, purchase) 18.0 mm.

By purchase from the Numismatik Lanz München (Auction 138, 11/26/2007), we acquired a small group of coins including a rare issue of Alexander III (the Great) from Lykaonia, two fourth-century BC bronzes of the Thracian kings Amatokos II (359–351 BC) and Seuthes III (c. 330–295 BC), and a very rare silver tetradrachm (the only one known in private hands) of another Thracian ruler, King Skostokos (c. 285–281 BC) (fig. 8). Fine additions to this group are a rare coin of the last Celtic king of Thrace, Kavaros (230–200 BC) (fig. 9), and two interesting second-century BC Scythian royal bronze issues of Scythia Minor (Dobrudja) struck by Kanites (fig. 10) and Ailis.


Fig. 8. Thrace. Skostokos. AR tetradrachm, c. 285-281 BC. (ANS 2008.14.5, purchase). 28.3 mm.


Fig. 9. Thrace. Kavaros. AE coin, c. 230-200 BC. (ANS 2008.14.6, purchase) 14.0 mm.


Fig. 10. Scythia Minor. King Kanites. AE coin, second century BC. (ANS 2008.14.7, purchase) 25.4 mm.

Further purchases included thirteen interesting coins obtained from the Classical Numismatic Group Auction held during the New York International Numismatic Convention (1/8–9/2008). One is an unpublished and possibly unique fifth-century BC silver obol from the Arkadian mint Psophis (fig. 11); another, an Achaean bronze sestertius of Mark Antony’s “Fleet Coinage” (38–37 BC); a third is a bronze coin from Ephesus issued by Octavian, Mark Antony, and Lepidus. Others include several extremely rare bronzes from Lydian Tralles and Carian Alabanda issued by Augustus (27 BC–AD 14) and an exceptionally rare dupondius of Augustus or Tiberius (27 BC–AD 37) from the mint of Thaena in Byzacium (fig. 12).


Fig. 11. Arkadia. Psophis. AR obol, c. 490-460 BC. (ANS 2008.24.1, purchase) 9.4 mm.


Fig. 12. Augustus (Tiberius ?) (27 BC-AD 37). AE coin. Byzacium, Thaena. (ANS 2008.24.11, purchase) 30.9 mm.

Through the Classical Numismatic Group electronic sale (no. 181, 2/7/2008), the ANS collection of Roman provincial coins grew by thirty-four examples dating from the first century BC to the first century AD. Among these are an interesting coin of the proconsul Fabius Maximus (10–9 BC) from Phrygian Hierapolis, a very rare issue of Augustus from the Nicomedian mint in Bithynia, and a rare example of Septimius Severus (AD 193–211) from Corinth. Bronze coins from several areas of Lucania, Sicily, Thrace, Thessaly, Crete, Mysia, Aeolis, Ionia, Phrygia, Cilicia, Commagene, Syria, and Zeugitana were also added to our collection through this purchase.

An exceptionally rare silver stater of 330–325 BC, an apparently unique and unrecorded issue from the Bambyce-Hierapolis mint in Syria under Alexander the Great (fig. 13), was purchased from the April Auction of Numismatica Ars Classica AG (Auction 46, 4/2/2008, lot 286). From the same sale came an unrecorded variety of a fourth-century BC silver drachm from Gaza (?), in Judaea (lot 295). A very rare and interesting third-century BC bronze, in extremely fine condition, from the mint city of Tralleis (as Seleukeia), in Lydia, was purchased from Kirk Davis, Classical Numismatics (Spring 2008 Auction, Cat 53, Lot 48) (fig. 14).


Fig. 13. Alexander the Great (?), AR stater, c. 330-325 BC. Syria. Bambyce-Hierapolis mint. (ANS 2008.36.1, purchase) 22 mm.


Fig. 14. Lydia. Tralles (as Seleukeia). AE coin, third century BC. (ANS 2008.37.1, purchase) 16.0 mm.

Several interesting gifts from the Society’s members and benefactors also improved our Greek holdings. Toward the end of 2007, longtime ANS member and benefactor Jonathan H. Kagan donated an assortment of important research material. This interesting group of fifth- and fourth-century BC silver coins consists of Sidonian double shekels, Tyrian silver Attic-weight didrachms/shekels, silver staters from Aspendos in Pamphylia, a Carian tetradrachm, several silver drachms of Sinope, ninety-two pi-style Athenian tetradrachms, and unmarked and marked Athenian imitations. A gift from Martin Huth was a late fourth-century BC Athenian imitation with a counterstamp—a fine addition to our holdings of this kind of material. A very rare and presently unpublished fourth-century BC silver obol of Seleucus I (fig. 15) and two extremely rare bronzes of Diadumenian (217–218 BC), from the mints of Anemurium and Perge, came from ANS member and good friend David L. Vagi. An extremely rare (only three known) archaic drachm of Zacynthus (?) is a very interesting gift from Dr. Paul Peter Urone (fig. 16). A fine group of historically important coins was received from Richard P. Miller, including a unique 170–160 BC tetradrachm from Klazomenai (only two other examples of this type are known, with different reverses) (fig. 17); a Seleucid tetradrachm of Antiochos IV from an uncertain (Eastern?) mint, with unrecorded control marks; and an example of a Celtic imitation of a tetradrachm of Antiochos III, from Phrygia.


Fig. 15. Seleucid Empire. Seleucus I (312-281 BC) AR obol. (ANS 2008.16.1, gift of David Vagi) 7.7 mm.


Fig. 16. Islands off Elis. Zacynthus (?). AR drachm, circa fifth century BC. (ANS 2008.17.1, gift of Dr. Paul Peter Urone) 13.3 mm.


Fig. 17. Ionia. Klazomenai. AR tetradrachm, c. 170-160 BC. (ANS 2008.30.1, gift of Richard P. Miller) 34.0 mm.

The most remarkable gift to the Greek department came from ANS Trustee Dr. Arnold-Peter C. Weiss: a donation of eighty-seven archaic Greek coins from the famous Asyut hoard (IGCH 1644), found in Egypt in 1969. The hoard consisted of numerous pieces—many bearing test cuts—from almost every location that issued coins prior to c. 475 BC (fig. 18). This new acquisition is an important source for research on the ancient economy and trade connections of the eastern Aegean in the late archaic and early classical period. Another generous gift of Dr. Weiss is an extremely rare coin (only several examples known), a silver stater from Olympia in Elis, issued by the Hera mint in conjunction with the 100th Olympiad (Seltman 290; Group E2, dies EP/qh) (fig. 19). This classic beauty, believed to have been signed by the artist Polykaon, is a truly important addition to the cabinet, particularly in this, an Olympic year.


Fig. 18. From the Asyut hoard (IGCH 1644). AR staters, fifth century BC. (ANS AccNum:2008.39, gift of Dr. Arnold-Peter Weiss)


Fig. 19. Elis, Olympia. Hera mint. AR stater, c. 380 BC. (ANS 2008.40.1, gift of Dr. Arnold-Peter C. Weiss) 24.0 mm.

An interesting and welcome new specimen in the ANS South Asian collection, a rupee of Awadh from the Najibabad mint, dated (11) 97/24, came as a gift from Alan S. DeShazo (fig. 20).


Fig. 20. India. Awadh. Asaf al-Dawla (AD 1775-1797). AR rupee. Najibabad mint. AH [11]97 (= AD 1783). Regnal year 24 of the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II (1761-1805). (ANS 2008.4.1, gift of Alan S. DeShazo) 19.8 mm.

