All posts by Andrew Reinhard

The Imperial Family on Third Century Roman Coinage

1D3_8611[Today’s post is authored by Sam Caldis (Brown University) who is taking part in the 2016 Eric P. Newman Graduate Seminar in Numismatics. Sam’s proposed doctoral dissertation topic is collegial rule and imperial power-sharing in the Roman Empire during the third and fourth centuries.  Aside from his seminar project, Sam is spending time at the ANS researching the coins and public image programs of fourth-century Roman emperors, studying for his preliminary exams.]

Coins played a significant role in shaping the public image of the  Roman imperial family.  The majority of the coins which left the central imperial mints featured the emperor himself and emphasized his activities and virtues, from (re)conquering Britain to his close friendship with Hercules.  However, emperors did not always appear solo on their coinage- wives, ancestors, and descendants could all be placed on coins to highlight other marks of distinction for the regime, such as proclaiming ancestry or demonstrating the security of the succession.  Although there has recently been a great deal of interest in the place of members of the imperial house on coinage, one aspect which has been largely ignored is the development of familial types – coins which display at least two members of the imperial family together on either the obverse or reverse of a coin.

RIC I Augustus 207 (ANS 1935.117.354)

These types appear early on – Augustus minted coins with his chosen successors, Gaius and Lucius Caesar, together on the reverse.  By the end of the reign of Septimius Severus (193-211), familial types had become more common.  This is in large part due to the prominence of his two potential heirs, Caracalla (198-211) and Geta (209-211), and their powerful mother, Julia Domna.

RIC IV Geta 184 (ANS 1946.7.38)

The members of this imperial household were mixed and matched to produce a variety of familial types.  The most common familial types depict Severus’s sons on the reverse, usually with a legend emphasizing concordia, or harmony.  This may have been intended to reinforce the dynasty’s stability to the people of the empire, though it may also have been an unsubtle message from the imperial court to a pair of brothers who were notoriously always at odds.

RIC V Salonina 47 (ANS 1954.203.132)

The rapid turnover of emperors in the third century led to further experimentation with familial types.  For example, Gallienus (253-268) has no familial types with his sons and co-emperors Valerian II (253-257) and Saloninus (258-260), but the latter are included in familial types on their mother Salonina’s coins.  Instead of appearing as teenage Caesars, Valerian II and Saloninus are depicted with a third child quite literally no bigger than their mother’s knee, emphasizing the fertility and youth of the dynasty.

RIC V Carus 146 (Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Münzkabinett, RÖ 32467)
RIC V Carus 146 (Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Münzkabinett, RÖ 32467)

Perhaps the most interesting shift in familial types during this period is the movement of the family portrait from its usual place on the reverse to the obverse, in some cases.  Before the third century, only Augusts and Nero ever produced coinage with an obverse familial type, and these were exceedingly rare.  By the end of the third century, the obverse became the preferred location for the family portrait on familial types. Furthermore, the emperor’s solo portrait on the reverse came to be replaced by more traditional imagery, such as deities.  A significant number of familial types now looked like “normal” coins with the single emperor on the obverse being replaced by a corporate image of two members of the imperial house.  In the rapidly changing political world of the third century CE, emperors experimented with the presentation of their public image in a variety of media as they fought to maintain their position.  Familial coin types were one of part of their toolkit, one which received significant attention and innovation.

ANS Book Sale!

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The ANS is selling select books published after 2000 at a deep discount (up to 80% off retail) from April 25–May 8. Titles in the sale (while quantities last) are:

From Crime to Punishment: Counterfeit and Debased Currencies in Colonial and Pre-Federal America (by Philip L. Mossman, reg. $145/sale $45)

The Island Standard: The Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman Coinages of Paros (by John A.N.Z. Tully, reg. $120/sale $40)

The Silver Coins of Massachusetts (by Christopher J. Salmon, reg. $95/sale $45)

Diva Faustina: Coinage and Cult in Rome and the Provinces (by Martin Beckman, reg. $95/sale $45)

New Jersey State Coppers (by Roger S. Siboni, John L. Howes, and A. Buell Ish, reg. $235/sale $100)

Numismatic Finds of the Americas, An Inventory of American Coin Hoards (Treasure Trove), Shipwrecks, Single Finds, and Finds in Excavations (by John M. Kleeberg, reg. $125/sale $40)

American Journal of Numismatics Vol. 24 (reg. $75/sale $15).

