From the Collections Manager: Recent Acquisitions (Winter 2008)

by Elena Stolyarik

During the past season, significant purchases were made for the coin cabinet, a few of which may be singled out for special mention. From Classical Numismatic Group Auctions (CNG 76, 9/12/07; and CNG e-sale 9/27/07), the ANS acquired an extraordinary group of coins from the former collection of Christopher Morcom, founded by Col. R. K. Morcom (1877–1961), who, during the 1920s and 1930s, obtained many Greek bronzes of great rarity from the Allatini, Bement, Lambros, Michailovitch, Osman Noury Bey, Pozzi, Ridgeway, Rogers, Sydenham, Vierordt, Vlasto, Warren, and Weber collections. The ANS purchases from the Morcom collection include a group of fourth–third century BC Thracian coins from Madytos, Perinthos, Sestos, Myrina, and rare bronzes of the kings Ketriporis (c. 356–352/1 BC) and Rhoemetalkes I (ca. 11 BC–AD 12). Macedonian coinages from the end of the fifth to the first part of the fourth century BC are represented by an extremely rare bronze from Phrages (one of nine known) (fig. 1) and another rarity from Potidaia. We also acquired an exceptionally rare issue of the Thessalian mint city Phakion from the third century BC (fig. 2), as well as a rare bronze of the fourth century BC, struck in the name of Tirynthians, and an extremely rare silver obol—the latter two from the Argolid mint Halieis. Another interesting group consists of seven rare bronze coins of the late fourth through first centuries BC, all from the Cyclades.

Fig. 1. Macedonia. Phagres. AE coin, c. 400-356 BC. (ANS 2008.1.8, purchase) 11.0 mm.

Fig. 2. Thessaly. Phakion. AE coin, third century BC. (ANS 2008.1.12, purchase) 20.0 mm.

Additional parts of the Morcom Collection the ANS has acquired include the peculiar late fifth–fourth century BC cast coin in shape of a “dolphin” from Olbia, the Milesian city-state in the northern Black Sea region (fig. 3); a tiny cast wheel coin from Istros, another Greek colony on the Black Sea, founded near the Danubean Delta by Milesian settlers; a fourth-century BC silver hemidrachm from the Thracian Chersonesos; a small bronze from Mesambria; an issue of the Thracian king Lysimachos; Macedonian royal issues of Kassander and Demetrios I Poliorketes; and an issue of the Epeirote king Alexander I. Bronze coins of the third–second century BC from Illyria were represented by rare issues of Apollonia and Byllis. A further interesting addition to the collection is a rare and apparently unpublished coin of Lappa, in Crete, which probably should be attributed to Larissa Phrikonis in Aeolis (fig. 4).

Fig. 3. Sarmatia. Olbia. Cast AE fifth-fourth century BC. (ANS 2008.2.1, purchase) 25.0 mm.

Fig. 4. Crete. Lappa (?). AE coin, c. 200-67 BC. (ANS 2008.2.22, purchase) 10.0 mm.

From the Münzen & Medaillen BCD Sale Auction (10/18/2007), the ANS acquired a group of sixty-eight important Akarnanian coins. Among these are very rare fifth–fourth century BC hemidrachms and trihemiobols of Stratus, an extremely rare second-century BC silver stater from Leukas (fig. 5), and an exceptionally rare and unpublished Alyzian bronze of the fourth–third century BC (fig. 6). The Akarnanian mint city Anactorium is represented by a very rare third-century BC bronze coin and a silver drachm of the second century BC. Through this sale, the ANS obtained other extremely rare items, including the second known example from Astacus (fig. 7), a fifth–fourth century BC silver triobol and trihemiobol from Stratus, and one of the five known pieces from Aitolian Apollonia.

Fig. 5. Akarnania. Leukas. AR stater, c. 180-167 BC. (ANS 2008.10.7, purchase) 26.4 mm.

Fig. 6. Akarnania. Alyzia. AE coin, c. 330-280 BC. (ANS 2008.10.11, purchase) 18.0 mm.

