All posts by The American Numismatic Society

Royal Numismatic Society Awards Gilljam Prize to George Watson

The Royal Numismatic Society has awarded its Gilljam Prize for Third-Century Numismatics to George Watson’s book, Connections, Communities, and Coinage: The System of Coin Production in Southern Asia Minor, AD 218–276 (Numismatic Studies 39). The prize, awarded every two years, recognizes the book or article that represents the best contribution to the numismatics of the third century before the reform of Diocletian.

“I am honoured to receive this prize,” Watson said, “which has been awarded to many distinguished scholars of third-century numismatics in the past. I am very grateful to the ANS for producing such a beautiful book that is worthy of this honour.”

Connections, Communities, and Coinage addresses the system of coin production in the regions of Pamphylia, Pisidia, and Cilicia during the third century AD, radically reappraising the numismatic evidence of die-sharing between cities in Southern Asia Minor.

The ANS congratulates Watson on this achievement.

Order the book from our distributors Casemate Academic (US only) and Oxbow Books (rest-of-world).

A Numismatic Reunion

Guest post by David D. Gladfelter. David studies, writes, and speaks about the history of bank note engraving and printing, and collects interesting items in this wide field. A retired attorney and ANS fellow, he and his wife, Valerie, live in Medford, NJ.

First came the biography, a 1931 account of the life of the British-born engraver William Rollinson (1762–1842, fig. 1), written by Robert W. Reid and Rollinson’s great-grandson Charles Rollinson.

Figure 1. Portrait of William Rollinson ca. 1826 by Frederick S. Agate. Frontispiece, Reid and Rollinson monograph.

Their monograph tells of the engraver’s coming to New York in 1789, finding work in the shops of various silversmiths, and soon turning to copper-plate engraving which occupied him for the rest of his life. At the end appears a sampling of 18 of Rollinson’s engravings—calligraphic, ornamental, glyphic and scenic—plus a printed circular (fig. 2) which Rollinson had sent to various banks in 1811, soliciting orders for bank notes produced by a ruling machine he had invented. Several of these exhibits came from the personal collection of Charles Rollinson, but the source of the circular was the collection of the New York Public Library.

Figure 2. Circular sent to bankers in March 1811 by William Rollinson describing his anti-counterfeiting ruling machine and soliciting orders for bank note engraving. Collection of New York Public Library; reproduced in Reid and Rollinson monograph.

Notice that the circular mentions an accompanying “specimen of work … entirely novel, and of my own invention, and which cannot be imitated by first rate artists so as to deceive common observers.” Also notice among the exhibits a “Specimen” engraved bank note (fig. 3) on the Middle District Bank of Poughkeepsie, New York, with the imprint “Leney & Rollinson Sc. N.Y.”

Figure 3. $10.00 undated remainder note on the Middle District Bank of Poughkeepsie, N. Y., with imprint of Leney & Rollinson, New York. Collection of the American Bank Note Co.; reproduced in Reid and Rollinson monograph.

Next came Robert A. Vlack’s short-titled Catalogue of Early North American Advertising Notes in 2001. Item 4640 in the catalog is a specimen bank note dated March 1, 1811 with the imprint “Leney and Rollinson Sculpt. N. York.” The description notes a “pink tint”, a quite early use of a tint on a bank note. Item 4645 is the same design with a “light blue tint”. These tints consist of straight parallel ruled lines. The dates on this pair of specimens are the earliest of all of the notes listed in the Vlack catalogue.

An unlisted variety of Vlack 4640 has a waved-line pink tint (fig. 4) similar to the tint appearing on the Middle District Bank note. It didn’t take long for me to identify this specimen variety as the “specimen of work” that Rollinson had sent out with his circular. Notice that the date on the specimen is the same month (although not to the day) as the date on the circular.

Figure 4. “Fifty Fish” advertising note with imprint of Leney & Rollinson, New York, dated March 1811, believed to have accompanied Rollinson’s circular. Author’s collection.

Rollinson evidently sent his circular and specimen far and wide. Among the respondents was the newly chartered Planters’ Bank of the State of Georgia, which ordered notes in seven denominations ranging from $1.00 to $100.00, listed in Haxby as GA-320 G2, G12, G22, G32, G42, G52 and G62, all designated as “surviving example not confirmed,” a term equivalent to “extinct” in the biological world. Later-discovered examples of the two highest denominations are seen to have been produced on the model of Rollinson’s specimen (figs. 5 and 6), both with similar waved-line pink tints and geometrically-ruled end designs. Despite Rollinson’s optimism, the $50.00 note was counterfeited! Notice of this phony note, having plate letter C, appeared in Bicknell’s Reporter of March 5, 1832, and other counterfeit detecters of the 1830s to 1860s.

Figure 5. $50.00 issued note on the Planters’ Bank of the State of Georgia, dated 1817, with imprint of Leney & Rollinson, New York, Haxby GA-320 G52 (SENC). Author’s collection.
Figure 6. $100.00 issued note on the Planters’ Bank of the State of Georgia, dated 1813, with imprint of Leney & Rollinson, New York, Haxby GA-320 G62 (SENC). Author’s collection.

