Earlier this month, deputy director Gilles Bransbourg and I had the honor of representing the ANS at the Early American Coppers Convention in Dayton, Ohio. The EAC, now with over 1,000 members, was formed in 1967 and currently focuses its attention on U.S. colonial and early state coins, cents and half cents (1793-1857), and Hard Times tokens.
The convention took place over the course of four days and featured a number of educational presentations, including an airing of the ANS’s 2018 Silvia Mani Hurter Memorial Lecture, by Huntington Award recipient Dr. John Kleeberg, entitled “Dr. William H. Sheldon, Ted Naftzger and the Large Cent Thefts” (video available here).
The ANS was particularly pleased to be able to cohost an event at the convention honoring legendary large cent collector and researcher Del Bland, who passed away last year at the age of 84. Del was a meticulous researcher with a keen eye for grading, and he made a massive contribution to our knowledge of United States numismatics. He began his research about fifty years ago, and his findings were published in 2000 as the condition census in the Encyclopedia of Early American Cents, which documented over 4,000 coins and included more than 25,000 individual entries. He continued his research well into the 2010s. In 2018, thanks to the contributions of generous donors, the ANS acquired Del’s vast large-cent research archive, nearly 300 ring-binders of material now available for researchers to use at the ANS Library and Archives.
The event honoring Del was a great success and featured reminiscences by Del’s long-time friend and early American copper specialist Denis Loring as well as Del’s sons, Larry and Gary (video available here).
None of it would have been possible without the help of convention co-chairs Ray Williams and Jack Young, and Jack’s wife, Laura, who was in charge of events. We would also particularly like to thank EAC president Bill Eckberg for arranging the event.
Two hundred and ten years isn’t a milestone we normally celebrate in a special way, but 100 years certainly is, and Lincoln’s 100th birthday in 1909 was a big deal. Cities like New York and Chicago tried to outdo each other with tributes, and big names like Teddy Roosevelt and William Jennings Bryan made appearances at his birthplace in Kentucky and at his home in Illinois. Numerous tangible and lasting tributes were issued: ribbons, badges, postcards, calendars. Numismatic items too, of course. There were tokens and medals—even a coin, Victor David Brenner’s iconic cent. Numismatic portrayals of Lincoln were nothing new. The first ones appeared with his presidential campaign of 1860, and they continued through his presidency, only to proliferate after his assassination. The first medal issued by the American Numismatic Society was, in fact, a memorial to him, issued in 1866.
The ANS played a small part in the observation of the centennial. One of the Society’s longest-serving members was Robert Hewitt Jr., who had been collecting presidential medals since at least the time Lincoln was president (his collection of Lincolnalia would go to the Smithsonian in 1918). Hewitt was the force behind a couple of Lincoln medals by the sculptor Jules Édouard Roiné, both of which were issued bound into books. Roiné, Hewitt, and two brothers, Henri and Felix Weil, were all ANS members who played a role in founding the Medallic Art Company (MACO), the private mint that struck the medals. (In 2018, the ANS acquired the medals, dies, galvanos, plaques, paper and digital archives, and other historical materials from the defunct MACO.)
The dies for one of the medals were ceremoniously canceled with a cut indicating the centennial date (February 12, 1909). One thousand aluminum medals were issued by MACO announcing the die cancelation and specifying that the dies would be deposited at the ANS on the day of the Lincoln Centennial.
For more on the Lincoln medals, see Robert King, Lincoln in Numismatics, Token and Medal Society, 1966.
For more on Roińe, see David Hill, “Jules Édouard Roiné, Medals in Books, and the Birth of the Medallic Art Company,” ANS Magazine, 2018, issue 4.
There are few universal memories that make each of us think back and say, “Ah, I remember…”. One of these took place on July 20, 1969, when all nations were held mesmerized watching Apollo 11 and humanity’s first steps on the moon.
My link to that day culminated in an opportunity, as a member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, to attend the ceremonial strike for the Apollo 11 $1 silver coin at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia on December 13. I was able to strike my own $1 coin, ably assisted by Coin Press Operator, Kenneth Holland. Other “temporary” press operators were the children of the Apollo 11 astronauts, Mark Armstrong, son of Neil Armstrong, Andy Aldrin, son of Buzz Aldrin, and Ann Starr, daughter of Michael Collins.
The Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Program had been passed two years earlier by Congress, with common obverses and reverses required for the four coins in the series: a curved $5 gold coin, a curved $1 silver coin, a curved half-dollar clad coin, and a curved 5-ounce 3-inch $1 silver proof coin, the largest curved coin ever struck by the U.S. Mint. Quantities struck from this series should enable collectors to add to their collections – 50,000 $5 gold half-eagles, 400,000 $1 silver coins, 750,000 clad half-dollars, and 100,000 5-ounce $1 silver proof coins. The coins will be available for sale on January 24, 2019, and can be obtained at www.usmint.gov.
