Double Eagle Trouble

by David Enders Tripp

From June 21 through July 3, the United States Mint exhibited at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York the 1933 Double Eagle; this fabled coin, for a week joined the remarkable numismatic treasures included in the American Numismatic Society’s Drachmas, Doubloons & Dollars display which opened January 16th to widespread acclaim.

The 1933 Double Eagle is a coin which has been discussed and debated, often in hushed tones, for more than a half century. Its survival is the result of malfeasance by employees of the United States Mint; it has been the subject of an intense Secret Service investigation; discussions at the highest levels of the State Department and no less than four separate and complex legal proceedings.

But the history surrounding the 1933 Double Eagle has been largely misunderstood, and its legal status misinterpreted. This has been as a result of the relative inaccessibility of the relevant documentation and the repetition of more than 50 years of oral tradition, often taking on the aspects of an “urban myth” as the story was embellished or simply poorly reported. Only recently, as a result of a unique settlement in which the United States Government will allow private ownership of a single example, has the veil been lifted with the details finally coming into focus.

The five years of litigation concerning the example displayed at the Fed were in fact a boon for numismatists and historians alike, for the process of discovery brought to light a wealth of documentation which turned the traditional, oft-repeated, legend on its head. In fact prior to the recent legal actions, there was no story to tell: the 1933 Double Eagle was simply a coin which had somehow been blacklisted by the United States Government; it could not be legally owned-full stop. The “story” was more about its legal status, pro and con, than about its actual history.

It is a history which is rich in detail; populated by fascinating characters and accented by ironic twists and turns of fate which made a mundane twenty-dollar gold piece into one of the single most enigmatic and fascinating coins ever made.

A Brief History of the 1933 Double Eagle

In March 1933 the United States economy teetered precariously on the edge total collapse; the Great Depression had a stranglehold on America—it was a crisis of confidence which affected both the pocketbook and the psyche of the common man. It was onto this stage which Franklin Delano Roosevelt stepped, indeed it was this malaise which paved his road to the White House.

Gold has long been regarded by man as the one constant; the immutable magic metal that has been consistently valued for millennia. In 1933 that allure held, and there was little confidence in any currency but gold. Withdrawals from banks were acute, hoarding was rampant, while massive quantities were being bought by foreign governments and shipped abroad.

In one of his first acts as president, FDR on March 6, 1933 issued Presidential Proclamation 2039. It declared a Bank holiday, and effectively began to wean the United States off the gold standard. Hoarding of gold was forbidden, banks were prohibited from paying out gold, and the Secretary of the Treasury instructed Mint Director Robert J. Grant to send word to all the United States Mints that: “During the continuance of such bank holiday unless otherwise directed you are requested to instruct all mints and assay offices to pay out gold in any form only under license issued by the Secretary of the Treasury.”

Three days later, on March 9th, the Banking Holiday was extended at the pleasure of the president, while Congress met and ratified his actions. The ban on hoarding was taken seriously by the law abiding public and virtually overnight long lines formed as citizens turned their gold back to the government.

It was during this maelstrom of political activity that the first 1933 Double Eagles were struck—March 15, 1933; on that day 25,000 were delivered to the Cashier of the Mint from the Coiner. Over the next two months, as Presidential Proclamation followed Executive Order further refining the ban on gold ownership, an additional 420,500 Double Eagles were struck. None, however, could be paid out as no license to do so was ever issued by the Secretary of the Treasury—they were coins in name only.

A handful did leave the Mint legally however. On the date of each of the ten deliveries to the Cashier, two coins were sent to the Bureau of the Mint in Washington, D.C. for testing; all twenty of these coins were destroyed in the process. As well, in February 1934, 446 examples were submitted to the Annual Assay Commission; nine coins were selected for testing, and they too were destroyed—the remaining 437 were returned to the Cashier of the Philadelphia Mint. Finally on October 9, 1934 two specimens were sent to the Smithsonian Institution for inclusion in the National Coin Collection.

The remaining coins were all officially accounted for as being stored at the Mint in Philadelphia—the records are remarkably specific—until early February 1937 when the melting of the entire mintage began.

Ten days later in mid-February 1937, the first 1933 Double Eagles began to appear in the numismatic marketplace—it can be no coincidence.

Over the next two years an unknown quantity of 1933 Double Eagles entered into commerce—all very quietly, all emanating from the same source. No alarms were raised, as the government was under the impression that the entire, unissued, mintage had been accounted for—destroyed or deposited in the Smithsonian. In 1941, one example was advertised in The Numismatist, but it went unnoticed in official quarters. It was not until 1944, that a string of events—closely timed—catapulted the 1933 Double Eagle onto a “Most Wanted” list, and into the mainstream of numismatic consciousness.

Timing is Everything farouk

On February 23, 1944, the legendary numismatic entrepreneur B. Max Mehl, sold a 1933 Double Eagle to King Farouk of Egypt for an unknown sum. Two days later a representative from the Egyptian Royal Legation brought the coin to the Treasury in Washington, D.C. to apply for an Export License. This was in strict adherence with the Gold Reserve Act of 1934; as King Farouk was such a passionate collector of coins it was probably not the first time his representatives had gone through this procedure.
The coin was physically sent to the Smithsonian, with a request from Mint Director Nellie Tayloe Ross to ascertain that the coin met with the criteria that “…it was of recognized special value to collectors…immediately prior to December 28, 1933 [and]…immediately prior to the issuance of the Executive order of April 5, 1933.” The coin was shown to Smithsonian Curator of History, Theodore Belote who, on the spot, confirmed that it met the requirements for a License to be issued.

Accordingly on February 29, 1944, Export License TGL-11-170 was issued. The coin was picked up from the Treasury on March 11th and ultimately made its way into the remarkable collection housed by the Egyptian King in Koubbeh Palace, Cairo.

telegram The telegram that lit the fuse: Leland Howard’s inquiry to the Superintendent of the Philadelphia Mint.

A mere week later, March 18, 1944, in response to an inquiry from the Coin and Stamp writer for the New York Herald Tribune, Acting Mint Director Leland Howard sent a telegram to the Superintendent of the Philadelphia Mint asking if any 1933 Double Eagles were ever paid out. He asked for an immediate response as he had been told of an upcoming auction in New York.

The reply he received, that none had been paid out, started a chain reaction that has spanned more than a half century. On March 22, 1944, he informed the Head of the United States Secret Service of the illegal nature of the coin and two days later Special Agents arrived at the offices of Stack’s in New York, where they seized the 1933 Double Eagle which had been due to be sold the next day as part of the Colonel James Flanagan auction. It was only the first seizure. By the end of March 25th , the Secret Service already had three in hand. And the investigation widened.

In Washington, D.C., during the next week, the mistaken issuance of the Export License to King Farouk was discovered. Leland Howard, on March 30th wrote to the Chief of the Secret Service that Belote did not have the information as to whether or not the coins had been issued. Moreover, as the Smithsonian had two examples, “Mr. Belote may have been under the impression that they had been paid out…”

The U.S. Mint records were very detailed. This 1931 $20 piece was sent to the ANS.

And so, within a five week period, a 1933 Double Eagle was “legally” exported; the illegal nature of the coins’ existence was subsequently discovered; examples were seized, the mistakenly issued Export License was acknowledged and moves were begun to correct the error.

Treasury Secretary Woodin’s memo to the Mint Director, banning pay out of gold without specific license.

The Secret Service investigation, launched on March 22, 1944, not only began the seizures, but also meticulously traced the origin of the coins. The road led back to the Mint. The former Head Cashier was the only man who had access to the coins. He was also a man who had been fired from the Mint and served a year in prison in 1940 for exactly the same sort of embezzlement of uncurrent silver coins (a crime which under the original Mint Act of April 2, 1792 would have been punishable by death [Section 19]).

There was also a common thread outside the Mint. The admitted source of every known example was a jeweler and “old gold” dealer in Philadelphia. Although the Secret Service wished to prosecute, the statue of limitations had run out and the alleged malefactors were never tried. The coins however, remained stolen property, and were relentlessly pursued. By mid-1945 all but one of the known examples was in Government custody. Another, previously unknown, was voluntarily surrendered in 1952 (by Louis Eliasberg), leaving only the tenth coin outstanding—the Farouk coin in Egypt.

Sporadic attempts were made to recover the coin, but a World War, a tense situation in the Middle East, and an important ally took precedence over the return of a single coin. When, in 1952, Farouk was overthrown by a group of colonels led by Gamal Abdal Nasser, the Treasury again made an attempt to recover its property. This time the State Department acted on their behalf, and succeeded insofar as getting the coin withdrawn from the Sotheby’s auction of Farouk’s coin astonishing collection. But State failed to effect the return of the coin—it disappeared and into history it faded.

Forty-two years later a 1933 Double Eagle, was seized from an English coin dealer attempting to sell it in New York City by Secret Service agents. In the ensuing five-year legal battle over the coin, sworn depositions identified it as the one once belonging to King Farouk. It was this legal battle that opened the vaults of history and which has revealed a hitherto unknown chapter in American numismatics—all about an ordinary coin with an extraordinary story.

Obituary: Herbert A. Cahn, 1915-2002

by Ute Wartenberg

On April 5 of this year Herbert A. Cahn died unexpectedly at the age of 87. Both an academic and a dealer, he was one of the most distinguished numismatists of the 20th century. Born on January 27, 1915 in Frankfurt, he became interested in numismatics early in his youth. During his student days in the Goethegymnasium he worked for the well-known coin dealer Adolph E. Cahn. His first article on an unpublished denarius of Septimius Severus appeared in 1929 when Cahn was only 14 years old. Published not long after, one of his first catalogs, the sale of the collection of Republican coins of E.J. Haeberlin, likewise shows his amazing talent at an early age. Following his graduation from gymnasium, he enrolled at Frankfurt University in archaeology, ancient history and Classical philology; he left Nazi Germany in 1933 and emigrated to Switzerland. With his brother Erich, he founded the dealership Münzhandlung Basel, which exists to the present day under the name of Münzen und Medaillen AG. In later years, Cahn’s interests turned increasingly towards Classical antiquities and he became, together with his son Jean-David, one of the most renowned antiquities dealers in Europe.