Download an order form for your purchase(s).

If It’s Baroque, Someone Should Fix It!

by Elizabeth Hahn Benge, previous ANS Librarian

Truer words could not be said by someone with a passion for ancient history, especially when the baroque takes over the ancient. Such is the case with a Roman Bust of Antinous in the collection of the Museo Nazionale Romano, Palazzo Altemps, in Rome. After the original ancient Roman face was broken at some unknown time, the bust received a “new” baroque-style face that was added by the mid-18th century. To many viewers, it is apparent that the face does not match the style of the rest of the bust and is a restoration added later. But then what happened to the original face?

The answer can be found in a new exhibition titled A Portrait of Antinous, in Two Parts, at the Art Institute of Chicago that opened on April 2, 2016. Loans from the American Numismatic Society help introduce Antinous—the Greek youth and companion of Roman emperor Hadrian, who mysteriously drowned in the Nile River in A.D. 130—and his enduring interest throughout history. The ANS loans include four bronze coins of Antinous (1967.152.356; 1944.100.62226; 1944.100.58522; 1944.100.58531) and a 1711 book from the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Library. The coins demonstrate the same iconographic features that were likely inspired by sculptures of the same type of Antinous: broad shoulders, bare chest, and lush, curly hair.

ANS 1944.100.62226
ANS 1944.100.62226

The show brings together years of research that took place to determine whether or not the Art Institute of Chicago’s Fragment of a Portrait Head of Antinous was the original face of the Bust of Antinous (inv. no. 8620) that belongs to the Palazzo Altemps museum, a suggestion first put forth by W. Raymond Johnson, Egyptologist at the University of Chicago. Since the “new” face that the Palazzo Altemps bust received is part of the sculpture’s history, it could not be removed, and added to the challenges of understanding if, and how, the Art Institute’s fragment might have fit. But—Spoiler Alert!—it did!

Left: Fragment of a Portrait Head of Antinous, mid-2nd century A.D. Roman. Gift of Mrs. Charles L. Hutchinson. Right: Bust of Antinous, mid-2nd century A.D. Roman, with 18th-century restorations. Museo Nazionale Romano, Palazzo Altemps, Rome, 8620. Archivio Fotografico SS-Col, num. 589475. Photo by Stefano Castellani.
Left: Fragment of a Portrait Head of Antinous, mid-2nd century A.D. Roman. Gift of Mrs. Charles L. Hutchinson.
Right: Bust of Antinous, mid-2nd century A.D. Roman, with 18th-century restorations. Museo Nazionale Romano, Palazzo Altemps, Rome, 8620. Archivio Fotografico SS-Col, num. 589475. Photo by Stefano Castellani.

This conclusion, and the years of research that led to it, are the focus of the exhibition. Modern 3D printing technology was used to create a mold from which a plaster replica was made in order for the team to effectively demonstrate that the two parts were in fact originally part of one ancient bust. The show is centered around these two parts: the fragment of a portrait head from the Art Institute and the bust from the Palazzo Altemps, which are displayed together along with the full-scale plaster cast reconstruction that gives the impression of its original appearance in antiquity.

The exhibition further tells how the fragment ended up in Chicago, an ocean away from its original location. A video documenting the research and creation of the plaster cast accompanies the show, while a timeline of events spans nearly 40 feet of wall in the gallery. I’ve had fun working on this project, and it is a fascinating story with a lot of content, which can be difficult to convey through photographs alone, and is one of many reasons I hope readers will be able to visit the show in person!

A Portrait of Antinous, in Two Parts will be on display through August 28, 2016, at The Art Institute of Chicago.

The exhibition website can be found here.

And the video that is also part of the exhibition can be found here.

 

Dr. Aneurin Ellis-Evans Redefines Attic Weight Coinage

Dr. Aneurin Ellis-Evans delivers the Fowler lecture at the ANS.
Dr. Aneurin Ellis-Evans delivers the Harry W. Fowler lecture at the ANS.

On April 12, Dr. Aneurin Ellis-Evans of Oxford University delivered the 2016 Harry W. Fowler Memorial Lecture, “Imperialism and Regionalism in the Athenian Empire: an Attic Weight Coinage from North-West Turkey and its Afterlife (427-405 BC).”

View the complete lecture here.

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Dr. Ellis-Evans makes his case regarding Attic weight standards.