While the image of the reverse was mandated by the law—the famous ‘‘Buzz Aldrin on the Moon’’ photograph taken July 20, 1969, that shows just the visor and part of the helmet of astronaut Buzz Aldrin, in which the mirrored visor reflects the image of the United States flag, the lunar lander, and the remainder of the helmet has a frosted finish—the obverse design was open to a juried competition, judged by selected members of both the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts, with the final selection made by the Secretary of the Treasury.
Gary Cooper had his design of the boot imprint on the lunar surface selected as the winning representation, sculpted by U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna. U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill sculpted the reverse.
A sell-out of these coins will result in surcharges of $14 million for the three designated beneficiaries—50% to the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum’s Destination Moon exhibit, 25% to the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, and 25% to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
Study at the Foremost Seminar in Numismatic Methods, Theory, and Data Science.
For over half a century, The American Numismatic Society, a scholarly organization and museum of coins, money, and economic history, has offered select graduate students and junior faculty the opportunity to work hands-on with its preeminent numismatic collections. With over three-quarters of a million objects, the collection is particularly strong in Greek, Roman, Islamic, Far Eastern, and US and Colonial coinages, as well as Medallic Art. Located in New York City’s SoHo district, the Society also houses the world’s most complete numismatic library.
The rigorous eight-week course, taught by ANS staff, guest lecturers, and a Visiting Scholar, introduces students to the methods, theories, and history of the discipline. In addition to the lecture program, students will select a numismatic research topic and, utilizing ANS resources, complete a paper while in residence. The Seminar is intended to provide students of History, Art History, Textual Studies, Archeology, and Data Science who have little or no numismatic background with a working knowledge of a body of evidence that is often overlooked and poorly understood. Successful applicants are typically doctoral candidates or junior faculty in a related discipline, but masters candidates are admitted as well. This year’s Eric P. Newman Visiting Scholar will be Dr. Evangeline Markou of the National Hellenic Research Foundation. Dr. Markou is a specialist in ancient Greek coinage, particularly the coinage of ancient Cyprus.
Applications are due no later than February 22, 2019. A limited number of stipends of up to $4000 are available to US citizens, and non-US citizens studying at US institutions under certain visas. For application forms and further information, please see the Summer Seminar page of our website: numismatics.org/seminar, or contact the Seminar Director, Dr. Peter van Alfen (212-571-4470, x153).
The American Numismatic Society (ANS) is pleased to announce the release of version 2 (v.2) of the web-based research tool: Seleucid Coins Online (SCO). As a component of the National Endowment for the Humanities-funded Hellenistic Royal Coinages (HRC) project, SCO aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the coinages struck by the Seleucid kings between ca. 320 BC and 64 BC, from Seleucus I to Antiochus XIII.
In January 2018, the American Numismatic Society initially launched SCO. At the time it was announced that the development of SCO would take place in two parts in imitation of the print volumes, Seleucid Coins: A Comprehensive Catalogue by Arthur Houghton, Catharine Lorber, and Oliver Hoover, published in two parts in 2002 and 2008 by the American Numismatic Society and Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. The first part, by Houghton and Lorber, presented and interpreted all the numismatic material for Seleucus I to Antiochus III known up to 2002. The second part, by Houghton, Lorber, and Hoover, did the same for the Seleucid kings from Seleucus IV to Antiochus XIII. In total, more than 2,491 primary coin types were published in these volumes.
The newly unveiled version of SCO (v.2), launched in November, 2018, completes the type corpus incorporating material related to Seleucid Coins, Part I, covering the reigns from Seleucus I to Antiochus III (c. 320–187 BC), and the material in Part II covering the reigns from Seleucus IV to Antiochus XIII (187–64 BC) as well as the posthumous Roman imitations (63–14/13 BC).
Ultimately, SCO will provide wide access to the coins listed in the print volumes of Seleucid Coins. While the Seleucid coins in the ANS collection (some 5,129 pieces) serve as the core of the searchable catalogue, ultimately links to coins (many of which are unique) in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the British Museum, the Münzkabinett der Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, and many other public and private collections currently are and will be included. More than 1,000 types are linked to at least one coin that has been photographed.SCO will also stand at the cutting edge of the discipline through the inclusion of new coin types and varieties that have been recorded since 2008. SCO will be the only place where researchers can keep track of such new coins comprehensively and the expanding picture of Seleucid economic, political, and art history that they reveal. Frequent updates to the website will permit users to find and learn about new material almost at the rate at which it is discovered, thereby making SCO the most up-to-date catalogue available to students of Seleucid coinage.