But the best was yet to come.

A copy of Rollinson’s circular appeared in Heritage’s October 20, 2020 auction (lot 83078). The signature on this copy, Willm. Rollinson (fig. 7), differed from that on the NYPL copy (Wm. Rollinson).

Figure 7. William Rollinson’s manually signed personal copy of his March 1811 circular. Author’s collection.

But a handwritten notation on the back identified this as Rollinson’s personal copy which had escaped from the family’s custody prior to 1931 when his biography was published. The notation (fig. 8) reads: “My Circular letter to Banks/ enclosing a Specimen of my/ waved line Work/ WR”.

Figure 8. Notation manually written by William Rollinson on back of his personal copy of the circular. Author’s collection.

This circular is printed on bond paper with a faint powder horn watermark. Rollinson’s signature is manually written, not printed.

As for its provenance, all we know is what Dustin Johnston, Heritage’s cataloguer, can tell us: That it was discovered by a book dealer on the East Coast who consigned it to the auction.

REFERENCES

David D. Gladfelter, “William Rollinson’s Novel Bank Note Sample,” Paper Money 49.1: 58–60 (Jan./Feb. 2010).

James A. Haxby, Standard Catalog of United States Obsolete Bank Notes, 1782–1866, vol. 1 (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 1988), 301–303.

Robert W. Reid and Charles Rollinson, William Rollinson, Engraver (New York: Privately published, 1931).

Robert A. Vlack, An Illustrated Catalogue of Early North American Advertising Notes (Ads That Look Like Paper Money (New York: R. M. Smythe & Company, 2001).

Personal correspondence between the author and Dustin Johnston, November 5, 2020.

Virtual Conference on the Witschonke Collection

The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire. Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851).

Coinage of the Roman Provinces before Provincial Coinage: The Richard B. Witschonke Collection

March 23–25, 2021

Co-sponsored by the American Numismatic Society and the Ph.D. Program in History at the Graduate Center, CUNY

Register by March 22

This three-day conference, co-sponsored by the ANS and the Ph.D. Program in History at the Graduate Center, CUNY, will feature contributions by the foremost scholars in the field. The papers will offer a numismatic and historical overview of each region represented by the coins in the R. B. Witschonke Collection.

It may come as a surprise to learn that as the Romans came to dominate the Mediterranean world, they ruled most of it without imposing their own coinage. Yet this was typical of the Romans’ pragmatic attitude to imperialism, and their tendency to retain any existing forms of effective organization in newly conquered territories. Indeed, it is now generally recognized that we should not talk of “the Roman economy” as a single phenomenon. Instead we should conceive of it as a group of substantially separate regional economies that were yet strongly interconnected through tribute payments and the movements of armies and goods. Although payment in kind played an important role in the Roman world, coinage was still paramount in transactions between the provinces and Rome. To understand those interactions, it is thus important to research the manifold ways in which local coinages converged, at least partly, to create compatible monetary systems across the Roman Empire. 

The Roman Provincial Coinage series offers an incomparable tool for the study of the coinages issued in the Roman provinces and client kingdoms from the age of the Civil Wars onward, but does not include the local production in those regions in the preceding decades. The 4,000 coins included in the R. B. Witschonke Collection at the ANS, mainly dating from the second and the first century BCE, provide the prologue to the study of Roman Provincial coinage. Most of the specimens are of great historical and numismatic value, as they illustrate the gradual transition from distinct to compatible monetary systems in the Mediterranean basin. While exhibiting an extraordinary variety in appearance and weight, the coins of the collection tell the tale of a partial convergence toward the Roman monetary system before the inception of the so-called Roman Provincial coinage in the second half of the first century BCE. The ways in which this convergence took place are manifold, spanning from imitations of Roman Republican denarii from Romania and Gaul to the lead tokens of Spain, from Aesillas’ tetradrachms in Macedonia to the Romano-Sicilian coins in Sicily, local coinages and pseudo-mints in Central and Southern Italy. The collection thus offers a unique overview of the diverse ways in which the monetary systems of the Mediterranean basin responded to the Roman conquest in the second and early first century BCE and to the related necessity of interconnectivity. 

Schedule

March 23

Chair: Andrew Meadows

Coinage in the Roman Provinces before RPC: introductory remarks

8:15–8:45 am EST Welcome and opening remarks

8:45–9:30 am EST Hidden power indeed: the surrogate coinages used by the Romans in Greece and Asia Minor (François de Callataÿ)

Roman influence on late Hellenistic coinages in the East

9:45–10:30 am EST Cistophoric Mysteries (Lucia F. Carbone)

10:30–11:15 am EST Ghosts of the Seleucid Empire in the RBW Collection (Oliver D. Hoover)

11:30 am–12:15 pm EST Some Cilician coins from R.B. Witschonke Collection at the ANS (Annalisa Polosa)

12:45–1:30 pm EST Coins of Samaria and the Decapolis (David Hendin)