Dr. Ellis-Evans holds degrees from Balliol College and New College, Oxford, with a particular interest in the social and economic history of the ancient world. In particular, he is intrigued by the relationship between geography and history, and will be publishing his PhD thesis exploring this theme with OUP as The Kingdom of Priam: The Troad between Anatolia and the Aegean. Since completing his doctoral studies in 2013, he has written numerous articles and reviews, and presented on a variety of topics relating to the Classical and Post-Classical worlds.

lecture1
The Harry W. Fowler Memorial Lecture was established in 1998 with a bequest from Mr. Fowler and with additional gifts from the Fowler family. Harry W. Fowler served as President of the American Numismatic Society from 1984-1990, and for his personal generosity was named a Benefactor of the Society in 1986. In 1995 he bequeathed his collection of Bactrian coins to the ANS, which together with the Society’s already strong holdings, has created one of the most comprehensive collections of Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek coins.

A Superpower is Born: The Rise of the Dollar

A Superpower is Born
A Superpower is Born

The ANS has received 14 copies of the new book, A Superpower is Born: The Rise of the Dollar.  Published in 2016, this 80-page, full-color book features seven articles on United States silver dollars, including two chapters by Matthew Wittmann, recently the ANS’s Assistant Curator of American Coins and Currency. Other authors include Ole Bjørn Fausa, Brian Hendelson, Svein Gullbekk, Michael Märcher, and Jesse Kraft. Published by Samlerhuset Group B.V., edited by Prof. Svein H. Gullbekk of the University of Oslo. ISBN 978-82-999453-2-5.

Purchase price is $25 for Members and non-Members, plus $10 shipping/handling. Contact Andrew Reinhard, ANS Director of Publications to order.

Sale! ANS Auction Catalogues Auctioned by CNG

One of the ANS's catalogues on auction by CNG
One of the ANS’s catalogues on auction by CNG

The American Numismatic Society is excited to announce its first sale of auction catalogs and fixed price lists, originating from the early 20th and late 19th centuries. Duplicate catalogs from the ANS collection are being offered through an e-auction by Classical Numismatic Group, which began on March 9, and ends on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 (e-sale 371). All proceeds will benefit the Society’s Library Acquisitions Fund.

The variety of ANS holdings being offered covers a wide-range of numismatic areas and interests, providing especially important research materials for those interested in provenance and past pricing. The Society plans to hold regular sales of its various holdings of duplicate, rare auction catalogs and numismatic literature. Support the Society while enhancing your collections with an auction purchase!

The CNG sale also contains other important numismatic libraries, including the collection of late ANS Trustee Lawrence Adams, who passed away last year.

To view the catalogs for sale, click here.

To view the entire offering of numismatic literature in CNG E-Sale 371, click here.

Newman Numismatic Portal Opens

Open door

The Newman Numismatic Portal (NNP) is now live and open to the general public at NewmanPortal.org. Funded by the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society (EPNNES), NNP is administered through Washington University in St. Louis, and aims to provide the most comprehensive numismatic resources available on the Internet. “I have long wanted to make the literature and images of numismatics, particularly American numismatics, available to everyone on a free and forever basis,” said Eric P. Newman, president of EPNNES. “Today’s digital technologies, combined with the funds recently assembled from auctions of some of our foundation’s holdings, now make this possible.”

Newman Numismatic Portal logo

 

The Newman Portal project launched scanning operations at Washington University Libraries in July, 2015, and at the American Numismatic Society in November, 2015. Both locations are equipped with scanning equipment supplied in partnership with Internet Archive, as well as personnel to perform scanning on a full-time basis. Over 3,000 documents, representing more than 100,000 pages, have been completed to date. The documents represent a mix of auction catalogs, periodicals, reference books, and archival material. Most of this material is unique to the Newman Portal and has not been previously scanned.

In addition to the libraries of Eric P. Newman and the American Numismatic Society, a number of contributors including private collectors Dan Hamelberg, Bill Burd, and Joel Orosz have loaned material to the Newman Portal for scanning. The Newman Portal has further partnered with over a dozen specialty and regional organizations to provide access to back issues of club journals. A full list of available publications may be found in the periodical section of the Newman Portal.

The Portal further includes reference content structured for optimal usage within the context of online access. Resources such as Pete Smith American Numismatic Biographies and Albert Frey’s dictionary from the American Journal of Numismatics have been broken down into separate entries and appear individually in search results. The U.S. coin encyclopedia contains over 2 million auctions prices realized. A Lucene-based search engine allows users to search across all content, from the scans hosted by Internet Archive to the reference material within the site itself.

