From the Collections Manager (Winter 2004)

by Elena Stolyarik

New Acquisitions

The new fiscal year at the ANS started in October and all new acquisitions we have received thus far for 2005 are donations to the Medals Department. The first gift came from our guest and colleague from St. Petersburg (Russia), the chief keeper of the Coin Department of the State Hermitage Museum, Masha Marshak. This wonderful donation consisted of two modern medals struck at the Moscow State Mint, both designed by the chief engraver of this mint, Victor Erokhin. One of these is a medal struck in conjunction of the XII Russian Numismatic Conference of 2004, at the same time commemorating six centuries of minting in Moscow.

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Russia, XII Russian Numismatic Conference, AR medal commemorating six centuries of minting in Moscow. Moscow mint, by Victor Erokhin, 2004 (ANS 2005.1.2, gift of the Coin Department of the State Hermitage Museum), 37 mm.

The second medal celebrates the sesquicentennial of the opening of the New Hermitage building on 5 (17) February 1852, in the reign of Czar Nicholas I. Since that date, the Imperial Court Collections—which started in the eighteenth century as a private collection of the Empress Catherine II and remained the private property of the Romanov dynasty until the revolution of 1917—have been open to visitors. The New Hermitage became the first Russian Public Museum. By the time of the Museum’s opening, the numismatic collection of the Hermitage already had almost a century of history behind it, but this was the first time the coins from the Emperor’s Munzkabinet appeared on display. An 1853 watercolor by Luigi Premazzi recorded this first coin exhibition. In 2002 the image from Premazzi’s painting of this exhibition in the Twelve Columns Hall, with its two rows of windows, upper gallery and display cases, decorated with allegorical figures, was reproduced on a commemorative medal as a reminder of the world-famous museum and the history of numismatics in Russia.


”Russia, AE medal 150th anniversary of the opening of the New Hermitage Building/First Numismatic Exhibition in Hermitage. Moscow mint, by Victor Erokhin, 2002 (ANS 2005.1.1, gift of the Coin Department of the State Hermitage Museum), 64 mm.


Watercolor by Luigi Premazzi, 1853, depicting the first numismatic exhibition in the Twelve Columns Hall at the New Hermitage Museum.

In October, the ANS coin cabinet also received two silver proof medals from one of our thirty-year members, Mr. Yeghia T. Nercessian. The medal was dedicated to Dr. Paul Z. Bedoukian and became the “Paul Z. Bedoukian Armenian Numismatic Award” medal. An Armenian artist, Hagor Ishkanian, prepared the plaster cast and the medallic company Lialoosin arranged the dies and struck three gold and two hundred silver medals with the portrait of Dr. Bedoukian on one side and the Armenian Numismatic Society seal on the other. On September 1, 2000, the gold and silver versions of the medal were presented to Paul Z. Bedoukian; only a few months later, he passed away.


United States, Paul Z. Bedoukian Armenian Numismatic Award, AR medal, by Hagor Ishkanian, 2000 (ANS 2005.2.1, gift of Yeghia T. Nercessian), 38.4 mm.

Another interesting gift came from a recent auction at Sotheby’s of property from the estate of the famous American actress Katharine Hepburn. It is a bronze plaque on a wood base with the image of Shakespeare and an inscription reading, “The Shakespeare Club of New York City Annual Award 1950 to Katherine Hepburn — for Meritorious Service in the Shakespeare Theater.” This item was won and subsequently donated by one of our long-time members who was recently made a Fellow, Michael Parris. His gift will be a significant addition to the ANS holding of the plaques and medals, which reflect the theatrical tradition and history of art in New York.

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United States, The Shakespeare Club of New York City, AE Plaque, 1950, awarded to Katharine Hepburn. (ANS 2005.3.1, gift of Michael Parris) 28.5 x 21.5 mm.

Exhibitions

The curatorial department continues to work closely with different cultural institutions on the loan requests. During the fall season, ANS objects appeared on display at numerous museums and galleries. Seven medals and plaques by the prominent American artists Henry Hering, Frances Grimes and Herbert Adams, selected by ANS curator Robert Hoge for the exhibition at the Cornish Colony Gallery and Museum in New Hampshire, were an important part of the very successful exhibit entitled “A Cornish Colony Extravaganza.”

A Spanish Colonial silver bar, ca. 1522-1535, became a part of the five-year inaugural exhibit, “Our Peoples,” at the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of the American Indian.



Spanish Colonial Mexico, AR bar, ca 1522-1535 (ANS 2002.34.4, purchase), 370 x 133 x 27 mm.

Three outstanding ANS items, a Massachusetts Pine Tree shilling, a Georgia $20 note of 1776 and a Libertas Americana bronze medal, were incorporated into the exhibit entitled “American Vision of Liberty and Freedom,” at the Virginia Historical Society. This is a three-year traveling exhibit that will also be shown at the Maryland Historical Society (April 2-July 24, 2005); the Heinz History Center, in Pittsburg (September 3-December 24, 2005); the Atlanta History Center (January 28-May 21, 2006); the National Heritage Museum, in Lexington, Massachusetts (June 24-October 15, 2006) and the Missouri Historical Society, in St. Louis (November 18, 2006-March 11, 2007).


United States, Libertas Americana AE medal, 1782/3, by Augustine Dupré (ANS 0000.999.38370), 47 mm.

In November 2004, the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) opened an exhibition entitled Pontormo, Bronzino and the Medici: The Transformation of the Renaissance Portrait. This exhibition is based upon two museum portraits by the great Cinquecento Florentine masters Pontormo and Bronzino depicting the Dukes Alessandro and Cosimo I de’ Medici. For this exhibition, the PMA requested the Roman coin with the images of Brutus on obverse and pileus and two daggers on reverse. This famous denarius is on display next to a renaissance medal by Giovanni da Cavino featuring on one side, a copy of the reverse of Brutus’ denarius. The medal was commissioned by the assassin of Duke Alessandro de’ Medici as a declaration that he was liberating Florence from tyranny, using Brutus’ murder of Julius Caesar as example. The exhibition will be on display until February 13, 2005.

The ANS is also an important lender to the exhibition entitled “Alexander the Great” at the Onassis Foundation, in New York City. Among the items on loan from Vergina, Pella, Thessaloniki, Dion, and the Acropolis Museum in Athens are important coins from the ANS that were selected by Dr. Peter van Alfen, the Margaret Thompson Assistant Curator of Greek Coins. Seven coins of Alexander the Great, including a rare “Poros” tetradrachm; nine coins of the Alexander’s predecessors (Alexander I, Perdiccas II, Archelaus I, Aeropus, Amyntas, Perdicas, Philip II); eight coins of his successors Lysimachus, Ptolemy I, Seleucus I, Eucratides are on display, all of which are invaluable witnesses to the tumultuous history of the late fourth century BC.


Alexander III (336-323), AR tetradrachm of the “Poros” type, (ANS 1990.1.1, purchase) 27mm.