His love for coins and the field of numismatics was not restricted to the commercial field. In 1940, Cahn completed his dissertation on the coinage of Naxos, which was published a few years later under the title Die Münzen der sizilischen Stadt Naxos. Ein Beitrag zur Kunstgeschichte des griechischen Westen. This work, one of the most important die-studies of Greek numismatics, shows Cahn’s strongly art-historical approach at its best. Later publications include a book on the coinage of the island of Knidos in the sixth and fifth centuries BC, many articles on ancient coins, medals and antiquities. From 1965 on Cahn taught at the University of Heidelberg, where he received in 1971 the title of honorary professor. His activities as editor, writer, organizer, and initiator of many organizations have left a lasting legacy.

Cahn joined the ANS in 1936 and was made a Corresponding Member in 1977. He received in 1983 the ANS’s Huntington Award in recognition of his substantial contribution to the field of numismatics.

Herbert was both a renowned numismatist and more importantly a true gentleman and will be dearly missed by all who knew him.

Review: Dictionnaire de numismatique

Michel Amandry, Michel Dhénin, Michel Popoff, François Thierry and Christophe Vellet. Dictionnaire de numismatique. Paris: Larousse/Her, 2001. 620 pp., b/w illus. Hb. ISBN 2-03-505076-6. €42.

The twentieth century has seen a number of important dictionaries devoted to various aspects of the field of numismatics. However, the new Dictionnaire de numismatique is the first general numismatic dictionary to appear in the French language since M. Migne published his Dictionnaire de numismatique et de sigillographie religieuses in 1852. As such there could be no better team for its creation than the current authors, all curators of the collections maintained in the Cabinet des médailles de Bibliothèque nationale de France, one of the truly great European coin cabinets.

Although, as the dust jacket notes, the dictionary does provide a general overview of “les notions necessaries à la comprehension et aux plaisirs de la numismatique,” M. Amandry warns readers in his Foreword (p. vii) that the coverage of the work is not exhaustive; some items have been omitted by design and others out of a need to keep the book down to a reasonable page length. Thus, the authors have tried to focus the dictionary entries on five major areas: the mints and coinages of feudal and royal France, the most important monetary systems of the pre-modern world, the currencies of modern countries, technical numismatic terminology, and the great numismatists. The more than 5000 entries included in the dictionary range in length from encyclopaedic discussions of socio-cultural topics and geographical areas, such as “Greques (monnaies)” or “Dauphiné”, to brief definitions composed of a few sentences. The vast majority of the listings fall somewhere in between the two extremes.

A number of entries are worthy of special note for the extreme detail of the information that they include, although most of these include encyclopaedic discussion. The most obvious example is probably the entry for “États de l’Église”, which not only gives a brief overview of the coinage of the Papal States, but over the course of 22 pages lists every Papal issue (including full details of mint, metal and diameter) from Boniface VIII (1294-1303) to Pius IX (1846-1878) as well as the issues of the four Antipopes. The coinages of the twentieth century Popes are also listed in this manner under the entry “Vatican”. This style of entry is also used for “Espagne” where every issue from Charles V (1516-1556) to the Francist Period (1939-1975) is listed, “Milan”, where every coinage from Azzone Visconti (1329-1339) to Victor-Emanuel II (1861-1878) is listed, “Naples et Deux-Siciles (royaume de)”, where every issue from Charles I d’Anjou (1266-1285) to Ferdinand II (1830-1859) is listed, and “Portugal”, where the authors have indicated every coinage from Alphonse I (1128-1383) to the Carnation Revolution of 1974. The entry for “Saint Empire romain germanique” is also especially remarkable. Although it does not list every issue produced in the Holy Roman Empire (an immense task), it does provide the full details of membership for the ten administrative circles established by Maximilian I in 1512, which continued to form the basis for Imperial organization until the unification of the German state.

Recognizing the particular importance of their work to the French numismatic community, the authors have treated the coinages of medieval and early modern France with much more detail than they might have received in an English, German or Italian language numismatic dictionary. The encyclopaedic entries devoted to the duchies and counties of the French feudal period are especially remarkable for the detail of their information. Every region, from Anjou to Touraine, is represented with historical overviews of the various local rulers and their coinages, making these entries especially useful as points of departure for deeper research into the monetary history of medieval France. These listings account for a little more than half of all of the dictionary’s encyclopaedia-style entries, the remainder of which are devoted to the numismatic history of larger states from the middle ages to modern times (i.e. “Espagne”, “Chinoises (monnaies)”, etc.) or the periods of antiquity (i.e. “Greques (monnaies)”, “Romaines (monnaies)”, “Byzantines (monnaies)”, etc.).

Ancient and early medieval French subjects are very well represented through the encyclopaedic entries for “Gauloises (monnaies)”, “Merovingiennes (monnaies)” and “Carolingiennes (monnaies)”, and shorter listings for the Frankish kings (i.e. “Pépin le Bref”, “Charlemagne” etc.) as well as the numerous western European Celtic tribes and rulers (i.e. “Vercingetorix”, “Cadurqes”, “Atrébates” etc.) who issued coins. Unfortunately, entries dealing with the coinage of the contemporary British Celts, including the popular issues of the Eceni tribe and Cunobelin (Shakespeare’s Cymbeline), are largely absent from the dictionary.

The early modern and modern periods of French numismatic history also receive a high level of treatment through the inclusion of entries for ancien regime institutions, such as the “Cour de Monnaies” and the “general provincial”, and modern institutions and developments, such as the “Banque de France”, the “Office Indochinois de Changes (OIC)”, “SEL (Système d’échange local)” and even the “trafic des piastres” scandal of the early 1950s. A further indication of the forethought of the editors is that the alphabetic mint-marks (“letter(s) d’atelier”) of the various French regional mints receive their own entries. For example, under “BB” we learn that this was the mark of Strasbourg from 1693 to 1870. Similarly, if we look under “G” we discover that this mark represented Poitiers from 1540 to 1772 and Geneva from 1799 to 1805. The usefulness of such information for students of French coinage virtually goes without saying.

Although there is certainly a special emphasis on French monetary and financial history throughout, the entries concerning pre-modern monetary systems and denominations, which make up the bulk of the dictionary, are impressively broad in their scope and interest. “Les systèmes monétaires anciens les plus importants,” such as the “denier”, the “ducat” and the “thaler”, are selected for extensive coverage, because of their international status or influence on later monetary developments. Such important coinages often receive a general description of their types and the circumstances of their introduction, followed by an exhaustive listing of their varieties. For example, under the denomination heading “ducat”, the reader can find all 14 varieties of the ducat, primarily differentiated by the saints who appear on their reverses. However, the authors do not limit themselves to the great coinages of Europe from antiquity to the early modern period, but also covering most coinages and currency used in different parts of the world at various times. The entries range from the well known and influential, such as the “wuzhu” of ancient China or the “dirhem” of the medieval Islamic states, to the obscure and ephemeral, such as the “card money” issued by the colonial authorities in French Canada in 1685 and the “blob” money of nineteenth century Ceylon. Larger encyclopaedic entries (i.e. “Romaines (monnaies)”, “Chinoises (monnaies)”, “Arabes (monnaies)” etc.) dealing with particular regions or periods offer an historical framework for the various individual denomination listings. Although most major areas are covered in this manner, an encyclopaedic entry would have been helpful for Africa, with its host of interesting local media of exchange, and perhaps the Americas. Nevertheless, the Dictionnaire de numismatique is truly a conucopiae of coin denominations, with something to interest both the specialist and the neophyte. The usefulness of the book as a reference is fairly obvious, but it is also enjoyable and educational to sit down with it, allow it open where it may, and simply read an entry or two.

Every modern country has its own listing in the dictionary with a short description of the various denominations currently used in each. The denominations themselves also receive brief entries identifying the country or countries in which they are used and providing the names for any fractional denominations. In some cases it might have been useful to expand these entries by one or two sentences in order to offer some insight into the historical importance of some of the modern denominational names. For example “pruta” is identified as the fraction of the Israeli lirah from 1949 to 1958, but there is no mention that the name was derived from the ancient Jewish prutah, a denomination struck in abundance by the Hasmonean kings and the factions of the First Revolt against Rome. Similarly, the entry for “kuna”, the main denomination of Croatia after 1994, fails to mention the origin of the name as a Slavic term for the marten pelts frequently used as a medium of exchange in the medieval period. Curiously, these very animal furs and their function in late medieval Slavic economies are described under the separate entry, “kouna”, without any cross-reference to the “kuna” listing.

The large number of technical terms for stylistic features (e.g. “cliché”, “encastrement” etc.) and the equipment used in coin production (e.g. “balancier”, “coin” etc.), as well as fiscal processes (e.g. “démonétisation”, “cours forcé” etc.), included in the dictionary also make the work an important handbook of French numismatic terminology. Although these entries, as well as the larger listings for “numismate” and “numismatiqe”, will be of use to anyone interested in the science of numismatics, they are particularly helpful to researchers, for whom French may not be their mother tongue. Technical numismatic terms are rarely treated well, if at all, in translation dictionaries or even standard French language dictionaries, thereby making the Dictionnaire de numismatique an invaluable reference when reading other numismatic books and articles written in French.

The entries devoted to important figures in numismatics are primarily limited to the great numismatic scholars and notable collectors of Europe in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Obvious for inclusion in this category are Ernest Babelon, Friedrich Imhoof-Blumer and Barclay Head. There is even an entry for “Cabinet (des médailles)” which provides an interesting history of the institution from the eighteenth century to modern times. The only non-European figure singled-out as one of the great numismatists is Fubao Ding, the father of the scientific study of Chinese coinage. To some degree these listings must reflect the personal heroes of the authors and therefore they should be forgiven for omitting figures that others might have included. For example, the present reviewer would have included the American, E.T. Newell, for his pioneering studies of Seleucid, Alexandrine and other Hellenistic coinages. However, greatness is always a subjective quality. Entries for the infamous counterfeiters, Carl Wilhelm Becker and Constantin Christodoulos, are also included because of the great impact that their forgeries have had on both museum and private collections.

