All posts by Elena Stolyarik

Representations of Justice in Numismatics

Since ancient times, justice has been one of the fundamental concepts of civilized society. Through the centuries its allegorical personification has often been represented in art, including in the iconography of coins and medals.

The Roman legal system is historically renowned. Even before the Roman Republic was established in 509 BCE, the Romans had a judicial system based on customary law. However, the Twelve Tables, written in 449 BCE, became the foundation of Roman law. As the Roman Republic grew into an empire, its rulers faced the increasing challenge of governing of populations with diverse laws. This led to the development of the concept of ius gentium (“law of nations”), which was the body of legal customs shared by peoples throughout the empire, considered by the Romans to be based on the principles of ius naturale (“natural law”), which were the basic natural rules governing living beings such as self-preservation.

Worship of Justice as a goddess of the Roman pantheon was introduced under Augustus, and that veneration was continued by other emperors in the following centuries. In January of 13 CE, Tiberius dedicated a statue of Iustitia in Rome. A beautiful bust of Iustitia also was represented on bronze coins issued under Tiberius.

Fig. 1. Roman Empire. Dupondius of Tiberius (14–37 CE), Rome, 22–23 CE. ANS 1944.100.39280

The coins of Nerva, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Pescennius Niger, Septimius Severus, Caracalla, and Severus Alexander also depicted Justitia, showing her as a goddess with a patera, scepter, or rudder in her hands.

Fig. 2. Roman Empire. Denarius of Nerva (96–98 CE), 96 CE. ANS 1905.57.330
Fig. 3. Roman Empire. Denarius of Hadrian (117–138 CE), 128–132 CE. ANS 1948.19.1209
Fig. 4. Roman Empire. Denarius of Septimius Severus (193–211 CE), 198–202 CE. ANS 1944.100.50262

The Roman personification of Justice was connected with another personification, Aequitas, the goddess of the virtues of equity and fairness. She represents fair trade and honesty and especially the fairness and impartiality of the emperor (Aequitas Augusti). She is usually shown with a balance and holding a cornucopiaor hasta pura (a kind of ceremonial spear).

Fig. 5. Roman Empire. As of Vespasian (69–79 CE), 73 CE. ANS 1951.61.44
Fig. 6. Roman Empire. Aureus of Antoninus Pius (138–161 CE), 148–149 CE. ANS 1972.62.5
Fig. 7. Roman Empire. Aureus of Lucius Verus (161–169 CE), 168 CE. ANS 1959.228.21

Despite the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Roman law continued in use in the Byzantine Empire, experiencing a great systematization under Justinian I (527–565). He formed a commission of jurists to compile all existing Roman law into one body. Their work, known as the Corpus Juris Civilis, collected and summarized all of the classical jurists’ writings on law as well as the edicts of previous emperors. This work was updated with new laws issued by Justinian. Christian traditions were deeply connected with legal thought in the life of the Byzantine Empire; Christ was often portrayed as a divine judge, and in terms of legal theory, the emperor was regarded as God’s representative on earth and was held to be the fountain of justice.

Fig. 8. Solidus of the first reign of Justinian II (685–695). ANS 1944.100.14572

An important contribution to the development of the modern judicial system was made by one of the greatest rulers of medieval England, King Henry II (1154–1189). His reforms imposed a standardization of procedures throughout the kingdom, at a time when local customs governed justice in most places. His courts, applying uniform rules and following the guide of recorded precedent, formed the basis for the English common law. Soon the law had become even higher than the king himself, as was made manifest when his son King John was forced by rebel lords to sign the Magna Carta in 1215. This document provided protections for individual rights in jurisprudence and declared the liberties held by “free men” (mainly the aristocracy).

Fig. 9. England. Penny of Henry II (1154–1189). ANS 1967.182.35
Fig. 10. England. Penny of John (1199–1216). ANS 1967.182.36
Fig. 11. One of the four existing medieval copies of the Magna Carta

Through the centuries, monarchs have represented themselves as protectors of their people through fair judgment, military prowess, and protection of basic human needs. These principles were often reflected allegorically through representations of Justice, Peace, and Prosperity along with images of the rulers.

Fig. 12. France. Bronze restrike of medal of Louis XIV (1643–1715), showing Justice and the king with sword and balance, by Jean Mauger, 1667. ANS 0000.999.44232
Fig. 13. France. Bronze medal of Louis XIV (1643–1715), showing the king directing Justice, by Jean Mauger, 1688. ANS 1981.57.29
Fig. 14. France. Bronze medal of Louis XV (1715–1774), depicting the king with Peace and Justice standing beside him, by J. Duvivier (obv.) and J. Le Blanc (rev.), 1723. ANS 1984.30.13
Fig. 15. England. Lead cast of medal of Charles II, showing Britannia welcoming Athena, Justice, and Hercules, by John Roettier, 1660. ANS 1914.47.2

However, when people felt that bad leadership was depriving people of the basic necessities and the rights that were promised to them, a different idea of social justice could emerge. In France this led to the idea that justice should be applied without regard to wealth, power, or other status, which helped bring about the famous French Revolution in 1789.

Fig. 16. France. Electrotype of bronze medal depicting the storming of the Bastille, by B. Andrieu, 1789. ANS 0000.999.44687

The motto of the Revolution—Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (“liberty, equality, fraternity”)—is still cherished in France to this day. But despite these idealistic slogans, the revolution involved massive loss of life. King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were beheaded in 1793, as were more than 10,000 other people during the Reign of Terror of 1793–1794. The radical politicians who led the Terror were connected with the influential political club known as the Jacobins. But factional divisions among the Jacobins brought an end to the Terror when twenty-one of the most radical Jacobins, including Maximilien Robespierre, were sent to the guillotine. All of these public executions were meant to symbolize the ideals of revolutionary equality before the law and revolutionary justice.

Fig. 17. France. Silver medal commemorating Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette after their execution, by C. H. Kuchler, 1793. ANS 1920.147.708
Fig. 18. France. Bronze medal in honor of the Jacobins, by P.-F. Palloy, 1791. ANS 1920.147.651

The slogans of the French Revolution reappeared when the Russian Revolution began in February 1917, with the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II. The Provisional Government, led by liberals and socialists, attempted to establish widely recognized liberal values such as freedom of speech, democratic voting for representatives, and equality before the law. However, the Bolshevik party, headed by Vladimir Lenin, organized a coup, taking over the government buildings on November 7, 1917 (October 25 in the old Russian calendar). The next day they seized the Winter Palace, where the Provisional government was based.

Fig. 19. The storming of the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, during the October Revolution in Russia, 1917
Fig. 20. Soviet Union. Bronze medal commemorating the 40th anniversary of the October Revolution of 1917, by N. A. Sokolov, 1957. ANS 2000.16.128 (Obv.)

In the election of the Constituent Assembly soon afterward, the Bolsheviks won only about 24% of the seats in this body. As soon as it convened, they forcibly dissolved it and replaced it with the Bolshevik-controlled Congress of Soviets.

Fig. 21. Soviet Union. Silver medal commemorating the 60th anniversary of the October Revolution of 1917, by A. V. Kozlov and S. A. Barulin, 1977. ANS 2019.33.1 (Rev.)

The October Revolution was not universally recognized in the country, and it was followed by the struggles of the Russian Civil War (1918–1921) and the Red Terror that accompanied it. During that time, many aristocrats and supporters of the imperial government were killed. Nicholas II and Alexandra and their children—four Grand Duchesses and Tsarevich Alexei—were shot and bayoneted to death on the night of July 16–17, 1918.

Fig. 22. Russian Empire. Silver medal commemorating the marriage of Emperor Nicholas II (1868–1918) and Princess Alix of Hesse (1872–1918), by Anton Vasyutinsky, 1894. ANS 1925.146.12

The Russian Civil War was not simply a conflict between communists and monarchists. Both sides were involved in massacres of the civilian population, when considered to be potential “enemies.” The Bolsheviks even theorized violence as “mass terror”, which they considered to be an instrument for achieving social justice by eliminating groups they considered to be enemies of the new communist regime. Most crucial for them was to put this violence under Party control, in order to direct it at “class enemies,” who were classified as “enemies of the people”.

Fig. 23. Soviet Union. Bronze medal commemorating battles of the Russian Civil War (1918–1921), by M. G. Manizer, 1963. ANS 2000.16.205 (Obv.)