Fig. 7. Akarnania. Astacus. AE coin, c. 360-330 BC. (ANS 2008.10.42, purchase) 18.0 mm.

By purchase from the Numismatik Lanz München (Auction 138, 11/26/2007), we acquired a small group of coins including a rare issue of Alexander III (the Great) from Lykaonia, two fourth-century BC bronzes of the Thracian kings Amatokos II (359–351 BC) and Seuthes III (c. 330–295 BC), and a very rare silver tetradrachm (the only one known in private hands) of another Thracian ruler, King Skostokos (c. 285–281 BC) (fig. 8). Fine additions to this group are a rare coin of the last Celtic king of Thrace, Kavaros (230–200 BC) (fig. 9), and two interesting second-century BC Scythian royal bronze issues of Scythia Minor (Dobrudja) struck by Kanites (fig. 10) and Ailis.

Fig. 8. Thrace. Skostokos. AR tetradrachm, c. 285-281 BC. (ANS 2008.14.5, purchase). 28.3 mm.

Fig. 9. Thrace. Kavaros. AE coin, c. 230-200 BC. (ANS 2008.14.6, purchase) 14.0 mm.

Fig. 10. Scythia Minor. King Kanites. AE coin, second century BC. (ANS 2008.14.7, purchase) 25.4 mm.

Further purchases included thirteen interesting coins obtained from the Classical Numismatic Group Auction held during the New York International Numismatic Convention (1/8–9/2008). One is an unpublished and possibly unique fifth-century BC silver obol from the Arkadian mint Psophis (fig. 11); another, an Achaean bronze sestertius of Mark Antony’s “Fleet Coinage” (38–37 BC); a third is a bronze coin from Ephesus issued by Octavian, Mark Antony, and Lepidus. Others include several extremely rare bronzes from Lydian Tralles and Carian Alabanda issued by Augustus (27 BC–AD 14) and an exceptionally rare dupondius of Augustus or Tiberius (27 BC–AD 37) from the mint of Thaena in Byzacium (fig. 12).

Fig. 11. Arkadia. Psophis. AR obol, c. 490-460 BC. (ANS 2008.24.1, purchase) 9.4 mm.

Fig. 12. Augustus (Tiberius ?) (27 BC-AD 37). AE coin. Byzacium, Thaena. (ANS 2008.24.11, purchase) 30.9 mm.

Through the Classical Numismatic Group electronic sale (no. 181, 2/7/2008), the ANS collection of Roman provincial coins grew by thirty-four examples dating from the first century BC to the first century AD. Among these are an interesting coin of the proconsul Fabius Maximus (10–9 BC) from Phrygian Hierapolis, a very rare issue of Augustus from the Nicomedian mint in Bithynia, and a rare example of Septimius Severus (AD 193–211) from Corinth. Bronze coins from several areas of Lucania, Sicily, Thrace, Thessaly, Crete, Mysia, Aeolis, Ionia, Phrygia, Cilicia, Commagene, Syria, and Zeugitana were also added to our collection through this purchase.

An exceptionally rare silver stater of 330–325 BC, an apparently unique and unrecorded issue from the Bambyce-Hierapolis mint in Syria under Alexander the Great (fig. 13), was purchased from the April Auction of Numismatica Ars Classica AG (Auction 46, 4/2/2008, lot 286). From the same sale came an unrecorded variety of a fourth-century BC silver drachm from Gaza (?), in Judaea (lot 295). A very rare and interesting third-century BC bronze, in extremely fine condition, from the mint city of Tralleis (as Seleukeia), in Lydia, was purchased from Kirk Davis, Classical Numismatics (Spring 2008 Auction, Cat 53, Lot 48) (fig. 14).

Fig. 13. Alexander the Great (?), AR stater, c. 330-325 BC. Syria. Bambyce-Hierapolis mint. (ANS 2008.36.1, purchase) 22 mm.

Fig. 14. Lydia. Tralles (as Seleukeia). AE coin, third century BC. (ANS 2008.37.1, purchase) 16.0 mm.

