From the Collections Manager (Summer 2006)

by Elena Stolyarik

To enhance its strength as an essential research center, the American Numismatic Society continues to purchase new items and to accept, with great satisfaction, all interesting donations.

During the past several months, the cabinet has acquired a fine group of lots from several sales. Through the Classical Numismatic Group Auction of the BCD collection of Boiotian coinage, the ANS obtained twelve extremely rare items, including a Federal tetartemorion (Fig. 1) and an unpublished variety of Orkhomenos hemiobol of the fifth century BC (Fig. 2), a silver obol of the fourth century BC from Plataiai (probably the third known example) (Fig. 3), and an exceptionally rare bronze piece struck after 387 BC in conjunction with the celebration of the Boiotian cities’ autonomy proclaimed by the Peace of Antalkidas (Fig. 4).

Fig. 1. Boiotia, federal coinage. AR tetartemorion (0.16 g), 475-450 BC. (AccNum:ANS 2006.20.1, purchase) 5 mm.

Fig. 2. Boiotia, Orkhomenos. AR hemiobol (0.34 g), 475-425 BC. (ANS 2006.20.6, purchase) 8.9 mm.

Fig. 3. Boiotia, Plataiai. AR obol (0.80 g), 387-372 BC. (ANS 2006.20.8, purchase) 9.8 mm.

Fig. 4. Boiotia, Plataiai. AE, 387-372 BC. (ANS 2006.20.9, purchase) 22 mm.

The spring auction of LHS Numismatics (May 8-9, 2006) of Zurich provided the ANS with another fine purchasing opportunity. Eighty new examples from the superb BCD collection of Peloponnesian coins were garnered from this sale. Among these are sixteen silver and bronze examples dating from the fifth to the first century BC. They include an exceptional obol of the late fourth or early third century from Epidauros (Fig. 5), an extremely rare—if not unique—tetartemorion of 460-420 BC from Kleonai (Fig. 6), and an extremely rare and apparently unpublished hemiobol of 420 BC from Kleitor, the leading member of the Arkadian Confederacy by the early fifth century BC (Fig. 7). Coins of Psophis, an important crossroads for trade between Arkadia and Elis, are represented by an extremely rare and apparently otherwise unpublished obol of the mid-fifth century BC (Fig. 8). Coins from other several areas of Akhaia, Argolis, and Arkadia were also added to our collection though this purchase.

Fig. 5. Argolis, Epidauros. AR obol (0.93 g), late fourth or early third century BC. (ANS 2006.31.4, purchase) 11 mm.

Fig. 6. Argolis, Kleonai. AR tetartemorion (0.22 g), 460-420 BC. (ANS 2006.31.6, purchase) 7 mm.

Fig. 7. Arkadia, Kleitor. AR hemiobol (0.29 g), c. 420 BC or later. (ANS 2006.31.7, purchase) 8 mm.

Fig. 8. Arkadia, Psophis. AR obol (1.00 g), c. mid-fifth century BC. (ANS 2006.31.8, purchase) 9 mm.

Also through purchases at this BCD auction of LHS Numismatics, the ANS collection of Roman provincial bronze coinage grew by sixty-seven examples dating from the first to the third centuries AD. Among these are an extremely rare issue of Septimius Severus that seems never to have been published (Fig. 9) and several rare bronzes of Geta Caesar, Julia Domna, and Caracalla—all from Phliasia. From the mint of Sicyon comes another very rare coin issued by the magistrate C. Iulius Polyaenus to commemorate Nero’s visit to Greece (Fig. 10).

Fig. 9. Septimius Severus (193-211 AD). Phlius. AE 2 assaria. (ANS 2006.31.14, purchase) 24 mm.

Fig. 10. Nero (54-68 AD). Sicyon. AE assarion, c. 67-68 AD. (ANS 2006.31.22, purchase) 19 mm.

