Seleucid Coins Online v.2 is Live

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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.

“A Handheld History”—An Exhibit of Medallic Art at Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Curators of "A Handheld History" (l. to r.), Benjamin Wu, Amber Orosco, and Stephen Pastoriza.
Curators of “A Handheld History” (l. to r.), Benjamin Wu, Amber Orosco, and Stephen Pastoriza.

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.

Case containing medals pictured in the accompanying folio volume, the Histoire Métallique.
Case containing medals pictured in the accompanying folio volume, the Histoire Métallique.

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.

Case containing medals of the de Witt brothers and the folio Beschryving der Nederlandsche historipenningen.
Case containing medals of the de Witt brothers and the folio Beschryving der Nederlandsche historipenningen.

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.