From the Collections Manager (Spring 2006)

by Elena Stolyarik

Over the winter, ANS cabinet holdings were enhanced through several notable donations and purchases. In February, a group of sixty-six Eastern European Celtic coins was generously donated by one the ANS Trustees, Dr. Arnold-Peter C. Weiss (Fig. 1). It is a great addition to our own holdings of these significant cultural artifacts. Another interesting and welcome specimen is a gift of an Athenian tetradrachm of c. 425-404 B.C. with a test cut mark, which came from Mr. David Vagi (Fig. 2).

Fig. 1: Eastern Celts. Imitation of Thasos tetradrachm. AR. (ANS 2006.19.62, gift of Dr. Arnold-Peter C. Weiss) 32 mm.

Fig. 2: Athens. AR tetradrachm, c. 425-404 BC. (ANS 2006.14.1, gift of David L. Vagi) 22.9 mm.

In December, a truly unusual artifact entered the ANS collections. It is a red earthenware dish (Fig. 3) with the yellow slip-trailed message, MONEY WANTED, which could have been produced during the Panic of 1837. This ceramic vessel, donated by New York historian William R. Asadorian, was found by Scott Jordan in 1996, during excavation works in Manhattan at 202 Bowery Street, at the site of a privy well.

Fig. 3: United States. Red earthenware dish “MONEY WANTED”, early 19th century. (ANS 2006.11.1, gift of William R. Asadorian) 335 mm.

The ANS holdings of U.S. paper money received a one-dollar silver certificate of 1899 (T83870887A- Friedberg.236), from Mr. Mitchell Davis (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4: United States. One-dollar silver certificate, series of 1899, with signatures of Frank White, Treasurer of the United States, and H. Speelman, Register of the Treasury. Serial number T 83870887A. (ANS 2006.10.1, gift of Mitchell Davis) 187 x 78 mm.

We are grateful to have been given another example of a Mexican four-real coin of Charles and Johanna by longtime donor Richard Ponterio (Fig. 5). This rare coin, dating from approximately 1538, shows images of the crowned arms of Castile and Leon on one side and crowned Pillars of Hercules on the other, marked by the assayer Francisco Rincon (R). This example is not referenced in the major publication on these coins by Robert Nesmith, and will be an excellent addition to the ANS holdings. The Latin American cabinet has also been expanded by a new donation of the modern coins of Costa Rica. A gift consisting of 25 centimos of 1972 and 1989, 50 centimos of 1948 and 1984, 1 colones of 1978 and 1998, a 5 colones of 2001, a 10 colones of 1999, a 100 colones of 2000, and a 500 colones of 2003 was presented by Robert W. Hoge, the Society’s Curator of Northern American Coins and Currency, following a trip to San Jose, where he had been representing the ANS and presenting a paper at the Twelfth Annual Meeting of the International Committee of Money and Banking Museums (ICOMON). In addition to these coins, Mr. Hoge also donated two commemorative medals issued by the Bank of the Republic of Colombia, showing the image of the entrance to the Mint of Colombia at Bogotá (Casa de Moneda) on the obverse. One features on the reverse a Colombian “cob” coin with the symbolic Cross of Jerusalem (Fig. 6), and the other depicts an early locomotive in a landscape (Fig. 7).

Fig. 5: Mexico. Charles and Johanna (1516-1556). AR 4 reals. Assayer R (P/R?), c.1538. (ANS 2006.13.1, gift of Richard Ponterio) 33 mm.

Fig. 6: Colombia. NI commemorative medal of Casa de Moneda series issued by the Banco Central de Colombia. Bogota mint, n.d. (ANS 2006.8.12, gift of Robert W. Hoge) 23.1 mm.

Fig. 7: Colombia. NI commemorative medal of Casa de Moneda series issued by the Banco Central de Colombia. Bogota mint, n.d. (ANS 2006.8.11, gift of Robert W. Hoge) 23.1 mm.

The Islamic collection was enlarged by the purchase of a group of three rare coins: a silver dirham, with the name of the `Alid imam al-Da`i ila Allah al-Hasan b. Zayd, issued by the Jurjan mint in 269 AH (Fig. 8); a silver dirham, with the names of the Kakwayhid amir `Adud al-Din `Ala al-Dawla Abu Ja`far and the Abbasid caliph al-Qadir Billah, issued in Hamadan in [42]1 AH (Fig. 9); and a bronze fals of 1041 AH from Tripoli (Tarablus Gharb), with the name of the Ottoman Sultan Murad Khan (Fig. 10).