However, further repressions in Soviet Russia during Joseph Stalin’s regime were directed at the Bolsheviks themselves, and many devoted revolutionaries were executed. As in France, the generalization that “the Revolution devours its children” held true.

Fig. 24. Germany. Bronze medal depicting Bolshevism as a demon, by Elisabeth Esseö, 1919. ANS 1919.6.8

History demonstrates that in the quest for justice of any kind, emotions are bad advisers. They lead to violence and instability, threatening rather than building a civilized society. Equal justice must be impartial for everyone and should be based on rule of law. As the Romans said, dura lex sed lex: “the law is harsh but it is the law”.

Fig. 25. United States. Bronze medal in honor of Chief Justice John Marshall, proclaiming “Equal Justice under Law,” by K. Gruppe, issued by the Hall of Fame for Great Americans at New York University, 1965. ANS 2001.11.31 (Rev.)

The Changing Iconography of Byzantine Gold Coinage

The Byzantine Empire, which lasted more than a thousand years, had one of the most monetized economies in medieval Europe. The coinage of Byzantium was an essential element of this unique civilization, which preserved Roman law and state structures and inherited not only the Hellenistic cultural tradition, but also a powerful organizing force—Christianity.

From the beginning Byzantine coins followed the Late Roman iconographic tradition, which took shape gradually under Constantine I (306–337). At the accession of the emperor Anastasius I (491–518) there were three denominations of gold coin—the solidus (in Greek nomisma) and its fractions, the semissis (half) and tremissis (third)—along with a tiny copper coin known as a nummus. The typical obverse of the Byzantine solidus at the end of fifth century and beginning of the sixth was a three-quarter frontal bust of the emperor, usually in armor and holding a spear. The reverse type depicted Victory in profile supporting a cross. However, the next Byzantine ruler, Justin I (518–527), modified the obverse image to a full-face frontal bust and the image of Victory on the reverse was replaced by a facing angel.

Figure 1. Anastasius I (491–518). ANS 1948.19.132.
Figure 2. Justin I (518–527). ANS 1966.196.3.

Under Justinian I (527–565) the emperor’s appearance was slightly changed and the spear in his right hand was switched to a globus cruciger, which symbolized the divinely bestowed universal power of the emperor.

Figure 3. Justinian I (527–565). ANS 1948.19.743.

Justin II (565–578) chose a seated personification of Constantinople for the reverse of his solidi, while Tiberius II (578–582) used a simpler image of a cross on steps as the reverse type for his solidi. This cross supposedly symbolized a monumental cross that Theodosius II erected on Golgotha around 420.

Figure 4. Justin II (565–578). ANS 1977.158.1035.
Figure 5. Tiberius II (578–582). ANS 1973.56.125.

The images of the emperor on coins in the late fifth and sixth centuries didn’t have any personal features. However, the beginning of the seventh century saw great modifications. A more individual portrait was introduced under the emperor Phocas (602–610). He appears on his coins as a bearded man (his predecessors are nearly always shown clean-shaven) with shaggy hair, holding a cross rather than a globus cruciger. The reverse of these solidi bears a standing angel, similar to that on the solidi of Justin I.

Figure 6. Phocas (602–610). ANS 1968.131.76.

Under Heraclius (610–641) the coinage reflected the arrangements that the emperor made for his succession. He appeared first with his eldest son Heraclius Constantine and later with his second son Heraclonas, and finally both sons appear standing on each side of their father.

Figure 7. Heraclius (610–641). ANS 1968.131.99.

Strong elements of portraiture are present on the coins of the late seventh century. The monetary issues of the first reign of Justinian II (685–695) portray the young emperor with youthful features. When the general Leontius (695–698) deposed the emperor and exiled him to the distant Byzantine themes of Cherson (modern Sevastopol in Crimea, Ukraine), the coins portray the fat, bearded Leontius instead.

Figure 8. Justinian II (685–695). ANS 1944.100.14570.
Figure 9. Leontius (695–698). ANS 1944.100.14574.

At the end of the seventh century one of the most important changes in Byzantine coin design occurred. The image of Christ Pantocrator (depicting Christ in the role of ruler and judge), first appeared on the solidi of Justinian II’s first reign (685–695). It is a realistic facing bearded bust, with the right hand raised in benediction and holding a Gospel book in the left. This type is derived from well-known Byzantine icons and mosaics. Interestingly, when Justinian II placed this image on the obverse of his coins, he moved his own image to the reverse, where he is shown holding a cross borrowed from earlier types. A very different portrait of Christ appeared on gold coins during Justinian II’s second reign (705–711). It represents Christ in a formal linear style as a youthful man with closely curled hair. Some literary sources suggest that this depiction probably originated in Palestine.

Figure 10. Justinian II, first reign (685–695). ANS 1977.158.1095.
Figure 11. Mosaic of Christ, Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy, sixth century.
Figure 12. Justinian II, second reign (705–711). ANS 1958.76.3.

The concept of Christ Pantocrator is an Eastern Christian view that differs from the more Western view of Christ the Redeemer. The idea of a divine ruler of universe was deeply rooted in Greek culture, reaching back to Zeus, who bestowed the right to rule on Hellenistic kings and was also considered a divine judge.

The individualized portraiture of the seventh century was replaced again, during the so-called Iconoclast period when worshiping of icons was prohibited (726–843), by imperial busts drawn in a linear manner without any attempt at portraiture. The previous cross on the reverse was replaced by images intended to promote dynastic continuity. Most often, the emperor’s son was elevated to co-emperor and depicted on the reverse, although some coins in the eighth and ninth centuries show ancestors of the emperor instead. The coinage of this period is characterized by a high degree of simplification.

Figure 13. Leo IV (776–778). ANS 1948.19.2476.

In the mid-ninth century, new changes in the coin types occurred, connected with the restoration of icon worship. Michael III (842–867) reintroduced a bust of Christ on his solidi, similar to the one on the coins of Justinian II. In 867 Basil I, the founder of the famous Macedonian dynasty, replaced the image of Christ Pantocrator with an image of Christ enthroned. From this time on, images of Christ appeared regularly on Byzantine coins.

Figure 14. Michael III (842–867). ANS 1977.158.1148.
Figure 15. Basil I (867–886). ANS 1977.158.1150.

The image of Christ seated on a throne with the inscription “rex regnantium” (“king of those who rule”) had a special meaning. It was intended to convey that Christ and the emperor shared power and that God rules his earthly subjects through the emperor, his chosen instrument, who should be venerated as God’s representative.

Figure 16. Leo VI (886–912). ANS 1968.131.283 reverse.
Figure 17. Constantine VII (913–959). ANS 1946.51.81 reverse.

Some coins of the tenth and eleventh centuries have individualized portraits rather than a generic imperial figure, such as those of Leo VI (886–911) and his son Constantine VII (913–959), but usually they do not. The rare gold coin of Zoe and Theodora, the daughters of Constantine VII and the last of the great Macedonian dynasty (1042), for example, lacks any recognizable features, even though these two sisters were said to be very different in personal appearance.

Figure 18. Zoe and Theodora (1042). ANS 1977.158.932.

The absence of personalized portraiture in Byzantine coin iconography was connected with a belief that the imperial image represented the emperor’s “eternal body” rather than his physical features. The undifferentiated imperial images on most Byzantine coins are a depiction of this religious significance.

The obverse of the solidus of Zoe and Theodora bears an image of the Virgin, with hands raised in the traditional gesture of prayer, with a medallion of the infant Christ. The image of the Virgin was introduced by Leo VI (886–912), who was especially devoted to her cult After occasional appearances in tenth-century coinage, this image reappeared in subsequent reigns, either alone or conjointly with emperor.

Figure 19. Leo VI (886–912). ANS 1968.131.283 obverse.
Figure 20. Nicephorus (933–969). ANS 1980.109.296 reverse.

In the eleventh century, when the Byzantines came under severe pressure from the Seljuk Turks in Asia Minor, Michael IV (1034–1041) took the unprecedented step of debasing the solidus. Along with the debasement, the form of the coins changed significantly under Constantine IX (1042–1055). They were struck in a concave shape called “scyphate”, a term found in Italian documents of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, meaning cup-shaped. Usually the image of Christ was on the convex side and a representation of the emperor on the concave side.

Figure 21. Michael IV (1034–1041). ANS 1946.51.102.
Figure 22. Constantine IX (1042–1055). ANS 1968.131.322.