Several interesting gifts from the Society’s members and benefactors also improved our Greek holdings. Toward the end of 2007, longtime ANS member and benefactor Jonathan H. Kagan donated an assortment of important research material. This interesting group of fifth- and fourth-century BC silver coins consists of Sidonian double shekels, Tyrian silver Attic-weight didrachms/shekels, silver staters from Aspendos in Pamphylia, a Carian tetradrachm, several silver drachms of Sinope, ninety-two pi-style Athenian tetradrachms, and unmarked and marked Athenian imitations. A gift from Martin Huth was a late fourth-century BC Athenian imitation with a counterstamp—a fine addition to our holdings of this kind of material. A very rare and presently unpublished fourth-century BC silver obol of Seleucus I (fig. 15) and two extremely rare bronzes of Diadumenian (217–218 BC), from the mints of Anemurium and Perge, came from ANS member and good friend David L. Vagi. An extremely rare (only three known) archaic drachm of Zacynthus (?) is a very interesting gift from Dr. Paul Peter Urone (fig. 16). A fine group of historically important coins was received from Richard P. Miller, including a unique 170–160 BC tetradrachm from Klazomenai (only two other examples of this type are known, with different reverses) (fig. 17); a Seleucid tetradrachm of Antiochos IV from an uncertain (Eastern?) mint, with unrecorded control marks; and an example of a Celtic imitation of a tetradrachm of Antiochos III, from Phrygia.

Fig. 15. Seleucid Empire. Seleucus I (312-281 BC) AR obol. (ANS 2008.16.1, gift of David Vagi) 7.7 mm.

Fig. 16. Islands off Elis. Zacynthus (?). AR drachm, circa fifth century BC. (ANS 2008.17.1, gift of Dr. Paul Peter Urone) 13.3 mm.

Fig. 17. Ionia. Klazomenai. AR tetradrachm, c. 170-160 BC. (ANS 2008.30.1, gift of Richard P. Miller) 34.0 mm.

The most remarkable gift to the Greek department came from ANS Trustee Dr. Arnold-Peter C. Weiss: a donation of eighty-seven archaic Greek coins from the famous Asyut hoard (IGCH 1644), found in Egypt in 1969. The hoard consisted of numerous pieces—many bearing test cuts—from almost every location that issued coins prior to c. 475 BC (fig. 18). This new acquisition is an important source for research on the ancient economy and trade connections of the eastern Aegean in the late archaic and early classical period. Another generous gift of Dr. Weiss is an extremely rare coin (only several examples known), a silver stater from Olympia in Elis, issued by the Hera mint in conjunction with the 100th Olympiad (Seltman 290; Group E2, dies EP/qh) (fig. 19). This classic beauty, believed to have been signed by the artist Polykaon, is a truly important addition to the cabinet, particularly in this, an Olympic year.

Fig. 18. From the Asyut hoard (IGCH 1644). AR staters, fifth century BC. (ANS AccNum:2008.39, gift of Dr. Arnold-Peter Weiss)

Fig. 19. Elis, Olympia. Hera mint. AR stater, c. 380 BC. (ANS 2008.40.1, gift of Dr. Arnold-Peter C. Weiss) 24.0 mm.

An interesting and welcome new specimen in the ANS South Asian collection, a rupee of Awadh from the Najibabad mint, dated (11) 97/24, came as a gift from Alan S. DeShazo (fig. 20).

Fig. 20. India. Awadh. Asaf al-Dawla (AD 1775-1797). AR rupee. Najibabad mint. AH [11]97 (= AD 1783). Regnal year 24 of the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II (1761-1805). (ANS 2008.4.1, gift of Alan S. DeShazo) 19.8 mm.

The Central Bank of Venezuela (Banco Central de Venezuela) sent to the ANS new (2007) specimens of its recent banknotes. These colorful examples bear the images of famous patriots, statesmen, and liberators of Venezuela, among them Guaicaipuro (fig. 21), the sixteenth-century leader of the Native American tribes’ coalition against the Spanish conquest; Simón Rodríguez (1769–1854), philosopher and educator, the tutor and mentor of the legendary Latin American liberator Simón Bolívar; and Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi (1799–1866), a heroine of the Venezuelan War of Independence.