March 24

Chair: Pere Pau Ripollès

Roman Magistrates on coinages issued in the Provinces of the Roman Empire

8:15–9:00 amEST Some remarks on the Roman monetary economy in Bithynia in the light of new evidence from R. B Witschonke Collection (Hale Güney)

9:00–9:45 am EST A Proconsular Bronze and the End of Atarneus (Claude Eilers)

10:00–10:45 amEST Macedonia and Thrace from the Roman invasion to the time of Augustus: the contribution of the RBW coin collection (Sophia Kremydi)

10:45–11:30 am EST Romano-Sicilian coins and other coinages of Sicily issued under Roman rule, a mirror of the formation and transformation of Rome’s first province: RBW’s legacy (Suzanne Frey-Kupper)

11:30 am–12:15 pm EST The Coinage of Copia in the RBW Collection (Euan Wall)

12:45–1:30 pm EST Mark Antony’s ‘Fleet coinage’: a survey of research (Michel Amandry)

March 25

Chair: Michel Amandry

Coinages issued under the Romans in the Western Provinces

8:15–9:00 am EST The Roman Struck Bronze Coinage of Luceria and Canusium (Andrew McCabe)

9:00–9:45 am EST Small Change in Roman Republican Coinage (Liv M. Yarrow)

10:00–10:45 am EST The impact of Roman Republican Coinage on Spanish local issues. The unofficial imitations (Pere Pau Ripollès)

10:45–11:30 am EST Two Denarius Imitations in the the RBW Collection (Phil Davis)

11:30 am–12:15 pm EST Magistrates and citizens: the coinage of Paestum in  the RBW Collection (Federico Carbone)

12:45–1:30 pm EST Non-state coinages of Republican Italy (Clive Stannard)

1:30–2:00 pm EST Final Remarks and Comments

Hiring: ANS Deputy Director

Description 

The Deputy Director is a senior member of the management team of the American Numismatic Society. S/he directly reports to the Executive Director and attends all meetings of the Board of Trustees as well as meetings of the Executive Committee. S/he represents the Society in the absence of the Executive Director. S/he is responsible for directly supervising the financial, administrative, technology, library, and publication matters of the American Numismatic Society. 

The Deputy Director is expected to acquire a solid knowledge of all aspects of the Society. 

The Deputy Director shall be prepared to represent the American Numismatic Society at public events, and support the Executive Director in promoting the mission of the Society. 

Qualifications

The position requires a proven and significant track record of dealing with all aspects of finance, accounting, budgeting, and administration acquired in an academic, education, or museum context. Prior experience in managing a team of people is essential. The Deputy Director should have excellent communication skills and be able to speak in public to larger audiences, in-person, and digitally. S/he will have published, researched, and/or taught in the field of numismatics. A graduate degree in a relevant field is a requirement, PhD preferred. 

Location

New York City, New York. Some travel required.

Compensation

This is a full-time exempt position. The ANS offers generous healthcare, vacation, retirement, and fringe benefits.  Salary is in line with similar positions of the Society. 

To Apply

Please send your resume with a letter describing your interest and qualifications for this position, as well as the names and contact information for three references. 

Send applications to position@numismatics.org

Application Deadline: March 10, 2021

The ANS is not able to sponsor visas for this position.

Employment at the American Numismatic Society is dependent on a successful background check.

About the ANS

The American Numismatic Society is dedicated to the study and public appreciation of coins, currencies, medals, and other related objects. Since its founding in 1858, the ANS has assembled a permanent collection with over 800,000 objects dating from 650 BCE to the present and a numismatic library, which houses approximately 100,000 books, documents, and artifacts. These resources are used to support publications of books and periodicals, lectures, academic seminars, and exhibitions.

The American Numismatic Society is an equal-opportunity employer.

The American Numismatic Society, organized in 1858 and incorporated in 1865 in New York State, operates as a research museum under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and is recognized as a publicly supported organization under section 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) as confirmed on November 1, 1970.

The American Negro Commemorative Society

Today’s post is authored by Jaharia Knowles, ANS intern. Knowles is a high school senior from New York City. A passionate student activist, she became a member of Black Students Demanding Change, a student-led group devoted to creating racially equitable reform in NYC private schools, while researching the American Negro Commemorative Society last summer. In addition, she is a visual artist and musician. Jaharia is excited to explore the intersections of history, identity, politics, and art in her future academic studies, and is dedicated to make her community a more accepting and equitable place.

The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968, sent shockwaves across the country and marked the end of the Civil Rights Movement. Almost immediately, riots erupted in several of the nation’s largest cities, including Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, a public display of the Black community’s grief and anger not only towards King’s assassin, but also towards the nation’s deeply rooted racism. The loss of such a prominent figure of the Movement only exacerbated Black Americans’ discontent with segregation, redlining, and other forms of institutional racism that had existed in the country for decades. Less than a week after King’s assassination, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act, which prohibited housing discrimination based on race, religion, gender, or national origin, in part due to pressure from protestors. While the national riots and the subsequent passing of the Fair Housing Act are well-known effects of King’s death, one other effect that has received very little attention was the creation of the American Negro Commemorative Society (ANCS).

