From the Collections Manager (Spring 2005)

by Elena Stolyarik

The ANS Coin Cabinet has acquired by gifts and purchase over 257 various numismatic objects over the winter. A donation of historical importance came from one of the ANS Trustees, Dr. Arnold-Peter C. Weiss: a group of 19 items comprising a fifth-century BC hoard from Egypt which includes a large silver cake ingot (fig. 1). The provenance of this group, which represents one of the few known examples in the United States, is a private collection (from Valais, Switzerland) purchased in the 1950s. An unusual silver coin (from India?) was donated by ANS member David L. Vagi (fig. 2). Our collection of imitation Athenian coins (of Babylonian Style) was enlarged by two new examples which, together with two silver coin-sized dumps (from the same hoard), were purchased from ANS Fellow David Hendin (Amphora Coins). Another Athenian imitation, of the late-4th century BC Egyptian “Artaxerxes” type, came as a gift from Martin Huth, a diplomat and numismatist from the German Embassy to Lebanon, in Beirut. Added to our collection of unusual numismatic artifacts was a remarkable object (purchased from B. & H. Kreindler), a rare box mirror (fig. 3) consisting of two separate bronze medallions from Smyrna in Ionia (2nd century AD), issued in honor of Antinous, the favorite of Hadrian. These coins had one side carved away, and were then fitted together with a highly polished sheet of silver inserted within the back side of one of them.


Fig. 1. Silver cake ingot (ANS 2005.12.1, gift of Arnold-Peter C. Weiss) 480 gm, 75 mm.


Fig. 2. Silver coin, India? (ANS 2005.15.1, gift of David L. Vagi) 21 mm.



Fig. 3. Roman AE medallion (ancient box mirror), Antinous, Ionia, Smyrna (ANS 2005.19.1, purchase) 38 mm.

Among the most interesting accessions in the Medals Department is a uniface American Medallion by Robert Tait McKenzie (fig. 4), a gift of ANS Fellow Scott H. Miller. Italian ANS member Giovanni Paoletti donated a commemorative medal dedicated to the world famous Irish novelist James Joyce, while another ANS member, Alan Harlan, a numismatist and bibliophile, kindly provided us with the medal produced on the occasion of his 50th Birthday—an issue designed by American medallic sculptor Eugene Daub (fig. 5) (the J. Sanford Saltus Award recipient of 1991). Two personal Tokens, struck by the Patrick Mint of Santa Rosa, CA, on the occasion of David T. Alexander’s inauguration as the New York Numismatic Club’s 43rd President, are the latest additions to our collection of NYNC-related objects. Charles J. Ricard has sent a set of seventeen medals in silver-proof. This gift contained an officially issued United Nations Peace Medals (1971-1987). A fine group of recent US Mint medals was generously donated by ANS member Dr. David Menchell, which included eight examples of the Congressional Series (Joe Lewis, 1981; Truman Historic Site, 1984; Gershwin Brothers, 1985; Aaron Copland, 1986; Jesse Owens, 1988; Norman Schwarzkopf, 1991; Theodore Hesburgh, 1999; John Wayne, n.d.); and four medals dedicated to the directors of the US Mint: (fig. 6) Robert J. Grant, 1932 by John Ray Sinnock; Mary Brooks, 1969; Stella B. Hackel, 1977; Donna Pope, 1981. Three medals of the Secretaries of the Treasury Series, those of Robert B. Anderson, 1958; Henry H. Fowler, 1965 and David M. Kennedy, 1969, were designed by Frank Gasparro and one medal of this Series, that of C. Douglas Dillon, 1961, was by Gilroy Roberts. Dr. Menchell also donated three Bicentennial medals of the US Army, Navy, and Marine Corps (1975) together with medals honoring Kenneth Taylor, Canadian Ambassador (1980) and Robert F. Kennedy (n.d.).


Fig.4: United States. AE medallion, uniface, by Robert Tait McKenzie (ANS 2005.7.1, gift of Scott Miller) 111 mm.


Fig. 5. United States. AE medal of Alan Harlan on occasion of his 50th birthday, by Eugene Daub (ANS 2005.22.1, gift of Alan Harlan) 77 mm.


Fig. 6. United States, Director of the Mint, Robert J. Grant, by John Ray Sinnock, 1932. (ANS 2005.5.83, Gift of David Menchell) 76 mm.