While ongoing scanning operations continue to build the “virtual library” of the Newman Portal, the long term goal of NNP is to increase collector collaboration and foster knowledge sharing through crowdsourcing and other initiatives. The Smithsonian Institute has recently demonstrated the promise of crowdsourcing in cataloging thousands of national bank currency proofs. The Newman Portal has announced its first such project, creating a transcription of Franklin Peale’s Report (1835), a fundamental document related to 19th century American coining technology. With today’s electronic resources, the power of the community can accomplish tasks beyond individuals or small teams, and the Newman Portal will enable this within the numismatic research space.

[Press release provided by the Newman Numismatic Portal]

ANS Scanning Project Passes 30,000 Pages

John Graffeo works the controls of the Table Top Scribe at the ANS.
John Graffeo works the controls of the Table Top Scribe at the ANS.

In December 2015, the American Numismatic Society began a joint project with the Newman Numismatic Portal, an online numismatic resource, in order to enable greater access to American numismatic research material on both the ANS Digital Library and Newman Portal websites.

One of the many rare catalogues scanned by the ANS so far.
One of the many rare catalogues scanned by the ANS so far.

To date, nearly 500 early American auction catalogues have been scanned by the ANS for this project totaling over 30,000 pages so far. These catalogues include those of Frossard, Woodward, Chapman, Elder, and other notable names in the field.

Scanned ANS auction catalogues as they appear online now.
Scanned ANS auction catalogues as they appear online now.

John Graffeo, the scanner operator, trained first with ANS librarian/archivist David Hill throughout 2015 in the care and handling of the Society’s rare books, and later trained in Princeton with the Internet Archive on how to use the revolutionary Table Top Scribe scanner. The scanning process includes matching an auction catalogue with its metadata (information about the book) in the ANS’s library catalogue, taking a test image, and then proceeding to scan the rest of the volume.

ToScan
Pages of a catalogue are ready to be scanned on the Table Top Scribe.

The scanner itself is comprised of a metal carriage that cradles each book so as not to effect the spine. Graffeo uses a foot-pedal to raise the book to a pair of glass panes after which he clicks a button to activate two cameras, which photograph the book’s spread.

JohnComputer
John Graffeo checks the quality of the scans before proceeding to the next auction catalogue.

After the catalogue has been photographed, Graffeo checks for image quality, tags each page (front matter, interior pages, back matter, cover), and then crops each image, being sure to maintain all of the data on the page including handwritten marginalia such as sale prices and buyer names. Once the volume is complete, Graffeo uploads it to the Internet Archive for a spot-check on quality, after which it goes live online at the Newman Numismatic Portal as part of the ANS’s collection of online auction catalogues. Some of the auction catalogues are exceedingly fragile, so scanning them in this fashion helps to preserve their contents without destroying or damaging the books.

ScannedPages
Sample scanned pages as the appear online. All of these scans may be searched and also saved in a variety of digital formats.

“This is a great project,” Graffeo said between scans. “It’s extending the wealth of numismatic information and sharing it for the public good.” All of the scans are available immediately as Open Access for free use by anyone for any reason. The content is shared, and the artifact of the book is preserved. Numismatics has been an interdisciplinary subject since its inception, and making all of the ANS’s holdings publicly available remains central to the Society’s mission.

newmannumismaticThe Newman Numismatic Portal, sponsored by a $2 million grant from the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society to the Washington University Libraries, began operations in December 2014. It has digitized over 1,000 documents to date, including a unique set of bid books from the firms of Samuel and Henry Chapman, which were generously loaned by ANS Trustee Dan Hamelberg.

Internet-Archive-LogoAdministered through Washington University Libraries in St. Louis, the Newman Portal contracted with Internet Archive, which has provided equipment, training, and staff for the scanning operation at the ANS Library. Internet Archive is a non-profit organization dedicated to digital preservation of all media.

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to begin distributing some of the Library’s research collections on a large scale in the same way that much of the Society’s coin collections are being made available through online research tools like PELLA, OCRE, and MANTIS,” David Hill, supervisor of the onsite operations, said. “When you think about all of the materials in the Library’s Rare Book Room, which include unique archival collections such as dealer and collector correspondence, you really begin to realize what an impact a project like this can have.”

(all photos by Alan Roche, American Numismatic Society)