Figure 1: ANCS medal featuring Martin Luther King, Jr. (ANS 1969.25.1)

George A. Beach, a 32-year-old advertising designer based in Pennsylvania founded the Society in collaboration with the Franklin Mint for the purpose of highlighting Black American historical figures. With the ANCS, Beach sought to educate Americans, especially Black Americans, on influential Black figures who were often left out of “traditional,” whitewashed narratives of American history. The subjects featured on the medals lived as early as the Revolutionary era, illustrating how ingrained Black people are in the nation’s history. In fact, many of those featured were pioneers in their field, such as W. C. Handy, self-proclaimed “Father of the Blues,” and George Washington Carver, who made significant contributions to the study of agriculture in the early twentieth century.

Figure 2: ANCS medal featuring Carter G. Woodson. (ANS 1970.64.1)

The commemoration of Black historical figures on medals, at least in the United States, was unprecedented. The ANCS addressed this in one of their advertisements, saying, “Many notable American Negroes were given some recognition in their time, but nearly all have been sadly neglected in numismatics. We hope to fill that void.” The ANCS’s efforts to highlight previously overlooked Black Americans was part of a greater push to include Black history in American history started earlier in the century by Carter G. Woodson, founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (also featured on one of the ANCS medals).

Figure 3: ANSC medal featuring Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable. (ANS 1969.25.2)

While some of the Black Americans featured on the ANCS’ medals have become household names, such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, others are not as well-known. For instance, Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable, a tradesman and the first non-indigenous permanent resident of Chicago, had not been recognized for his role in the city’s history until recently. For decades, John Kinzie, a white Canadian who bought Du Sable’s property in 1804, had been wrongly given the title. While that began to change in the early twentieth century due to the determination of African-American led groups in Chicago, many Americans, even Chicagoans, were unfamiliar with Du Sable. The ANCS’s commemoration of the tradesman was part of a long mission to redress a historical wrong. Today, Du Sable is widely recognized as the “Father of Chicago,” but that would have been impossible without the contributions of Black activists, writers, and organizations, including the ANCS.

Figure 4: ANSC medal featuring Henry Ossian Flipper. (ANS 1970.201.2)

The commemoration of Henry Ossian Flipper served a similar purpose. Flipper was born enslaved on March 21st, 1856, in Thomasville, Georgia. However, after the Civil War, he was able to attend West Point Academy, becoming the first black graduate of the school. That same year, he became the second lieutenant of the 10th Cavalry, which made him the first Black officer to lead the all-Black regiment. However, despite his achievements, Flipper’s career was marred by false accusations of misconduct from his racist, white peers, and eventually came to end when Colonel William Rufus Shafter framed the lieutenant for embezzling government funds. Flipper spent the remainder of his life trying to clear his name. Although most people who knew the lieutenant doubted the legitimacy of Shafter’s accusation, he was unable to regain his commission.

Figure 5: ANSC medal featuring Harriet Tubman. (ANS 1969.90.1)

The ANCS’ commemoration of Flipper in 1970 is most likely the first time Flipper had been celebrated for his accomplishments after his death. Six years later, Flipper’s descendants applied for a review of his court-martial and dismissal, resulting in the Department of the Army changing his dismissal to an honorable discharge.  Shortly after, West Point displayed a bust of Flipper on its campus. In 1999, President Bill Clinton pardoned the soldier.

In a forthcoming feature in the ANS Magazine, I will offer an in-depth look at all 64 medals and explore other aspects of the Society, including the marketing of the medals, their reception, and the ANCS’s ultimate demise.

The National Endowment for the Humanities funds the ANS-Oxford University OXUS-INDUS Project

by Peter van Alfen, Ethan Gruber, Andrew Meadows, Simon Glenn, Gunnar Dumke

Silver Drachm of Apollodotus I of Bactria, Uncertain, 174–65 BC. ANS 1944.100.74510.

The American Numismatic Society (ANS) is pleased to announce that the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded the Society a $150,000 grant for the two-year joint ANS-Oxford University OXUS-INDUS project. The award comes through the New Directions in Digital Scholarship in Cultural Institutions program that partners the NEH with the United Kingdom’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) intended to fund trans-Atlantic co-operative projects. At the ANS, Dr. Peter van Alfen and Ethan Gruber will be working with their partners Prof. Andrew Meadows and Dr. Simon Glenn at Oxford University, who are funded by the AHRC, along with Dr. Gunnar Dumke at Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg in Germany, to create a new online typology and research tool for ancient Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek coinage.