In addition to the great numismatists, listings are provided for a few notable die engravers, such as Augustin Dupré, famous for the types used on the Libertas Americana medals and the Hercules types of the French Republic, Nicolas Briot, well-known for the design of crowns and half-crowns under Charles I of England, and a host of engravers from Greek Sicily who signed their dies in the fifth century BC. Again, the group could, and perhaps should have been, expanded to include a larger sample of the world’s great medallic artists. From an American perspective, surely Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the celebrated redesigner of the US eagle and double eagle, if not Ephraim Brasher, famous for his early doubloon designs, can reasonably be classed with the likes of Dupré and Briot. No doubt many others from different countries are also worthy of inclusion in this category of entries.

Over five hundred black and white photographs throughout the book admirably illustrate the various coins, paper money, and related objects described in the entries. Although most of the photographs depict individual pieces in some cases several examples of important or especially interesting denominations are shown together in order to illustrate their development over time or in different regions. The pictures (pp. 508-509) associated with the entry for “rouble” present a visual history of the denomination from its origin as a stamped silver ingot to a modern coin. Likewise, the illustrations (p. 455) for “piastre” show the various forms of the denomination in different regions and periods including the Papal States of the sixteenth century, the Spanish American colonies of the seventeenth century and British Cyprus and the Ottoman Empire of the nineteenth century. Similar groups of photographs used to illustrate the development of denominations are provided with the entries for “denier”, “ducat”, “états de l’église”, “florin”, “franc”, “hardi”, “imitations”, “klippe”, “pistole” and “thaler”. This sort of visual organization served as an inspiration for some of the displays in the American Numismatic Society’s current Drachmas, Doubloons and Dollars exhibit. It should be added that not only do the images in Dictionnaire de numismatique provide attractive examples of the items described in the text, but they also represent a tantalizing sample of the fine material contained in the holdings of the Cabinet des médailles de Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Despite the omissions that are almost unavoidable in a work of this kind, Dictionnaire de numismatique admirably fills the need for an up-to-date French language general numismatic dictionary and offers something for everyone, whether a student of the money of feudal France, an enthusiast of ancient Roman coins, or a collector of modern currency. The work does what any good dictionary should do: While informing the reader through its entries, it also instils a desire to learn even more. There can be very little doubt that Dictionnaire de numismatique has accomplished the goals set for it by the authors and that they have indeed rendered a valuable service to a large public of “étudiants, de chercheurs, de collectioneurs, de passionnés d’histoire (p. vii).” It is hoped by this reviewer that through works of this kind even some members of the general public, who fall into none of the above categories, may find some small “passion de numismatique” in themselves, not unlike that which burns inside all of us.

—Oliver D. Hoover

Review: Alexandrian Coins

Keith Emmett. Alexandrian Coins. Lodi, Wisconsin: Cleo’s Cabinet, 2001. 332 pp., b/w illus., 13 line drawn pls., 5 maps. Hb. ISBN 1879080052. $50.00.

There can be little doubt that Alexandrian Coins is an important work for the student of the Roman provincial coinage of Egypt, representing, as it does, the first serious attempt to list all known Alexandrian types since J. Vogt published his monumental Die alexandrinischen Münzen in 1924. Keith Emmett now provides numismatists with a new catalogue of 8340 Alexandrian and nome coins, including the lead and glass tokens, as well as the regular billon, potin, and bronze issues, based on data compiled from the major published collections and auction catalogues. Even material in the unpublished, but important, collections of the Royal Ontario Museum and the American Numismatic Society is included. The comprehensive nature of the catalogue will certainly recommend itself to those interested in Alexandrian coins. Indeed, almost as soon as the book was published, many dealers specializing in the coinage of Roman Egypt had already adopted Emmett’s numbering system. This fact alone will make the work extremely important to collectors of the series.

Nevertheless, Alexandrian Coins is not a book for beginners. The three paragraphs (p. xii) devoted to the history of Roman Egypt and the special currency of its closed economy are not really enough to provide a decent overview to any reader unfamiliar with the great complexities of the Roman administration and coinage in Egypt. Those seeking greater detail will still need to refer to the introduction in J.G. Milne’s Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins (1927) or to the discussion in E. Christiansen’s The Roman Coins of Alexandria (1988) and the ongoing volumes of Roman Provincial Coinage. However, Emmett’s remarks concerning the nome coinage (p. xv) do a good job of putting these interesting local issues into context. It is unfortunate that no space in the introduction is given over to commentary on the lead and glass tokens, whose true purpose is still somewhat uncertain.

In addition to the very brief historical and numismatic discussion, the bulk of the introduction is dedicated to presenting the reader with basic tools for interpreting the coins of Alexandria. Emmett describes the system of Egyptian regnal years in some detail and includes tables for both the Greek alphabetic numbering system and the expanded written forms of the various regnal years (pp. xii-xiii). Tables also indicate the diameters and weights of all known Alexandrian denominations including the early issues of Augustus, based on the earlier Ptolemaic model, and the unusual issues of Claudius, Aurelian and Domitius Domitianus (p. xiv). An overview of portrait types, described using a slightly expanded version of Milne’s alphanumeric abbreviation system, as well as the iconography of personifications and deities is provided to aid the reader in identifying coins more fully.

As the book was written with the collector in mind, the author felt obliged to include some sort index for gauging the rarity of the coins, but wisely avoided assigning market values to them. Emmett employs a scale of 1 (common) to 5 (extremely rare), but, as always, the real meaning of such values is vague. “A coin assigned a rarity value of 5 would likely be found in only one or two of the published major Alexandrian collections (p. xvii),” but even within the elite group of coins with a 5 rating, some are rarer than others. Let us take for example, one of this reviewer’s favourite rare Alexandrian reverse types: the Sarapis bust above giant foot issues of Hadrian (E1029) Antoninus Pius (E1653, E1803), Marcus Aurelius (E2173, E2254), Commodus (E2614) and Septimius Severus (E2715). All of these examples of the type are assigned a value of 5 as an indicator of their great scarcity, however, the ANS collection contains two specimens of Antoninus Pius (E1653) (one of which is currently on public display in the ANS exhibit of Drachmas, Doubloons and Dollars), but only one of Septimius Severus (E2715), presumably E1653 is more common among the rare types than E2715. Of course, the chances of collectors finding either of these types on the market are very slim. Perhaps a more useful guide to rarity, which could benefit both collector and scholar, would have been to simply indicate the coin population for each type based on the author’s wide research.

The real meat of Alexandrian Coins appears in the 231 pages of tables describing the thousands of types compiled by the author. These tables are organized chronologically by emperor and associated family members and include the nome coinage when it was issued. The types of each emperor and relative who had coins struck in his or her name at the Alexandrian mint are treated in two tables. The first indicates by regnal year (and series in the case of Augustus and Livia) the type of portrait employed for each denomination, while the second provides a numbered list of reverse types with rarity ratings. An additional table is also included for Augustus in order to chart the years and denominations for which no obverse portraits were used. Separate tables appear at the end of the main coinage listings to describe the largely anonymous lead and glass issues.

Although this tabular cataloguing system is certainly functional and the data contained in it is important, the absence of any introductory commentary on its proper use and its eclectic organization may cause some confusion. Each obverse portrait table is printed with an abbreviation legend to aid the reader in understanding the contents. Thus, for example, according to the legend accompanying the table for Lucius Verus (p. 101), an entry for copper drachms of year 5 labelled “RlbLl” indicates that right facing bare headed (Rb) and laureate portraits (Rl), as well as left facing laureate portraits (Ll) were used for this issue and year. However, at the same time a general listing of portrait types, using Milne’s alphanumeric abbreviation system is given for the reign. It is unclear why Emmett’s new abbreviations are necessary, since Milne’s abbreviations, with which most students of Alexandrian coinage will already be familiar, convey the same information along with additional details of bust depiction. Returning to the example of Verus’ year 5 drachms, it would have been more efficient to simply mark the appropriate Milne abbreviations. As the tables currently stand, it is impossible for the reader to know whether Rl refers to Milne’s b (=head r., laureate), b2 (=head r., laureate, drapery by neck), k (=bust r., laureate, wearing cloak and cuirass) or all of them. Asterisks are also used in the portrait tables to designate “unusual” items (e.g. tetradrachms of Verus’ eighth and ninth regnal year), but there is no further explanation, either in the introduction or in the legends, as to what makes them so unusual.

The reverse type tables are far more useful. Here, every reverse type known from Emmett’s extensive study of published collections and sale catalogues is presented in descending order of denomination and then alphabetical order by type. Each type in turn can be cross-indexed with regnal years in order to determine its date of mintage and rarity value. The compilation and presentation of this information in one place is a real service to both scholars and collectors, and one for which the author should be congratulated. It is a far simpler matter to look up a particular type when the information has been collected in one place, rather than hunting through Sylloges and other catalogues of individual collections. The data is occasionally marred by errors in description, such as the direction of Nike on the diobols and obols of Augustus (E35 and E40) or the different known portrait types of Philip II (p. 173), as well as typographical mistakes, but an errata sheet available from the author corrects these problems.

The inclusion of items in the unpublished ANS and ROM collections is also an important feature of Emmett’s catalogue, although the descriptions of these pieces should be treated with some care. Descriptions of the ANS coins are based solely on those that appear in the Society’s online database (, and not on visual confirmation of the types by the author (p. viii). The failure to take a firsthand look at these coins is a little surprising, considering the Society’s traditional welcoming policy towards scholars and collectors wishing to visit the collection. Similarly, the author did not personally inspect the coins in the Royal Ontario Museum. Thus there is some possibility that these descriptions may contain inaccuracies or lack details that would have been caught through a visual review.

Readers should be warned that the tables are not always organized as one might expect, with the portrait table for a given emperor immediately followed by the table listing his reverse types. Instead, several portrait tables are often grouped together on a single page with the reverse type tables following after in chronological order. Likewise, it is unclear why the section on the lead coinage begins with an inserted “preliminary” list (pp. 219-220) of issues linked to specific emperors that fails to follow the tabular format otherwise used throughout the work. Admittedly, these are relatively minor annoyances, but they detract from the professional appearance of the work.

