From the Collections Manager (Spring 2004)

by Elena Stolyarik

In 1803, a pristine wilderness stretched across North America, from newly purchased Louisiana to the Pacific Ocean. At President Jefferson’s request, Captains Meriweather Lewis and his colleague Lieutenant William Clark set out to explore this uncharted world. Overcoming terrible difficulty, the Corps of Discovery expedition survived and ventured a claim to the West for their new country. On January 17, 2004, the representatives of over 40 institutions, which together possess numerous objects pertaining to Lewis and Clark’s voyage, participated in the opening of the “National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Exhibition,” organized by the Missouri Historical Society. Several important ANS items for this exhibition were couriered to Missouri by Robert Hoge, Curator of American Coins and Currency. On behalf of the ANS, our Honorary Trustee, Mr. Eric P. Newman and his wife, Evelyn, attended the opening reception in St. Louis. Guests had an opportunity to see artifacts and documents that have not been seen together in one place since 1806.

Among the diversity of artifacts is a Thomas Jefferson Peace Medal from the ANS collection (ANS 1949.52.1), which was intended to be given as a gift to please and honor the Native Americans. Lewis and Clark took on their adventure three of the large size (with diameters of 4″), thirteen of the medium size (with diameters of 3″) and sixteen small (with diameters of 2″) Jefferson Peace Medals. The ANS also provided for the exhibition a set of three extraordinary silver examples of the so-called “Washington Season Medals.”

Washington Seasons Medal, “Raising of Farm Animals” 1796. AR 47.5 mm (ANS 1915.141.1, gift of Henry Walters)

Detail from “Raising of Farm Animals”

These medals were designed by John Trumbull (1756-1843), one of the leading American painters of the Revolutionary Era, during President Washington’s second term. Because of the lack of tools and artisans in the country, the medals were struck in Birmingham, England and delivered to the US. Examples were still in stock under John Adams’s administration and in 1803 Lewis requisitioned 55 of them from the Secretary of War to supplement his supply of Jefferson Peace Medals.

Washington Seasons Medal, “The Sowing of Wheat” 1796. AR 47.5 mm (ANS 1915.140.1, gift of James W. Ellsworth)

Washington Seasons Medal, “A Woman Using a Spinning Wheel” 1796. AR 47.5 mm. (ANS 1915.139.1, gift of J.P. Morgan)

The “Season” medals depict the raising of farm animals, the sowing of wheat, and a woman using a spinning wheel. These images expressed the idea of rural domestic harmony and work and were perhaps intended to encourage Native Americans to adopt a “civilized” life-style.

The Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Exhibition will embark on a national two-years tour, and will likely be seen by as many as a million visitors around the country. It will be featured at the Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, Missouri (January-September 2004); the Academy of Natural Science of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (November 2004-March 2005); the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Colorado (May-September 2005); the Oregon Historical Society, Portland,OR, (November 2005-March 2006); and the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC (May- September 2006).

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the next installment of the Met’s series of Byzantine exhibits is now open through July, 2004. This exhibit, entitled “Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557)” features a number of ANS objects: a Seljuk Dirham of Qilich Arslan IV; an Armenian Trams of Hetoum the Great with the Seljuk Kay Khusraw II and Takvorin of Levon III; Georgian/Mongol Dirhams of Dimitry II and Arghum and Wakhtang III and Ghazan; a Georgian silver imitation of the Empire of Trebizond piece known as “kirmaneuli;” a Bulgarian Grosh of Ivan Alexander; a Venetian Grosso of Ranieri Zeno; Florentine Florins of the 14th century and a Medieval Russian denga from Pskov.

Anatolia, Rum Seljuk, Qilich Arslan IV, Dirham, 1249, AR 21mm. (ANS 1991.3.486, bequest of Dr. Harold W. Glidden)

Armenia, Hetoum the Great and Suljuk Kay Khusraw II, Tram, 1241-1242, AR 24mm. (ANS 1917.215.911, gift of Edward T. Newell)

Russia, Pskov, 15th century, Denga, AR 15 mm. (ANS 1956.163.1744, gift of Frederick C.C. Boyd)

The exhibition, which has on display approximately 350 objects from more than 25 countries, includes also pieces from the Numismatic Collection of the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies. The coins from the Byzantine, Islamic and European collections of the ANS were selected by Dr. Michael Bates, our Curator of Islamic Coins. This selection demonstrates the appropriation of Byzantine culture by rival East Christian states and those forces seeking to be heirs to its power and prestige — the Latin West and the Islamic East during the 13-16 centuries AD.

Bulgaria, Ivan Alexander, Grosh, 1331-1351, AR 19mm. (ANS 1957.170.3)

Venice, Raniera Zeno, Grosso, 1253-1268, AR 20 mm. (ANS 1984.131.62)

New Acquisitions

During the winter the curatorial departments have received several impressive gifts, a few of which may be singled out for special mention. An exquisite donation came from one of our Trustees, Dr. James Schwartz. This gift consists of 237 examples of the Celtic, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Sasanian coins and modern medals. The Greek department also received a valuable gift from ANS Fellow, Mr. David Vagi. It includes a Lycian stater and two unpublished silver denominations from Metapontum and Pherae. In January, we received a letter from Mr. Gerry P. Myers, a representative for Dr. Balcer, one of the ANS’ oldest members and a student of the ANS Graduate Summer Seminar of 1964. Mr. Myers had informed us that Dr. Balcer, now retired from his position as Ancient History Professor at Ohio State University and residing in an assisted living center, wished to donate to the ANS four ancient Greek coins (three AR tetartemoria from Teos, in Ionia and one AR Athenian tetrobol) and two silver Sasanian drahms.

Luciana, Metapontum, 220-207 BC (?), Punic 1/6 Shekel (?), AR 12 mm (ANS 2004.12.2, gift of David Vagi)

One of the most impressive donations in recent memory came from Mr. James J. Boyle, a member of the Board of Councilors of the American Geographical Society. This collection of world coins, numbering 15,000 (inventoried on 300 pages, arranged by countries and chronology and placed in 40 binders) was predominately the life-long accomplishment of Mr. Lee Ramsauer, a minerals trader on Wall Street turned limousine driver after falling on hard times. A fondness of history, a high level of energy, a strong sense of data organization and a desire for accomplishment motivated Mr. Ramsauer to put together this impressive collection.

Great Britain, George III, 1818, Crown, AR 38mm (ANS 2004.9.2, gift of James Boyle

He had arranged for his clientele (corporate and banking executives) to bring him specific coins from their business destinations and so his collection grew rapidly. When Mr. Ramsauer was diagnosed with a serious illness he asked his friend Mr. Boyle to take the collection and after Mr. Ramsauer’s passing, Mr. Boyle continued the selection and categorization of this collection. Mr. Boyle believes that this gift will benefit the ANS and many collectors, and Mr. Ramsauer’s labor of love will thus be rewarded.

Durrani, Ahmad Shah, 1759-1760, Rupee, AR 21 mm (ANS 2004.9.1, gift of James Boyle)