Ancient coins provide a wealth of information about the societies that produced them. The economic function of coinage requires no more than a simple indication of authority and denomination, yet since antiquity producers have sought to adorn their coins with complex imagery and inscriptions. The images chosen to appear on coins can tell us much about cultural identity and self-representation, the languages and scripts selected for their inscriptions can indicate an intended audience, the places they are found reveal patterns of circulation and movements of peoples. Their varying weights, and estimates of the numbers of coins produced, may inform us of the economic situation, while understanding the control marks that appear on them can tell us about their system of production. Crucially, the coins struck under particular rulers may be the only surviving evidence of their existence. This is the case for many of the rulers of the Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek kingdoms, which existed between c. 250 BCE and the beginning of the first century CE and covered areas of modern Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and India. Formed in the wake of Alexander the Great’s incursion into the region, these kingdoms remain some of the least understood and most understudied political and social entities of the ancient world. Indeed, only eight of these kings are known from literary, epigraphic, and archaeological sources, while over 40 can be identified on coins alone, an astonishing disparity in source material that underscores the importance of the numismatic evidence for our understanding of these early rulers and their interactions with those they ruled.

Silver Tetradrachm of Eucratides I of Bactria, Bactria, 170–145 BC. ANS 1997.9.68.

Tens of thousands of these coins exist today, dispersed in collections, both public and private, across the globe, not just in Europe, the UK and US, but, rather importantly, in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India as well. With standard reference works out of print and only existing in French and English, it is difficult for scholars and those working in cultural institutions holding these coins to engage with the material at a number of different levels, including not just basic cataloguing but advanced research too. Lacking, in many cases, basic and accurate typological information describing where, when, and who produced the coins, the potential of these collections to serve as historical resources remains currently locked. The OXUS-INDUS project aims to resolve current catalogue and collection accessibility problems by providing a multilingual, freely accessible, and technologically sophisticated Linked Open Data web-based portal that will offer a new, up-to-date typology of the coins, taking into account the many new variations and newly-proposed rulers since the last standard reference work was published 30 years ago by Osmond Bopearachchi. This new tool will also allow access to the images and data of thousands of coins, initially incorporating the major collections of the ANS, Ashmolean Museum, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Leeds University Library, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, and, more critically, the State Bank of Pakistan. Many of these collections were assembled and had reached their current composition by the mid-20th century, meaning that new varieties, which have appeared in recent years are not present. Some of these collections already have an online presence and linkable data on individual coins; some, however, do not, notably those collections located outside of Europe and the US. For this reason, as part of the project, the open source Numishare project platform will be adapted to allow the inclusion of coins from a variety of sources regardless of their current digitized state. The digital format and Numishare architecture for the OXUS-INDUS project has already been successfully deployed in existing and widely used numismatic resources including the NEH-funded Online Coins of the Roman Empire and Hellenistic Royal Coinages at the ANS and the AHRC-funded OPAL and ARCH projects in Oxford. It will also be deployed in the new, ERC-funded CHANGE project.

Besides offering a much-needed tool for understanding Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek coinage at a basic level, we anticipate the OXUS-INDUS resource will also be used to advance new research agendas. In recent years, for example, scholarship on the archaeology and history of the Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek kingdoms has moved away from a polarized view of ‘Greek’ and ‘non-Greek’ influences to one of cultural hybridity. Numismatic scholarship has generally remained focused on political history, with attempts to link the coins to the very few historical events known from literary sources. The subject is thus long overdue for a decolonizing approach, moving away from the systems created in the 19th century by historians from a European colonial background and returning to the evidence of the coins themselves. The new overview created by the OXUS-INDUS project will allow a reappraisal of the numismatic evidence for the kingdoms in the light of these new approaches and provide a framework for studying and analyzing the coins, which does not rely on knowledge of detailed and technical numismatic arguments. The Linked Open Data approach taken will also be fully extensible in the future to include other coinages from the region, and from different periods.

Official Launch of the ANS eBay Store

The banner for the American Numismatic Society’s eBay store.

As every collection grows, there comes a time when decisions must be made about what to keep, and what to retire. This is true for both private collections, as well as cultural institutions such as the American Numismatic Society. In a perfect world, vault space would be unlimited, and the ability to store, maintain, and make available an endless supply of numismatic material would be not only feasible, but practical. Alas, vaults are built to fixed specifications, and with it come similar constraints on any institution’s ability to care for, research, and exhibit their collection. And as guardians of cultural artifacts, we must do what is right by the collection, and the members and donors who contribute to the American Numismatic Society.

As such, the ANS has decided to accept the important challenge of determining what items in the collection should be permanently re-homed. In reality, this is a win-win situation. Not only will the ANS be able to create more space for future objects, but the revenue generated will help support our mission of promoting and advancing the study, research, and appreciation of numismatics. Additionally, members and collectors alike will now have the opportunity to acquire an incredibly diverse range of material pedigreed to the Society at prices dictated by the open market. Pedigree and provenance are hugely important in numismatics, and we feel that giving others the opportunity to incorporate a small piece (or many pieces) of the ANS into their own collections is a benefit to both collectors and the Society.

The first coin listed by the ANS on eBay, a 1900 $1 Morgan coin.