The Central Bank of Venezuela (Banco Central de Venezuela) sent to the ANS new (2007) specimens of its recent banknotes. These colorful examples bear the images of famous patriots, statesmen, and liberators of Venezuela, among them Guaicaipuro (fig. 21), the sixteenth-century leader of the Native American tribes’ coalition against the Spanish conquest; Simón Rodríguez (1769–1854), philosopher and educator, the tutor and mentor of the legendary Latin American liberator Simón Bolívar; and Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi (1799–1866), a heroine of the Venezuelan War of Independence.



Fig. 21. Venezuela. Central Bank of Venezuela. 10 bolivares, 2007. Specimen note. Pattern No. 0204, with images of Guaicaipuro. (ANS 2008.34.3, gift of the Central Bank of Venezuela/Casa de la Moneda) 156 x 69 mm.

Jonathan K. Kern generously donated to the ANS an attractive silver-engraved badge, with pivoting-hinged ring loop and ring (fig. 22), which was sold in the Stack’s sale of the John J. Ford Jr. Collection (Part VII, 1/18/2005, lot 250). The piece was there misdescribed as depicting George Washington, whereas the badge’s principal image depicts an unidentified mid-nineteenth-century soldier. As an American Volunteers Award of the mid-nineteenth century (May 1856), this showy specimen is an important embodiment of the typical militia activities that played an important role in social life before the Civil War. The ANS is pleased to add this example to our collection.


Fig. 22. United States. American Volunteers Award. AR engraved badge, 1856. (ANS 2008.8.1, gift of Jonathan K. Kern) 81.0 x 56.0 mm.

ANS fellow Scott H. Miller enriched our medals collection, as usual, with an interesting new donation. His latest gift is an obverse galvano honoring Thomas F. Balfe, President of the Newburg Savings Bank of Newburg, New York (fig. 23). It was designed in 1924 by Paul Fjelde (1892–1984), a prominent American artist renowned for his sculptural works, including the Lincoln Monument in Oslo’s Frogner Park; the statue in Madison, Wisconsin, of Col. Hans C. Heg, leader of the Fifteenth Wisconsin Regiment, of Civil War fame; the Wendell Wilkie Memorial in the Indiana Statehouse; the bronze portrait of Orville Wright in the Hall of Fame colonnade; the John Scott Bradstreet tablet at the Minneapolis Art Institute; and the Pioneers Memorial in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Fjelde’s sculpture in Frogner Park is the only piece in that park not by the great Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland. His bust of Hans Gerhard Stub was included in the Inventory of American Sculpture at the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Fjelde served as chairman of the sculpture department at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, as a professor emeritus at the Pratt Institute of Art, and as an instructor of sculpture at the National Academy School of Fine Arts, in New York, where his artistic works were welcomed in numerous exhibitions.


Fig. 23. United States. Thomas F. Balfe, president of the Newburg Savings Bank AE uniface galvano, by Paul Fjelde, 1924. (ANS 2008.21.1, gift of Scott H. Miller) 150.9 mm.

By private treaty, the ANS purchased a remarkable bronze plaque (fig. 24) dedicated to the famous American general Robert Lee (1807–1870), the legendary figure of the Confederate forces in the East (“Army of Northern Virginia”) during the Civil War. The plaque is an artistic creation of the great American sculptor John Gutzon Borglum (1867–1941), best known as the large-scale portrait sculptor of the heads of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt on Mount Rushmore. Borglum’s massive bas relief of Lee was probably made on the occasion of the creation of the Stone Mountain, Georgia, Confederate Monument—the stone carving in relief of the South’s great Confederate leaders Lee, Jackson, and Davis. The plaque was evidently intended to be used in an administrative building on the site or to be given to one of Stone Mountain’s benefactors.


Fig. 24. United States. General Robert Lee (1807-1870) AE plaque, by John Gutzon Borglum, n.d. (ANS 2008.28.1, purchase) 370 x 410 mm.

In May, the ANS obtained an interesting purchase by private treaty of an item that had previously been offered on eBay: a unique original portrait relief of Charles Anderson Dana (1819–1897) by the preeminent American medallic sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Previously unknown in medallic format, the portrait was originally executed for incorporation in the now lost Dana plaque (1899), known only from photos. The Society is very proud to add this excellent piece to our collection of Saint-Gaudens’s works. Discussion of this important sample may be found in Robert Hoge’s article in the next issue of the ANS Magazine.

Current Cabinet Activities (Winter 2008)

by Robert Hoge

Following a period of inevitable curtailment due to our recent move to the ANS’s new headquarters, curatorial activities on behalf of members and the public have once more moved into high gear. As usual, we are asked to address a broad spectrum of issues, of which only a few may be offered here by way of illustration of the cabinet’s richness and fascination! Every area of numismatics has something to offer, as I hope these examples show.

The Ancient World

The ANS’s marvelous collections of coinages of the ancient world, as readers of this column are certainly aware, provide an outstanding resource for scholars and publishers. In a recent example, Wendy Cheshire ordered images of a copper drachm of Roman Egypt minted for Faustina Junior (ANS 1944.100.61531), the unusual spouse of the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius (fig. 1), to illustrate a journal article. She also made use of images of several other coins in the cabinet, including an electrotype copy of a Seleucid tetradrachm of Cleopatra Thea from the mint of Akko-Ptolemais, a Roman sestertius of Gaius (Caligula) (fig. 2), and another Egyptian bronze of Faustina (fig. 3).


Fig. 1. Roman Egypt. Faustina II (Augusta AD 145-175). AE drachm, Alexandria, year 12 (of Antoninus: 148/9). Rev. Isis seated r., holding Harpocrates, within distyle temple. Dattari 3311. (ANS 1944.100.61531, bequest of Edward T. Newell) 35 mm.


Fig. 2. Roman Egypt. Faustina II (Augusta AD 145-175). AE drachm, Alexandria, year 15 (of Antoninus: 151/2). Rev. altar of Caesareum. Dattari 3305. (ANS 1944.100.61568, bequest of Edward T. Newell) 35 mm.


Fig. 3. Roman Empire. Gaius (Augustus AD 37-43), AE sestertius, Rome, 37-38. Rev. three sisters of Caligula, in the guise of Securitas, Concordia, and Fortuna. RIC 33. (ANS 1944.100.39337, bequest of Edward T. Newell) 35 mm.

Henry T. Hettger called attention to the Parthian gold coin imitation, found in a grave site, included in the Hidden Treasures of Afghanistan exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C. Dating from the first century BC to the first century AD, it bears an interesting countermark of a Parthian-style portrait, and one cannot help but wonder about its actual use and circulation, however unusual it may be. Another question about an ancient imitation, a late Roman piece, came from correspondent Ahmad Galal.

New York History and Margarita van Varick

Assistant Curator of American Art Marybeth De Filippis and Research Associate Leslie Gerhauser of the New-York Historical Society came to our facilities to review possible items for inclusion in an exciting upcoming exhibit to be featured at the Bard Graduate Center in cooperation with the New-York Historical Society. Planned to open next year, it is being prepared in celebration of the four-hundredth anniversary of the arrival of Henry Hudson on the scene of what was eventually to become New York. The interdisciplinary presentation will explore the relationships between the daily life of the early New Amsterdam/New York settlers and the world of international commerce. It will focus upon the 1696 testamentary inventory of one Margarita van Varick, whose descendant Richard Varick gave the family name to the street upon which the ANS facilities are now situated. A prosperous widow of both an early New Amsterdam officer of the Dutch Reformed Church and a former governor of four of the settlements of the Dutch East India Company, van Varick lived and died in the little frontier village Flatbush (now, and long since, a part of Brooklyn, New York). We will be working with the exhibitors to develop a numismatic component based on the van Varick testamentary inventory itemizations (fig. 4).