Although the book does not have as many photographic plates as the quantity and complexity of the material in the catalogue would warrant, the photographs that do appear are of stellar quality, both with respect to lighting and to the preservation of the coins photographed. The excellence of the images should come as little surprise, since they were provided by well-known dealers like Classical Numismatic Group, Dr. Busso Peus, and Freeman and Sear. Seven pages of photographs are devoted to particular themes, such as numismatic representations of the Pharos lighthouse (p. xxviii), depictions of Sarapis (p. 74D), and the special Zodiac and Heracles types of Antoninus Pius (pp. 74A-B), as well as a selection of other interesting reverses (pp. 74C, 118A-B). These are supplemented by thirteen plates of line drawings taken from F. Feuerdent’s Collections di Demetrio. Numismatique. Égypte ancienne. II. Domination romaine (1872) and V. Langlois’ Numismatique de Nomes d’Égypte sous l’administration romaine (1852). However, for most modern numismatists line drawings are a poor substitute for photographs. A photographic image of each emperor, taken from an Alexandrian coin, appears at the beginning of his or her respective obverse type table. The remainder of the photographs depicting some of the more impressive mythological and religious reverse types are sprinkled throughout the catalogue as insets accompanied by explanatory text.

Readers should be especially cautious about accepting many of Emmett’s interpretations of various mythological types in some of the insets. The majority of the explanations are based on the monolithic “lunar” and “myth-and-ritual” interpretive theory of Robert Graves’ The Greek Myths (1955), which has been heavily criticized by more recent classical scholars (e.g. see M. Reinhold, Past and Present (1972), p. 14 for the difficulties of Graves’ position and F. Graf, Greek Mythology (1993) pp. 35-56 for the general problems of universal mythological interpretations). Very few mainstream scholars would now support the view that the labours of Heracles (p. 74B) and Orpheus’ musical power over animals (p. 79) represent the archetype of prehistoric near eastern “sacred kings” and their ritual authority over the seasons. Likewise, Barbara Walker’s The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects (1988), which the author cites for an (erroneous) etymology of the divine name “Triptolemos” (p. 49), has never been considered an authoritative source for the study of mythology. Her extreme feminist and neo-pagan reinterpretations of Greek myth are best ignored in a serious work.

The overall tabular format with fairly minimal photographic plates used by Alexandrian Coins stands firmly in the old tradition of Alexandrian catalogues as exemplified by Milne and others. Indeed, the use of a Courier font, similar to that employed by older typewriters, for the tables and a more standard Roman font for the introductory text and descriptions of photo insets, seems to be a purposeful stylistic homage to James Curtis’ The Tetradrachms of Roman Egypt (1957), in which the tables were printed as they came from the typewriter without any reformatting to make them match the typeface of the introductory text. The single coin portraits that appear at the start of each obverse type table are also reminiscent of the imperial Rogues’ Gallery at the beginning of Curtis’ work, although as mentioned above, Emmett’s images are far superior in quality.

While the desire to follow in the footsteps of earlier respected Alexandrian scholars is certainly laudable, the strict adherence to their format, which was often dictated by a lack of funding, holds Alexandrian Coins back from being the invaluable reference for the coinage of Roman Egypt that it could be. In the opinion of this reviewer, the greatest benefit to collectors and scholars of Alexandrian coins would be the development of a general type catalogue that looks to the models of more recent works on the local coinages of the Roman Empire, such as M. and K. Prieur’s The Syro-Phoenician Tetradrachms (2000) and the Roman Provincial Coinage series. These books not only provide detailed textual catalogues of types, but also go to great lengths to ensure that a photographic example of each of the types described appears in the plates. Their authors and editors realize that written descriptions are limited in what they can convey to the reader about the features of an individual coin and that thorough plates are needed to illustrate the vagaries of style and fabric. The plates and accompanying discussion in conjunction with a thorough catalogue provide complete coverage for a given series and serve as a useful tool for future researchers. Emmett has done much of the important legwork in compiling the basic list of Alexandrian types known from collections and public sales. This is half the battle won for a truly comprehensive type catalogue. It is hoped that upon this foundation others may build with a view to completing the victory.

—Oliver D. Hoover

Review: Jebel Khalid on the Euphrates

G.W. Clarke, P.J. Connor, L. Crewe, B. Frohlich, H. Jackson, J. Littleton, C.E.V. Nixon, M. O’Hea and D. Steele. Jebel Khalid on the Euphrates: Report on Excavations 1986-1996. Volume 1. Mediterranean Archaeology Supplement 5. Sydney, 2002. 335 pp., illus., 8 color and 51 b/w pls. Hb. $115.00. ISBN 0-9580265-0-5.

Some readers may be surprised to see a work not strictly devoted to a numismatic subject reviewed in these pages. However, in this reviewer’s opinion it is often worthwhile for us to step back for a moment from our respective SNGs, BMCs, and RICs and take a good look at the big picture of ancient numismatics and its place in the general study of antiquity. This first volume of excavation reports on the Hellenistic fortified site of Jebel Khalid does an admirable job of providing just such a view. Not only does the book include an important chapter by C.E.V. Nixon (pp. 292-335), which catalogues and discusses the 317 coins found on the site in light of comparative data from contemporary sites like Dura Europus and Antioch-on-the-Orontes, but by placing the coins alongside chapters on architectural remains, pottery, and other small finds it highlights the place of numismatics in a larger web of information. Each strand in the web is important and serves to strengthen the others, but, as many of the non-numismatic chapters show, it is often the coins that help to focus the evidence provided by the other finds.

Like the vista of the Euphrates valley that spreads out before the viewer looking down from the heights of Jebel Khalid’s natural acropolis, the authors provide an overview of four major areas of excavation in the first four chapters. G.W. Clarke describes the discoveries made in “The North-West Tower” (with the late P.J. Connor, pp. 1-16), “The Main Gate” (pp. 17-24), “The Governor’s Palace, Acropolis” (pp. 25-48), while J. Littleton and B. Frohlich chart the “Excavations of the Cemetery — 1996 and 1997” (pp. 49-70) with an “Appendix: Inventory of Graves Excavated in 1996 and 1997” (pp. 71-100) by H. Jackson and J. Littleton.

The chapters primarily concerned with architectural remains especially illustrate the interrelated web of archaeological information and the important place of coins in it. For example, through comparison with other Hellenistic horseshoe-shaped towers (pp. 6-7) and gateways flanked by rectangular towers (pp. 22-23), Clarke argues that the North-West Tower and Main Gate of Jebel Khalid should probably be dated to the early third century BC, perhaps around 280. This view is supported in turn by construction level deposits of early Hellenistic pottery and, in the case of the Main Gate, by several coins of Antiochus I.

Not only do the coins help to date the period of construction and original use of the various buildings, but they also provide some insight into the subsequent history of the site. Like many ancient sites, Jebel Khalid is pockmarked by “robber pits” (pits dug in antiquity for the removal of stone architectural components for reuse elsewhere). Because coins found in conjunction with these archaeological features are almost all Roman bronze issues of the fourth century AD or later (pp. 34, 37 and 40) we have some idea when the remains were being reused.

In addition to dating the secondary use of material from “robber pits”, coin finds are also important for dating a period of reoccupation at Jebel Khalid. Lack of wooden remains, roofing tiles and nails in appropriate quantities in the excavated fortifications and the Governor’s Palace, combined with the presence of rough fieldstone walls not part of the original construction have all suggested that the site was systematically abandoned, although some reoccupation also took place. The pottery and associated coin finds (the latest datable coins in the reoccupation areas are issues of Antiochus VIII and IX) indicate that the process of abandonment and reoccupation occurred in the early first century BC.

Unfortunately, numismatic evidence helps little in our understanding of the ancient cemetery. Out of the material discovered in the 42 excavated graves only a single bronze coin of Antiochus VII was found. Here, the pottery remains, including fish plates, bowls and large jars, along with a few additional small finds, must serve to provide a general Hellenistic date for the burials in the cemetery.

One criticism of the excavation report chapters as a group is that major excavation areas are discussed with the sole exception of the Domestic Quarter. Although it has been omitted because the excavation of the area is not yet complete (p. vii), some preliminary discussion or at least a current plan would have been useful to help the reader to understand the Domestic Quarter finds in their proper context. The area is explicitly referred to in H. Jackson’s chapter on “The Lamps from the Domestic Quarter” (pp. 147-200) and plays an important role in Nixon’s statistical analysis of the coin finds. Material from the Domestic Quarter is also mentioned in most of the other chapters on small finds.

Following the chapters on the excavations of the North-West Tower, the Main Gate, the Governor’s Palace and the Cemetery are nine chapters dedicated to the several classes of small finds. Of these, Nixon’s “The Coins” will be of most interest to numismatists for obvious reasons. This chapter is divided into two main sections: an introductory discussion of the coins and their contribution to our understanding of chronology and the lives of Jebel Khalid’s ancient inhabitants (pp. 291-303) and a descriptive catalogue of the excavation coins (pp. 305-325).