Fig. 21. Venezuela. Central Bank of Venezuela. 10 bolivares, 2007. Specimen note. Pattern No. 0204, with images of Guaicaipuro. (ANS 2008.34.3, gift of the Central Bank of Venezuela/Casa de la Moneda) 156 x 69 mm.

Jonathan K. Kern generously donated to the ANS an attractive silver-engraved badge, with pivoting-hinged ring loop and ring (fig. 22), which was sold in the Stack’s sale of the John J. Ford Jr. Collection (Part VII, 1/18/2005, lot 250). The piece was there misdescribed as depicting George Washington, whereas the badge’s principal image depicts an unidentified mid-nineteenth-century soldier. As an American Volunteers Award of the mid-nineteenth century (May 1856), this showy specimen is an important embodiment of the typical militia activities that played an important role in social life before the Civil War. The ANS is pleased to add this example to our collection.

Fig. 22. United States. American Volunteers Award. AR engraved badge, 1856. (ANS 2008.8.1, gift of Jonathan K. Kern) 81.0 x 56.0 mm.

ANS fellow Scott H. Miller enriched our medals collection, as usual, with an interesting new donation. His latest gift is an obverse galvano honoring Thomas F. Balfe, President of the Newburg Savings Bank of Newburg, New York (fig. 23). It was designed in 1924 by Paul Fjelde (1892–1984), a prominent American artist renowned for his sculptural works, including the Lincoln Monument in Oslo’s Frogner Park; the statue in Madison, Wisconsin, of Col. Hans C. Heg, leader of the Fifteenth Wisconsin Regiment, of Civil War fame; the Wendell Wilkie Memorial in the Indiana Statehouse; the bronze portrait of Orville Wright in the Hall of Fame colonnade; the John Scott Bradstreet tablet at the Minneapolis Art Institute; and the Pioneers Memorial in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Fjelde’s sculpture in Frogner Park is the only piece in that park not by the great Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland. His bust of Hans Gerhard Stub was included in the Inventory of American Sculpture at the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Fjelde served as chairman of the sculpture department at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, as a professor emeritus at the Pratt Institute of Art, and as an instructor of sculpture at the National Academy School of Fine Arts, in New York, where his artistic works were welcomed in numerous exhibitions.

Fig. 23. United States. Thomas F. Balfe, president of the Newburg Savings Bank AE uniface galvano, by Paul Fjelde, 1924. (ANS 2008.21.1, gift of Scott H. Miller) 150.9 mm.

By private treaty, the ANS purchased a remarkable bronze plaque (fig. 24) dedicated to the famous American general Robert Lee (1807–1870), the legendary figure of the Confederate forces in the East (“Army of Northern Virginia”) during the Civil War. The plaque is an artistic creation of the great American sculptor John Gutzon Borglum (1867–1941), best known as the large-scale portrait sculptor of the heads of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt on Mount Rushmore. Borglum’s massive bas relief of Lee was probably made on the occasion of the creation of the Stone Mountain, Georgia, Confederate Monument—the stone carving in relief of the South’s great Confederate leaders Lee, Jackson, and Davis. The plaque was evidently intended to be used in an administrative building on the site or to be given to one of Stone Mountain’s benefactors.

Fig. 24. United States. General Robert Lee (1807-1870) AE plaque, by John Gutzon Borglum, n.d. (ANS 2008.28.1, purchase) 370 x 410 mm.

In May, the ANS obtained an interesting purchase by private treaty of an item that had previously been offered on eBay: a unique original portrait relief of Charles Anderson Dana (1819–1897) by the preeminent American medallic sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Previously unknown in medallic format, the portrait was originally executed for incorporation in the now lost Dana plaque (1899), known only from photos. The Society is very proud to add this excellent piece to our collection of Saint-Gaudens’s works. Discussion of this important sample may be found in Robert Hoge’s article in the next issue of the ANS Magazine.