Fig. 4. Netherlands. AR marriage and prosperity medal, by Pieter van Abeele (1608-1684), Amsterdam, c. 1660. (ANS 0000.999.59151) 74 mm.

Early American Coppers Convention

At this year’s EAC convention, once again we were able to assist the “Boys of ’94” (fig. 5) in their effort to display a panorama of examples of specific varieties of the United States copper cents minted in 1794, the year of the greatest die variety usage. The focus was on the variety known as Sheldon 35. Interestingly, this is one of the issues for which the inscrutable and nefarious Dr. Sheldon seemingly obfuscated the provenance. The ANS is fortunate to hold four examples of this elusive variety, three of them from the great George Hubbard Clapp collection, of which one was stated by Sheldon to have been “unquestionably the finest known.” The “Boys” were seeking to feature examples of attractive coins that would show all stages of the progressive die breaks that characterize the variety (figs. 6–9).


Fig. 5. United States. 2008 EAC (Early American Coppers) convention, Dallas, Texas. The “Boys of ’94.”


Fig. 6. U.S. cent, 1794, S. 35. Perfect dies. Very dark—almost black—gray-brown patination. There are small marks on the obv.: (1) on neck, (2) on cap, and (3) below E and in r. mid-field. On the rev. there appear several rim “dings” appear around the top, and there are clear die clash marks. AU-50; CC-1. Plate coin in Chapman’s Cents of 1794 (1923). (ANS 1946.143.97, gift of G. H. Clapp, ex Henry C. Miller, 13-14 April 1917, 680; T. Elder; B. Max Mehl, June 1945)


Fig. 7. U.S. cent, 1794, S. 35. Obv. die break from rim through r. serifs of E through head to point of 4; from rim through cap to back of head. Rev. die clash marks. Dark, evenly brown patina, very slightly granular surfaces; small carbon spot in r. field. VF-30+. (ANS 1946.143.98, gift of G. H. Clapp, ex D. Proskey, to V. Brand; to Pearl Coll.)


Fig. 8. U.S. cent, 1794, S. 35. Same obv. die breaks as no. 2, above. Brown patination, some grayish areas; slight marks on cheek. VF-25+. (ANS 1946.143.96, gift of G. H. Clapp, ex E. S. Sears, Oct. 1922)


Fig. 9. U.S. cent, 1794, S. 35. Similar die state. Dark brown patina; miscellaneous “dings” and slight pits on obv.; rev. slightly rough. More worn, but still attractive. F-15. (ANS 1938.127.13, gift of the Defendorf Coll., ex Capt. Wilson)

An 1854-dated Kellogg & Co. San Francisco $20 gold piece, among other coins, was the subject of an inquiry from Paula Washburn, on behalf of her family. Such an interesting and valuable item of historic Americana does not turn up every day. Washburn reported that her coin was indeed gold, but that as a child, sad to say, she had intentionally scratched it. Of course, it is often necessary to submit such specimens to a third-party grading/authentication/encapsulation service to establish that the coin is genuine (and primarily to promote its marketability). Many of our correspondents do not realize that it is not possible to authenticate items from images alone, and that in fact, even if it were so, this is not a service in which the ANS engages. In the ANS collection itself, all the Kellogg 1854 $20 pieces are forgeries or replicas! Fortunately, we have two nice specimens of the 1855-dated issue, including a magnificent example from the Fecht collection (fig. 10), as well as the original dies, passed down through the Kellogg family.


Fig. 10. United States: California. Kellogg and Company, AV 20 dollars, 1855, San Francisco. (ANS 1980.109.2369, bequest of Arthur J. Fecht) 34 mm.

Francisco Silva inquired about the U.S. $100 legal-tender note issue of 1862, of which, unfortunately, the ANS does not own an example. Henry Quezada, on the other hand, wanted to know where he could find information on one-dollar Silver Certificates of the series 1935F, 1957A, and 1957B—more commonplace issues of which the Society does now have nice examples…. And then there was a Mr. Sapkota, from Nepal, who claimed to have found a U.S. $1,000,000 bill and did not care to be informed that no such note exists, insisting instead that he had already received a request for it from another museum, which must have meant that it was valuable. Mark Twain wrote a story about a million-pound banknote. I shall not attempt to go one better than that.

Foreign Exchange and Some Islamic Issues

Jon Blackwell, with COINage magazine, contacted us to obtain background information for preparing an article about coins of the era of Charlemagne: Islamic coins from the ‘Abbasid caliphate, the first papal coins, the coins of England’s King Offa of Mercia, the first Japanese coins, and so forth. Since the publication of the work by curator Henry Grunthal and visiting University of Chicago scholar Karl Morrison, the ANS has become well known as the repository of a fine collection of Carolingian coinages, which were largely developed by Grunthal during his tenure with the Society. The Society is also known to have a reasonably representative assortment of medieval English coins, including an outstanding run of Anglo-Saxon Stycas.

What is less well known to the world at large is the presence in the cabinet of one of the rare Carolingian imitations of the contemporary gold coinage of the ‘Abbasid caliphate (see ANS Magazine, Spring 2005, p. 37). Lutz Ilisch, curator of the Islamic coin collection at Tübingen University, assembled a catalogue and survey of eighth- and ninth-century dinar imitations, the title of which translates as “The Imitative Solidi Mancusi: ‘Arabic’ Gold Coins of Carolingian Times.” Since the famous gold dinar of the Anglian king Offa of Mercia (r. AD 757/8–796) is itself copied from the earlier imitation AH 157 (AD 773/4) prototype, it seems warranted to suppose that the Carolingian issues were minted under the great emperor Charles (r. AD 768–814) sometime between 774 and 796 (fig. 11).


Fig. 11. Carolingian empire (Charlemagne?). AV mancus (dinar), an imitation of a standard mintless dinar issued in AH 157 (AD 773/4) under the ‘Abbasid caliph Al-Mansur. Ilisch Group I. (ANS 1917.215.28, gift of Edward T. Newell from the collection of Prof. Charles Torrey) 18 mm.

Milan Iliev claimed to have discovered a unique gold coin of the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II (1876–1909) and hoped to be able to find more information about it. We are very fortunate to have in the ANS cabinet thirty-four gold pieces (and two counterfeits) of Abdul Hamid II, all part of the marvelous Jem Sultan collection formed by the late William Holburton and donated in 1997 by Olivia G. Lincoln. This collection was the basis for the famous Jem Sultan catalog, one of the leading references for Ottoman numismatics.

Working on a project for National Geographic magazine, Patricia Healy contacted us to obtain images of a Damascus-mint silver dirham of the famous Sultan Al-Nasir Salih al-Din Yusuf I (usually referred to in Christian references as Saladin), founder of the Kurdish Ayyubid dynasty and one of the most renowned leaders of the medieval world. Saladin has been a cultural hero of the Kurds for centuries (fig. 12). Now, in a time when they are beginning to have hopes for a degree of self-rule, his fame may serve the Kurds as a standard of honor and achievement. The ANS coin utilized by Healy is a notable specimen. Using a black-and-white photograph, evidently Paul Balog, in his classic study, erroneously listed this particular coin as a copper fals, assigning it in his catalog no. 143, an issue that does not actually exist. Properly catalogued as a dirham, the coin is really an example of Balog’s no. 93.


Fig. 12. Syria. Salih al-Din Yusuf II (AD 1169-1193). AR dirham, Dimishq (Damascus) mint, AH 583 (AD 1187/8). Balog 93. (ANS 1917.215.1199, gift of Edward T. Newell from the collection of Prof. Charles Torrey) 21 mm.