Fig. 8: Iran. Tabaristan, Jurjan. AR dirham with the name of the `Alid imam al-Da `i ila Allah al-Hasan b. Zayd, 269 AH. (ANS 2006.18.1, purchase) 20.7 mm.

Fig. 9: Iran. Jibal, Hamadan. AR dirham with the names of the Kakwayhid amir `Adud al-Din `Ala al-Dawla Abu Ja`far and the Abbasid caliph al-Qadir billah, [42]1 AH. (ANS 2006.18.2, purchase) 27.6 mm.

Fig. 10: Ifriqiya (modern Libya), Tarablus (Tripoli). AE fals with the name of the Ottoman sultan Murad Khan, 1041 AH. (ANS 2006.18.3, purchase) 17 mm.

The collection material of our Modern Department was enriched by a gift from our Russian colleague Olga Chizhevskaya, Research Associate in the Numismatic Department of the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. These copper-nickel specimens represent part of a series of commemorative coins issued by the State Bank of the Soviet Union up until 1991, when the USSR ceased to exist, as well as later issues. The Soviet obverses invariably feature the state symbol, a world globe with a hammer and sickle emblem at the center, flanked by ears of wheat. The iconography of Russian commemorative coin reverses covers a wide range of historic topics, including World War II events (Figs. 11, 12), recent developments in the space program (Fig. 13), Soviet sports, literature (Fig. 14), culture (Fig. 15), and science (Fig. 16), all reflected in a variety of interesting designs.

Fig. 11: USSR. CN one ruble. Leningrad Mint. 1975, issued in 1975 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. Rev.: Monument of Victory in Stalingrad (Volgograd). (ANS 2006.9.6, gift of Olga Chizhevskaya) 30.9 mm.

Fig. 12: USSR. CN one ruble. Moscow Mint. 1990, honoring Georgy K. Zhukov (1896-1974), Marshal of the Soviet Union. (ANS 2006.9.1, gift of Olga Chizhevskaya) 31.0 mm. Zhukov was involved in the most important battles during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, such as the defense of Moscow, the Battle of Stalingrad, and the Battle of Kursk-Orel; he also led the final attack on Berlin.

Fig. 13: USSR. CN-Zinc one ruble. Moscow Mint. 1979, dedicated to the XXII Olympic Games in Moscow, 1980. Rev.: Monument to the first Soviet space flight, Sputnik, and Soyuz, with Olympic symbol in the field. (ANS 2006.9.2, gift of Olga Chizhevskaya) 31.1 mm.

Fig. 14: USSR. CN one ruble. Moscow Mint. 1988, commemorating the 160th anniversary of Leo Tolstoy’s birth (1828-1910). (ANS 2006.9.4, gift of Olga Chizhevskaya) 30.9 mm. Tolstoy, one of the most widely known Russian novelists of the 19th century, is the author of War and Peace (1863-1869) and Anna Karenina (1875-1877).

Fig. 15: USSR. CN-Zinc one ruble. Moscow Mint. 1983, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the death of the first Russian book-printer, Ivan Fedorov (1510-1583). (ANS 2006.9.3, gift of Olga Chizhevskaya) 31.0 mm.

Fig. 16: USSR. CN-Zinc one ruble. Moscow Mint. 1991, honoring Russian physicist Peter Lebedev (1866-1912). (ANS 2006.9.5, gift of Olga Chizhevskaya) 31.0 mm. Lebedev was widely known for his research of the effects of electromagnetic, acoustic, and hydrodynamic waves on resonators.

On December 20, 1991, the State Bank of the USSR was dissolved, and all its assets, liabilities, and property were transferred to the Central Bank of the new Russian Federation. In its own issues, this new bank has followed traditional coin designs, although the hammer and sickle emblem was replaced by the denomination sign, decorated with a stylized floral motif. Images of coin reverses continued to reflect important events of Russian history. Our new acquisitions of Russian Federation coins consist of copper-nickel alloy two-ruble issues of 2000, and represent part of the commemorative series dedicated to the fifty-fifth anniversary of the victory in World War II. This series features major battles and commemorates the contribution to the war effort by the citizens of major Russian cities, such as the defense of Moscow (Fig. 17), cannon manufacturing in Tula (Fig. 18), and a convoy of trucks relieving the siege of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) (Fig. 19).