Only a very few refinements could be made to improve the detail of the Seleucid portion of the catalogue, but none would change the overall picture of Antioch as the main source of coinage at Jebel Khalid (pp. 298-300). For example, nos. 86-87, bronze issues of Demetrius II with portrait/anchor types, attributed by Houghton to an uncertain north Syrian mint, and which Nixon suggests may have been located near Jebel Khalid (p. 312), should now be attributed to Seleucia-in-Pieria through the association of their types with a drachm series and a unique tetradrachm in the ANS collection (O. Hoover, “A Unique Tetradrachm of Demetrius II Nikator at Seleucia-in-Pieria,” AJN 12 (2000), pp. 102-107). The mints, and in some cases, the rulers, responsible for the unidentified serrate Seleucid (nos. 93-94) coins may also be narrowed down by comparing their sizes and weights with those of known serrate issues. Thus it becomes apparent that no. 98 (10-11mm) can only be a portrait/standing goddess issue of Antiochus IV from Ake-Ptolemais (SNG Spaer nos. 1130-1138), the only mint and series involving such a small diameter. Nos. 93 and 95 (both 16mm, 3.5 and 3.9g, respectively) should probably be attributed to Antioch under either Antiochus IV, Demetrius I or Alexander I, because the weight range for 16mm serrate issues was heavier under Seleucus IV and Antiochus VI. Likewise, no. 97 (19-20mm, 6.7g) must be an Antiochene coin of either Seleucus IV or Antiochus VI, because only these two rulers produced serrate bronzes of this diameter and weight. Similarly, we can narrow down the period of issue for uncertain coin no. 147, attributed to the period from Antiochus I to Antiochus XII (281-84 BC). Because the obverse portrait wears a radiate crown, it cannot date before the reign of Antiochus IV (175-164 BC) when this form of headgear came into vogue in Seleucid royal iconography.

The remainder of the catalogue describes 20 municipal coins of Antioch from the period 92-72 BC, 3 Hellenistic municipal coins of other cities, 14 Roman coins, of which all but two are issues of the fourth century AD, 5 Byzantine coins, 8 Islamic (mostly Umayyad) coins, 22 entirely unidentifiable coins, and 3 non-numismatic metal fragments. Of this material, only the lone Greek Imperial, an Antioch SC issue of Nerva (no. 267), and a Roman Republican sextans (no. 266) stand out. As Nixon points out (p. 325) the dating of the sole Republican coin is problematic because although Sydenham and BMCRR identify the type as a semiuncial issue struck after 91 BC, Crawford lists no semiuncial sextantes. It is possible that this coin may in fact be an imitation of an earlier sextans issue. Close inspection of the plate photograph shows that Hermes’ petasos lacks its usual wings and his hairstyle is somewhat different than on official issues. There is also no sign of the normal sextantal value mark of two large dots above the petasos.

Although to date only two issues of Seleucus I (nos. 3-4, both from the Domestic Quarter) have been found on the site, Nixon rightly asserts that his coinage is normally rare in Syrian excavations, even at the great western mint city of Antioch (pp. 294-295), and argues that perhaps Jebel Khalid should be considered a foundation of Seleucus himself. The suggestion that the site may have been founded “as part of an overall scheme to consolidate his [Seleucus’] newly won Empire (p. 295),” seems particularly compelling in light of the map on page 292. The fortified town is perfectly located to stand guard over the territory between the upstream fortress of Seleucia-Zeugma and the downstream fortress of Nikephorion. However, while the site’s location as part of a larger defensive bulwark along the Euphrates, to which we might also add Dura Europos, tends to support the idea of Jebel Khalid as a military settlement of Seleucus I, it may have been a late one, which was only fully fortified after his death in 281 BC. Clarke describes two coins of Antiochus I (nos. 6 and 9) in the construction level of the Main Gate’s north tower (p. 21), which would seem to indicate that work on the site’s outer defences continued under Seleucus’ successor.

The numismatic argument for the foundation of Jebel Khalid is fairly straightforward, but the evidence for the abandonment of the site may be a little more complex than it appears. Combining the evidence for the end of the Antiochene municipal series at Jebel Khalid and the almost complete absence of coinage from the site between the mid first century BC and the fourth century AD with the archaeological evidence for systematic abandonment, Nixon comes to the logical conclusion that the site was abandoned sometime in the 70s or 60s BC (pp. 295-297). However, Clarke’s description of Seleucid coin finds associated with reoccupied and disturbed areas in the Governor’s Palace on the Acropolis (pp. 41 and 45) and beside the Main Gate (p. 21) seems to point to an earlier abandonment of the Palace complex and fortifications before a final evacuation of the entire site. Nixon cautions against such an interpretation apparently based solely on statistical data (p. 302), but the close association of the coins with a late Hellenistic domestic reoccupation phase makes it difficult to avoid. The latest identifiable coins from areas of reoccupation in the Governor’s Palace and the Main Gate are issues of Antiochus IX and autonomous Antioch, respectively, perhaps suggesting that the abandonment that allowed for subsequent reoccupation might have taken place in the 90s or 80s BC.

The author provides commentary and four excellent tables to illustrate the pattern of coin finds at different areas within Jebel Khalid and to compare the overall finds with those of other excavated Seleucid period sites, such as Tarsus, Antioch, Dura Europus and Abou Danné. Thanks to this comparative approach, it is possible to see that the preponderance of coins of Antiochus III found on the site is not the result of special local circumstances, but part of a pattern of finds for most sites which can be associated with the king’s long reign and general heavy minting (p. 301).

As a corollary to the discussion of finds of Antiochus III bronzes, Nixon expresses some surprise at the quantity of coins of the short-lived Seleucus III found at Jebel Khalid and other Syrian sites. Suggesting that, “As Seleukos III spent most of his brief reign fighting a civil war with his brother in Asia Minor, this is rather odd; economic prosperity seems an unlikely explanation here, nor in the circumstances would one expect Seleukos to be concerned with providing small change for his troops or subjects (p. 301).” This statement needs a little clarification. Although Seleucus III did expend much of his energy on attempts to regain Asia Minor, his conflict was not with his brother (the future Antiochus III), but rather with Attalus I of Pergamum. The author seems to have confused the Anatolian phase of the Fraternal War between Seleucus II and Antiochus Hierax here with the campaigns of Seleucus III. Regardless of the proper identity of Seleucus’ adversary, it is worth remembering that under Seleucus III the Seleucid Empire was still a state under siege. The Ptolemaic forces that had overrun the empire as far as Babylonia in 246 still retained control of Seleucia-in-Pieria and coastal Cilicia, posing a constant threat to the Syrian heartland. Thus it would have been in the king’s best interest to ensure that there was ready money for troops stationed in places like Jebel Khalid, Dura, and Antioch-on-the-Orontes. As later Seleucid history admirably shows, disaffected garrisons could have a bad habit of betraying their cities to the enemy. It is also possible that the increase in coinage under Seleucus III and also Antiochus III, may reflect the financial build up for their respective major campaigns. It may be that Seleucus III had larger plans beyond the reconquest of Asia Minor, if he is correctly understood as one of the sons of the “King of the North,” who are described as “press[ing] on with the assembling of a large force of armed men” in Daniel 11.10.

Nixon tentatively suggests (pp. 302-303) that the majority of the late Roman and Byzantine coins found at Jebel Khalid may be the result of an increased military presence along the frontier with Sasanian Persia in the fourth century and later, although some may also reflect the visits of pilgrims to the tomb of the Holy Man in the nearby river ravine. The military interpretation seems to be supported by the find locations. Nineteen late Roman and Byzantine coins were found during the excavation of the Acropolis, which, even in ruins, still retained its strategic value as an observation post, while only a single issue of Arcadius (no. 277) was found in the Domestic Quarter. It should be pointed out that this pattern also holds true for the Umayyad material (5 on the Acropolis and 1 in the Domestic Quarter), perhaps indicating some limited use of the Acropolis as a military(?) lookout in the early Islamic period.

Clarke’s chapter on “Four Hellenistic Seal Impressions” (pp. 201-203), is also closely associated with numismatic studies, not only because, like coins, the impressions were also made by a form of die, but because their iconography is generally borrowed from Seleucid coin types. The sealings from the Acropolis depict the Seleucid anchor (JK S.1), the standing figure of Athena Nikephoros (JK S.2) and an enthroned Zeus Nikephoros (JK S.3), while a fourth, from a rubbish mound near the Main Gate has a helmeted and draped bust of Athena for its type (JK S.4). As the author points out, there can be little doubt that the anchor represents the authority of a Seleucid official. Similar seal types are known from other sites in a fiscal or administrative context, and, it might be added, anchor countermarks were frequently employed by the government to revalidate coinage.

However, Clarke’s association of the other sealings with the Seleucid bureaucracy should be treated with some caution. Although he is no doubt correct to see the influence of Seleucid numismatic iconography in the choice of types, this does not guarantee that agents of the Seleucid government used the seals. Images of Zeus and Athena Nicephorus were ubiquitous throughout the Hellenistic period, and, as the comparanda for JK S.4 show, similar seal impressions with busts of Athena are known from finds in the Middle Stoa of Athens. Close inspection of the sealing photographs on plate 35 shows that the treatment of Zeus and the Athena bust differs in some details from “official” Seleucid numismatic iconography, such as the dais below Zeus’ throne and Athena’s drapery, further suggesting that they were made by personal rather than official seals. The tripod lebes (a misinterpretation of the throne leg?) described as standing “in front of throne” of Zeus, and which would have indicated a specifically Seleucid prototype, is invisible in the plates. Thus it seems more likely that JK S.2-4 represent personal seals, modeled after royal Seleucid coinage and following a long tradition of using coins, and seals based on coin designs, to guarantee documents in the Near East (See E. Porada, “Greek Coin Impressions from Ur,” Iraq 22 (1960), pp. 228-234 and C. Starr, “A Sixth-Century Athenian Tetradrachm Used to Seal a Clay Tablet from Persepolis,” NC 136 (1976), pp. 219-222).

Related to the seal impressions is Clarke’s chapter on “Stamped Amphora Handles” (pp. 271-289), which provides a descriptive catalog of 50 handles with stamps, primarily dating to the later third and second centuries BC. The majority of the stamps reflect the predominance of Rhodian imports, although a Thasian (JK SH.37) and a possible Cnidian (JK SH.38) stamp are also present. Most notable are the locally produced handles stamped in the name of Abidsalma (JK SH.39-41), apparently a native Semitic producer of wine or oil. The presence of these stamps and the drop off of foreign imports in the later second century may represent the ascendancy of local production, but may also be a sign of decreasing affluence at the site.