Despite the declining fineness of the gold coins, their designs remained varied and interesting. A particularly unusual type appears on the gold nomisma of Romanus IV (1069–1071), showing Christ between the emperor and the empress. This type is stylistically similar to an ivory relief that represents Romanus II (945–963) and Eudoxia crowned by Christ.

Figure 23. Romanus IV (1069–1071). ANS1944.100.14730 reverse.
Figure 24. Ivory relief. Christ blessing Romanus II and Eudokia (ca. 945–949). Bibliothèque Nationale, Cabinet des Médailles. Paris. France.

In the disastrous years after the Battle of Manzikert (1071), the fineness of the solidi was reduced from 24 karats to 8 karats. In the 1080s, during the early years of Alexius I (1081–1118), the amount of gold in the solidus dropped almost to none.

Figure 25. Alexius I (1081–1092), pre-reform solidus. ANS 1968.131.364.

Alexius I accomplished a major monetary reform in 1092, introducing a new good-quality gold coin, called the hyperpyron, though the fineness was set to only 20½ karats instead of the traditional 24 karats. This issue was accompanied by an electrum piece, the aspron, which was worth one third of the hyperpyron. The obverse type of these post-reform coins usually shows images of Christ or the Virgin, while the reverses normally show a standing emperor, or the emperor accompanied by Christ or the Virgin. The image of the emperor with the Virgin was later reflected on the Venetian grosso.

Figure 26. Alexius I, post reform (1092). ANS 1948.19.521.
Figure 27. Manuel I (1143–1180) ANS 1947.3.67.

The empiresurvived the disaster of 1204, when Constantinople was captured and barbarically plundered by crusaders and temporarily became the seat of the Latin Empire (1204–1261). However, the hyperpyra struck by the Greek emperors in exile were gradually debased,falling to 18 or even 16 karats.

In 1261, Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus (1259–1285) recovered Constantinople. He reduced the hyperpyron to 15 karats but introduced a new representation of the Virgin, rising from the wall of Constantinople. With this new type the emperor proclaimed the return of the Byzantine Empire to the capital; it became the norm for the obverse of hyperpyron until the end of the gold coinage in the mid-fourteenth century. The reverse of Michael’s gold coins shows the emperor kneeling before Christ, accompanied by the Archangel Michael. This type served to declare the support of heaven for the emperor’s power.

Figure 28. Michael VIII (1261–1382). ANS 1977.158.1249.

Michael VIII’s son Andronicus II (1285–1330) introduced a new type depicting the emperor bowing down before Christ on his hyperpyra. This image is well known from a famous mosaic of the late ninth century in the Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom”) cathedral in Constantinople, showing Leo VI (886–912) performing this act of proskynesis before Christ. The use of this type on the coins of Andronicus II emphasized the Palaeologan dynasty’s claim of connection with God. The fineness of the hyperpyron was reduced to 12 karats during the reign of Andronicus.

Figure 29. Andronicus II (1282–1330). ANS 1958.76.26.
Figure 30. Mosaic of Leo VI. “Hagia Sofia”. Constantinople (Modern Istanbul, Turkey).

The last hyperpyron of traditional design, which effectively marks the end of imperial gold coinage, was struck in the mid-fourteenth century. At that time the Byzantine Empire was under enormous pressure from the Turks, and its economic system had been irrecoverably disrupted. During the empire’s last decades, its borders had shrunk until they included only Constantinople itself and parts of southern Greece. In spring of 1453 Sultan Mehmet II began his attack on the capital. The battle raged for seven weeks and the end came on May 29, 1453. On that day, after a thousand years of existence, the Byzantine Empire disappeared from the political map. However, the living memory of the vanished empire, as well as Byzantine tradition inherited centuries earlier from the Roman Empire, contributed to the dawning Renaissance.

In Memory of Pyotr Osipovich Karishkovskiy, a Teacher and Scholar

March 12, 2021, marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the outstanding historian, epigrapher, and specialist in northern Black Sea numismatics, Pyotr Osipovich Karishkovskiy, who was a corresponding member of the German Archaeological Institute and the American Numismatic Society.

Figure 1. Pyotr Osipovich Karishkovskiy (March 12, 1921–March 6, 1988).

Karyshkovskiy was born in Odessa (Ukraine) on March 12, 1921, in the family of a professional military man, who had participated in the Russo-Japanese War, World War I, and the Russian Civil War, and who retired in 1923. His mother, from a Russian-Polish high-ranking clergy family, was an elementary school teacher. In 1939, after graduation from high school, Pyotr Karishkovskiy began studying in the history department of Odessa State University.

At the beginning of the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, he was a second-year student. Due to vision problems he was not recruited into the Red Army; however, during the defense of Odessa in June–September 1941, Karyshkovskiy worked on the construction of the city’s defensive line, digging anti-tank trenches. Unfortunately, his family could not evacuate, due to a serious illness of his mother, who died in 1942, so they remained in Odessa while it was occupied by the Germans and Romanians. During that time, he continued to study at the University, re-opened by the Romanian occupation authorities, and worked at the University’s library. In 1945, after the liberation of Odessa, Karyshkovskiy graduated from Odessa State University, and in 1946 he became a postgraduate student. However, his stay in Odessa during the occupation haunted his career. His teacher in classical philology at the university, Prof. Boris Varneke (1874–1944), was arrested on a charge of high treason and died in the prison hospital (though he was rehabilitated posthumously in 1955). Karyshkovskiy was arrested at the same time and only released through the intercession of the dean of the history faculty at the university, Prof. Konstantin Pavlovich Dobrolyubskiy (1885–1953).

Even in this difficult and gloomy atmosphere, Karyshkovskiy continued to work on his master’s thesis—“Political Relations between the Byzantine Empire, Bulgaria, and Russia, 967–971”—which he completed in 1951. His study of the sources on this topic is relevant to this day and is constantly cited by modern researchers. At the same time he began to publish articles in prestigious Soviet academic journals such as Bizantiyskiy Bremennik (Byzantine Chronicle) and Vestnik Drevhey Istorii (Journal of Ancient History).  However, the problems due to his stay in Odessa during the occupation period continued almost until the end of his life. He was not allowed to travel abroad to visit museums, attend conferences, or participate in any other international scholarly events.

Beginning during his postgraduate studies, Karyshkovskiy was actively engaged in teaching at the university. He soon showed himself to be a talented teacher. His lectures on the history of Ancient Greece and Rome, the Byzantine Empire, and history of the Middle Ages, as well as special courses including an introduction to numismatics, impressed due to his breadth of knowledge. He was fluent in German and French and could read and translate English, Romanian, Polish, Czech, Bulgarian, and Serbian, in addition to his professional knowledge of Ancient Greek and Latin. Even students from  outside the humanities (such as physics and mathematics) were interested in attending his lectures. From 1963 until his last days, Karishkovskiy headed the Department of the History of Ancient World and Middle Ages at Odessa State University. Many of his former university students are still proud that they had an opportunity to listen the legendary “Professor P. O.” (as many of his students refer to him, with respect and admiration) and that they prepared their master’s and doctoral theses under his supervision.

Over the course of time, Karyshkovskiy’s research interests evolved. He explored various aspects of the ancient history, epigraphy, and numismatics of the northern Black Sea region, and especially of the ancient Greek colony of Olbia, established by the Ionian city of Miletus on the shore of the Dnieper-Bug estuary.

Figure 2. Archaeological excavation at Olbia.

In 1969, Karishkovskiy successfully defended his doctoral dissertation, “Coins and Monetary Circulation in Olbia (6th century BC–4th century AD)”. This fundamental work examined Olbian coins as one of the most important sources for the history of this ancient polis. Hestudied the technical features and weights of Olbian monetary systems, and described in detail the coin types and inscriptions. He also classified Olbian coin issues, attributing them to specific periods and establishing their absolute chronology. He reviewed evidence for monetary circulation at all stages of the city’s history between the sixth century BC and the fourth century AD. Based on die analysis, coin finds, and metrological and iconographic studies, he reconstructed the essential economic characteristics and development of the Olbian monetary system against the background of the general trends of the ancient economy.

Unfortunately, this dissertation was not published during Karishkovskiy’s lifetime. The specialized scientific publishing houses in the Soviet Union did not dare to print it, citing the pretext that it was too large. After Karishkovskiy’s death, the dissertation was prepared for publication by his colleagues and apprentices, and issued only in 2003 as a separate monograph.