Nina Sweet, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, referred Dean Marler to us to help try to identify an item he found in the 1970s in the jungle of Borneo. Its images appeared to show an Islamic “pilgrim” token, perhaps from Java or Malaya, or maybe even Borneo itself; there were traces of legends in Arabic script. It would seem probable that a piece like this dates from the nineteenth or twentieth century, since traditional Muslims of longer ago would surely have been less likely to have depicted a living being. In India, such items are generically known as rama-tanka, meaning “temple tokens,” and most of them are Hindu rather than Islamic. For a Muslim, a token of that kind might have represented an offering having to do with a pilgrimage to some holy site, or perhaps even the obligatory hajj, the “once in a lifetime” pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. An important reference for these is Irwin F. Brotman’s A Guide to the Temple Tokens of India, and items of this kind are also covered by Dr. Michael Mitchiner in his monumental publications on Oriental coins. (See the issue discussed in the Summer 2007 issue of this column.)

Some Medallic Miscellany

Referred to us by former ANS curator Dr. Alan M. Stahl, now in charge of the numismatic collections at Princeton University, Joan Piper contacted us with questions regarding one of the works by the great twentieth-century medalist Karl Goetz: his 1914 issue mocking the arrival at Marseilles of Indian and African troops in support of the Allies near the beginning of World War I (fig. 13). This is one of the series sometimes considered offensive in its racist caricaturing.


Fig. 13. Germany. Satirical-commemorative of the arrival of allied troops at Marseilles, AE medal by Karl Goetz, 1914. Kienast 138. (ANS 1979.38.192, Gift of Ira, Lawrence and Mark Goldberg) 58 mm.

Goetz used his considerable talent and energy to cast bas-relief aspersions on the enemies of his fatherland, often with evocative if controversial results. His famous medal alluding to the sinking of the Lusitania was perhaps the best-known example. While not as overtly racist as some of his other works, the “Marseilles” medal delivers an unflattering depiction of the British imperialist and his exotic foreign minions. The tartan-clad giant Brit appears to be scooping up the excrement of the Indian elephant on the reverse, with the expression ALL RIGHT! WEITER ZUM KRIEGSSCHUPLATZ (“Forward to the battlefield”).

Casey J. Terwilliger contacted us in the course of wondering about a medal inherited from his grandfather, a World War II veteran. This item, naming the prominent Dutch Renaissance scholar Desiderius Erasmus, matched a specimen in the ANS cabinet (fig. 14). Terwilliger had been able to learn of the presence of this specimen in the collection, as is now so often the case, by virtue of our vast online database. This specimen includes, as its obverse, a facing portrait of the humanist scholar, l., with the oddly displayed legend E/ RAS/ MVS/ RO/ TE/ RO/ DA/ MVS/ 14/ 69/ 19/ 69 around. On the reverse is a hand holding a quill pen, with the legend NON/ EST/ CONSTANTIA/ SEMPER/ EADEM/ LOQVI,/ SED/ SEMPER/ EODEM/ PERTENDERE (a quotation from Erasmus, “Constancy is not always to say the same thing, but always to persist in the same thing”). Five hundred specimens of this medal are said to have been issued.


Fig. 14. Netherlands. Commemorative AE medal celebrating the quincentennial of the birth of Desiderius Erasmus, by J. C. H., Dutch mint, 1969. (ANS 2001.11.89, gift of Donald Oresman) 50.4 mm.

Gerrit Gerritszoon—Erasmus—was the illegitimate son of one Roger Gerard, who became a priest, and a girl named Margaret, his housekeeper. Desiderius/Gerrit was probably born in 1469, as stated on the medal (or perhaps it was in 1466 or 1467), in Rotterdam, where he spent his early years (or possibly he was born in Gouda, where his father became a curate). Following the untimely death of his parents by bubonic plague, the young Desiderius/Gerrit received a monastic education and gained a reputation for his brilliant classical scholarship. Due to poverty, he reluctantly lived the monastic life and took holy orders but was then, on account of his exceptional abilities in Latin, given a position as secretary to the bishop of Cambray. With the bishop’s support, he was eventually able to pursue higher education, studying and teaching at the universities of Paris, Louvain, Cambridge, Turin, and Basel. Earning the distinction of being given a dispensation, by Pope Leo X, to depart from monastic rule, he lived as an independent scholar, though he was offered a number of esteemed academic positions.

Erasmus traveled very widely for his time and had many important friends and correspondents. One of the foremost critics of the abuses of the Catholic Church at the beginning of the Reformation, Erasmus nevertheless remained a loyal adherent due largely to his devotion to the concept of free will, which other early Protestant religious leaders typically rejected in favor of the idea that the destiny of the soul is preordained. He became internationally famous for his classical learning, his wit, and the quality of his writing, and is acclaimed today as the foremost exponent of Christian humanism.

A prolific writer, Erasmus prepared new editions of the New Testament in Greek and Latin, improving the style of St. Jerome’s vulgate. He was the author of many other works as well, perhaps the best known and most influential of which is his 1511 Stultitiae Laus (“The Praise of Folly”). Written in England, this phenomenal bestseller was originally entitled, in Greek, Morias Encomion—whereby the word for the “silliness” being commended can also be taken as a punning reference to the name of Erasmus’s English friend and companion, Renaissance man Sir Thomas More—the “man for all seasons”—with whom he was staying at the time.

The “Rock of Europe”

At the point where the Bosphorus reaches its narrowest point (about 660 meters) stands Rumeli Hisarı (“Rock of Europe”)—the Castle of Rumelia—built in 1452 by the Ottoman Turkish sultan Muhammad II, “the Conqueror” (Fatih Mehmet). He designed and constructed this vast achievement in military architecture the year before he used it to help conquer Constantinople. The fortress itself was said to have been actually situated on the location where the great Persian king Darius had supposedly reviewed his armies marching into Europe to chastise and conquer the Hellenes in classical antiquity. A fine example of medieval fortification, the edifice was designed to function in cooperation with Anadolu Hisar, the older castle on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, to cut off the Constantinopolitan communication lifelines to the Black Sea. One of Rumeli Hisarı’s old names was Boğaz-kesen: “cutter of the strait”—also translated as “cutter of the throat”!

A 1958 Turkish medal commemorating the restoration of the vast old fortress—a major European cultural project—was the subject of a recent inquiry due to the presence in the ANS cabinet of an example donated some years ago by my late friend Bill Spengler. The medal, issued in several metals and sizes, features on its obverse the turbaned bust of Muhammad II (Mehmet Fatih), r., with the legend FATİH SULTAN MEHMET/ 1430–1481. The reverse legend reads RUMELİ HİSARININ RESTORASYON HATIRASI/ 1958 (“In remembrance of the restoration of the Rumeli Hisar, 1958”) and shows a fine depiction of the walls, gates, and towers of the fortress (fig. 15).


Fig. 15. Turkey. Rumeli Hisarı restoration AE commemorative medal, 1958. (ANS 1969.169.2, gift of William F. Spengler) 77 mm.