The theme of local self-sufficiency at Jebel Khalid also surfaces in L. Crewe’s discussion of “Spindle-Whorls and Loomweights” (pp. 217-243), another class of small objects ubiquitous to archaeological sites and museum collections. Because of the survival of 71 spindle whorls, mostly suitable only for spinning fine thread for luxury garments or sewing pieces of cloth together, the author hypothesizes that much of the ancient spinner’s equipment has been lost and argues that there must have been an “extensive textile industry with utilitarian and luxury fabrics being locally manufactured (p. 219).” The compressed spherical or doughnut forms of many of the weights may indicate the adoption of indigenous Levantine loomweight traditions, as opposed to the Anatolian/Aegean tradition with which Greco-Macedonian military settlers would have been more accustomed (p. 237). This chapter is especially noteworthy for assuming little prior knowledge of the subject on the part of the reader. Recognizing that the tools of ancient cloth manufacture may be somewhat arcane to many historians of antiquity and perhaps even some branches of archaeology, Crewe does an excellent job of explaining how the whorls and weights were used in the respective processes of spinning and weaving in addition to the evidence that they provide for the textile manufacture at the site.

D. Steele’s chapter on “Faunal Remains” (pp. 125-145), which describes the evidence for diet, butchery practices and non-dietary animal-based industry that can be gleaned from the 23,433 animal bones collected at Jebel Khalid also deserves high praise for its accessibility to non-specialists.

The importance of coin evidence for dating finds reappears in M O’Hea’s chapter on “The Glass and Personal Adornment” (pp. 245-272). Here, in addition to providing catalogues of glass beads and bowl fragments from the site, she suggests that the glass bowl type known as Grose’s ‘linear-cut’ bowls, normally dated to the second half of the first century BC should be back-dated to the mid first century (p. 246). Since Hellenistic coinage at Jebel Khalid ends in the 70s, signalling the abandonment of the site, and ‘linear-cut’ bowl fragments were found in excavation, it stands to reason that the bowl type must have been produced earlier in the century.

Discussion of the excavation finds is rounded out by two chapters by H. Jackson on pottery found in distinct areas of the site, “The Cemetery Pottery – 1996 and 1997” (pp. 101-124) and “The Lamps from the Domestic Quarter” (pp. 147-200). Although the full study of local fabrics and forms is not yet complete (p. 102), comparison with material known from other Hellenistic Near Eastern sites allows the author to create a chronology for the lamps and to date the wares used in the Cemetery. Not surprisingly, the dating of the lamps corroborates the evidence of the coins and other finds for a settlement at Jebel Khalid lasting from the second quarter of the third century to the early first century BC (p. 197). However, because of the absence of Waage’s lamp type 24 in the Domestic Quarter and its presence in the Governor’s Palace, the author suggests, “the life of the housing area may have been shorter than that of the Acropolis palace, which would, by its prominence, attract more visitors (p. 197).” The lamp evidence is notable because it appears to contradict the evidence of the coin finds. Based on the coins, occupation, or reoccupation, continued in both the Domestic Quarter and in the Palace into the 70s BC (p. 294).

Jackson and Clarke also provide a catalogue of “Graffiti and Dipinti” (pp. 205-216) that have been either carved or painted onto pottery remains, apparently as owner’s marks (p. 207). Although all items are illustrated by line drawings, and many appear in the photographic plates, it would have been helpful if the authors had consistently given their own readings of the various letters, particularly in the cases of JK DI.4-5, where several of the letter forms are less than clear.

The many authors involved in the work at Jebel Khalid should be proud of this first volume of excavation reports. In imitation of the broad vistas that can be seen from the site’s acropolis, they have provided a wide-ranging overview of the types of material discovered in excavation along with the questions that they raise. By including the discussion of coin finds with chapters on amphora handles, spindle whorls, faunal remains, etc., rather than relegating them to a separate volume such as the forthcoming report on metalwork from the site, the authors neatly keep the coins and other material in their important archaeological contexts, something that can easily be forgotten in a traditional catalogue or in a museum setting. By so doing they allow the reader, whether a numismatist, pottery expert, ancient historian, or even an interested layman to get a much fuller picture of the site. The general high quality of the writing and the plates would make many chapters, if not the entire book, appropriate reading for an introductory course on archaeology at the university level. It is certainly worthwhile for anyone interested in a fuller understanding of the role of numismatics in a Near Eastern archaeological context of the Hellenistic period. Like the ancient sentinels of Jebel Khalid, who once scanned the hills and the river valley below from their outpost, we also watch and wait with anticipation for future volumes in this series.

—Oliver D. Hoover

Library News (Summer 2002)

by Francis Campbell

Library Seeks to Improve Online Access

Considerable praise has been received from members and others regarding the availability of the Library’s card catalogue on the Society’s website. I can assure you that the praise is very welcome because – from the outset – those who worked to make it possible knew it represented a resource that had to be shared with the numismatic community at large. And so, let’s thank the many Society librarians of the past who prepared the cards for the more than 150,000 records. Let’s thank the late Harry W. Bass, Jr. and the Foundation that bears his name for providing the funding that made possible the digitized records and finally, let’s thank Sebastian Heath for mounting it all on the website where it presently resides for all who would partake of this great resource.

While the existing catalogue is indeed worthy of praise, it is our hope to improve upon it. At present, Library materials are catalogued using stand-alone software. The records are then uploaded every few months to the Society’s website. Seeking to improve upon this situation, members of the Library Committee and other appreciative beneficiaries of the present catalogue, have provided some of the funding needed for development of a cataloguing system that will feed directly into our website, enabling all those who make use of it to have access to catalogued materials virtually as soon as they are catalogued. The system will build upon the existing order and accession components that were developed by W. L. Hill Consulting of Dallas, Texas.

With only a few thousand dollars yet to raise, we are hoping to deliver a new and improved library catalogue in the not too distant future.

Library Acquires Davenport Archives

In his 87th auction, held March 22nd of this year, George Kolbe offered for sale “The John S. Davenport Library & Numismatic Archives.” In describing the archives, Kolbe commented that “ideally,” this material “would be well placed in … a major numismatic society or national numismatic collection, where it would be open to study by all interested parties.” Fortunately, certain friends of the ANS Library agreed with Kolbe’s assessment and, largely through their generosity, the Librarian was able to purchase the entire Davenport Archives and some 32 additional lots. Among these were the original page proofs of Davenport’s “European Crowns 1600-1700” (Galesburg, IL, 1974) and the original typescript of his “The Coinage of the Ernestine and Minor Albertine Saxon Dutchies” (Coral Gables, 1988). Most of the annotated, extra-illustrated, or interleaved editions of Davenport’s major works were also acquired.

Through the series of catalogues that he produced over the past half century, Davenport became a dominant figure in research on the crown-sized coins of Europe and especially German talers. He corresponded with many numismatists both in the United States and abroad. Among the correspondents whose letters are found in the Archive, are B. Max Mehl, Enno van Gelder, Gunther Probszt, Imre Molnar, Mark Salton, Wayte Raymond, Bernhard Koch, Richard S. Yeoman, Peter Jaeckel, Friedrich Wielandt, Wilhelm Jesse, Gert Hatz, Franco Panvini Rosati, Otto Morkholm, Walter Grasser, Gerhard Welter, and Randolph Zander. Correspondence between Davenport and his publishers and the original telegram notifying him of his appointment to the U.S. Assay Commission, are also included. The photographic archive contains thousands of illustrations and negatives of European crowns and talers as well as other important world coins.

Telegram notifying John Davenport of his appointment to the U.S. Assay Commission

During the 1960’s and 70’s, while he was preparing many of his works, John Davenport was a regular visitor to the ANS library. When his teaching commitments would permit, John made the trip to New York and set about his research with the assistance of Richard P. Breaden and Geoffrey H. North, the Society’s librarians during that period. After retiring and moving to Florida, he kept in touch via the mails when he needed materials for his research. His articles and books, of which the library has cataloged approximately 130, will serve as a permanent memorial to this most diligent scholar and we are very pleased to be able to add to these the archival and other materials acquired at the Kolbe sale.

With the acquisition of the Davenport Archives the Library makes a significant addition to its existing archival holdings, which include the ledgers and papers of Virgil M. Brand, the Garrett family numismatic archives, the Norweb family ledgers, the files of the New Netherlands Coin Company, and papers from the John W. Adams collection relating to United States Large Cents.

From the Collections Manager (Summer 2002)

by Elena Stolyarik

Forty two objects from the Society’s collection were lent to the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago. The exhibition entitled “A Gateway to Medieval Mediterranean Life: Cairo’s Ben Ezra Synagogue” will be on display until August 18, 2002. The materials from the exhibition illustrate the secular and religious life (Jewish, Christian and Muslim) of Cairo and Egypt during the 9th-16th centuries. Fatimid gold and silver coins from Misr, gold dinars from Alexandria, silver dirhams from al-Qahira issued by Salah al-Din b.Ayyub (known in the west as Saladin), and coin weights of the Fatimid and the Ayyubid period from the ANS collection play a valuable role in the exhibit and have been important part of the exhibit’s educational program.

Two slavery tags from the Society, one stamped “City of Charleston/​Free” and the other “Charleston /No.112/ Porter/​1815”, were contributed to a major exhibition of the Chester County Historical Society, Pennsylvania entitled Just Over the Line: Chester County and the Underground Railroad. The exhibition will be open until the end of December 2002. It is the first exhibition to interpret the role of African-Americans, Quakers and other county residents who either supported or resisted the anti-slavery movement in Chester County, Pennsylvania. It is part of a long-term research and community outreach project that is taking the Chester County Historical Society to local school and community groups. There are plans for the exhibit to travel to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Slavery tag from Charleston (ANS 1928.25.5; on display in Pennsylvania)

The ANS also provided a Charleston slave badge from 1846 for a special exhibit in England. This object is a part of the permanent exhibition entitled Transatlantic Slavery: Against Human Dignity, sponsored by the Peter Moores Foundation, and is on extended loan to the National Museum and Galleries of Merseyside in Liverpool. Visitors to the Liverpool museum’s West African collections have the opportunity to discover the subject of transatlantic slavery in a novel and interesting way.

