News (Spring 2002)

The American Numismatic Society announces:

The Heritage of Sasanian Iran: Dinars, Drahms and Coppers of the Late Sasanian and Early Muslim Periods

Co-sponsored with the Center for Iranian Studies and the Middle East Institute at Columbia University and Middle East Medievalists

To be held at Columbia University in New York City, Saturday and Sunday, June 8-9, 2002

Late Sasanian coins and their subsequent Muslim, Dabuyid and Hunnic imitations formed an important part of the monetary systems of late Classical and early medieval Iran. Late Sasanian coins became the preeminent silver coinage in the Near East during this period. The early Muslims in Iran and dynasts of northern and eastern Iran later copied the main outlines of these coins while creating distinct provincial and regional coinages. The coins today represent documents of social, political and economic life at a time of great cultural efflorescence as well as social and political change.

The conference invites papers treating any aspect of the Late Sasanian and early Muslim coins of Iran as artifacts of civilization and culture. The topics of papers may be numismatic, historical or art historical. They may examine problems in the reading and interpretation of the Pahlavi and Arabic legends or the iconography, the representation of sovereignty, Zoroastrianism and Islam, or the production, use and regulation of these coinages.

The conference will also feature a workshop in reading the Pahlavi legends on these coins and a roundtable for the discussion of issues of common interest and coins if anyone wishes to bring them in.

Abstracts/queries about further information and registration should be sent by e-mail to Dr. Stuart D. Sears at sears@aucegypt.edu or Dr. Michael L. Bates at bates@amnumsoc.org or by mail to: Dr. Stuart D. Sears, The American University in Cairo, Department of Arabic Studies, Box 2511, Cairo, Egypt 11511. Communications by E-mail are preferred.

American Numismatic Society Leases Ground Floor to Economic Development Corporation

Center Will Provide Businesses Affected By World Trade Center Tragedy With Easier Access to Grants, Loans and Other Assistance

The New York City Economic Development Corporation today announced the city’s opening of a WTC Business Rebuilding Center at 140 William St. (corner of Fulton Street).

The Center, operated in conjunction with the State of New York, will be responsible for administering the federal government’s $700 million economic development grant directed towards small businesses affected by the World Trade Center disaster. Additional support —including relocation services, pro bono professional services, and advice on incentives — will also be available at the center.

“The WTC Business Rebuilding Center will be a beacon to the city’s business community, helping to deliver over a billion dollars in federal, state and city relief and providing a full range of services to companies seeking to stay or relocate in Lower Manhattan,” said Andrew M. Alper, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation “We will do everything in our power to make this city business-friendly and to let the world know: New York City is open for business.”

The city’s WTC Business Rebuilding Center is a complement to the State of New York’s new center at 2 Rector St. and replaces the city’s former walk-in assistance center at 110 Maiden Lane, which opened just days after September 11th and provided assistance to more than 5,500 companies. Visitors may pick up and drop off grant applications, receive advice and instructions and talk one-on-one with a business advocate. The U.S. Small Business Administration is also on site, assisting with loan applications for SBA low interest loans.

More than 20,000 small businesses south of 14th Street are currently eligible for grants through the newly announced federal grant program of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Agency, which is being jointly administered by the state and city of New York. Additional grant funding is coming on line for businesses seeking to stay or relocate in Lower Manhattan. The Center will assist these businesses and any others that desire the city’s services.

“The infusion of financial aid to the city’s affected businesses is critical,” said Daniel L. Doctoroff, deputy mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding, “To rebuild Lower Manhattan, we need to establish confidence and vitality among the thousands of small businesses that serve as a foundation for our city’s economic strength. At the same time, we will work to retain and bring back the larger employers who support the service businesses, retailers and restaurants. Make no mistake: the city is committed to a full-court press for rebuilding Lower Manhattan.”

“EDC serves as businesses’ portal to the City of New York,” said EDC president Andrew M. Alper. “My number one priority is to ensure that EDC delivers the highest level of customer service to businesses. To do this, we are collaborating closely with the state, the federal government, the private sector, industry and community groups and many others. This spirit of teamwork will be the basis of EDC’s work over the coming year, and we look forward to providing both near-term relief and long-term growth opportunities to companies of all types and sizes. My door is open to anyone in the business community who wants to share ideas in this exciting collaboration.”