Figure 3. The publication of Karishkovskiy’s dissertation, Coins and Monetary Circulation in Olbia (6th century BC–4th century AD) (in Russian; summary in English).

Certain portions of his dissertation, with some newer observations and additions, were included in the small monograph Olbian Coins, which he prepared shortly before his death and which was published soon after his death in 1988.

Figure 4. Olbian Coins by P. O. Karishkovskiy (Kiev: Odessa Archaeological Museum of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, 1988) (in Russian).

Over the years Karishkovskiy also became an authority of the history, archaeology, and monetary system of another ancient Greek colony of the North Pontus: ancient Tyras, which like Olbia was founded by Ionian Greek colonists from Miletus, on the right bank of the Dniester estuary.

Figure 5. Archaeological excavations at ancient Tyras.

In 1985 Karishkovskiy and a co-author, Isaak Benzionovich Kleiman (an archeologist who was head of the Classical Department of the Odessa Archaeological Museum), published the monograph The Ancient City of Tyras: A Historical and Archaeological Essay.

Figure 6. P. O. Karishkovskiy and I. B. Kleiman, The Ancient City of Tyras: A Historical and Archaeological Essay (Kiev: Odessa Archaeological Museum of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, 1985) (in Russian).

This monograph, on the basis of archaeological and written evidence, reconstructs the history of Tyras, as well as the social structure and culture of the city, its place among other ancient poleis, and the role of other peoples surrounding the northwestern Black Sea region from the founding of Tyras in the sixth century BC to its demise in the fourth century AD. It makes a number of important observations on the chronology of the coin emissions of Tyras. The book also clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of a close and comprehensive interaction of numismatic and archeological finds as historical evidence.

In 1994 this important monograph was translated into English and published by a private publishing house in Odessa, making this significant study of Tyras more accessible for foreign historians, archaeologists, and numismatists.

Figure 7. P. O. Karishkovskiy and I. B. Kleiman, The Ancient City of Tyras (Odessa, 1994) (in English).

Karishkovskiy’s monographs, like various of his scholarly articles, were published by the Odessa Archaeological Museum (OAM) of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.

Figure 8. The Odessa Archaeological Museum building.

For many years Karishkovskiy was closely connected with the OAM, which was founded in 1825, making it one of the oldest archaeological research institutes in what was then the Russian Empire. Karishkovskiy followed in the best traditions of the great archaeologists and numismatists associated with the OAM, including its founder I. P. Blaremberg (1772–1831), as well as A. L. Bertier de la Garde (1842–1920), E. R. von Stern (1859–1924), and the widely known scholars A. V. Oreshnikov (1855–1933) and A. N. Zograf (1889–1942). He even stood at the origins of the revival of the Odessa Archaeological Society in 1959, which was the successor of the famous Odessa Society of History and Antiquities (1839–1922). From 1968 he became its permanent chairman.

While continuing to teach at the University, Karishkovskiy maintained a close connection with the work of the Odessa Archaeological Museum. Under his guidance, the museum organized research conferences as well as archaeological and numismatic publications. He participated directly in the creation of a numismatic department separate from the main archaeological storage of the museum, and also created the numismatic portion of the exhibition.

Figure 9. Part of the numismatic exhibit at the Odessa Archaeological Museum.

Karishkovsky’s academic heritage consists of over 180 articles and monographs, based on complex historical, archaeological, epigraphic, and numismatic sources. He sent some of his publications to the library of the American Numismatic Society. Many are accompanied by English translations done by H. Bartlett Wells (1908–1988), an ANS Fellow and Foreign Service officer who translated from French and Russian and was also a devoted collector of Greek and Roman coins.

Figure 10. Signed offprint of an article of Karishkovskiy to the library of the American Numismatic Society, along with the translation by H. Bartlett Wells.

Karishkovskiy never had the opportunity to visit the major numismatic collections outside the Soviet Union, or to see the ancient monuments and excavations in Greece and Rome. The Soviet system held him behind the “iron curtain.” This is probably why he was so appreciative of his time at the archaeological excavations of Tyras, Olbia, and Berezan, where he could “touch the mystery and breathe freedom”, as he wrote. These mysteries of past centuries could be revealed only by talented, persistent, and hard-working scholars and one of them was Pyotr Osipovich Karyshkovskiy. His work provides a valuable base for future generations in the study of the ancient history of the Pontus Euxinus.

Figure 11. Medal in honor of the 60th birthday of P. O. Karishkovskiy, Designed by I. T. Chernyakov, 1981.

Crystal Palace Medals

The collections of the American Numismatic Society include many medals pertaining to famous architecture, including some of buildings which have been destroyed since their medallic depiction. Among these are the medals dedicated to the Crystal Palaces of London and New York.

The original Crystal Palace was built in London’s Hyde Park in 1851. It was designed and erected by the famous English gardener and architect Joseph Paxton (1803–1865). As head gardener for the Duke of Devonshire, Paxton had already designed and built major greenhouses for his employer. His plan for the Crystal Palace was based on that experience as well as the cruciform shape of Gothic churches.

Fig. 1. United Kingdom. White metal medal portraying Joseph Paxton (1803–1865), by L. C. Wyon, 1854. ANS 1940.100.1519

Construction of this technically innovative building, the largest in the world at the time, took only 17 weeks, because it was assembled from prefabricated modular cast iron columns and beams and standardized glass panes. At times there were 2,000 people working to build it, but it cost less than £180,000 to build—much less than any of the competing designs. It stood 135 feet tall, with a length of 1,848 feet and a ground floor area exceeding 770,000 square feet.

Fig. 2. United Kingdom. White metal medal depicting the Crystal Palace with some construction statistics, 1851. ANS 1940.100.1510
Fig. 3. Color print of the pavilion of the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London.
Fig. 4. United Kingdom. White metal medal showing exterior and interior views of the Crystal Palace, by Allen & Moore, 1851. ANS 1940.100.1530

The building was originally created for the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, the first “World’s Fair”. Around 25 European and American nations took part in this international show, which exhibited the technical achievements of the industrial era. The Exhibition lasted for 140 days and was visited over 6.3 million people. One of the leading individuals organizing this great event was the prince consort Albert (1819–1861), husband of Queen Victoria (1819–1901).

Fig. 5. United Kingdom. White metal medal featuring busts of Victoria and Albert and a representation of Britannia accompanied by symbols of industry, by John Ottley, 1851. ANS 1940.100.1522
Fig. 6. United Kingdom. White metal medal portraying Prince Albert and depicting the Crystal Palace, by John Ottley, 1851. ANS 1940.100.1526

After the end of the Great Exhibition, the Crystal Palace could not remain in Hyde Park. Instead, it was disassembled and moved to Sydenham Hill, then on the outskirts of London, where the components were rebuilt to a different and even larger design. The work was completed in 1854, including a surrounding park with gardens, trees, fountains, and life-size figures of dinosaurs, which attracted particular attention, as well as statuary, including a bust of Paxton, who died in 1865.

Fig. 7. United Kingdom. White metal medal commemorating the re-opening of the Crystal Palace in its new location at Sydenham Hill, by John Pinches, 1854. ANS 1940.100.1506
Fig. 8. United Kingdom. White metal medal juxtaposing the Crystal Palace with the building for another World’s Fair, the International Exhibition of 1862, by G. Dowler, 1862. ANS 1940.100.1512

The new Crystal Palace hosted many events and exhibits for public education, as well as other displays for recreation and amusement, but it was plagued by financial problems. In 1911, just after it hosted a Festival of Empire, the largest exhibition in its history, it went into public ownership after bankruptcy.

Fig. 9. United Kingdom. White metal medal commemorating a visit to the Crystal Palace by the Ancient Order of Foresters, by T. R. Pinches,1854. ANS 1940.100.1508

The Crystal Palace met its unhappy fate on the evening of November 30, 1936, when a fire spread out of control. Despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters, by morning it had been completely destroyed.

Fig. 10. The ruins of the Crystal Palace on December 1, 1936, the morning after it was devastated by fire.

London’s Great Exhibition became the model for subsequent World’s Fairs organized in various countries. In July 1853, New York emulated London’s example with its Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations. Like London, New York built a modern structure of cast iron and glass for its exhibition and named it a Crystal Palace. It was designed by the Danish-American businessman Georg Carstensen (1812–1857) and the German-American architect Karl Gildemeister (1820–1869). Constrained by the limited space available, the location that is now Bryant Park in Manhattan, they designed it in the form of a Greek cross with an enormous central dome. When it became clear that the building needed more space for exhibits of machinery, they modified the ground floor to an octagonal shape.