In addition to the medals, Dr. Menchell presented a splendid selection of 144 notes (all in crisp new condition) to fill some of the gap in our collection of US paper money (fig. 7). He donated complete district sets of Federal Reserve Notes, as well as an uncut sheet and an original wrapper from a “brick” of notes, along with the first and last notes of brick. This is a most important addition to the cabinet; we look forward to other continued donations of this kind for our holdings of contemporary United States paper currency. From Anthony Terranova, the US department received three early American Coins replicas and a Long Beach token. George S. Cuhaj presented two specimens of New York Transit tokens which we did not have in the collection.



Fig. 7. United States. $50 Federal Reserve Note, 1990. New York (B), “Radar Note”, serial number B 44333344A (ANS 2005.5.74, gift of David Menchell)

The Latin American cabinet was improved by the addition of a rare Mexican 4-reales of Charles and Johanna (fig. 8), received from Richard Ponterio, as well as 33 Bolivian and Peruvian notes from Emmett McDonald.


Fig. 8. Mexico. AR 4 reales, Charles & Johanna, 1540-1545. (ANS 2005.11.1, gift of Richard Ponterio) 31 mm.

The Islamic Department acquired seven Abbasid dirhams (from Madinat al-Salam, dated AH 163, 163, 189 and 192; and al-Muhammadiyya, of the years 182, 189 and 190) from Alan S. DeShazo and 4 false Umayyad dirhams from Stephen Album.

In the Modern Department, George S. Cuhaj donated a Canadian set of 12 commemorative quarter dollars, while Dr. William M. O’Keefe generously added an unusual Austrian gold coin (fig. 9) of 1695 (an apparent forgery?). The ANS also purchased for the modern collection a very unusual artifact — a Yap Island Stone Rai. It was originally presented to Doctor Perry Rowe, in appreciation for his medical services, by a chief in Yap and sold to the ANS by his grandson Damon Tucker.


Fig. 9. Austria. Gold coin, 1695 (forgery?) (ANS 2005.10.1, gift of William M. O’Keefe) 41 mm.

Exhibitions

In February the ANS provided Greek coins to the Frick Collection for its winter exhibition “Renaissance and Baroque Bronze from the Fitzwilliam Museum,” Cambridge. Two of our silver staters of Tarsus in Cilicia, from the reign of Mazaeus (361-333 BC) with the images of a lion attacking a bull (fig. 10), illustrate the essential importance of classical numismatic sources for the Renaissance and Baroque understanding of both the formal composition and civic symbolism of fighting animal groups. In the exhibition at the Frick Collection, the ANS coins are shown along with Gamucci’s Le antichità della città di Roma and Cavalieri’s Antiquarum statuarum urbis Romae, two Renaissance volumes that illustrate the other crucial antique source: the monumental marble sculpture of a lion attacking a horse from the Capitoline Hill in Rome. The exhibition is on display at the Frick collection till May 1, 2005.


Fig.10: Tarsus, Cilicia, Reign of Mazaeus, 361-333 BC, AR stater (ANS 1944.100.54414, gift of Edward Newell)

Several ANS objects, including a fragment of a clay master mold, dated to March 31, 63 BC, a secondary bronze coin mold with designs of a tiger and dragon from the Western Han dynasty, as well as three fragments of unfinished cast bronze coins of the daquan wushi denomination, and two terracotta casting molds of the Eastern Han dynasty, are incorporated into the exhibition Recarving China’s Past: The Art, Archaeology, and Architecture of the “Wu Family Shrines” at the Princeton University Art Museum. The exhibition focuses on an early set of rubbings of the Wu shrine pictorial stones in the collection of the Princeton University Museum. The rubbings are presented as a reconstruction of the architectural spaces of the Wu cemetery structures. Numerous works of art that are similar to those depicted in the rubbings are on display to convey a more vivid sense of the material culture and funeral practices of the Han dynasty (206 BC – AD 220). Coins were a common feature in Han burials and became a design motif found on many burial items and architectural decorations. The exhibition will be on display at PUAM till June 26, 2005, and then will travel to a second venue in July-October 2005.

Due to the success of the exhibition Alexander the Great: Treasures of the Epic Era of Hellenism, which is visited by hundreds every day, the Alexander S. Onassis Cultural Center, in New York, has decided to extend the show beyond the initial April 16 closing date; the exhibit will now close May 28, 2005. ANS members and guests have a great opportunity to see 24 coins of Alexander the Great and his successors from the ANS collection on display together with exquisite material from the various other museums and institutions from around the world.