Conveniently located near City Hall, Wall Street and the South Street Seaport, the WTC Business Rebuilding Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, with extended hours to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. The center can be reached via the 2,3,4,5, J, M and Z subway trains to Fulton Street and the A and C trains to Broadway-Nassau Street.

The center is located in a historic bank building from the 1940’s now owned by the American Numismatic Society, a not-for-profit organization located at 155th Street in Harlem. The Society has owned the building for more than two years, and has been trying to raise money for renovations needed to house the Society’s rare collection of coins, currencies and books. Part of the collection is on display at the Federal Reserve Bank in a show entitled, “Drachmas, Dollars and Dubloons-A History of Money.”

Ute Wartenberg, executive director of the Society said, “We are delighted to house the city’s WTC Business Rebuilding Center and to play an important role in the revitalization of businesses downtown. EDC’s tenancy will also give the Society a much-needed boost, and we ourselves look forward to relocating to Lower Manhattan with the city’s help.”

Donald Partrick, the Society’s president, seconded the comment and added, “We couldn’t have found a more fitting purpose or partner, and we are proud to be working with the city in such an important and historic mission of rebuilding.”

Catherine Bullowa’s Golden Jubilee

Philadelphia’s Catherine Bullowa, and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II have something in common: Both are celebrating their Golden Jubilee—in coins!


Bullowa

Bullowa chose her latest mail bid sale to celebrate and pay tribute to friends and colleagues for a rewarding 50-year career as a professional numismatist. The British Royal Mint will issue a Golden Jubilee gold sovereign to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s reign.

Bullowa, known for her “Coinhunter” trademark, has a worldwide reputation as a dealer in rare coins, books, paper money and medals. For 50 years she has been a presence at major American and international coin conventions and meetings.

Past official of the Professional Numismatists Guild, Inc. and the International Association of Professional Numismatists, she is a benefactor, consultant and fellow of the American Numismatic Society, and a life member of the American Numismatic Association.

A casual interest in coins from her grandfather’s collection turned serious when in 1952, she married David M. Bullowa, leading numismatic scholar, author and professional numismatist. With him as her mentor, she transferred her profession from medical research to numismatics—a new word to her at the time, she confesses.

The tragic death of David Bullowa in 1953 strengthened Catherine Bullowa’s resolve to continue his work and maintain his work ethic and high standards. Outpouring of sympathy and offers of assistance came from the numismatic community, from such friends as Col. Joseph Moss, then president of the American Numismatic Association and coin dealers Abe Kosoff, Sol Kaplan and Dan Brown, among others.

(In 1960 Bullowa married Earl Moore, a specialist in his own field of historical documents, and became known to the numismatic community through his travels with his coin-hunting wife over the years. He died in January 2002).

Mary Washington College Presents Symposium on Ancient Numismatics

On February 16, 2002, Mary Washington College presented a symposium entitled A Rich Resource: Contributions of Field Numismatics to Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies. The conference featured presentations of distinguished academics including ANS Counselor Kenneth Harl, Former ANS Chief Curator William Metcalf and Jane Evans. The conference organizers, Liane Houghtalin and John MacIsaac, are to be commended for their efforts in organizing the conference.

As the title of the symposium suggests, the presentations highlighted the all too often unheralded contributions of field numismatics to classical studies. In so doing, the conference also touched on occasions when archeological investigation has assisted in the identification and dating of coin types.

Dr. Harl spoke about how archaeological investigations are important for ascertaining the economic history of an area because they disclose the use of low value coins not necessarily found in major cabinets. Dr. Harl has excavated at Gordion in Turkey. This settlement was the ancient capital of the Phrygians. They were supplanted at a later date by the Galatians, a band of Celtic mercenaries. The site was occupied on and off through the Islamic period. It is estimated that the population ranged from 5,000-15,000 at various times. The site is most famous due to its association with Alexander and the Gordian knot.