Fig. 17: Russian Federation. CN two rubles. Moscow mint. 2000, dedicated to the defense of Moscow during World War II (October 1941-January 1942). (ANS 2006.9.8, gift of Olga Chizhevskaya) 22.9 mm. Moscow was proclaimed a “Hero City” and awarded the order of V. I. Lenin and the medal of the Gold Star, by the Soviet government on May 8, 1965.

Fig. 18: Russian Federation. CN two rubles. Moscow mint, 2000, dedicated to cannon manufacturing in Tula during the WWII. (ANS 2006.9.7, gift of Olga Chizhevskaya) 22.8mm. The city of Tula was proclaimed a “Hero City” and awarded the medal of the Gold Star and the order of V. I. Lenin by the Soviet government in 1976.

Fig. 19: Russian Federation. CN two rubles. Moscow mint, 2000, commemorating a convoy of truck relieving the siege of Leningrad (St. Petersburg). (ANS 2006.9.9, gift of Olga Chizhevskaya) 22.8 mm. The city was proclaimed a “Hero City” and awarded the order of V. I. Lenin and the medal of the Gold Star for heroism, on May 1, 1945, after a 900-day siege by Nazi troops.

On April 12, 1961, the Russian spacecraft Vostok, carrying a single young pilot, blasted into Earth orbit, making Yuri Gagarin the first man in space. In 2001, the Bank of Russia commemorated the fortieth anniversary of this first manned space flight with a new issue of copper-nickel two-ruble coins (Fig. 20). The reverse of these coins bears a portrait of the first Soviet cosmonaut in a military uniform and a facsimile of his signature, GAGARIN. This specimen, also the gift of Ms. Chizhevskaya, is not only a fine addition to our Russian cabinet but also to our collection of numismatic objects relating to the history of aviation and space exploration.

Fig. 20: Russian Federation. CN two rubles. Moscow mint, 2002, commemorating the 40th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s space flight (April 12, 1961). (ANS 2006.9.10, gift of Olga Chizhevskaya) 22.9 mm.

Several handsome additions have been made to the ANS Department of Medals. As a tribute to Admiral Horatio, Lord Nelson (1758-1805) and his triumphant victory over Napoleon’s finest fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar, in 1805, British artist Malcolm Appleby designed the exquisite silver Bicentenary Trafalgar Medal, which is as special and dramatic as the event it celebrates (Fig. 21). The shape of the medal reproduced the Nelson profile from the famous oil sketch of the Admiral painted on board HMS Victory on December 21, 1805, by Arthur William Devis (Fig. 22). The specimen was generously donated to the ANS by Dr. Ute Wartenberg Kagan.

Fig. 21: Great Britain. AR bicentennial commemorative medal dedicated to Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson’s victory in the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), by Malcolm Appleby, 2005. (ANS 2006.15.1, gift of Dr. Ute Wartenberg Kagan) 63.6 x 74 mm.

Fig. 22: Portrait of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson (1758-1805). Oil. By Arthur William Devis. Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth. 1805.

ANS Fellow Scott H. Miller contributed brass electrotype shells of the obverse and reverse of the New York Zoological Society’s Madison Grant commemorative medal of 1931 (Fig. 23), designed by John Ray Sinnock, chief engraver of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia at the time. Madison Grant (1865-1937), known primarily for his work as a eugenicist, was responsible for The Passing of the Great Race (1916), one of the most well-known works of scientific racism. This book contains Grant’s interpretation of contemporary anthropology and history as revolving chiefly around the idea of “race”—specifically the idea of the Nordic race. It was published by the Nazi government when it first took power in Germany, and due to the strong associations of Grant’s eugenic thinking with Nazi German politics and ideology, his work as a conservationist has been somewhat ignored and obscured; many organizations with which he was once associated prefer to play down their connections with him.

Fig. 23: United States. AE electrotype shells of the New York Zoological Society’s Madison Grant (1865-1937) commemorative medal, by John Ray Sinnock, 1931. (ANS 2006.7.1-2, gift of Scott H. Miller) 149.4 mm.

As a conservationist, Grant was credited with the saving of many different animal species, founding many different environmental and philanthropic organizations, and developing much of the discipline of wildlife management. He helped develop the first deer-hunting laws in New York State, founded the Bronx Zoo, built the Bronx River Parkway, helped save the American bison by organizing the American Bison Society, and helped create Glacier and Denali National Parks. He was the head of the New York Zoological Society from 1925 until his death in 1937. The original 1931 medal, of which the ANS now has the galvanos, was presented to Grant by the Board of the New York Zoological Society in recognition of his achievement as an administrator and conservationist. It is an interesting and important artifact, reflecting positive features of Grant’s contradictory accomplishments.