Fig. 11. United States. White metal medal commemorating the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations held in New York City’s Crystal Palace, 1853. ANS 1940.100.1018
Fig. 12. United States. White metal medal commemorating the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations held in New York City’s Crystal Palace, by George Hampden Lovett, 1853. ANS 1858.5.1
Fig. 13. United States. White metal medal commemorating the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations held in New York City’s Crystal Palace, by Anthony C. Paquet, 1853. ANS 1940.100.1005

The Exhibition of 1853 in New York was the first World’s Fair held in the United States, and it served to promote the achievements of the young nation and its largest city. Thousands of exhibitors presented their consumer goods, artworks, and technological innovations to more than a million visitors.

Fig. 14. United States. Silver award medal for the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations held in New York City’s Crystal Palace, designed by J. A. Oertel and engraved by Charles C. Wright, 1853. ANS 1887.24.2

After the Exhibition closed in 1854, New York’s Crystal Palace was used for other events, but unfortunately it met the same fate as its exemplar in London. The building was destroyed in a fire in less than half an hour in 1858.

Fig. 15. Color print of the New York Crystal Palace on fire in 1858.
Fig. 16. United States. White metal medal depicting the Crystal Palace in flames, by Anthony C. Paquet, 1858. ANS 0000.999.8214

Although the buildings did not last, both the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London and the Exhibition of Industry of 1853 in New York marked a change in the ways that people engaged with the world in an age of rapid social, political, and economic transformation. The medals depicting these innovative buildings show the pride in industrial achievements and the close relationship seen between the exhibitions and the buildings that housed them.

Numismatic Commemorations of Vaccination Research

The year 2020, which brought to the world a coronavirus pandemic, is coming to an end. Humanity looks forward with hope to successful innovations against the new deadly virus. This is an appropriate time to pay tribute to the achievements of scientists of previous generations.

For the topic of vaccination, the name of the English doctor Edward Jenner (1749–1823), outstanding physician and pioneer of smallpox vaccination, is foremost. For centuries, smallpox swept through communities, often killing nearly a quarter of its victims and leaving many of the survivors deeply scarred or blind. In 1796, Edward Jenner demonstrated that an infection with the relatively mild cowpox virus conferred immunity against the deadly smallpox virus. Jenner even created the word “vaccination”, derived from the Latin word vacca, meaning “cow”. Jenner’s vaccine was one of the great triumphs of medicine, which first brought smallpox under medical control and opened the way for the eventual elimination of this disease. The results from Jenner’s vaccination experiments were widely circulated after their publication in 1798, and vaccination was promoted as a public health tool throughout Europe.

A number of medals by the German medalist Friedrich Wilhelm Loos (1767—1816/19) are dedicated to Jenner’s discovery of smallpox vaccination. They not only pay tribute to Jenner’s workbut also served as rewards for parents who had their children vaccinated. They were intended to indicate the importance of the vaccination programs (figs. 1–3):

Fig. 1: Prussia. Silver medal of Edward Jenner, by Friedrich Wilhelm Loos, Berlin mint (ANS 1919.60.150).

Fig. 2: Prussia. Bronze medal of Edward Jenner, by Friedrich Wilhelm Loos, Berlin mint (ANS 1940.100.662).

Fig. 3: Prussia. Silver medal of Edward Jenner, by Friedrich Wilhelm Loos, Berlin mint, 1811 (ANS 1940.100.661).

Some of the medals, like a silver medal from the time of Napoleon, depicting a cow and some medical instruments, were presented to doctors in recognition of the vaccinations they had given. This medal, designed by the French artist and engraver Alexis Joseph Depaulis (1790–1867) , reflected the importance of the doctors who were attached to vaccination programs (fig. 4).

Fig. 4: France. Award medal of the Parisian municipal vaccination program, by Alexis Joseph Depaulis, Paris, 1814 (ANS 1925.57.28).

For the centennial of Jenner’s vaccination experiment on May 14, 1796, the Medical Society of the County of Kings (Brooklyn) issued a commemorative medal in 1896 (fig. 5).

Fig. 5: United States. Bronze medal of the Medical Society of the County of Kings, in honor of the centennial of Edward Jenner’s vaccination experiment, 1896 (ANS 1940.100.661 [wrong accession number]).

In the mid-nineteenth century, research brought many new insights about infectious diseases. The prominent French biologist, Louis Pasteur (1822–1895), introduced innovative experiments and techniques, which became fundamental to modern microbiology. He researched the microorganisms that cause dangerous diseases and discovered how to make vaccines from weakened microbes. Based on those studies, Pasteur developed the earliest vaccines against major veterinary diseases such as chicken cholera, anthrax, and rabies (Figs. 6–7).

Fig. 6: France. Silver plaque for the 70th birthday of Louis Pasteur, by Louis-Oscar Roty, 1892 (ANS 1959.148.93).

Fig. 7: United States. Bronze commemorative medal dedicated to Louis Pasteur, by Abram Belskie, 1972 (ANS 1980.165.29).

Another dangerous human disease, tuberculosis, also demanded attention. In the nineteenth century it became increasingly serious, causing up to one quarter of deaths among Europe’s adult population. In 1882, the German microbiologist Robert Koch (1843–1910) isolated the bacterium that causes tuberculosis and created a substance useful for diagnosing the infection. Koch investigated the effect of an injection derived from dead bacilli had as a treatment for tuberculosis. This treatment failed, but it later turned out to be a useful diagnostic tool for identifying tuberculosis infection. Koch’s research also opened the way for Albert Calmette and Camille Guérin to develop a successful tuberculosis vaccine in 1906. For his fundamental work, Robert Koch won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1905 (fig. 8).

Fig. 8: United States. Bronze commemorative medal of Robert Koch (1843–1910), by Abram Belskie, 1972 (ANS 1980.165.18).

In 1883 Koch also isolated Vibrio cholerae, the cause of cholera. A series of cholera pandemics killed many millions of people in the nineteenth century, and scientific research on an anticholera vaccine become a vital necessary. The battle against cholera was won by a talented young microbiologist, Waldemar Haffkine (fig. 9).

Fig. 9: Waldemar Mordechai Wolff (Zeev) Haffkine (1860–1930). Photo from the Royal Medical Society.

Born in in the Russian Empire (in what is today Ukraine) in 1860, Haffkine was admitted in 1879 to Odessa (Novorossiya) University, where he studied and worked under the supervision of the world-famous biologist Ilya Mechnikov (1845–1916). Later,in 1908, Mechnikov was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine (along with the German physician and scientist, Paul Ehrlich) in recognition of hispioneering research on immunology (fig. 10).

Fig. 10: Ukraine. Nickel-silver 2 hryvnias commemorating Ilya Mechnikov, 2005.

In 1888, Waldemar Haffkine emigrated to Geneva, and a year later he joined Mechnikov at the Pasteur Institute, the most innovative research center for infectious diseases at that time. From the beginning of his research career, Haffkine concentrated on development of a cholera vaccine. On July 18, 1892, he performed the first test on himself. In 1893 he moved to India, where his vaccine became widely used and undoubtedly saved thousands of lives. In October 1896, another terrible epidemic struck Mumbai, this time of bubonic plague. Haffkine accepted the challenge and, after three months of intense work, successfully developed a plague vaccine. On January 10, 1897, he vaccinated himself to test the safety of his vaccine. For his outstanding achievements, Haffkine was appointed Companion of the Indian Empire by Queen Victoria in 1897. Two years later he was granted British citizenship.

Unfortunately, epidemics cannot be avoided and new diseases attack the world from time to time. However, the memory of the pioneers of science who have helped shape human lives for the better inspires our belief in the successful discovery of new treatments and vaccines.

The Reign of Peter the Great as Represented in the ANS Collection

Among the many interesting pieces in the Society’s collections are a group of Russian specimens that relate the transformation of insular Muscovy into a major European power by Peter the Great (1672–1725, fig. 1). This process started when the young Tsar Peter I first journeyed to Europe in 1697–1698.