The twenty seven medals and five sculptures of the Finnish artist Toivo Jaatinen, this year’s recipient of the ANS J. Sanford Saltus Award Medal, continue to stay on display in the East Gallery of the Museum. In conjunction with the Saltus meeting a special exhibit of the Finnish medallists of the 19th-20th centuries was organized, which includes a presentation of the medals of Jacob Ahrenberg, Walter Runeberg, Carl Jahn, Emil Wikstrom, Viktor Malmberg, Gerda Qist, Gunnar Finne and Kauko Rasannen, demonstrating this important artistic tradition. Visitors also have an opportunity to see rare examples of Suomi medallic art from the ANS medal collection. The exhibition will remain on view until late September 2002.

Numismatics​.org (Summer 2002)

by Sebastian Heath

The ANS database describing the numismatic objects in the Society’s collection is available and free for all users via the Society’s web-site. This column will introduce a few of the basic and more advanced features that will allow readers to make effective use of this tool.

The URL lists three options under ‘Coin and Other Objects Search Forms’. The first, ‘Simple Keyword Search,’ is useful when you want to search for a few keywords, such as ‘augustus biga’ or ‘lincoln memorial’ (the database is case-insensitive). Either of these searches will return all records that contain both of the entered words. The simple search form does not, however, allow you to search for objects by material or type, such as coin or medal. For that you need to use the ‘Search by Fields’ form.

‘Search by Fields’ allows you to specify quite sophisticated searches that should satisfy many needs. The first three options on the left side of the screen let you type in keywords as on the simple form but also let you restrict your search to only certain fields in the database. For example, searching for ‘Boston’ only in the ‘Reverse Type’ field will bring up objects, including many medals and decorations, that depict that city. It is always possible to limit your search to records that are illustrated with a digital image by checking the ‘Image Available’ box. At the time of writing, doing so called up the “Washington before Boston” medals that are currently on display at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Many of the options on this search form — such as department, material, and object type — are easily understood. ‘Department’ refers to the section of the collection in which the object is kept, ‘Material’ is just that, and ‘Object Type’ allows you to search by the controlled vocabulary that we use to put our collection into broad categories.

Some of the search options require more explanation. ‘Reference’ is usually an abbreviation the standard catalog used to describe the coins in a series followed by a number that identifies that particular type. Searching for ‘c.44.*’ in the Roman department will bring up all the variants of Crawford’s type 44, which is associated with the initiation of the denarius system in approximately 211 BC. Note that you can include a ‘*’ at the end of search terms to find all words that begin with certain characters. This feature will work in most fields.

‘Accession Number’ allows you to search on the unique number that we assign to each object. Why would you want to do this? Try searching for accession numbers that begin with ‘200’ for which there are images available. Do this by typing ‘200*’, without the quotes, into ‘Accession Number.’ Then click the ‘Image Available’ box. Initiating this search by clicking the ‘Find’ button will generate a list of the objects given to the Society since fiscal year 2000 for which images are available. This is over 200 objects, many of which are interesting and important additions to the collections. This search is not just an example of the flexibility that the ‘Search by Fields’ form allows. It also shows how quickly new donations to the Society become part of the publicly available numismatic record.

These examples show only part of the utility of the ANS search tools. Next time I’ll continue this tour of the database with a focus on searching by date and on using the Society’s collection of digital images. Until then please use the database and send me your reactions.

Greek Acquisitions (Summer 2002)

by Peter Van Alfen

A Mausolus Tetradrachm

Best known to the modern world for his enormous tomb, the original “Mausoleum,” Mausolus son of Hecatomnus was ruler of Caria in southwestern Turkey from 377-53 B.C. Construction of the tomb, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was initiated by Mausolus shortly after his refoundation of Halicarnassus in 367, and was not completed until after his death, in 353, and the death of his wife/sister, Artemisia, in 351. Nothing today remains of the grandeur of the Mausoleum; earlier British and more recent Danish excavations at the site, in the center of modern Bodrum, have uncovered little more than the foundations and fragmentary columns and statues. The more important sculptural fragments, including those from the Amazon frieze and the chariot group from the apex of the roof, now reside in the British Museum. However, equally important remains of Mausolus’ cultural syncretism, mixing elements of his native Carian culture with Greek, can be seen in his series of coinages, especially the facing head of Apollo types.

Once again the ANS Greek department is grateful for a gift from Dr. Arnold-Peter Weiss, this time for an exceptional facing-head Mausolus tetradrachm. To date, no scholar has completed a much needed study of this rather large coinage, including the similar issues of Mausolus’ successors Hidreus (351-44), Pixodarus (340-34) and Ornotobates (334-33), which continued the series replacing only Mausolus’ name on the reverse with their own. This series of coins, struck as tetradrachms, didrachms and drachms on the Chian standard, with the facing Apollo on the obverse and Zeus Labrandeus standing on the reverse, was likely initiated in 367 when Mausolus moved his capital from Mysala to Halicarnassus. With the move came an opportunity to actively pursue the Hellenization of Caria, a program for which the Hecatomnid dynasty, and Mausolus particularly, was famed.

Tetradrachm of Mausolus (ANS 2002.20.1)

Didrachm of Pixodarus (ANS 1944.100.48434)

On his father Hecatomnus’ (395-77) staters, the standing Zeus Labrandeus, a native Carian diety, appears as an obverse type; the lion, long a symbol of authority in Caria, appears on the reverse. Mausolus’ earliest coins repeat the traditional types of lions and stellar-type patterns, retaining an indigenous Carian flavor until the advent of the facing head type. Clearly tracing its lineage back to the facing head types produced by the celebrity artist Cimon for the Syracusan mint in the late 5th c., the facing head obverse experienced a vogue in the 4th c. when similar types were produced by nearly a dozen mints in the Aegean and even farther east. There is no need to wonder why; the extreme high relief of the type, its dramatic affinities to contemporary sculpture, not to mention the high degree of skill required to engrave the dies, made these types an artistic tour de force. No other coin type of the period bespoke of Hellenism to the extent that this one did; a perfect choice, in other words, for Mausolus’ programmatic artistic and cultural syncretism. By reviving one of his father’s coin types for the reverse, Mausolus’ new series embodied simultaneously the vanguard of the Greek world’s artistic spirit, and Carian (religious) tradition. The tension of this syncretism, which was also successfully manifested in his Mausoleum, no doubt contributed to the (artistic) success of this series, which was minted continuously over the next four decades until the gates of Halicarnassus were opened for Alexander the Great in 334.

Stater of Hecatomnus (ANS 1944.100.48419)

For Further Reading:

P.A. Clayton and M.J. Price, eds., The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (London: Routledge, 1988).

S. Hornblower, Mausolus (Oxford 1982).

Current Cabinet Activities (Summer 2002)

by Robert Wilson Hoge

Like a library, a great cabinet such as that of the American Numismatic Society becomes a clearing house of information, assisting researchers, collectors, dealers and anyone else who may have questions relating to materials included in the collection. I think many members of the public, and even specialists, may not be aware that providing service of this sort constitutes the primary part of the work done by most museum curators, particularly those in institutions with small staffs and important holdings. Maybe this point should be simply taken for granted, but I find that it looms large for the Society and for me.

To the extent that individual curators may work with certain items, or even pursue research questions of their own, their direction is frequently determined by “encounters” with portions of the collection brought about by outside events. Chief among these are new acquisitions for the cabinet. Reports on the ANS’ annual accessions are now published in the American Journal of Numismatics, the latest volume of which has just gone to press, and some of them are featured in this ANS Magazine. But the effort to fulfill requests from other people is what usually brings specific holdings to the curators’ attention.

At the ANS, requests about specimens in the collection are constant and varied. The cabinet is routinely called upon to provide display items for our own exhibits, loan items for other institutions’ exhibitions, illustrations for publications, images for research and reference, comparisons with new discoveries or for authentication, and general insights into numismatic subjects. Just to show something of this range of activity, and at the same time to reveal a glimpse of the scope and depth of the cabinet, I thought I would take this opportunity to present a selection of a few of the items I have recently had occasion to handle as the result of trying to assist people who have contacted me.

In the previous issue of this magazine, I mentioned some of the individual researchers who happened to have visited our coin rooms and the things they were investigating. Working with visitors is of course a major focus. This requires not only search and retrieval functions but supervision and discussion. A great deal of my work, however, also involves contacts via telephone, mail and, ever-increasingly, the internet. Let me share with you some items about which serendipitous inquiries have been made by those whom we serve, both near and far.

Medallic decorations researcher Alan Harrow requested me to investigate the rare New Zealand Cross, the highest order of recognition for bravery issued by that country, the equivalent to the famed British Victoria Cross. I found in the ANS collection an example donated in 1910, by the great numismatic philanthropist J. Sanford Saltus, who had acquired it at auction from Puttick & Simpson, of London, in 1910. This award, accompanied by a silver New Zealand Campaign medal, had been engraved to Constable Soloman Black for action at Natapa, January, 1869. Curiously, the Cross is noted to have been a “duplicate,” Somehow, a “replacement” was issued to Black, while the original had been sold at auction in 1907, from the collection of a Dr. Buick of Larne Harbour, Ireland.

New Zealand: New Zealand Cross of Solomon Black, ca. 1890 (ANS 1910.104.1)

Mr. Harrow informed me that 25 examples were originally authorized and struck for awards by the Phillips company, the first 20 being struck in 1871 and bearing the Phillips cartouche on the reverse of the suspension bar. The second order, of 5 crosses, was struck in 1886 by Phillips, but without the cartouche. At this time Phillips was authorized to strike a few specimens “for the Royal Mint and eminent collectors in England,” after which, Phillips somehow lost control of the dies. Unauthorized specimens, probably including the Saltus collection piece, were struck between 1886 and 1908, while the dies were in private hands. They were recovered by the agent general in 1908. The Royal Mint Museum Archives have documents showing that the dies were in the possession of one Mr. J. G. La Rouche in 1904.

