by Elena Stolyarik
Over the course of the last several months, the ANS has made a number of significant purchases. Among these is a group of Ionian silver fractions dating to roughly 525
BC, which were previously owned by Herbert Cahn. It was Cahn’s studied opinion that these coins, which he labeled the “Ionische Damen” (the Ionian Ladies), were likely produced in Phocaea. With the purchase of these 25 fractions, the ANS now owns the bulk of the known examples (figs. 1–3).
A great deal of our attention lately has been turned to the purchase of medals, many of which belong to important series hitherto poorly represented in our collection. For
example, in 1772, a special Medal Committee was set up in Russia in accordance with an edict of Catherine the Great (1762–1796), the purpose of which was to design and manufacture a commemorative series to illustrate the history of Russia in medals. From the Heritage World and Ancient Coins Signature Auction at the Chicago International
Coin Fair (CICF), the ANS acquired a group of the medals from this series, all struck in the late 1700s. Among these is a bronze medal, designed by J. B. Gass and G. C. Wächter, bearing an allegorical allusion to the traditional founder of the Russian State, Grand Prince Rurik (862–879) (fig. 4). Another medal from this group, by Wächter and S. Vasiliev, bears an image of the infant Prince Igor, Rurik’s son, and Prince Oleg, Rurik’s successor, viewing the site of future the city of Moscow (in 880) (fig. 5).
Other acquisitions from the same series include a bronze medal by Samuel Iudich Iudin and Timofei Ivanov, with the inscription “Glory does not vanish,” memorializing the death of Prince Oleg in 912, and showing the burial mounds of Rurik, Oleg, and Rurik’s brothers Sineus and Truvor (fig. 6); a bronze medal commemorating the 941 naval expedition to Tsargrad by Igor, Grand Prince of the Kiev Rus, designed by J. C. Jaeger and S. I. Iudin (fig. 7.); a medal designed, again, by the talented pair of Ivanov and Iudin, commemorating the capture in 971 of the Bulgar city of Pereyaslavets on the Danube (in modern Romania) by Prince Sviatoslav (son of Prince Igor) (fig. 8). The thirty year period represented on these medals (942–972) is important for the Rus expansion into the Volga valley, the Northern Black Sea steppe, and the Balkans.
Still another significant Russian historical acquisition is a 19th-century bronze medal bearing a portrait of Czar Alexander II and an image of the armored emperor, led by Victory and Minerva, crossing the frontier (fig. 9). This example is one of the twenty-four medals in a series recording Russian victories over Napoleon. It was designed and issued in 1835, by the Saint Petersburg mint engravers A. Klepikov and A. Lyalin. Count Fyodor Petrovich Tolstoy, Vice-President of the Russian Imperial Academy of Art (1828–1868) initiated this series.
Through the same April Heritage sale, the ANS also obtained an extremely rare copper medal from the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. This piece was issued in Naples in 1784 in memory of Livia Doria Carafa of Roccella, Princess of the Holy Roman Empire, who died in February 1779 at the age of 34. The German medalist Bernhard Perger modeled this effigy of the princess based on a marble bust sculpted by Giuseppe Sanmartino (fig. 10).
Other purchases for the medals department include a group of 18th- and 19th-century German medals, among which are a 1747 bronze medal of Marshal Maurice de Saxe designed by Jean Dassier (fig. 11), an 1818 bronze medal dedicated to the Golden Jubilee of King Friedrich August I of Saxony (1805–1827) (fig. 12), and an 1829 medal commemorating the tercentennial of the Protestation of Speyer (fig. 13). The latter two were struck by Loos’s private mint in Berlin. Also among these newly acquired German medals is an 1890 bronze celebrating the 90th birthday of Field Marshal Helmut von Moltke, designed and struck by L. Chr. Lauer in Nürnberg (fig. 14).