Before Thanksgiving I had the great pleasure of participating in “Holding History in the Palm of One’s Hand: Contemporary Perspectives on Medals and Coins from Antiquity to the Recent Past,” an event at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, Maine, celebrating the exhibit “A Handheld History: Five Centuries of Medals from the Molinari Collection at Bowdoin College.” Three speakers, myself, Dr. Stephen K. Scher, and Prof. Susan Wegner, presented different aspects of medallic art and its history from its inception in the Italian Renaissance to the twenty-first century. We were then joined on stage by the curators of the exhibit, Amber Orosco, Stephen Pastoriza, and Benjamin Wu, for a panel discussion. Significantly, all three of the curators are currently undergraduate students at Bowdoin, which makes their achievement in curating this exhibit all the more remarkable.
In 1966, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art received from Amanda Marchesa Molinari a gift of a collection of approximately 1,500 art medals and 200 related books—including numerous rare volumes from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries— that she and her late husband, Cesare Molinari d’Incisa, had assembled over the course of several decades. The collection is rather astonishing for the large number of important medals of the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries from Italy and Northern Europe especially, some of which, in fact, are lacking in the ANS’s collection, such as the John VIII Palaeologos medal by Pisanello. Curators at Bowdoin in the 1960s were certainly aware of the importance of this collection; a partial catalogue of the collection by Andrea Norris and Ingrid Weber was soon published and an exhibit of some of the highlights was put on display. In the decades since, however, this collection had not received the attention it rightly deserves.
In the summer of 2017, Museum Co-Director Dr. Anne Collins Goodyear and the student curators paid me a visit at the ANS and also spoke with Stephen Scher at The Frick Collection. Dr. Scher introduced them to highlights from the collection he had recently donated to the museum, then on view in the exhibition “The Pursuit of Immortality: Masterpieces from the Scher Collection of Portrait Medals.” Their purpose was to discuss the history of the medal, the Molinari collection, and their intent to put on a new exhibit of this outstanding collection. The results of their efforts, “A Handheld History,” are truly impressive. In eight cases, the exhibit not only displays some of the most important pieces from the Molinari collection, but also focuses on various aspects of medal production, metallurgical analysis in the study of medals, and the evolution of medallic art over the centuries. Two of the cases are particularly noteworthy. One includes a 1723 edition of the folio volume accompanying the Histoire Métallique documenting the reign of Louis XIV of France along with a selection of the medals illustrated in the volume; another includes a volume of Gerard van Loon’s 1732 folio Beschryving der Nederlandsche historipenningen along with medals depicting the ill-fated de Witt brothers, Johan and Cornelis. Rarely indeed are these two important early volumes exhibited side-by-side along with some of the actual medals illustrated on their pages.
The exhibit will be on display at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art through January 20, 2019. A video of the panel discussion will be made available on the Museum’s website.
The Annual Report of the American Numismatic Society (FY2017–2018) is now available to download in advance of the Annual Meeting to be held on October 20th. Questions about the annual meeting and report can be addressed to Emma Pratte, Membership Coordinator, at email@example.com or 212.571.4470 x117.
ANS Deputy Director Gilles Bransbourg won the award for best article or story of the year for his piece in ANS Magazine, “U.S. Money Doctors in Latin America: Between War and Depression, the Short-Lived Reinstatement of the Gold Standard,” which appeared in issue 2017.4.
ANS Members receive ANS Magazine four times a year as part of their membership, as well as a 30% discount on books. To become a Member of the ANS, call Emma Pratte at 212.571.4470 x117.
Steven Burges is a PhD candidate in the Department of History of Art & Architecture at Boston University. He is currently writing a dissertation that examines the representation of Roman imperial funerary pyres on the coinage of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius and the commemorative significance of these representations within the ideology of antiquity and beyond. He was a participant in the 2018 Eric P. Newman Graduate Seminar.
In March of the year 161 CE, the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius died at the age of 74 at his villa near Rome after reportedly “eating Alpine cheese at dinner rather greedily” (Historia Augusta, M. Ant. 12.4). His death marked a turning point in Roman imperial history, since, for the first time, a deceased emperor was succeeded by a set of official co-regents, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. Hadrian had organized their joint adoption by Antoninus 23 years earlier.
