Current Exhibitions (Winter 2003)

by Elena Stolyarik

The ANS continues to be the principal lender of numismatic objects to other Museums and related institutions. A silver coin with an image of the infant Heracles strangling snakes was lent for an exhibit entitled “Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past.” This is the first major exhibition to explore the images of childhood from ancient Greece. Over 120 art objects present the images and stories of children in mythology and their participation in religious rituals, and chronicle the emotional and familial environment in which children were raised. This touring exhibition will be on view at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire (August 23-December 5, 2003); the Onassis Foundation, New York City (January 20-April 15, 2004); the Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio (May 21-August 1, 2004), and the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California (September 14- December 16, 2004).


Silver stater from Bruttium, Croton with an image of the infant Heracles strangling snakes, ca. 404 B.C. Gift of Mrs. G.P. Cammann (ANS 1955.54.42)

A Thomas Jefferson Indian Peace Medal and a US mint $10 gold of 1803 were incorporated into the traveling exhibit “Beyond Lewis and Clark: The Army Explores the West.” The exhibition was opened in July, 2003, at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond. In early 2004, it will move to the Washington State Historical Society in Tacoma. Then it opens at the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka in 2005.


”Thomas Jefferson Indian Peace Silver Medal of 1801; 54.5 mm; (ANS 0000.999.32994).

US mint $10 gold of 1803; Gift of the American Museum of Natural History; the John Pierpont Morgan, Sr., Collection. (ANS 1908.93.54)

ANS artifacts play a valuable role in a special show, entitled “Russia Engages the World 1453-1825,” which was opened in October, 2003, at the New York Public Library. The exhibition examines Russia’s transformation from insular Muscovy to a global, secularized Empire and its multifaceted interrelationships with contemporary cultures and empires in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas during this period. Organized in conjunction with the tercentenary of the founding of St. Petersburg (1703), the exhibition demonstrates the global, cultural and political impact of the Empire and its ruler, Peter the Great, as well as the role of St. Petersburg as a prism through which the cultures and peoples of other lands came to Russia. The exhibition features more than 160 items from the Library’s holdings and other institutions. Among the diversity of artifacts is a “Wire kopek,” from the ANS collection. So-called wire money was a standard form during the 15th-17th centuries made by striking a thick wire between a hammer and punch. Peter the Great introduced European minting practices for Russian coinage and replaced wire money. A two-rouble gold piece from the ANS’ holdings vividly indicates the development of coinage during Peter’s reign.


Russian Silver “Wire Kopek” made by striking a thick wire between a hammer and punch, ca. 1689-1725. Gift of Edward T. Newell. (ANS 1914.265.47).

Two-rouble Russian gold coin of 1725 vividly indicates the development of minting practices during Peter’s the Great reign. Gift of Daniel Parish, Jr. (ANS 1893.14.1099)

Another curious example on display in the New York Public Library is the Beard-tax token. During the reign of the Peter the Great, many of his measures sped up Russia’s acculturation to western norms; among these measures was the decree requiring men to shave their beards. Eventually, the law was somewhat relaxed, allowing men to pay a tax to keep their beards. A special token was given as proof that the tax had been paid. Another of the interesting materials from the Society’s loan to the New York Public Library is a medal commemorating Peter the Great’s visit to the French Mint on a journey to the west in 1716-1717. This medal was the product of the combined efforts of the Liège-born artist Jean Duvivier (1687-1761), who created the image of the Tsar, and the Danish engraver Michel (or Martin) Røg, who designed an allegorical image of fame for the reverse. Duvivier hastily created this portrait of the tsar only days before the visit so that the medal could be struck on the spot, in the Tsar’s presence. The event made such an impression on Peter that he kept his personal example of the medal as a memento throughout his lifetime. The ANS also contributed to the Library exhibit an unusual and valuable decoration: the Russian Order of St. Anne, of the First Class, Civil Rank. This order was established by Duke Frederick Karl X of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp on February 14, 1735, in memory of his deceased wife Anna Petrovna (1708-1728), daughter of Peter the Great. On April 15, 1797, it was reestablished as a Russian Order and divided into four classes by the Emperor Paul I (1796-1801). The criteria for the award were a distinguished career in civil service or military bravery. The exhibit at the New York Public Library will remain on view until late May, 2004.


Russian Beard-tax bronze token of 1710; (ANS 1914.265.55) Gift of Edward T. Newell.

Bronze Medal Commemorating the visit of Peter the Great of Russia to French Mint on a journey to the west in 1716-1717, by Jean Duvivier and Michael (or Martin) Røg; 59.65 mm, Gift of S.V. Glad. (ANS 1951.109.1)

Russian Order of St. Anne, First Class, Civil Rank. Gold, Enamel, Jewels. This Order was established by Duke Frederick Karl X of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp on February 14, 1735, in memory of his deceased wife Anna Petrovna (1708-1728), daughter of Peter the Great. On April 15, 1797, it was reestablished as a Russian Order by the Emperor Paul I (1796-1801) and divided into four classes. Gift of Foster Stearns. (ANS 1924.206.1)

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