From the Heritage Weekly World and Ancient Coin Auction (April 25, 2013) we acquired several 19th-century British medallic works, including an 1820 bronze medal by Thomas Ingram Wells for the accession of George IV (fig. 15), the official coronation medal of George IV in bronze by Benedetto Pistrucci (fig. 16), and a bronze medal with exceptionally high rims for the reception during the 1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition. This last bears a rising sun and a mantle with British, Australian, Canadian, and imaginary Indian arms on one side, and a remarkably detailed view of the Guildhall, with the
arms of the Corporation of London underneath, on the other (fig. 17). Another attractive piece in this group is an 1855 medal awarded by the Board of Trade, designed by Benjamin Wyon; it shows a laureate head of Queen Victoria, with the legend AWARDED BY THE BOARD OF TRADE FOR GALLANTRY IN SAVING LIFE, and a group of survivors on the wreckage of a ship, signaling to a lifeboat. The medal has a plain edge and was never awarded (fig. 18).
Through the same Heritage sale, the ANS also obtained three extremely fine Greek medals, including a pair of bronze items with allegorical images of Greece issued during the early reign of King Othon (Otto), the royal prince of Bavaria who became the first modern King of Greece (1832–1862). One of these medals was designed in 1832 by Carl Voigt, perhaps Bavaria’s greatest engraver (fig. 19), and another, issued in 1835, was designed by Konrad Lange, a famous medalist and mint engraver at Vienna (fig. 20). An 1839 bronze medal—
again designed by Lange—commemorates the founding of the University of Athens. It features an image of young Otho, in Greek costume, with the title “King of Greece” (rather than “King of the Greeks”) on one side and an image of the University building’s façade on the other (fig. 21). Another fortunate acquisition for the medals department is the World War I iron plaquette, Die Torpedierten, purchased from the Baldwin’s auction of May 10, 2013) and acquired through the Simmons Gallery of London. This piece, designed by Ludwig Gies, depicts an image of survivors, rescued from the sea, being pulled into a
crowded lifeboat (fig. 22).
In our quest to form a complete collection of British Art Medal Society (BAMS) medals, we acquired another small group of the series through the Simmons Gallery. Among these is a 1990 silver medal by Kevin Coates (b. 1950) dedicated to the musical genius, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791). On the obverse of this egg-shaped piece, the composer is shown wearing the Order of the Golden Spur and playing, on a keyboard, a chord in G minor. On the upper part of its reverse, the head of the young Mozart (“the child as father of the man”) is connected with the opposite face and modeled in three dimensions (fig. 23). Also among these new BAMS acquisitions is a 1997 cast bronze medal, In Good Hands, by the Liverpool-based artist Roger McGough (b.1937), who is known primarily as a contemporary poet. His creation reflects the symbiotic relationship that can exist between poetry and the medallic art, carrying a poem inscribed on the surface: “Where night falls/ The earth is always/ There to catch it” (fig. 24).
An additional piece in this new BAMS purchase is a three-dimensional cast bronze medal of 1993, Fox and Grapes, by Julian Cross (b. 1955). This beautifully patinated example refers to the fables by Aesop, The Fox and the Grapes (also known as “Sour Grapes”) and The Fox and the Crow (also known as “A Lesson for a Fool”). Here, the fox convinces the crow (on the reverse), that if she had a voice to match her beauty, she would then be
the best of all the birds. The crow opens her beak and so drops the grapes she is carrying, which the fox otherwise cannot reach (fig. 25). Another BAMS item is Gwyniad, a 2003 silver double-sided cast medal by Bethan Williams. On one side it reveals an image of a threatened fish species (Coregonus pennantii) found only in Bala Lake (North Wales), whose local name is “gwyniad.” The other side shows a wild and aggressive salmon. The inscription on the side reads: “The mountain his trapper and keeper/ His lineage free in the wild of the sea” (fig. 26).
Another BAMS medal, The Promise, was designed and struck in 2003 by Matthew Holland (b. 1963), director of the Bigbury Mint, and is dedicated to the celebration of
people growing old together. The obverse shows young lovers while the reverse shows the same couple grown old. It is summed up by the words, “Life is strange, but whatever the change, the fact remains, I love you” (fig. 27). The Society also acquired a charming example of the medallic work of Ronald Searle (1920–2011), the internationally famous cartoonist, illustrator, and medalist. This is a bronze medal issued in 2000 dedicated to
the writer James Boswell (1740–1795), best known for his biography of Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), the famous poet, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. On this humorous work, Boswell is portrayed with pen in hand on the obverse, while at the same time on the reverse he pursues Johnson, with his notebook
ready to catch for posterity the doctor’s renowned witticisms (fig. 28).