The ANS example, with no hallmark on it, is arguably one of the later unauthorized specimens, spuriously named to Black. This seems especially likely since it was originally auctioned and subsequently donated to the ANS paired with a “re-engraved” New Zealand Victoria Campaign Medal. Harrow also stated that re-named medals are not uncommon, that this was done for both legitimate and illigitimate purposes. To date, no records are known to indicate that Black lost his medals and had them replaced. His original medals are reported to have turned up at auction while he was still alive, so the chances are that he sold or pawned them (not unusual in those days). The auction house probably represented the ANS pair as replacements to enhance their value and marketability. Harrow observed, further, that this was not an unusual ruse, even found occasionally today with spuriously named medals.

A couple of inquiries have come in regarding the badge of the Society of the Cincinnati, the group comprised of General George Washington’s officers after the Revolutionary War and their proud descendents. In looking into the ANS cabinet for reference material, it was my pleasure to find several specimens of these attractive American versions of European orders. The group includes one that appears to be especially early. Unfortunately, it is lacking its documentation as to original ownership, which also seems to be the case with other examples in the collection.

United States: Society of the Cincinnati. Decoration ca. 1790 (ANS 1921.87.1)

From William Day, who is assisting Philip Grierson at the FitzWilliam Museum, Cambridge, with the forthcoming Volume 12 (Northern Italy) of Medieval European Coinage, we received a request regarding the late Medieval minor billon coinage of Genoa. I found the ANS has an example of a denaro minuto that had been classified under Giano di Campofregoso, but which in reality seems to be an issue of his successor, Pietro (1450-1457), to whom I have now reassigned it. This coin is somewhat poorly struck and worn, and tends to be difficult to read. The obverse is well-centered, and is missing the tops of most of the letters (and stops); its legend reads P:C:DU X:IAN: The reverse has worse centering and strike; one can read [CO] NR A[D] D[*] on it, the last letter being a mintmaster’s mark. This specimen is one of the many to which the ANS has had to assign “dummy” accession numbers, since the item had been filed into the cabinet without notation as to its source. Entering documentation of this kind is a primary function of museum registrars and curators, so catching up with the records on a massive number of accessions is a constant effort.

Rick Smith made an appointment to study the famous Lusitania medal by the German satiric artist Karl Goetz. The cabinet contains an array of these pieces, including both early and late examples of the British and American forgeries of the piece, several with original boxes and documentation. Entering the annals of psychological warfare, the copies were distributed to evoke antipathy toward Germany as the heartless perpetrator of the vessel’s fatal sinking. Regrettably, some of the best examples of the Lusitania medal are also lacking accession documentation.

Germany: Lusitania medal, by Karl Goetz, 1915 (ANS 0000.999.23711)

When in the course of working with the collections it becomes possible to complete and/or correct the cabinet’s accession documentation, and assign the actual proper registration numbers to items that had been somehow miscatalogued in the past, one always feels a certain sense of satisfaction. One such recent case was that involving the rare medal commemorating the 1817 seizure of Amelia Island, on the Northeast coast of Florida, by the Scottish philibusterer, “General” Gregor MacGregor, formerly a hero of the liberation of Venezuela under Simón de Bolívar. This item had previously been assigned the “dummy” accession number, and was listed in Carling Gresham’s 1992 study of these medals as having “no record.” I was able to find that it had been a gift, in 1893, from the great early ANS patron Daniel Parish, Jr., who had quite probably purchased it from the Chapman brothers Bushnell collection sale of 1882, wherein it was stated that only two or three were known; the same piece could very likely have come from the 1871 George A. Leavitt New York sale of the Dr. Charles Clay collection. Our example has the second oldest established pedigree (after one in the cabinet of the British Museum) of any of the dozen or so now believed to exist.

Florida, Amelia Island: Gregor MacGregor medal, 1817 (ANS 1893.19.1)

We were able to rectify the documentation of another issue thanks to an inquiry from Don Lewallen, who sought information on the “Old Sugar House” commemorative of 1892. Again, the three examples in the cabinet had been given “dummy numbers” for the purpose of entering them onto the ANS data base, but their original documentation was at hand, showing them to have been the gift, in 1892, of the maker, Edward Groh. Groh’s holographic manuscript provided all the details of their production. His original intent had been to have the Rose Street Sugar House, used as a prison by the British during the Revolution, included by early numismatic entrepreneur Augustus B. Sage in his series of historic building commemorative tokens minted in 1859.

The wealth of material in the ANS collection can answer many questions. Mark Kaleniecki, researching Polish gold coins and ordering photographs, called my attention to the 1599 3-ducat piece which had been donated by Mark and Lottie Salton in memory of Felix Schlessinger, noting that it is really a variant from the befuddled published descriptions of its type, which has been erroneously classified heretofore. Dr. Hugo Polak was studying the medals of the early German Renaissance medalist Hans Reinhart, which gave me the occasion to perceive the cabinet’s richness in this area. Our “Adoration of the Magi”/ “Moses and the Burning Bush” piece, issued under Johann Friedrich “The Magnanimous” of Saxony in 1538, is an attractive example. Although this master is recognized as one of the greatest of his time, his work is not widely known in this country at the present time. Someday, it is to be hoped that the great ANS cabinet of medals may be fully published, revealing this marvelous field in its rightful glory.

Poland: 3 ducats, 1599 (ANS 1992.1.23). Gift of Mark and Lottie Salton in Memory of Felix Schlessinger

German States, Saxony: Hans Reinhart Religious medal, 1538 (ANS 1942.92.5)

Some of the medallic items in the cabinet are considerably more mundane than others, and some are just more fun! One such is a memento of the great days of 20th century baseball in America—a medallic 1925 watch-fob season pass for the New York Giants. I ran across this thanks to an inquiry from researcher Jim Urbaniak. Of additional local interest, we had occasion to search out and photograph a New York Benevolent Association, Life Saving Medal, such as this interesting example from 1895, to fulfill a request from LCDR Randy Carol Balano, USNR, Command Historian, Office of Naval Intelligence, who was preparing an exhibition of the Command History.

United States: New York Giants watch-fob: season pass, 1925 (ANS 1926.95.1)

New York: New York Benevolent Association, Life Saving Medal of Frans Jhon Stromberg, 1895 (ANS 1950.136.20)

Allen Menke contacted us in connection with his research on medals of the Philippines, of which the ANS holds a splendid run thanks for the donation of the magnificent series collected by Dr. Gilbert S. Perez. Priscilla P. Soucek, researching coinage of the Qajar dynasty of Iran (the last house of rulers before the advent of the family of the late Shah, the Pahlavis), called attention to the fine multiple toman of Fath ‘Ali Shah from the Teheran mint, dating from 1806/7 C.E. This rarity was exhibited at the International Exhibition of Persian Art held in London in 1931.

Persia (Iran): Fath ‘Ali Shah, multiple toman (ANS 1922.211.883)

ANS Council member John Adams, studying the fascinating series of medals issued in Europe in connection with the financial misadventures of John Law, drew my attention to the cabinet’s superb run of these pieces. Probably best known from the work of C. Wyllys Betts, American Colonial History Illustrated by Contemporary Medals, these entertaining pieces satirize the notorious Scots arbiter of the French economy upon the bursting of the “Mississippi Bubble” in 1720.

France: John Law Satirical medal, 1720, Betts 126 (ANS 1966.65.1)

Among other pieces of Early American context and interest, I had occasion to research the “Elephant tokens” in the cabinet due to the research of R. Neil Fulghum, Keeper of the North Carolina Collection Gallery, Louis Round Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill. I think our best example is an attractive off-center strike donated by the eminent collector Emery May Norweb. I also had a chance to examine the collection of 1773 Virginia half pennies through the instigation of Alan Anthony, finding an incomplete run of choice pieces.. And in the process of preparing a talk for the New York Numismatic Club, in which I wanted to cover some of the lacunae in the ANS’ wonderful cabinet along with mentioning some of its famous strengths, I gave myself the opportunity to take at least a quick look at some of the other American series.

Our receipt of various object loan requests has led me to study some other portions of the cabinet. Understandably, Thomas Jefferson’s medals by John Reich—the Indian Peace medals which he had commissioned for use by Lewis and Clark, for instance, and the Declaration of Independence/Inauguration commemorative medal-draw significant attention from other museums during our bicentennial of the great president’s administration. The masterful works of Augustus Saint Gaudens, arguably the foremost American Medallic sculptor, have also been much sought-after. We note multiple requests for the $10 and $20 gold pieces as well as other pieces, such as the nostalgic plaquette of 1905 commemorating the charming interlude of a masque for a few friends and family members. The ANS specimen of the latter, as well as of several other important items, came from the estate of the artist’s brother, Louis.

United States: Augustus Saint-Gaudens plaquette, 1905 (ANS 1961.137.3)

United States: $10 gold, 1907 (ANS 0000.999.4575)

Medals researcher D. Wayne Johnson, working on completing his work on American medallic artists and manufacturers, visited with us in connection with his project and was able to add data on some of the specimens in the cabinet. The U.S. Assay Commission medal of 1880 was one of the pieces which he selected for his photographic requirements. This handsome example is from the outstanding former J. Coolidge Hills collection, which was donated to the ANS cabinet by the Wadsworth Athenaeum in 1967. Through a photo request for an article for Antiques Magazine, I handled the medals honoring Revolutionary naval Captain John Paul Jones, including specimens from the personal collection of the great American Medallic sculptor Victor David Brenner.

U.S. Assay Commission medal, 1880 (ANS 1967.225.132) J. Coolidge Hills, Former Wadsworth Athenaeum Coll.

Well, I could go on and on delineating my introduction to different items in the cabinet and the people whose own quests led me to them, but I hope I have presented at least a part of the picture of curatorial activity forming the daily work load at the Society. Many of our inquiries are merely of the “I have this coin…what is it worth?” or “I have the rare 1943 penny, how can I sell it?” or “I have the Bank of the United States $1000 note of 1840, serial number 8894, are you interested?” ilk, sadly demanding that we disabuse and disappoint the owners. But a few of the inquiries constitute the beginning of little numismatic adventures, and some even lead to new discoveries. In future issues, we will explore some of these investigations more fully. Meanwhile, we encourage and invite everyone to contact us, to make full use of this vast cultural resource by the Hudson.