So, what are the steps necessary to carry out this endeavor in an appropriate manner? First and foremost, members of the Curatorial team are carefully considering what items can and should be removed from the collection based on their purview and area of expertise. It should be stressed that only duplicates are being considered. Even then, duplicates also have their place in the ANS collection, as die varieties and die states can provide a wealth of numismatic knowledge about a particular coin series. Once we have identified a duplicate and determined that it is not a unique variety or die state that should remain in the collection, we can then decide which coin is the best-preserved example and therefore should be the specimen we keep.

A duplicate 1787 Fugio Copper from the ANS eBay store.

Next comes the manner in which the duplicate material should be sold. It is our belief that the fairest and most appropriate method to advertise and sell our collection of duplicates is via open auctions with the widest possible reach. As such, eBay auctions will be our main vehicle for the majority of the material that will be leaving the ANS’ collections, at least initially. Not only does eBay have the widest reach of any online auction platform, but eBay’s unique format also allows the Society to add small batches of material on a weekly basis, as opposed to orchestrating larger timed auctions where many hundreds of items go live and sell on the same day. This helps ensure a steady supply of items for collectors to bid on, and makes the day-to-day logistics of running auctions (photographing, listing, and shipping) a more streamlined and manageable operation. Additionally, eBay allows the ANS to list our material with low starting bids and no reserves to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to bid on and win objects from our collection, and that market demand and market demand alone dictates the final price of any sold piece. As a non-profit, this is of paramount importance and ensures that we are approaching this new project with integrity, honesty, and fairness.

An attractive 1878 2 Centavo essai coin from Argentina from the ANS collection.

On many collector’s minds is what range of material will the ANS be considering? While we are initially focused on coins, paper money, tokens, and medals from the Americas—including the United States, Canada, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America—eventually the project will be broadened to other world coins and paper money, world medals and tokens, and ancient coins. Numismatic literature is also on the horizon, as the ANS library also includes many duplicates.

We hope to share updates from this project as time goes on, and hope to learn from members and collectors as to how we are doing. Deaccessiong is never an easy process, and for the ANS (as it is for any institution) it will be a continuous work-in-progress where we learn, grow, and improve with each sale. Ultimately, our efforts are grounded in doing what is right for the ANS, our members and donors, and our collection, but we hope that anyone who wishes to add an item from the ANS will be able to do so in the months and years to come.

See the ANS’s current eBay listings.

Numismatics and the 19th Amendment Centennial

The following post was written by Mary N. Lannin, who is on the Board of Trustees of the American Numismatic Society and has been a member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee since 2014, serving as its Chair from 2015–2018.

One hundred years ago today, a remarkable event occurred. The voting population of the United States doubled with the passage of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote. And now it’s time to slide open the drawers in the vault of the American Numismatic Society and see what numismatic objects we have to commemorate this anniversary.

Figure 1: “Votes for Women” badge worn by suffragettes. (ANS 1919.83.106, gift of J. Sanford Saltus, http://numismatics.org/collection/1919.83.106)
Figure 1: “Votes for Women” badge worn by suffragettes. (ANS 1919.83.106, gift of J. Sanford Saltus)

Many of the creators or sculptors of the 800,000+ objects in our collection are anonymous because we are separated from them by hundreds or thousands of years. This badge, in silver with a gold-colored ribbon (fig. 1), was worn by an unknown suffragette and is a typical example of that which was created during the long fight for the passage of this amendment. J. Sanford Saltus, the early and important benefactor to the American Numismatic Society, donated the badge in 1919.

Figure 2: Leila Woodman Usher with bas relief of Susan B. Anthony.
Figure 2: Leila Woodman Usher with bas relief of Susan B. Anthony.

However, women have comprised a small but growing percentage of sculptors, coin designers and medalists and we can find numismatic evidence on coins and medals done by women for women in saluting these suffrage efforts. Wisconsin-born Leila Woodman Usher (1859–1955), for instance, studied under Augustus Saint-Gaudens and one of her most famous bas-relief portraits was this portrait of suffragist Susan B. Anthony (fig. 2). In a similar medal also designed by Usher, Anthony’s determined visage is on the obverse, and the famous quote—“Failure Is Impossible”, surrounded by oak leaves, is on the reverse (fig. 3).

Figure 3: Bronze Susan B. Anthony medal of 1920 designed by Leila Woodman Usher, issued by the National Women’s Suffrage Association, and struck by the Medallic Art Co. (ANS 1985.81.13, http://numismatics.org/collection/1985.81.13)
Figure 3: Bronze Susan B. Anthony medal of 1920 designed by Leila Woodman Usher, issued by the National Women’s Suffrage Association, and struck by the Medallic Art Co. (ANS 1985.81.13)

Alice Stokes Paul (1885–1977) is seen on this United States Mint medal. Although Paul never married, she became part of the US Mint’s First Spouse Gold Coin series, paired with Chester A. Arthur, a widower. Born during Arthur’s administration, Paul was picketing the White House when President Wilson urged Congress to vote for the 19th amendment. Proudly wearing the banner “Votes for Women” and carrying the American flag, Stokes marches forcefully across the reverse. The coin and medal were designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill for the US Mint (fig. 4).