To the great satisfaction of the curatorial staff, we received from ANS Trustee Dr. Lawrence A. Adams an award medal given by one of our former sister organizations
on Audubon Terrace. This gold medal of the National Institute of Arts and Letters was awarded to the composer Aaron Copland on May 23, 1956, for his achievements in
music (fig. 29). Designed by the eminent German-American sculptor, Adolph Alexander Weinman, known to numismatists for his stunning “Mercury” dime (1916–1945)
and Walking Liberty half dollar (1916–1947), the medal bears a very handsome classical head of Apollo on one side and a radiant lamp of the knowledge on the other. Through an unusual Kickstarter campaign (an online crowd-sourcing site), perhaps the first campaign of this sort supporting medallic art, we obtained a set of medals celebrating the second inauguration of Barack Obama and Joseph Biden. The set consists of three medals—
bronze, silver-plated bronze, and .999 fine silver—designed and sculpted by the Philadelphia-based artist Amy Kann, who also sculpted the Eric Newman medal for the
ANS. A private initiative, Ms. Kann produced this unofficial inaugural medal as an attempt to render a portrait of the President that expresses his openness and accessibility.
The offset portraits in the composition look toward the future, as befits their progressive ideals while the letters, hand carved in the nineteenth-century tradition, give this
issue a timeless elegance (fig. 30).
The Rochester Numismatic Association has served coin collectors and dealers of Rochester and western New York since 1912. RNA Curator, John Zabel, donated to the ANS
two annual Past President medals in bronze: those of Steven H. Eisinger, 98th President (2010), and Peter F. Blaisdell, 99th President (2011). Both medals were designed by
Luigi Badia (obverse) and Alphonse Kolb (reverse) and struck by North American Mint of Rochester. From Karen Alster the ANS acquired an important donation of a proof-like 1795 Draped Bust–Small Eagle silver dollar. This is a truly exceptional example of the classic obverse variety distinguished by having the new Draped Bust of Liberty punched into the die far to the left, giving this obverse an interesting off-center look unique to this date (fig. 31). Additional donations from Karen Alster include a fascinating example of an 1831 Capped Bust silver half dime (fig. 32), a proof 1836 Classic Head gold quarter eagle
(the Professional Edition of the Guide Book of United States Coins suggests that five to seven examples could exist in all proof grades although Walter Breen listed it this proof as
unique (fig. 33), and a 1877-CC Small Mintmark Liberty Seated silver half dollar thought possibly to be a branch mint proof. This impressive coin may have been struck for
presentation to a visiting dignitary or even a Mint official and certainly would be unique as a proof (fig. 34).
In April, the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles, California, invited visitors to view the magnificent exhibition Sicily: Art and Invention between
Greece and Rome, co-organized by the Getty Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Assessorato dei Beni Culturali e dell’Identità Siciliana. It celebrates 2013 as the Year of Italian Culture in the United States, an initiative of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The exhibit presents masterpieces of ancient art from the crossroads of the Mediterranean. Art, architecture, theater, poetry, philosophy, and science prospered in the Greek colonies of Sicily, leaving a long-lasting mark on mainland Greece and later on Rome. The objects in this exhibition include stone and bronze sculptures, vase paintings, votive terracotta statuettes and reliefs, carved ivory, gold and silver metalwork, jewelry, inscriptions, and architectural fragments, all witnesses to the achievements of Classical culture. Four ANS gold litrai from the Avola hoard (fig. 35–36) contribute in a fundamental way to the exhibition, which places special emphasis on Sicilian coinage. The Society’s Avola coins are being exhibited alongside gold jewelry, owned by the British Museum, also from the hoard. In addition, ANS coins with images of Arethusa and Heracles complement other depictions of nymphs and heroes on display in the same gallery. The exhibition will be on view at the Getty Villa until August 19, 2013.