Some marvelous additions to our collection of American medals were obtained from the latest sale of the famous John J. Ford, Jr., Collection (Stack’s Auction, May 23, 2006). These were medals drawn from the various series of works classified by C. Wyllys Betts (American Colonial History Illustrated by Contemporary Medals, New York, 1894), the subject of the ANS’s 2004 Coinage of the Americas Conference (COAC), though the Ford Collection also included some relevant pieces unrecognized by Betts.

Thanks to ANS benefactor and trustee Roger Siboni, our current treasurer, the society was able to acquire four of these highly interesting medals for the cabinet. Among these is a silver example, of extremely fine quality, of the German Safety at Sea medal of 1755. This medal, with its allegorical allusion to Britannia, along with an Indian and alligator personifying the New World holdings of France, hints at the perilous state of the colonies of the two nations. (Fig. 11). The medal’s obverse was signed by Peter Paul Werner, a prominent engraver and medalist from Nuremberg, who worked primarily in Germany for several princely courts. Another of the important new American historical medals we have acquired as part of Siboni’s gift is a near-mint-state example of the 1759 Guadalupe Surrenders medal in bronze (Fig. 12). The dies were cut by Lewis Pingo, a member of the prolific British medalist family of that name, from designs finished by Stuart under the direction of Thomas Hollis. Hollis’s Society Promoting Arts and Commerce, mentioned on the medal’s reverse, offered prizes for the best designs of medals commemorating British victories—intended to encourage young people in their search for fortune. We also received a copper 1759 Quebec Taken medal, with beautiful images of Britannia and Victory crowning a trophy of French arms (Fig. 13). This medal is in fact a rare muling of types, unlisted in Betts or the more recent work of Christopher Eimer (The Pingo Family and Medal Making in Eighteenth-Century Britain, London, 1998), and is an artistic work of John Pingo, another member of the talented Pingo family. A further excellent addition to the cabinet thanks to the Siboni gift is the quite rare silver Europe Hopes for Peace medal of 1762, signed by Johann George Holtzhey, the prolific Dutch medalist. This work is a tremendous example of faultless eighteenth-century neoclassicism (Fig. 14).

Fig. 11. Germany (American Historical Series). AR Safety at Sea medal, by Peter Paul Werner, 1755. (ANS 2006.34.1, gift of Roger Siboni) 35.1 mm.

Fig. 12. Great Britain (American Historical Series). AE Guadalupe Surrenders medal, by Lewis Pingo, 1759. (ANS 2006.34.2, gift of Roger Siboni) 39.8 mm.

Fig. 13. Great Britain (American Historical Series). AE Quebec Taken medal, by Thomas Pingo, 1759. (ANS 2006.34.3, gift of Roger Siboni) 40 mm.

Fig. 14. Netherlands (American Historical Series). AR Europe Hopes for Peace medal, by Johann Georg Holtzhey, 1762. (ANS 2006.34.4, gift of Roger Siboni) 44 mm.

Seventeen other medals of early American historical importance that were not yet represented in the cabinet were also acquired by purchase from the Ford Collection sale. Some of these “Betts” medals thus added are a bronze version of The Spanish Plate Fleet Captured medal of 1745 signed by John Kirk (a pupil of the Genevan master James Anthony Dassier), and a rare unsigned silver Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle medal of 1748, with a magnificent allegorical composition of Piety at an altar (Fig. 15). Several medals from this acquisition are dedicated to North American battles and campaigns. One of these is a bronze Louisbourg Taken medal, made and signed by John Kirk, with an image of Britannia designed by Giovanni Battista Cipriani at the request of Thomas Hollis (Fig. 16). Jean Dassier cut an extremely fine example of a 1760 issue from the series of Triumphs Everywhere (Fig. 17). Three attractive new silver medals acquired were dedicated to the series of the Treaty of Hubertusburg, the pact signed on February 15, 1763, by Prussia, Austria, and Saxony, sealing the cessation of European hostilities. Together with the contemporaneous Treaty of Paris, this marked the end of the French and Indian War, also called the Seven Years’ War. The medals from this series are signed by the famous German medalist and gem engraver Johann Leonhard Oexlein (Fig. 18) and by Daniel Friedrich Loos, the well-known chief engraver and medallic artist of the Prussian court’s mint at Berlin. The valuable purchases from the John J. Ford, Jr., medal collection, mentioned above, fill several gaps in the cabinet and will be a great contribution to the ANS’s holdings of items related to early American history.