After the fall of the city, the Rumeli Hisarı enjoyed no further real importance and reverted to secondary functions, later falling into ruin despite several repair campaigns. Its north tower became notorious as a prison—on occasion used especially for members of foreign embassies. Altogether, the castle spanned a steep valley with two tall towers on opposite hills and a third at the bottom of the valley, at the water’s edge, where a sea gate is protected by a barbican. A curtain wall, defended by three smaller towers, joined the three major ones, forming an irregular figure some 250 meters long by 125 broad at its maximum dimension. It is this projection of the fortress’s appearance that figures on the medal struck to commemorate the completion of the immense restoration effort that culminated in the reopening of the monument as a public attraction in 1958, with its museum opening to the public in 1960. The sultan himself selected the site of the Rumeli Hisarı, drew the general plan of the castle, and spent much time supervising the labor of the workmen he had collected for this purpose from the various provinces of his empire. Supposedly erected in only 120 days, it was possibly the first European fortress constructed with a view toward taking advantage of cannon. From the top of its three gigantic, octagonal/circular towers, the Ottomans could fire at long range, while a battery of cannon on the shore of the Bosporus could hit at close range any ship attempting to attack the fortress. The historical importance of the fort is underscored by Turkish president Celal Bayar’s selection of three talented pioneering female Turkish architects, Cahide Tamer, Selma Emler, and Mualla Anhegger-Eyüboğlu, to design and oversee the restoration project, which lasted five years.

Diocese of Philadelphia

An inquiry from Father Ed Brady, a priest with the Diocese of Philadelphia, involved a medal donated by a parishioner, a commemorative of the centennial of the Diocese dating from 1908 (fig. 16). The corresponding specimen in the ANS cabinet demonstrates that the medal is a product of the famous Newark, New Jersey, firm of Whitehead and Hoag, somewhat notorious in medallic-sculpture circles for routinely not having included recognition of its corps of artists on their products. Besides the groundbreaking articles some years ago by Eleaine Leotti, little has been published to date on this important body of work. (Medals author D. Wayne Johnson has been compiling a study of the works of this company, which will surely be a boon to researchers.)


Fig. 16. United States: Pennsylvania. Catholic Diocese of Philadelphia AE centennial commemorative medal, Whitehead and Hoag, 1908. (ANS 0000.999.45997) 51 mm.

Come for a Visit!

As the American Numismatic Society settles into its new home on Varick Street, we hope all members will come for a visit and to say “hello!” Our new, well-appointed facilities will be better able to serve researchers’ needs than ever before. And, as a reminder, we are again “up and running” to provide photography and other services for those who are not able to visit to conduct their inquiries in person.

Bibliography

Balog, Paul. The coinage of the Ayyubids. London: Royal Numismatic Society, 1980.

Chapman, Samuel Hudson. The United States cents of the year 1794. Philadelphia: S. H. Chapman, 1923.

Dattari, Giovanni. Monette imperiali greche. Numi Augg. Alexandrini catalogo della collezione G. Dattari, comp. dal proprietario. 2 vols. Cairo: Tip. dell’instituto francese d’archeologia orientale, 1901.

Ilisch, Lutz. Die imitativen solidi mancusi: “Arabische” Goldmünzen der Karolingerzeit. In Fundamenta Historiae: Geschichte im Spiegel der Numismatik und ihrer Nachbarwissenschaften: Festschrift für Niklot Klüßendorf zum 60. Geburtstag am 10. Februar 2004, ed. Reiner Cunz, 91–106. Veröffentlichungen der urgeschichtlichen Sammlungen des Landesmuseums zu Hannover 51. Neustadt an der Aisch: Verlagsdruckerei Schmidt, 2004.

Kienast, Gunter W. The medals of Karl Goetz. Cleveland, Ohio: The Artus Company, 1967.

Leotti, Elaine J. Artists who worked for Whitehead & Hoag. The medallist 6, no. 3 (December 1989): 4–8; The medallist 6, no. 4 (March 1990): 1–5; The medallist 7, no. 1 (June 1990): 2–8; The medallist 7, no. 2 (September 1990), 5–7.

RIC = Roman Imperial Coinage. Vol. 1, from 31 BC to AD 69. Rev. ed. by C. H. V. Sutherland; ed. C. H. V. Sutherland and R. A. G. Carson. London: Spink & Son, 1984.

Sheldon, William H., with the collaboration of H. K. Downing and M. H. Sheldon. Early American cents, 1793–1814: An exercise in descriptive classification with tables of rarity and value. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1949.

http://www.austro-hungarian-army.co.uk/signum.htm.

Library News (Winter 2008)

by Elizabeth Hahn

Readers are likely aware of the many changes that have been occurring at the ANS throughout 2008. In March of this year, our librarian, Francis D. Campbell, retired, leaving behind him a lifetime’s worth of work devoted to expanding and enriching the ANS library collection. In the Spring 2008 issue, a tribute to Frank Campbell looked at the library and Frank’s devotion to building up an outstanding collection that stands as a world-class numismatic library. I am pleased to have the opportunity to step in and be in charge of that collection.

Shortly after Frank’s retirement, the ANS moved to its new location at 75 Varick Street. The relocation of the library (with over 100,000 items, including books, periodicals, pamphlet files, and a card catalog) was one of the more exciting challenges of the move. Despite the quantity of items—and the infancy of my own recent appointment—the library found its way smoothly to its new home. Before delving into some of the details of what the future holds for the ANS’s library, I believe that introductions are in order. And so I begin with a summary of the road that led me to the ANS.

Librarian, Archaeologist, Numismatist

As of July 1, 2008, I took up the position of Librarian at the ANS. My previous three years of employment were in the Greek and Roman Art Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where I worked with curators on different research projects and spent a great deal of time in the various libraries of the museum. I am first and foremost a librarian, and while in New York, I completed a Master of Science in Library and Information Science from Long Island University, with concentrations in rare books and special collections and a certificate in archives. With these intellectual pursuits in mind, I was especially pleased to learn about the extensive rare book collection at the ANS and I look forward to exploring in more depth this part of the library.

My previous training is both as an archaeologist and a numismatist, and I have spent a good portion of my life researching and working in libraries and museums as well as working onsite at various archaeological excavations worldwide. I have a Master of Arts degree in maritime archaeology and history from the University of Bristol and a Master of Arts degree in classical art and archaeology from the University of Virginia. I have worked on a variety of excavations both on land and underwater in Sicily, Israel, and North America, and I spent a summer working at the Numismatic Museum in Athens, Greece, an experience that paved the way for my future involvement in numismatics. A love of languages has also made me feel at home in this field, and I can claim fluency in Italian, along with a reading knowledge of German, French, ancient Greek, and Latin.

The Road to the ANS

My relationship with the ANS over the years has paralleled the different moves of the Society. My first encounter with the Society came in 2003, when I was researching the coinage of Taras and made the trip uptown to Audubon Terrace to meet with curator Peter van Alfen. In 2005, I conducted my second trip, which was to the Fulton Street building, where I once again met with curators and discussed research for my Master’s thesis on the Greek coinage of Sicily and southern Italy. My third trip was the charm, and I find myself here now on a permanent basis at the new site at 75 Varick. And so, having used the ANS resources in the past, I am especially thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of how those resources develop in the future.

I am fortunate to come into a position where the collection is as large as it is exceptional and the staffpeople are as friendly as they are knowledgeable. In addition to the physical involvement of removing items from boxes, I have absorbed myself in learning the unique organization of the collection, which now has the advantage of being located all on the same floor. That the library is a vital and important part of the Society was clear during the move, when it was encouraging to see that all members of the staff became involved at one point or another in making sure the library found its way safely to its new home.