The co-rulers issued coinage – bearing the obverse legend Divus Antoninus, or the divine Antoninus—to commemorate their father’s passing and subsequent deification, and it reflected the unprecedented transition of power and the continuation of the familial piety that had earned Antoninus the title “Pius.” An unparalleled type from the series contained the first images of a funerary pyre on which the emperor was cremated to appear on gold denominations of the Roman mint (fig. 1). In fact, the pyre became the exclusive reverse type of the aurei struck for Divus Antoninus in addition to becoming the most prevalent type of the silver and bronze issues. All included the legend consecratio, which likely referred to the funereal process of deification itself.
In an effort to discover why the innovative iconography of the pyre came to dominate the commemorative coinages of Antoninus, I conducted a die study and hoard analysis of the aurei honoring Divus Antoninus. I then compared the results to studies of aurei minted after the death of his wife, the empress Faustina the Elder. She died and achieved godhood in 140 CE, at the beginning of her husband’s reign. While Antoninus produced a massive series of aurei for Diva Faustina with 24 different reverse types over a period of nearly twenty years, only one uncommon type from the early issues bore the consecratio inscription (fig. 2). It depicts the empress and a female driver in a quadriga – perhaps the celestial vehicle that bore her to the heavens. Although absent from her aurei, contemporary bronzes announcing her apotheosis were the first of any denomination to carry images of a funerary pyre.
In the years to follow pyres continued to adorn currency honoring deceased empresses and emperors, but primarily, they were found on the silver and bronze coins. The numerous tiers and ornate decorative sculptures, garlands, and tapestries align with the descriptions of ancient eyewitnesses (Cassius Dio, Historia Romana 75.4-5). Between the years 310 and 313 CE, the emperor Constantine would strike the last pyre coin, a rare gold solidus, to honor his deified father, Divus Constantius (fig. 3).
My analysis of the original Divus Antoninus aurei has enabled the identification of 30 obverse and reverse dies from 70 coins all with the same reverse type. In contrast, the earlier aurei of Diva Faustina survive in over 900 examples with nearly two dozen reverses, reflecting both the extraordinary scale and longevity of their production (Martin Beckmann, Diva Faustina: Coinage and Cult in Rome and the Provinces, 2012). Despite the limited run of the Antoninus coins, the ratio of dies observed to the number of coin examples is nearly equivalent. Hoard evidence from Italy, France, and Portugal also suggests that the two coinages circulated within similar regions.
The difference lies in the significant expansion of the novel consecratio reverse with the pyre to the aurei under the adopted Marcus and Lucius. This suggests that they intended the pyre to serve as a specifically Antonine advertisement of dynastic continuity for the elite users of gold coinage. Further, it was a memento of the cremation and deification ceremony itself, which the co-rulers jointly oversaw, as the inscription on the pedestal of the column of Antoninus Pius indicates. The dynastic uncertainty of the time had been likewise countered in some of the last coins struck during Antoninus’s life. They depict the fecundity of his daughter Faustina the Younger surrounded by her four daughters: Lucilla, Cornificia, Fadilla, and Annia Faustina (fig. 4).
As I continue this research, I will expand the scope to the pyre reverses found in other denominations struck under Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus along with other contemporary consecratio types, in order to continue unveiling the significance they held for the citizens, soldiers, and senators who used the coins.
The ANS is pleased to have contributed to the publication of a new book on engraved gems from antiquity, which is now available for purchase. Ancient Engraved Gems in the National Museum in Krakow, by Paweł Gołyźniak (in English), is considerable in size and top in quality. It consists mostly of the specimens assembled by the extraordinary collector and art dealer Constantine Schmidt-Ciążyński (1818–1889). Almost 780 cameos, intaglios, scarabs, and finger rings are presented in this beautifully designed volume. This book will be useful not only to scholars interested in gems, but also to those who study the history of the art market and collecting, as well as to enthusiasts of Classical art and archaeology.
Part I: History and Character of the Collections (includes a brief biography of Constantine Schmidt-Ciążyński and the history and original structure of the collection).
Part II: Catalogue (includes hundreds of entries featuring a Babylonian cylinder seal, Egyptian plaque, Mycenaean seal, Archaic Greek gems, Classical Greek finger rings, Hellenistic Gems and Finger Rings, Etruscan scarabs and ring stones, Italic and Roman Republican gems, Augustan gems, Roman Imperial gems, Cameos, Early Christian gems, and appendixes on magical and Sassanian gems). Indexed by collectors and collections, subjects, and materials, with a concordance and bibliography.
Publisher: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag
Hardcover, 318 pages, 30 b/w figures, 112 b/w plates
8.5″ x 12″, lay-flat binding
$150 plus shipping, no Member discount
Order directly from the ANS by contacting Emma Pratte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-571-4470, ext. 117, or order online with PayPal.