Fig. 15. Netherlands (American Historical Series). AR Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle medal, 1748. (ANS 2006.33.2, purchase) 43 mm.

Fig. 16. Great Britain (American Historical Series). AE Louisbourg Taken medal, designed by Giovanni Battista Cipriani, signed by John Kirk, 1758. (ANS 2006.33.7, purchase) 40 mm.

Fig. 17. Great Britain (American Historical Series). AE Triumphs Everywhere medal, by Jean Dassier, 1760. (ANS 2006.33.10, purchase) 40.5 mm.

Fig. 18. Germany (American Historical Series). AR Treaty of Hubertusburg medal, signed by Johann Leonhard Oexlein, 1763. (ANS 2006.33.15, purchase) 44 mm.

ANS Fellow Jonathan Kagan kindly added to our collection of French medals a new example of a bronze galvano shell of 1831, designed by Pierre-Jean David d’Angers (1788-1856) (Fig. 19). This famous French sculptor is generally credited as the prime mover in the revival of medallic art in the early nineteenth century. Among the numerous luminaries featured in David’s “historical gallery,” this new ANS example celebrates the Abbé de la Mennais (1780-1860), known as one of the founders of the Brothers of Christian Instruction (or “De la Mennais Brothers”), a group with the principal purpose of educating the youth of Brittany.

Fig. 19. France. Abbot de la Mennais, AE galvano shell medal, by Pierre-Jean David d’Angers, 1831. (ANS 2006.24.1, gift of Jonathan Kagan) 159 x 148 mm.

Scott Miller, another generous benefactor of our medals collection, donated a bronze medal with an image of Eleanor Roosevelt (Fig. 20). This realistic portrait of America’s most influential First Lady represents the work of the talented Marika Somogyi, from California. She is a member of AMSA and a recipient of several awards, including the American Numismatic Association’s Numismatic Art Award for Excellence in Medallic Sculpture and the U.S. Mint’s commemorative silver dollar competition.

Fig. 20. United States. Eleanor Roosevelt, AE portrait medal, by Marika Somogyi. (ANS 2006.25.1, gift of Scott Miller) 108 mm.

The ANS received from Ms. Delores Scott a group of unusual objects: ceramic “medals-coins” (Fig. 21). New York artist Beriah Wall, who has designed and produced over 500,000 plaster and ceramic “tokens” with different inscriptions on each side, made these curiosities some years ago. The artist believed that the messages on his “numismatic” artifacts could reach a wide audience, and they should be seen as enigmatic samples of an already passing culture.

Fig. 21. United States. Ceramic “medal-coins,” by Beriah Wall, 1980s. (ANS 2006.29.1-8, gift of Delores Scott) 30-48 mm.

Our collection of modern U.S. tokens acquired new samples from Dr. Sebastian Heath and ANS Fellow Anthony Terranova. Mr. Terranova also presented to the ANS’s United States cabinet a dangerous counterfeit of a Massachusetts Bay Colony “Oak Tree” sixpence (Noe 17) and a latex mold for a counterfeit U.S. 1882 5-dollar gold piece (Fig. 22).

Fig. 22. United States. Latex mold for a counterfeit U.S. 1882 AV five dollars.(ANS 2006.30.2, gift of Anthony Terranova) 60 x 35 x 17.5 mm.

ANS member Leonard Mazzone donated two silver Austrian coins—a 5 shilling of 1968 and a 10 shilling of 1973—which were lacking in our collection. Dr. Ute Wartenberg Kagan contributed a 1997 Royal Canadian Mint proof set of four high-quality sterling silver 50-cent pieces (with frosted relief on a brilliant background).