Future Plans and Projects

Visitors to the Harry W. Bass Jr. Library will find the comforts of the old space and the promise of continuing developments and growth into the new space. Visitors will be accommodated with a comfortable reading room where computer terminals and simple guides in the form of plans and aisle/shelf listings will be available to anyone wishing for a quick orientation to the collection. For the time being, the organization of the library collections will retain, as closely as possible, its original subject divisions. But in a world where technology is constantly evolving, it is important to keep up with those changes and to convey to ANS members and the public what resources exist and how they can be used and updated. The challenges of adopting an appropriate classification scheme for a library as specialized as that of the ANS means that careful thought and planning will go in to all future organizational decisions.

In addition to making me aware of the richness and depth of the library collection, the recent move has also allowed me the satisfaction of taking note of some particularly interesting items. Portions of future columns will highlight parts of the collection and discuss items that come to my attention. In addition, I will occasionally note new acquisitions, which will also be featured in special “new arrivals” section of the library before their integration into the collection. As well as highlighting certain items here in the magazine, those items, or similar ones, will be on display in the library as part of exhibits that may at times relate to concurrent coin exhibitions.

The library is always a work in progress, and thanks to the dedication of the ANS staff and part-time workers and volunteers, more progress is just around the corner. I’m happy to report that it took less than a month for everything to find a home on the shelves (including almost five hundred boxes of rare books alone!), and although there remains much to do in the way of organization, the library already is being used by staff and visitors alike. My thanks go out to the ANS staff, who have made me feel at home in my position from day one. I express deep gratitude as well to the part-time staff and volunteers, who moved around numerous boxes and lifted countless books onto the shelves. It is a great honor to be part of the staff of the American Numismatic Society, and I will aim to do my best in keeping in touch with tradition while keeping up with technology.


ANS librarian Elizabeth Hahn

From the Executive Director (Winter 2008)

by Ute Wartenberg Kagan

Dear Members and Friends,

We are happy to present our magazine’s new look, with our first issue published at our headquarters at 75 Varick Street. For many years we had planned to work on our stationery, signage, donor plaques, and many other issues, and the occasion of our move prompted us to act. With the help of the designer Rocco Piscatello, we undertook a complete revision of our design aesthetic. Those of you who consult the ANS Web sites will have noticed our redesign, which we introduced in October of last year. The idea behind the new ANS image was for a streamlined look to everything we do: we want to be able to design our own invitations, change our Web site content easily, and create a magazine that is clear to read and beautiful to look at. The redesign of the ANS Magazine Web site (http://ansmagazine.com) will be our next project. Thanks to volunteer and ANS Fellow Ed Snible, the magazine’s many valuable articles have been online for over a year.

The move to our new headquarters went amazingly smoothly. We are now settled in our new home, and many of our members have been enjoying our regular lecture programs, the library, and collections. The new gallery, which currently displays “One Hundred Years of Solicitude: Collecting by the New York Numismatic Club,” is an excellent space for small, specialized exhibitions. The next issue of the ANS Magazine will have some photos of the ANS’s new surroundings.

This year, we will have a full program of lectures both in New York and elsewhere. In late January, Luke Syson from the National Gallery in London will deliver a lecture on medals. In February, the ANS will award the J. Sanford Saltus Award for outstanding achievement in the art of the medal to the British artist Ron Dutton. Further monthly lectures are planned, and we will keep you posted about them. Our Web site has a calendar, which lists all events. Next month, you should receive your American Journal of Numismatics, the 150th anniversary edition! In this issue of over 600 pages, twenty-eight leading scholars in the field of numismatics have written some truly outstanding articles, many of which are destined to become standard pieces in the field. I have no doubt that this issue will be much in demand, and you might want to sign up for this volume even if you usually do not receive our journal.

In this letter, I also want to encourage all our readers to consider a subscription for another of our journals, the Colonial Newsletter. Edited by Gary Trudgen, it is the authoritative journal for colonial numismatics, now in its forty-eighth year of distribution. Although I am not a specialist in this field, I learn much from the articles, many of which are written by great collectors and scholars of American colonial history. For this year, we have lowered the price of our annual subscription to the Colonial Newsletter, as we want more ANS members to enjoy this important publication. If you are interested in receiving a free trial copy of a recent issue or subscribing to the next set of issues, please let us know.

In closing I want to point to our cover of this issue, which shows the exhausted Don Quixote on his famous horse Rocinante. In the last few months, we have been doing our utmost to save the Huntington collection of Spanish coins, which was on loan to us from the Hispanic Society of America for almost half a century. In January of last year, the trustees of the HSA announced that they were selling the collection and recalled the loan. Many members and scholars have written to us about this case, and the article in this issue is an appeal to all of you to help rescue one of the greatest collections in the United States. To this day, we hope that the trustees of the HSA will, like Don Quixote, recover their senses and return to a more enlightened view of their collections by reconsidering their decision to sell them.

Sincerely,
Ute Wartenberg Kagan
Executive Director, ANS

Coin Collecting at Cambridge

by Christian Cloke

Home to one of the great coin collections of Europe, the Department of Coins and Medals at the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge University, England) is also a fascinating case study in private and institutional collecting through time.


Fig. 1. Fitzwilliam Museum Main Entrance (after cleaning).

The Fitzwilliam Museum, one of the oldest public museums in England, was founded in 1816 by Richard, seventh Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion, “for the purpose of promoting the increase of learning and the other great objects of that noble Foundation” (Hall 1982, 6). Viscount Fitzwilliam’s initial bequest included sheet music, paintings, books, manuscripts, and prints, as well as the money to build the museum itself. Construction began in 1837, and the museum opened its doors in 1848.


Fig. 2. The Fitzwilliam Museum on Trumpington Street, Cambridge, England.

During the nineteenth century, the Fitzwilliam had little money and made few purchases. Thus the museum’s early character came to be shaped predominantly by donations: “its collections display the changing tastes of English connoisseurs since the eighteenth century” (Hall 1982, 6). The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries brought to the museum a series of influential directors, including Sidney Colvin (1876–1884), the first director; J. H. Middleton (1889–1893), who appealed for bequests from outside sources and first used the museum’s coins in undergraduate lectures; and M. R. James (1893–1908), who donated many coins to the Department over the years.

Although it was during the tenures of these early directors that the museum’s coin collection at last flourished, the university at large had been amassing coins gradually since the sixteenth century. The university collection started with a 1589 bequest by Andrew Perne, Master of Peterhouse (College), which was followed shortly by a bequest of Own Mayfield, then mayor of the city, in 1686 (Pollard 1980, 41). The next substantial donation consisted of numerous Roman coins given by Roger Gale of Trinity College in 1744. Despite extant catalogues of the Perne and Gale collections, “the University took no serious interest in its numismatic collections” before the nineteenth century (Pollard 1980, 41). In fact, nearly all the collections “had fallen into disorder by the early eighteenth century” (Grierson and Blackburn 1986, 393).

Roman coins formed a considerable part of the Perne and Gale bequests, but the colleges and university prior to the mid-1800s had only “a meager and unconnected assortment” of Greek coins, in the words of Churchill Babington, a member of the Museum Syndicate and the University’s Disney Professor of Archaeology (Pollard 1980, 42). A late-eighteenth-century catalogue of the university collections recorded just over four hundred Roman, thirty Greek, sixty medieval English, and one hundred sixteenth- and seventeenth-century continental coins (Grierson and Blackburn 1986, 393).


Fig. 3. Philip Grierson, medieval historian, numismatist, benefactor, and the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Honorary Keeper of Coins since 1949, died on January 15, 2006, aged 95.