Among other new accessions in the Medals Department is a gift from our 1995 J. Sanford Saltus Award recipient, medallic artist Alex Shagin, who sculpted and generously donated examples of the Society’s new honorific medal dedicated to famed numismatist and benefactor Q. David Bowers. The gift included medals in silver (Fig. 24) and bronze, as well as the steel obverse hub and a 230 mm plaster model of the same work. (On January 12, 2006, the original silver award medal was presented to Mr. Bowers in the festive atmosphere of this year’s extremely successful ANS Annual Dinner Gala.) Shagin also donated a fascinating and peculiar silver medal (Fig. 25). One side of the medal, bearing the legend INTELLIGENT DESIGN, shows a drawing of a robot on an easel and Auguste Rodin’s Thinker, with an ape in the same posture seated at right. On the reverse is the image of human and robot hands joined by handcuffs; around, a legend reads AND THE MISSING LINK?

Fig. 24: United States. The American Numismatic Society. AR honorific medal dedicated to Q. David Bowers, by Alex Shagin, 2006. (ANS 2006.16.1, gift of Alex Shagin) 47 mm.

Fig. 25: United States. AR medal “Intelligent Design,” by Alex Shagin, 2005. (ANS 2006.17.1, gift of Alex Shagin) 47 mm.

Watching with great interest ongoing discussions on the subject of intelligent design, the artist could not resist the temptation to contribute to this hot debate, to make a comment and flesh it out in the laconic format of a small medallion. His goal was not to answer any of the multitudes of questions this debate has engendered, but simply to visualize them within the context of our cultural system of values and put the problem in historical perspective. Art and Science! Fact and Opinions! Faith and Knowledge! For Shagin, Rodin’s Thinker was created as a tribute to the genius of Michelangelo, whose frescoes in the Sistine Chapel sent a message of humanism and compassion that still enlightens our troubled world. The artist hopes that the human race will not continue its unchecked acceleration of the “rat race,” which may ultimately render us obsolete. As Shagin mentioned in his letter to the ANS, “We need to remember that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”


In January, the ANS provided eleven objects to the Bruce Museum of Art and Science in Greenwich, Connecticut, for an exhibition entitled Ben Franklin’s Curious Mind. Among the ANS items are examples of the bronze, 1776-dated Libertas Americana French medal by Augustin Dupré, struck in commemoration of the American Revolution and subsequent independence; the bronze medal of 1784, with Franklin’s image—another composition by Dupré (Fig. 26); the 1777 French terracotta uniface medallion with Franklin’s fur-capped portrait, by Jean-Baptiste Nini; the “Fugio” or “Franklin” copper of 1787; and colonial Pennsylvania and Delaware currency issues of 1759-1760. Along with Franklin-related objects from other museums and institutions, the ANS items will be on display at the Bruce Museum until April 23, 2006.

Fig. 26: France. AE portrait medal of Benjamin Franklin, by Augustin Dupré, 1784. (ANS 1940.100.188, gift of Mrs. Robert James Eidlitz. Bequest of Robert James Eidlitz) 46 mm.

Several ANS objects are featured in the exhibition “The Fur Trade of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries in North America,” at the Wenham Museum, in Wenham, Massachusetts. These include a Franco-American jeton of Louis XV, bearing an image of beavers building a dam; the British colonial Indian Friendship medal of George I, depicting an Indian hunting a deer; the British Colonial (Pennsylvania) Indian Friendship medal of George II, with the image of a Quaker offering a pipe to an Indian; and the British Colonial “Hungry Wolf” Indian Friendship medal of George III, with its portrayal of a lion (the British government) looking at a hungry, skulking wolf, which perhaps represents the rebellious American colonists (Fig. 27). This exhibition focuses on the effect European fashion had on the American continent as traders came to get pelts for hats back home and interacted with American Indians, who were eager to trap beaver in exchange for European goods. The exhibit addresses the wars the fur trade caused between Europeans and different northeastern tribes, and shows the effects that European trade had on the life of American Indians. It will remain on view at the Wenham Museum until July 2006.

Fig. 27: Great Britain (American Colonial), George III (1760-1820). AR Indian Friendship “Hungry Wolf” Medal, Royal Mint, ca. 1776. (ANS 0000.999.32901) 61.75 mm.