The ANS received a particularly generous gift from the Stack family: a splendid selection of more than 322 uncirculated commemorative issues, which greatly improves our collection of recent U.S. coins. Among these issues lacking from the collection are gold five dollars and silver dollars of the 1983-1984 proof sets, dedicated to the 23rd Summer Olympic games in Los Angeles (Fig. 23). These were the first Olympic commemorative coins ever issued by the United States; this was also the first time since 1933 that the United States had issued a gold coin at all, and these coins also included the first in U.S. history to bear the West Point mint mark. The greatly respected American artist Jamie Wyeth and U.S. Mint engraver Thomas D. Rogers, Sr., created and designed the proof silver dollar dedicated to the 1995 Special Olympic World Games, with the portrait of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and an image of the special Olympic medal and a rose, with Shriver’s quote: “As we hope for the best in them, hope is reborn in us” (Fig. 24).

Fig. 23. United States, Philadelphia. AR one dollar, 1984. Los Angeles XXIII Olympiad commemorative. This proof specimen is part of a six-coin cased set in presentation box. (ANS 2006.32.3, gift of the Stack family) 27 mm.

Fig. 24. United States, Philadelphia. AR one dollar, 1995. Special Olympics World Games commemorative. (ANS 2006.32.11, gift of the Stack family) 38.1 mm.

Also among the Stacks’ gifts is the proof set of the gold five dollars, silver dollar, and clad half dollar commemorating Civil War battlefields and issued by the U.S. Mint to help fund preservation efforts for Civil War landmarks. Their realistic images, designed by the well-known historical artist Don Troiani and executed by the prolific sculptors and engravers Alfred Maletsky, John Mercanti, and James Ferrell, evoke memorable episodes of this epic struggle (Fig. 25). The bicentennial proof gold five dollars of George Washington, issued in 1999 in commemoration of his death, was created to help supplement the Mount Vernon Ladies Association’s endowment to provide permanent support for the preservation of Washington’s home at Mount Vernon (Fig. 26). The obverse bears the outstanding portrait originally designed by leading American sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser (1899-1966) in 1931 to commemorate the bicentennial of Washington’s birth (in 1732). The Fine Arts Commission unanimously voted her design the winner of the government’s coinage competition, but Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon declined this decision and awarded the commission to John Flanagan, whose design still appears on American quarter dollars. With its 1999 issue, the U.S. Mint not only commemorated the “Father of His Country,” but finally paid an overdue tribute to an illustrious American artist.

Fig. 25. United States, West Point. AV five dollars, 1995. Civil War Battlefield commemorative. This proof specimen is part of a six-coin set in presentation case. (ANS 2006.32.14, gift of the Stack family) 21.6 mm.

Fig. 26. United States, West Point. AV five dollars, proof, 1999. George Washington Bicentennial commemorative. (ANS 2006.32.22, gift of the Stack family) 21.6 mm.

Overlapping portraits of Orville and Wilbur Wright and the 1903 “Wright’s Flyer” are the images shown on the proof gold ten-dollar coin issued by the Treasury Department in 2003 (Fig. 27). This issue sought to commemorate the centennial of the Wright brothers’ historic first flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903. The proof silver dollar produced in 2004 in recognition of the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition featured a vignette of the explorers standing on the bank of a stream, planning another day of travel, and an image of the Jefferson Indian Peace medal, which the captains were to present to Native Americans during their exploration, on behalf of their “Great White Father” (Fig. 28). The ANS’s examples of the actual Jefferson Indian Peace medal, along with the “Washington Seasons medals”—also carried by Lewis and Clark for distribution to tribesmen of lower rank—have continued to travel around the country with the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Exhibition, organized by the Missouri Historical Society. From May to September of this year, they will be on view at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Fig. 27. United States, West Point. AV ten dollars, proof, 2003. Orville and Wilbur Wright, First Flight Centennial commemorative. (ANS 2006.32.23, gift of the Stack family) 27 mm.

Fig. 28. United States, Philadelphia. AR one dollar, proof, 2004. Lewis and Clark Bicentennial commemorative. (ANS 2006.32.24, gift of the Stack family) 38.1 mm.