There was no mint, but approximately 1500 coins were found at the site. Most are stray finds, but there were 10 hoards found. The largest contained approximately 110 coins while the smallest contained 22 coins. The earliest hoard was of Lydian coins and the latest hoard was of Seljuk coins. Even bronze issues found at the site traveled over significant distances, i.e., from Cyprus.

Professor MacIsaac also spoke about how finds at archeological sites sometimes show economic activity that is unexpected. For example, large numbers of late Roman era “Barbarous Radiates” from Gaul have been found at Carthage.

Professors Houghtalin, MacIsaac and Metcalf provided instances where archeological investigations have discovered new types, have assisted in dating or have reclassified an issue from one authority to another. An unpublished reverse for a Titus denarius was mentioned as a new type. Dr. Metcalf recounted how excavations at Morgantina in Sicily established 211 B.C. as the date for the first issue of the Roman denarius. As for reclassification, an example given was the First Century Roman bronze coins countermarked with Roman numerals. These were traditionally ascribed to the Vandals at Carthage, but none have been found at extensive excavations there. Rather, because they are only found in Southern Italy, it is now believed that authorities there must have found a hoard that was retariffed some time during the Dark Ages.

While the conference demonstrated many of the triumphs of field numismatics, the conference also made apparent some of its shortcomings. Numismatic finds are rarely published. Typically, find spots of coins are not even recorded. Even worse, coins smaller than 7-14 mm are often discarded because archeologists all too often do not sieve the earth they excavate. One obvious problem is the lack of resources. For example, Turkish archeologists do not even have access to basic references. On the other hand, the view that coins are only valuable as evidence for dating archaeological strata and not as objects in themselves is also probably at least partly to blame for some of these problems.

The conference should also help dispel the myth that collecting ancient coins is necessarily detrimental to archeology. Significantly, several speakers confirmed that the vast majority of coins found at archeological sites are poorly preserved specimens of ancient small change or as one participant quipped, “those coins most readily lost with the least regret.” Indeed, from 50%-60% are not even identifiable due to poor soil conditions, let alone being found in collectable condition. Even when hoards are found, these tend to be small purse hoards that are subject to the same potentially disastrous soil conditions as stray finds. Coins recovered in good condition from containers, like those found in savings and accumulation hoards, are only found infrequently at archeological sites. Jane Evans provided as an example the spectacular hoard of 99 late Roman gold coins found at Caesarea in Israel.

In sum, the conference provided an excellent overview of the contributions of field archeology to classical and numismatic studies. The only oversight was the failure of the organizers to publicize the event to collectors. This is a real pity as the conference may have otherwise benefited from a better attendance. Such outreach may have also helped bridge some of the misunderstanding between collectors and archeologists.

New Book by ANS Fellow Daniel M. Friedenberg

“So you think America is a democracy with representatives of the people, elected by the people in free elections, doing the will of the people in governing the country? Think again.” These are the first lines from the dusk jacket of Sold to the Highest Bidder: The Presidency from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush, a new book by Daniel M. Friedenberg. In the combative and intelligent style, typical for this Life ANS Fellow, the book gives an in-depth analysis of the presidency in the second half of the 20th century.

The book is the latest work by this productive author. Among art historians, numismatists and ANS members, Friedenberg, who lives in New York, is well known for his standard works on Jewish medals. His books include Great Jewish Portraits in Metal, Jewish Minter and Medalists, and Jewish Medals from the Renaissance to the Fall of Napoleon (1503-1815). Formerly a curator of Coins and Medals at the Jewish Museum in New York City, he has a keen interest and outstanding knowledge in this area. In 2000 he donated a part of his own collection of over 500 Jewish medals to the American Numismatic Society.

Friedenberg’s achievements go well beyond the field of medals. Educated at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan and the University of Pennsylvania (B.Sc. in Eco.), he is President of the John-Platt Enterprises, Inc., as New York City company engaged in general investment. But his real love is clearly writing. Well over one-hundred of his articles, short stories, poems and literary essays have been published in a variety of venues, ranging from the Harper’s or Esquire to the Numismatists and Poetry.com. He also contributed as a special correspondent to the former New York Herald Tribune.