Figure 1. Portrait of Peter I, Tsar of Russia (1672–1725), by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1689. Painted in London. Gift to King William III of England

He traveled incognito, as a member of a “Grand Embassy”, but this was not a diplomatic mission. His main goal was to study new developments in European technology, especially shipbuilding. As a result, during Peter’s reign, Russian industry and armed forces were completely reorganized, and the formerly archaic country became a successful new maritime power. Russian victory in the Great Northern War (1700–1721) destroyed Swedish military hegemony in northern Europe and let Russia expand to the Baltic Sea, where in 1703 Peter founded his new capital, Saint Petersburg. This exquisite city became Russian’s “window to Europe”.

Peter decided to commemorate the military success in the Great Northern War by issuing a special medallic series, which was designed and executed by the famous German medalist Philipp Heinrich Müller (1654–1719). The ANS has seven of the twenty-eight medals of this series. Two of these beautiful pieces, the silver medals commemorating the capture of Nöteborg (Schlisselburg) in 1702 (fig. 2) and the Battle of Lesnaya in 1709 (fig. 3) are originals.

Other medals of this series in our collection, like a bronze medal dedicated to the foundation of St. Petersburg (Fig. 4.), are struck from later copies of Müller’s dies, made at the St. Petersburg mint during the reign of Catherine the Great (1762–1791).

Figure 4. ANS 1887.7.1.

Peter’s extensive reforms required substantial funds, and one of his great achievements was a reform of the Russian monetary system. He started with a devaluation, replacing silver “wire” kopeks, made by striking an irregular snippet of silver with hammered dies (fig. 5), with less expensive copper coins, which were made with new technology (fig. 6). He introduced European minting practices into Russia and had minting machinery installed at the Moscow mint. In 1725 he also opened a new mint in his new capital of St. Petersburg. The old and new coins circulated simultaneously for almost twenty years, which accustomed people to the equality of these coins and to the idea of copper money. The obverse depicts a rider with a spear copper as in silver, showing continuity with the earlier coins. Only in 1717 were the issues of the silver wire kopeks ended.

Figure 5. ANS 1914.265.47.
Figure 6. ANS 1964.121.1.

To coordinate his coinage with western Europe, Peter cut the value of the kopek so that the ruble of 100 kopeks, which he issued in 1704, was equivalent to a silver thaler. This made Russian coinage also the first decimal monetary system. This coin bears a bust of the tsar on the obverse and the double-headed eagle emblem of Muscovy on the reverse, which became a Russian national symbol for many centuries ahead (fig. 7).

Figure 7. ANS 1935.15.2.

Another monetary innovation during Peter’s reign was the introduction in 1701 of a gold coin, the chervonets, which corresponded in value to the European ducat. The weight of this coin was around 3.458 grams of .986 fine gold. Coins of 2 chervontsy (around 6.94 g) were minted as well. These coins were mostly used only for foreign trade. Both of these denominations bear a laureate profile bust of Peter on the obverse with the inscription “Tsar Petr Alekseevich”. On the reverse there is a double-headed eagle, the date of minting, and the inscription “Vse Rosiskiy Samoderzhets” (autocrat of all Russia). For domestic trade, gold coins valued at 2 rubles were preferred. This denomination featured the tsar’s bust on the obverse and an image of Saint Andrew with his X-shaped cross on the reverse (fig. 8).

Figure 8. ANS 1893.14.1099.

Peter’s modernization measures sped up Russia’s acculturation to western Europe; however, they met opposition from the country’s aristocracy and the Orthodox Church, which preferred to continue following medieval tradition. Among the tsar’s new measures was a decree requiring men to shave their beards. Most Russian men of that time took great pride in their beards and resisted this innovation. Eventually, the law was relaxed somewhat, allowing men to pay a tax to keep their beards, the amount being from 30 to 100 rubles, depending on the individual’s social status. A special beard-tax token was given as proof that the tax had been paid. This token-receipt depicted a mustache and beard with Russian words that translate as “money paid” on one side and a two-headed eagle with the date on the reverse. Collected from 1699, this beard tax probably yielded a large income for the state, because it was not canceled until long after Peter’s death in 1725 (fig. 9).

Figure 9. ANS 1914.265.55.

Seeking European allies against Sweden as well as new trade agreements, Peter traveled around western Europe again, nineteen years after his first western voyage. On April 21, 1717, Peter arrived in France, where he stayed for two months and was welcomed with great ceremony. His portrait was painted by Jean-Marc Nattier (1685–1766, fig. 10), one of the leading portrait painters of the reign of Louis XV.

Figure 10. Portrait of Peter I, 1717, by Jean-Marc Nattier (1685–1766). Hermitage, St. Petersburg.

During this travel, Peter sought out developments in France that he could adapt as reforms for his own state. In Paris he visited the Academy of Sciences and became an honorary member. He also visited the Paris Observatory and the Gobelins manufactory, which inspired the creation of a tapestry workshop in his new capital. The tsar also visited the Paris Mint. This visit to the mint was commemorated by a medal engraved by the famous Jean Duvivier (1687–1761), who later became the official medalist of Louis XV. The image of Peter on the obverse is accompanied by an inscription that describes him as emperor: PETRUS ALEXIEWITZ TZAR MAG. RUSS: IMP (Peter Alexeevich, Great Tsar, Russian Emperor, fig. 11).

Figure 11. ANS 1951.109.1.

Four years later, soon after the end of the war with Sweden, in October 1721 Peter officially adopted the western title “emperor” in addition to his traditional Byzantine-style titles “tsar” and “autocrat”. It was a statement that he achieved his goal of making Russia into a European empire.

Destruction of Emperors’ Images on Roman Coins from the ANS Collection

Numerous coins from the Roman collection of the American Numismatic Society make an outstanding portrait gallery of the founders and rulers of the Roman Empire and reflect the historical development of this society’s rise and fall.

Among these is a silver denarius with a laureate head of Julius Caesar, struck in the early months of 44 BC under the magistrate M. Mettius. Caesar was the first Roman ruler whose portrait bust appeared on Roman coins during his lifetime to represent his absolute power.

Fig. 1. ANS 1937.158.290

Caesar’s assassination at the hands of conspiring senators is commemorated on a silver denarius struck in northern Greece, ca. 43–42 BCE. It illustrates the chief conspirator, Brutus, on the obverse, while the reverse names the date of the deed—the Ides of March—and illustrates the assassins’ daggers and the pileus cap, a symbol of liberty.

Fig. 2. ANS 1944.100.4554

Another remarkable example in the collection is a gold aureus of Caesar’s nephew Octavian, the future first Roman emperor, Augustus (27 BC–AD 14). It was struck in Gaul, ca. 43 BCE. This coin bears the portrait of Octavian on the obverse and an image of Julius Caesar on the reverse and advertises Octavian’s relationship to Caesar, who was proclaimed a divinity. It was extraordinary for ancient Rome and became a sign of Octavian’s growing power and his transformation into an autocrat.

Fig. 3. ANS 1967.153.29

Among the Society’s coins of the early period of the Roman Empire are a sestertius with the bust of Agrippina the Elder (14 BCE–33 CE), granddaughter of Augustus, and a bronze as with an image of Germanicus (15 BCE–19 CE), prominent general, known for his military campaigns in Germania. The coins depicting this legendary couple, issued by their youngest son, Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, known by his nickname “Caligula,” demonstrated the family connection among the first emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.

            Fig. 4. ANS 1957.172.1524

            Fig. 5. ANS 1957.172.1522

Caligula (“Little Boots”, as how his father’s soldiers called him), became emperor at the age of 25. He has passed into history as a ruthless and violent emperor, known for his eccentric actions. However, the images of Caligula on his coins do not give any hint of his brutal personality; on his coins he looks very much like other members of the Julio-Claudian family, with the typical forked locks of hair over the forehead and very few individualized facial features.

Fig. 6. ANS 1944.100.39337

During his short reign (37–41 CE), Caligula declared himself a god and tried to exclude the Senate from the political process to establish an absolute monarchy in Rome. This situation finally led to his murder on January 24, 41 CE. He was so hated that he received the dubious distinction of being the first Roman ruler whose memory was condemned. This damnatio memoriae, “condemnation of memory,”included the destruction of his statues and public inscriptions. His coins did not escape this condemnation; they were pulled from circulation and melted down whenever possible. Some of them were countermarked, like several bronze coins from the ANS collection. These bear the countermark TICA celebrating the new emperor Tiberius Claudius Augustus and also effacing the features of Caligula’s portrait.