This all changed in February 1864, with the £5,000 purchase of Col. William Martin Leake’s considerable collection. Leake (1777–1860), a renowned Greek topographer, provided the university with a collection of Greek coins, gems, and numismatic books out of which a “serious interest in the collecting of coins began” in earnest (Pollard 1980, 43). Babington strongly advocated this purchase, urging also that “the Colleges should deposit their own holdings of coins and medals so that uniform series could be created in the Museum,” in the hope that private gifts would follow (Pollard 1980, 43). On Babington’s advice, the university’s old coin collections (then housed in the university library) came to the Fitzwilliam in 1856, so that at last the core of a Department of Coins and Medals had been created.

During the second half of the nineteenth century, the Rev. W. G. Searle of Queens’ College conducted the first serious research on the collections, “planning a detailed work on European medieval and modern coinage” and donating his own collection of 12,000 ancient, medieval, and modern coins to the Department in 1899 (Grierson and Blackburn 1986, 394). Made Honorary Keeper of Coins and Medals in 1909, Searle immediately began to keep detailed accession registers, continuing to oversee considerable growth in the Department’s ancient collections until his death in 1913. S. W. Grose succeeded Searle, preparing a catalogue of the 1912 bequest of 10,078 mostly Greek coins by J. R. McClean, MA Trinity College. Much of Grose’s work, however, was interrupted due to the First World War, during which few new coins came into the department (Pollard 1980, 47).


Fig. 4. Rev. W. G. Searle.

The museum’s new director, the most influential in its history, kept the Fitzwilliam Museum and its Department of Coins and Medals moving forward during those difficult years. Sir Sydney Cockerell (director from 1908 to 1937) changed the institution radically. Cockerell founded the Friends of the Fitzwilliam in 1909, “the first organization of its kind in the country,” in order to raise funds for purchases; its effects are seen in the accessions registers from this year onward, littered with mentions of the society (Hall 1982, 6).

Indeed, the homegrown element of the collection has always been notable. From the centralization of the university collections in 1856 through the first half of the twentieth century, the lion’s share of growth in the collection was due to Cambridge affiliates. Well-to-do faculty, staff, and students were eager to give back in the typical fashion of nineteenth-century gentlemen and women, their names appearing in the register on numerous accessions. Over the years, coins poured in from such notable donors as Sir John Evans, KCB, DCL (1823–1908), archaeologist and numismatist. One of the foremost British archaeologists of his time, and father of Sir Arthur Evans of Knossian fame, the elder Evans was a distinguished scholar and recipient of an honorary ScD from Cambridge in 1890. Evans made a large donation to the Fitzwilliam of 633 excavated and thirty-five other coins in 1906; his attention to the Fitzwilliam during his last years shows the growing reputation of the institution and its increased efforts to make the coin collection the basis for serious scholarship and teaching.

In 1937 and 1938, the Museum Syndicate asked all of the university’s colleges to deposit their remaining collections in the Fitzwilliam. The museum received coins from Trinity (6,000), St. John’s (1,265 plus 1,235 from the Bromsall collection), Gonville and Caius (1,194), Christ’s (430), and Emmanuel (150) Colleges (Pollard 1980, 42). All the university’s coins now reside in the Department, following the recent deposit of the Lewis Coin Collection in Corpus Christi College, formed by S. S. Lewis (1836–1891), and a collection held by Queens’, which apparently was formed around the turn of the twentieth century (Grierson and Blackburn 1986, 398).

From 1949, Philip Grierson was made the museum’s Honorary Keeper of Coins (a position he held for fifty-six years), conducting extensive research on the collection, particularly the medieval holdings. Harold Mattingly, returning to his alma mater from the British Museum, organized the Fitzwilliam’s Roman coinage from 1950 to 1953, commenting in 1956 that “although the range and quality of Roman collections was admirable they did not warrant substantial publication” (Pollard 1980, 50). On Grierson’s death in 2006, he bequeathed to the museum his renowned collection of medieval European coins and his library. This, together with the earlier acquisitions of Christopher Blunt’s English coins and Bill Conte’s Norman coins, has given the Fitzwilliam the finest collection of medieval coins in existence.

Since 1961, members of the Department have taught from the collection, and of the Department’s modern goals, Pollard (1980, 50–51) writes, “the staff attempt to buy coins in areas of the collection which are subject to use for teaching, are in process of publication, or are simply inadequately represented.” This policy has continued under Pollard’s successors as keepers, Ted Buttrey (1988–1991) and Mark Blackburn (1991–). In the last twenty years, the collection has grown by more than 70,000 items.

Ancient Greek coins remain the largest segment of the collection, now totaling roughly 35,000 pieces. Medieval (22,000 continental, 7,000 from the British Isles) and Roman (25,000) coins are not far behind. The Department’s holdings also include Celtic, Byzantine, pre-Islamic Iranian, Islamic, Indian, Far Eastern, and modern (British, European, and world) coins, as well as coin weights, forgeries, and electrotypes, coin casts, paper money, credit and telephone cards, tokens, jetons, medals and plaquettes, wax models, seal matrices, and seal impressions. In all, the Department holds around 200,000 pieces, in addition to a substantial numismatic library.

The Fitzwilliam’s holdings themselves are impressive, with great potential for future and current researchers. Just as significant, however, is the long-standing tradition and record of the collection, which has coalesced over the years from a variety of sources. It is highly instructive of past collection practices, both private and institutional. The collection’s history traces changing academic attitudes toward coinage and the rise in serious numismatic scholarship at one of the world’s great institutions.


Fig. 5. The first page of Roger Gale’s 1743 catalog.


Fig. 6. The second page of Roger Gale’s 1743 catalog.

Maximum Effort: The ANS Moves to Varick Street

by Peter van Alfen and Alan Roche

Practice makes perfect, or so the saying goes. For the second time in four years, the ANS staff moved 12,000 trays of coins and over 100,000 volumes of books, plus all of the furniture, computers, supplies, and ancillary hardware that keep the Society up and running. While the previous move went smoothly, this move was a model of efficiency, planning, and hard work on the part of the entire staff. Here for your enjoyment are some photos from moving day.


Farewell to the Groves Building


The architects plan the new space


The NYPD stands guard as the collections leave 140 William Street


Curatorial Assistant Sylvia Karges takes stock of library duplicates for the auction


Jonathan Torn and Sylvia Karges survey the 450 crates containing the collections


Peter van Alfen, Rick Witschonke, and Taras Pevny plan the move


ANS Librarian Elizabeth Hahn readies the new library


Elena Stolyarik and Scott Young bring the collection home


Curator Robert Hoge wheels part of the collection into 75 Varick


Success! The end of a long, hard day

Better Late Than Never

Better Late Than Never: Newell Manuscript Finally Published

by Rick Witschonke

The 2008 volume of the American Journal of Numismatics contains an article by Edward T. Newell, the former ANS president and benefactor who died in 1941. The article provides a detailed catalogue of the coins found in archeological excavations at Beisan in Israel. How this article finally came to be published is in itself a fascinating and illuminating story.


Fig. 1. Howland Wood, Edward T. Newell, and William Clark (L–R).

The City

The site known in Newell’s day as Beisan has had many names over the centuries. It is mentioned in the Bible (Joshua 17:11, Judges 1:27) as Beth Shean, and in the Hellenistic and Roman periods it was known as Nysa-Scythopolis. It is also referred to as Bit-sani, Bati-shar, and Tell el-Husn, the Mound of the Fortress. Today it has again taken on its ancient name: Beth Shean. The site is thirty-five miles east of Haifa and fifty miles north of Jerusalem. The location is strategic, standing at the crossroads of the only lowland route from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River and a major north-south trade route. Eighteen occupation levels have been identified by excavators, dating from the Neolithic (4500 BC) to the twelfth century AD, including three centuries of New Kingdom Egyptian occupation. The importance of the city is indicated by the fact that, in the first century AD, it rivaled Jerusalem in size. Excavations over the past nine decades have revealed temples, bathhouses, an amphitheater, an odeon, a nymphaeum, a colonnaded pool, a basilica, a synagogue, a monastery, and a large cemetery with graves dating from 2500 BC to the Byzantine period, as well as many important artifacts. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in AD 749 but recovered slowly and persisted into the early Islamic period.