Figure 4: Bronze Alice Paul medal of 2012 designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill, struck by the United State Mint. (ANS 2013.53.8, http://numismatics.org/collection/2013.53.8)
Figure 4: Bronze Alice Paul medal of 2012 designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill, struck by the United State Mint. (ANS 2013.53.8)

To commemorate today’s historic occasion, the United States Mint has released the Women’s Suffrage Centennial 2020 Silver Dollar. Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) designer, Christina Hess, and sculptor, Phebe Hemphill, have crafted a jaunty obverse, illustrated by three generations of women, each wearing a hat appropriate to the era, which subtly reminds us that the passage to the amendment encompassed years and generations. The inscriptions “LIBERTY,” “$1,” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM” encircle the design. The reverse design, also by Hess and Hemphill, shows “2020” being dropped into a ballot box, styled with art deco elements popular in 1920. “VOTES FOR WOMEN” is inscribed inside a circle on the front of the box. The inscriptions “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “IN GOD WE TRUST” are on the ballot box (fig. 5).

Figure 5: The Women’s Suffrage Centennial 2020 Proof Silver Dollar. Photo courtesy the United State Mint.
Figure 5: The Women’s Suffrage Centennial 2020 Proof Silver Dollar. Photo courtesy the United State Mint.

A special silver medal, available only in a set with the proof silver dollar and medal set, evokes the struggle women then and now face for equality. The obverse of the medal, designed by AIP artist, Beth Zaiken, and sculpted by Renata Gordon, features a child’s hand, reaching to join adult women’s hands and arms as they struggle to hold an enormous stone, with “WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE CENTENNIAL” engraved over it. AIP artist Patricia Lucas-Morris contributed the strong design for the reverse, sculpted by Renata Gordon, juxtaposing the text of the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920, with the flag of the United States. The date “1920” is inscribed at the bottom (fig. 6).

Figure 6: The Women’s Suffrage Centennial 2020 Proof Silver Medal. Photo courtesy the United State Mint.
Figure 6: The Women’s Suffrage Centennial 2020 Proof Silver Medal. Photo courtesy the United State Mint.

On this most important day, let’s salute the women who came before us and stand strong for the women following in our footsteps.

CoinHoards.org Launched

igch-bannerThe American Numismatic Society is pleased to announce the launch of CoinHoards, a new web-based, linked open data tool for research in ancient Greek numismatics and ancient economies.

Coin Hoards is a component of the National Endowment for the Humanities-funded Hellenistic Royal Coinages project developed by the American Numismatic Society (ANS). An innovative research resource, CoinHoards provides primary data and other information on 2,387 hoards of coins produced by Greeks and other non-Roman peoples in the Mediterranean and adjacent regions between ca. 650 and 30 BCE. In addition to a basic description, users will find on the page devoted to each hoard mapping tools for the findspot and mint(s) where the coins found in the hoard were produced, bibliographical references, and a list of the hoard contents. These tools will allow users to compare and contrast circulation patterns of coinage in various parts of the Mediterranean world over time. Where possible, each type of coin listed is linked to a typological description, such as those found on PELLA, Seleucid Coins Online, and Ptolemaic Coins Online. Additional links are provided where possible to relevant resources associated with the hoard, which might include the MANTIS record of individual coins from the hoard held in the ANS collection, ANS publications, the notebooks of Edward T. Newell, and associated correspondence, notes, and archival material.

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The current version of CoinHoards is based on the print publication Inventory of Greek Coin Hoards, edited by Margaret Thompson, Otto Mørkholm, and Colin Kraay, published in 1973 by the ANS for the International Numismatic Commission. Future versions of CoinHoards will incorporate material from the print publications Coin Hoards, vols. 1–10, published by the Royal Numismatic Society, and more recently by both the Royal Numismatic Society and the ANS.

The launch of CoinHoards is a remarkable step forward in our ability to trace circulation patterns of ancient coinage and thereby gain greater insight into patterns of trade and other types of economic interaction. This new website allows users to conduct in-depth research on scores of related hoards and their contents in just a few minutes, saving hours or even days of research time.

For more information on the technical side of how CoinHoards was assembled, see the ANS’s Director of Data Science Ethan Gruber’s Numishare blog.

An Owl-ccentricity: Athenian Imitation “New Style” Owls in Saba’

Today’s post comes courtesy of Anna Accettola as part of her work conducted at the 2019 Eric P. Newman Graduate Summer Seminar in Numismatics. —ed.

The Sabaean Kingdom, located in the southern Arabian Peninsula and modern-day Yemen, rose to prominence between 1200 and 800 BCE and ruled until near the end of the third century CE.  At this point, the Sabaeans were conquered by the neighboring Himyarite Kingdom for the final time.  Most famous for its connection to the biblical land of Sheba and its control over frankincense and myrrh production, the Sabaean Kingdom maintained a cultural and economic presence in the Mediterranean milieu throughout the expansion of Greek city-states, the rise and fall of the Athenian Empire, the conquests of Alexander the Great, and the coming of Rome.  While largely remaining distant from the political life of the Mediterranean, certain aspects of Mediterranean cultures influenced the Sabaeans, specifically their coinage.