            Fig. 7. ANS 1953.171.1075

            Fig. 8. ANS 1953.1079.1082

Another Roman ruler, mostly remembered for his extravagance and tyrannical behavior, was the emperor Nero (54–68 CE). After his suicide on 9 June 68 CE, the Senate formally declared him an official enemy of the Roman state and his memory was condemned. His commemorative monuments, such as the triumphal arch in Rome honoring victories in Armenia seen on an ANS sestertius, were destroyed.

Fig. 9. ANS 1937.158.472

Neronian bronze coins, like the Caligula coins before, were countermarked. The stamp SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus) not only canceled and revalidated Nero’s coins, but also symbolically reclaimed them for the Senate and Roman People.

            Fig. 10. ANS 1953.171.1308

The last of the Flavian emperors, Domitian (81–96 CE), became the third ruler whose memory was condemned. His persecutions of the nobility and his unstable and megalomaniacal behavior led to his assassination on 18 September 96 CE. His wife Domitia Longina was allegedly involved in this murder. On coins struck for Cibyra in Asia Minor, whose obverse originally depicted facing busts of Domitian and Domitia, the portrait of Domitian has been defaced as a result of his damnation, while the image of his wife has been left intact.

Another example of numismatic damnatio appeared over 100 years later. It was connected with the most notorious condemnation in the history of the Roman Empire. The emperor Septimius Severus (193–211 CE) planned that both of his sons, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, known as “Caracalla” (198–217 CE), and Publius Septimius Geta (209–211 CE), should rule the Empire jointly after his death. Indeed, these two attempted to share power after Septimius Severus died on 4 February 211 CE. However, on 26 December 211 CE, Geta was murdered as a result of an allegation that he had been involved in a plot to assassinate his brother Caracalla. He was immediately declared a hostis, an enemy of the Empire, and Caracalla demanded that statues and coins which carried Geta’s image be melted down. Geta’s coins survive in enough quantity to indicate that destruction of his coinage was not extensive. However, Geta’s name and representation were eliminated from various coins struck in the eastern provinces. Some bronze examples in the collection of the American Numismatic Society attest the destruction of Geta’s portraits. Some of these coins also have been countermarked with a small image of a helmeted female head and the inscription ΘEOY, referring to Caracalla’s position as son of the deified Septimius Severus.

            Fig. 11. ANS 1971.230.20

            Fig. 12. ANS 1953.171.830

            Fig. 13. ANS 1967.152.461

The practice of attacking the images on coins, as well as countermarking of the coins of condemned emperors, lasted into the third century. It was an effective way of slandering defeated rulers, as well announcing loyalty to the new emperors. The enormous propaganda power of Roman coins, which circulated through the vast territories of the Empire, declared the strength of the Roman state, which seemed in those centuries like it would never be destroyed.

Ancient Myths on Roman Coins at the ANS

Many coins at the American Numismatic Society illustrate human interpretations of the universe and religious beliefs regarding human destiny. Among these are various samples from the ANS Roman collection having mythical and mythological themes.  

Fig.1: Roman Empire Augustus (27 BC–AD 14). Spanish mint. Silver denarius. 19–18 BC. (ANS 1944.100.39033)

One of the great illustrations of astral imagery from the Early Roman Empire, strongly connected with Julius Caesar’s heritage, is found on a silver denarius of Augustus struck circa 19–18 BC. This coin has the Emperor’s image on the obverse and the famous Caesar’s Comet on the reverse (fig. 1). The comet, which appeared some four months after assassination of Julius Caesar, was interpreted by the Romans as a sign of his deification and became a powerful symbol in the political propaganda of Augustus, Caesar’s great-nephew and adoptive son.

Figure 2: Roman Empire. Augustus. Roman Empire Augustus (27 BC–AD 14). Pergamum. Gold aureus.19–18 BC. (ANS 1944.100.39177)

Another important Augustus issue is a gold aureus from the Pergamum mint with the image of Capricorn, which had a special meaning for Augustus, who was born under this sign (fig. 2).  Capricorn was associated with the planet and god Saturn. According to Roman mythology, Saturn had come to live in Italy when his son Jupiter kicked him out of heaven. The age in which Saturn ruled as king over Italy was considered a golden age of paradise on earth. Virgil took up this theme in his treatment of Augustus’s reign as a return of the Saturnian age.

Figure 3. Roman Provincial. Egypt. Antoninus Pius (AD 138–161). Alexandria. Bronze drachm. AD 144–145. (ANS 1944.100.60358)

The allegorical depictions of divinities associated with the planets and zodiac signs—such as Capricorn and Saturn (fig. 3);

Figure 4. Roman Provincial. Egypt. Antoninus Pius (AD 138–161). Alexandria. AD 144–145. Bronze drachm. (ANS 1944.100.60352)

Scorpio (scorpion) and Mars (fig. 4.);

Figure 5. Roman Provincial. Egypt. Antoninus Pius (AD 138–161). Alexandria. AD 144–145. Bronze drachm. (ANS 1944.100.60355)

Sagittarius and Jupiter (fig. 5);

Figure 6. Roman Provincial. Egypt. Antoninus Pius (AD 138–161). Alexandria. AD 144–145. Bronze drachm. (ANS 1944.100.60364)

Virgo and Mercury; Aquarius and Saturn (fig. 6.)—were shown on Antoninus Pius’s large bronze issues struck at the Alexandrian mint in Egypt around AD 144–145.  A full circle of twelve zodiac signs surround Astarta’s chariot on the bronze coin of Julia Paula of Phoenician Sidon of AD 219–220 (fig. 7).

Figure 7. Roman Provincial. Phoenicia. Julia Paula (AD 219–220). Sidon. Bronze coin. (ANS1944.100.71806)

The same ring of zodiac signs encircling Zeus on a throne, with Helios’s chariot and biga of Selene in the field, can be seen on the reverse of a Maximinus I bronze coin struck in Thracian Anchialus circa AD 235–238 (fig. 8).

Figure 8. Roman Provincial. Thrace. Maximinus I (AD 235–238). Anchialus. Bronze coin. (ANS 1999.80.1)

Among other ANS examples are a group of gemstones from the Society’s collection with the zodiacal images of Gemini (fig. 9),

Figure 9. Seal/Gem. Carnelion. Standing Gemini, each with star over head & holding inverted spears. (ANS 0000.999.33892)

Cancer, Leo, Aries and Selene riding in biga on sky (fig. 10). These small objects illustrate the popularity of astrological themes in personal adornment.

Figure 10. Seal/Gem. Carnelion. Selene riding right in biga. (ANS 0000.999.33860)

Some coins illustrate how the Romans chose to interpret the mythical past, displaying their religious beliefs through iconographic representation on objects of daily and domestic use. These include examples of the As, a bronze cast coin used in central Italy during the 3rd century BC, with the image of Janus, one of the most important gods in the Roman archaic pantheon, who was used to represent time, because he could see into the past with one face and into the future with the other. Janus was worshipped at times of planting and harvest and also at times of marriage and death (fig. 11).

Figure 11. Roman Republic. 225–217 BC. Rome. Bronze as. 275.970 g. (ANS 0000.999.556)

Roma, a female deity representing the personification of the city of Rome is depicted famously as a she-wolf with her twins Remus and Romulus, as represented on a silver Republican denarius of the 2nd century BC (fig. 12).

Figure 12. Roman Republic. 137 BC. Rome. Silver denarius. (ANS 1944.100.380)

Some of the allegorical depictions on the coins reinforce the importance of Roman beliefs, including the cult of Roman ancestors. One of the ANS’s beautiful gold aurei of Antoninus Pius (fig. 13) bears the images of a legendary defender of Troy, Aeneas, who fled with his father Anchises and his son Ascanius from the burning city after the Greeks destroyed it in the Trojan War.

Figure 13. Roman Empire. Antoninus Pius (AD 138–161). Rome. AD 140-143. Gold aureus. (ANS 1954.256.17).

He and Trojan survivors traveled to Italy, where Aeneas became a great hero and progenitor of Romans. The family of Julius Caesar and Augustus claimed descent from Aeneas, whose son Ascaniuis was also called Iulus.