The Excavations

In the spring of 1919, the site was visited by George B. Gordon and Clarence S. Fisher of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. The mound was, at that point, overgrown with brush and presumably archeologically virgin. It must have looked promising, because the university began digging in 1921 and continued until 1933, first under Fisher and later under Alan Rowe and Gerald M. FitzGerald. This was the first of a series of Near Eastern excavations undertaken by the Museum (fig. 2). More recently, excavations at Beth Shean have continued under the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which offers an excellent Web site on the excavations: http://rehov.org/project/tel_beth_shean.htm.


Fig. 2. University of Pennsylvania Museum Near Eastern excavation sites (1921-1981).


Fig. 3. The mound at Beth Shean.

A number of articles and monographs on the Beth Shean excavations have appeared under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Fisher wrote a summary of the 1921–1923 seasons (1923); Fitzgerald covered the Arab and Byzantine levels from the 1921–1923 seasons (1931), the 1931 season (1932), and the monastery (1939); and Rowe published on the topography and history (1930) and the Canaanite temples (1940). More recently, Frances W. James and Patrick E. McGovern have published on the late bronze Egyptian garrison (1993), and Eliot Braun on FitzGerald’s deep cut on the tell (2004).

The Coins

Clearly, coins of various periods were found throughout the excavations. In FitzGerald’s 1931 work dealing with the 1921–1923 seasons, he describes a total of forty-two coins, including a hoard of twenty Ptolemaic silver tetradrachms. From this point onward, the coins seem to have accumulated in the museum, awaiting cleaning, identification, and publication.

Sometime between 1931 and 1935, the sixty-three coins found in the 1930 season were sent to Newell at the ANS for attribution and cataloging. They were presumably sent by Arthur Tobler, assistant curator of the Palestinian section of the museum (since we know that Tobler was involved with the second and third groups). Newell produced a typescript catalog of the coins (Beisan I) and sent it to Tobler, always retaining a copy. For this first part, we also have a manuscript copy, which was written on stationery from a hotel in Atlantic City (fig. 4), perhaps while Newell was on vacation. Then, in the summer of 1935, Tobler sent Newell another 124 coins from the 1929–1932 seasons, which Newell also cataloged (Beisan II). Finally, on February 1, 1936, a further seventy-four coins, representing finds from the cemetery, were sent and cataloged (Beisan III).


Fig. 4. First page of Newell’s Beisan I manuscript.

In Fitzgerald’s 1939 work on the monastery, he published a group of ten Byzantine gold coins (which had not been sent to Newell) as well as sixteen bronze coins, for which he utilizes Newell’s cataloging verbatim, and includes “Notes (by Mr. Newell),” all from Beisan I. With the exception of these sixteen pieces, not one of the 261 coins Newell cataloged has been published up until now.

Edward T. Newell

Newell was one of the greatest numismatists of his time. He took over the presidency of the ANS in 1916 at age thirty and held it for twenty-five years, until his untimely death in 1941. During this period, he authored twenty-six books (one posthumous) and twenty-six articles (not counting AJN 2008). He also catalogued and published the coins from two other excavations: Alishar Hüyük (1930–1932) and Megiddo (1924–1925), both sponsored by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. In addition, he meticulously catalogued his own collection of eighty-seven thousand coins (which now form the core of the ANS ancient trays), traveled widely, and ran the ANS on a day-to-day basis. His productivity staggers the imagination; one wonders if he worked himself to death.

Although Newell is probably best known for his work on the Hellenistic coinages of Alexander and his successors, his scholarly and collecting interests were catholic, embracing the entire ancient world. It is difficult to find a tray of ancient coins in the ANS collection where some of the most important and interesting coins are not ex Newell. His breadth is reflected in the broad range of coins from Beisan he was able to catalogue: Greek, Nabataen, Roman imperial, Roman provincial, Byzantine, Islamic, and Armenian. Like most excavation coins, those from Beisan were largely in deplorable condition. Yet, for example, Newell was able to attribute the coin from Beisan II shown in fig. 5 as follows:

II.19 Nicomedia, Constantius II, 337–361 A.D., issued between 333 and 337 A.D., AE 16, 1.4g. Obverse: FL IVL CONSTANTIVS NOB C. Laureate, draped bust r. Reverse: GLORIA EXERCITVS. Military standard flanked by two soldiers. In the exergue, SMN-. Reference: Cohen VII, p.455, no. 92.


Fig. 5. Example of coin from Beisan II.

And he was amazingly fast: we know it took him only three weeks to complete the cataloging of the seventy-four coins in Beisan III.

The Typescripts

When Newell died in 1941, the originals of his three Beisan typescripts were in the hands of the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and his copies were filed among Newell’s personal papers; these went to his widow, Adra, who kept them until her death in 1966. The Newell estate executors allowed the ANS to retain any of Newell’s papers, and George C. Miles, then executive director and chief curator, made the selection. Apparently, Miles selected all of Newell’s notebooks, manuscripts (including the three Beisan typescript copies), some correspondence, and anything else of scholarly interest. Unfortunately, he did not choose to retain the bulk of Newell’s correspondence files, and they were presumably destroyed, thus limiting our view of Newell’s tenure.

Upon examining the Newell papers, Miles was apparently curious about the fate of the Beisan typescripts, so on July 1, 1967, he wrote to the University of Pennsylvania Museum registrar, enquiring as to whether they had been published (fig. 6). On July 6, the museum responded, indicating that they had the typescripts but that they had not been published. On July 13, Miles wrote thanking the museum, asking to be kept informed. Thus, after disappearing for thirty-one years, the typescripts surfaced briefly, only to disappear again for another forty. When Miles retired in 1972, his papers, now including the Newell Beisan typescripts, were carefully stored in the ANS archives. For the past several years, ANS archivist Joe Ciccone has been slowly cataloging these papers, and in the fall of 2007 he came across the Beisan typescripts among the Miles papers. Recognizing their scholarly importance, he brought them to the attention of the curators.


Fig. 6. Miles’s 1967 letter to the University Museum.

In November, 2007, the ANS contacted Richard Zettler, associate curator-in-charge, and Shannon White, keeper, in the Near Eastern section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum, enquiring about the Newell typescripts and their publication status. Dr. Zettler responded, indicating that the typescripts had not been published, and he offered their cooperation in accomplishing this objective. In January, ANS photographer Alan Roche (fig. 7) and the author visited the museum and spent two days examining, weighing, and photographing the coins, assisted by Shannon White (fig. 8) and Museum Registrar Chrisso Boulis. In addition, we contacted Rachel Barkay, author of the definitive reference on the coinage on Nysa-Scythopolis, soliciting her advice on the project. Thus, thanks to the efforts of a diverse group of people over a period of seventy-two years, the project has finally been realized. Newell would certainly be pleased that, on the 150th anniversary of the ANS, the coins he labored over nearly seventy-five years ago are finally to be published.


Fig. 7. Alan Roche preparing to photograph coins at the University Museum.


Fig. 8. Shannon White and Rick Witschonke.

Thanks are due to Joe Ciccone, ANS Archivist, for his help in preparing this article and for discovering and recognizing the importance of the Newell typescripts.