Athenian “Old Style” Owls (Figure 1) were a predominant coinage in the Mediterranean for nearly 300 years and imitations of this iconography appeared in Saba’ in the mid-fourth century BCE, less than 100 years after its creation.  But these imitations beg the question: why would a kingdom so far from the Mediterranean Sea, let alone the polis of Athens, imitate a goddess and other symbols vastly different from their own cultural norms?  The answer likely lies in the caravan trade and the heavy traffic between Saba, Egypt, Gaza, and the Greek Mediterranean for the exchange of incense and other luxury goods.  Saba was the main producer of frankincense and myrrh in the ancient world and these products were always in great demand.  As such, a certain amount of Athenian coinage (and later Hellenistic Alexanders and Roman denarii) found their way into Saba along these trade routes.

Fig. 1. Sabaean imitation of Athenian "old style" owl, ANS 1944.100.69452.
Fig. 1. Sabaean imitation of Athenian “old style” owl, ANS 1944.100.69452.

But approximately 200 years later, the Sabaeans, possibly with Himyarite influence, decided to change their currency and once again follow the Athenian precedent.  Even though “New Style” Athenian coins have never been found in southern Arabia, the owl on amphora design was imitated and pushed out the older type (Figure 2).  This oddity is the focus of my summer project.  Through a die study of the Sabaean “New Style” Athenian imitations, I hope to better understand questions such as: how many of these coins may have been produced, what is the weight standard on which these new coins were struck, and, perhaps, what persuaded the Sabaeans to adopt this style of coin, incorporating new series of monograms and symbols, around the first century BCE?

Fig. 2. Sabaean Imitation of "new style" owls, ANS 1944.100.69467.
Fig. 2. Sabaean Imitation of “new style” owls, ANS 1944.100.69467.

The first step in completing this project was to collect as much information on these coins and as many photographs as possible from around the world.  Approximately 300 of these coins exist, in four (or possibly five) denominations, almost exclusively in silver.  The largest denomination is a unit or nṣf.  As can be seen in Figure 2, these coins differ as the Sabaeans added certain unusual facets to their coinage which are not evident in the Athenian originals or other imitations—such as the border of amphorae circling the reverse and a “curved symbol” which perhaps represents one of the main Sabaean deities, Almaqah (Munro-Hay 2003: 37).

Thus far, my study has revealed several points of interest.  First, these coins had a fairly large production, especially the full unit denomination of the cursive YNF monogram type (Figure 3).  The weight of the unit (averaging 5.39 grams) is approximately equal to that of the siglos, likely to ease exchange with near neighbors. However, fractional coins occur with significantly less frequency and there are only 7 examples of the smallest denominations in the world (Figure 4).  In addition, this coinage retained a regular reverse type, but went through several shifts in obverse type; first, transitioning away from the original head of Athena to a long-haired royal portrait in the earlier mintings and, then, to an “Augustan” style head with short hair and a stern expression.  Although some researchers have argued that this was a direct result of the 26/25 BCE Roman expedition into southern Arabia, the chronology of these coins is not yet well enough established to be confident in such influences (Munro-Hay 1991: 407 and Huth 2010: 241).

Fig. 3. Sabaean imitation "new style" owl, cursive YNF monogram type, ANS 1944.100.69463 from the Edward T. Newell Collection.
Fig. 3. Sabaean imitation “new style” owl, cursive YNF monogram type, ANS 1944.100.69463 from the Edward T. Newell Collection.

 

Fig. 4. 1/8th unit Sabaean imitation "new style" owl, ANS 1944.100.69477 from the Edward T. Newell Collection.
Fig. 4. 1/8th unit Sabaean imitation “new style” owl, ANS 1944.100.69477 from the Edward T. Newell Collection.

As such, these coins remain fairly elusive in providing modern researchers with clear answers about the authorities who minted them, the monograms with which they are inscribed, and even the inspiration for them.  However, I tentatively argue that these may act as a transitional coinage between an older Athenian model and the later so-called “bucranium” series (Figure 5), which features a more independent and unique Sabaean identity. These earlier imitations of Athenian coinage seem to showcase an intense interest in the Mediterranean world and its powerful economy opportunities.  But as the Sabaean and Himyarites grew through territorial conquest and became more directly involved with the Roman and eastern trade routes to India and beyond, they established their own iconographic traditions.

Fig. 5. Sabaean "Bucranium" series, ANS 1944.100.6494.
Fig. 5. Sabaean “Bucranium” series, ANS 1944.100.6494.

Anna Accettola is a PhD candidate in Ancient History at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  Her dissertation is on the legal institutions and social networks which promoted long-distance trade across the Hellenistic Mediterranean between the Greek poleis and the Near East, specifically the Nabataean Kingdom.  She was inspired to apply for the American Numismatic Society summer program in order to learn more about how states implement monetary policies and negotiate these policies across political and territorial boundaries.