Figure 14. Roman Republic. 70 BC. Rome. Silver denarius. (ANS 1937.158.150)

The design of the ANS coins not only shows the the major gods of Roman Pantheon, but also helps illustrate the patronage of the Roman deities and their guardians. It encouraged personal beliefs in all aspect of every-day material life and nature.  Among these are a personification of Honos, god of chivalry, honor and military justice and Virtus, deity of bravery and military strength (fig. 14);

Figure 15. Roman Empire. Pertinax. Rome. AD 193. Rome. Gold aureus. (ANS 1967.153.166)

Providentia, a goddess of forethought and representation of the ability to foresee (fig. 15);

Figure 16. Roman Empire. Geta (AD 209–211). Rome. AD 211. Gold aureus. (ANS 1954.256.28)

Felicitas, a goddess of good fortune and lucky happenstance (fig. 16);

Figure 17. Roman Empire. Caracalla (AD 198–217). Rome. AD 213–217. Gold aureus. (ANS 1944.100.51518)

Securitas, a goddess of security and stability (fig. 17); and Concordia, one of the oldest of the Roman deities, having been worshipped since the earliest days of Rome, a goddess of agreement and harmony—harmony of the emperor (fig. 18), the army, the provinces and marriage.

Figure 18. Roman Empire. Nero (AD 54–68). Rome. AD 64–65. Gold aureus. (ANS 1905.57.292)

These coins show not just how the Romans themselves perceived their world in terms of its mythological past, but also help us to understand how this legacy of mythology and myth-making has been received and reinterpreted within our modern and popular culture—in books, graphic novels, television, and movies—perhaps fostering an appreciation of ancient societies among a population that lacks regional access to the material culture of the ancient world.


Roman Medallions from the ANS on Exhibit at Major Museums

The American Numismatic Society is a principal lender of numismatic objects to museum exhibitions around the country and abroad. These distinctive pieces may serve to represent famous persons, major historical events, or important episodes in the development of civilizations. Among these pieces is a unique and marvelous gold medallion of the Roman Empire from the time of Diocletian, which is currently on long-term loan to the J. Paul Getty Museum as part of its permanent exhibition.

Roman Empire. Gold medallion (equivalent to 10 aurei). AD 293/294. Trier mint. ANS 1967.153.38. 43 mm.

Diocletian (AD 284–305), originally a common soldier from Dalmatia, rose to the rank of general and in AD 284 was proclaimed emperor. He became one of the most important rulers of the later Roman Empire. He secured the imperial frontiers and restored order within the Empire. His economic reforms were aimed at overcoming the Empire’s monetary chaos of previous reigns, when prices rose unchecked. Diocletian’s famous Price Edict was issued to set maximum prices for goods and services throughout the Empire and prescribed the death penalty for violators. To manage the growing civil service, Diocletian restructured the Empire’s bureaucracy. The provinces were grouped into larger dioceses, each of which was directed by a vicarius. Finally, in AD 293, to oversee this enormous establishment, Diocletian created a Tetrarchy, a system of rule by four emperors. He divided the territory of the empire into two administrative halves, and appointed Maximian to rule with the title of Augustus in the west, while Diocletian ruled as Augustus in the east. Two junior emperors, Constantius Chlorus and Galerius Maximianus, were appointed as Caesars. The ANS medallion shows these four office-holders together and reflects the ideals of shared authority and partnership that lay at the heart of the tetrarchic system. The obverse bears the bearded and laureate busts of Diocletian Augustus (on the left) and Galerius Caesar (on the right), wearing the imperial mantle. The reverse shows the busts of Maximian Augustus (on the left) and Constantius Caesar (on the right). Due to the larger size and absence of an exergual line, the artist had the opportunity to engrave the portrait busts on a much larger scale than usual, with dramatic results.

Today the images of the tetrarchs can also be seen on the corner of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. It is a porphyry sculpture group, which was removed from Constantinople by Venetians when they plundered the city in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade.

The Roman Empire. Four Tetrarchs (Diocletian second from right). A porphyry sculpture group. Circa AD 300. Sant Mark’s Basilica, Venice, Italy.
The Roman Empire. Four Tetrarchs (Diocletian second from right). A porphyry sculpture group. Circa AD 300. Sant Mark’s Basilica, Venice, Italy.

Another unique gold medallion (10 aurei) from the ANS is on long-term loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where it is on display in the Roman Gallery.

Roman Empire. Gold medallion (equivalent to 10 aurei). AD 293. Rome mint. ANS 1944.100.63131. 38 mm.

On the obverse it has half-length laureate portraits of Constantius Chlorus and Galerius Maximianus, wearing the imperial mantle. Constantius (on the left) holds a globe surmounted by a Victory his right hand, and Galerius (on the right) holds a scepter surmounted by an eagle; these are both emblems of sovereignty. The reverse bears two emperors standing in military dress with cloak, bareheaded, resting their left arms on long, upright scepters. They both hold a patera, with which they are pouring a libation upon a tripod-altar placed between them; in the central background there are two military standards. The exergue has the mint mark—prom (Percussa Romae, “struck at Rome”). The medallion was issued in AD 293, to commemorate the elevation of Constantius and Galerius to the rank of Caesar.

Both of these gold medallions from the ANS collection were found in 1922, along with over 400 Roman coins, in the famous Arras hoard in France, which closed around AD 315. These remarkable medallions, as well as many other ANS objects on display at the Getty Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, are valuable ambassadors in the world’s leading art museums showing the importance of the ANS collection to a wider public for many years.


Westport’s Suffragists Exhibit

United States. Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906). Commemorative Bronze Medal. The Hall of Fame for Great Americans at the New York University, by Paul Fjelde. 1962. (ANS 2001.11.13, gift of Donald Oresman)
United States. Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906). Commemorative Bronze Medal. The Hall of Fame for Great Americans at the New York University, by Paul Fjelde. 1962. (ANS 2001.11.13, gift of Donald Oresman)

The movement for women’s suffrage rights in the United States had a long history before it achieved success in the twentieth century. The first unsuccessful attempt to offer a universal suffrage amendment in Congress came in 1868. The next was in 1878, an effort led by California Senator Aaron A. Sargent. Although his bill was rejected, it would later be introduced every year for the next 41 years, with women aggressively lobbying Congress to approve it throughout this period. In 1913 hundreds of activists marched into the Capitol chanting, “We want action now!” By 1916, both the Democratic and the Republican party platforms supported women’s suffrage, and in 1919 a women’s suffrage bill was approved by Congress. It was ratified by three-fourths of the states in 1920. Though the 19th amendment was a gender-neutral document, which declared that, “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Mississippi waited over 40 more years to accept it.

United States. Susan B. Anthony. Cupronickel/Copper Commemorative Dollar. San Francisco mint. 1979. (ANS 1983.156.41, from the estate of D. J. Fleischer)
United States. Susan B. Anthony. Cupronickel/Copper Commemorative Dollar. San Francisco mint. 1979. (ANS 1983.156.41, from the estate of D. J. Fleischer)

Many women worked to win the vote for women, but a few stand out as particularly influential and crucial. One of the leading figures of the suffrage movement in United States was Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906), and the 19th amendment is also known as the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment” in recognition of her work on behalf of women’s rights (ANS 2001.11.13). On July 2, 1979, she became the first (non-mythical) woman to be featured on a circulating coin from the U.S. mint (ANS 1983.156.41).
United States. Bronze award medal, “Better Babies”, awarded by the Woman’s Home Companion, by Laura Gardin Fraser, 1913. (ANS 1914.33.1, gift of Medallic Art Co.)

This year, many local public organizations in the United States are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment. Among them is the Westport Library in Connecticut, which in February opened the exhibit, Westport’s Suffragists—Our Neighbors, Our Crusaders: The 19th Amendment Turns 100. One important object in this show is a medal on loan from the ANS that was designed by Laura Gardin Fraser—sculptor, suffragist, and Westporter. It is a bronze example of the Better Babies medal awarded by the Woman’s Home Companion magazine (ANS 1914.33.1 and Photo).

Photograph of Laura Gardin Fraser working on the model for the Better Babies medal.
Photograph of Laura Gardin Fraser working on the model for the Better Babies medal.

Laura Gardin Fraser (1889–1966) sculpted everything from coins to larger-than-life monuments. She became the first woman to design a United States coin for national circulation when in 1926 she partnered with her sculptor husband James Earle Fraser to create the Oregon Trail Memorial half dollar. In 1931, she won a competition to design the United States George Washington Bicentennial Medal. The medal served as a souvenir for the celebration of Washington’s 200th birthday in 1933 and also as a prize for a variety of contests in schools across the country. The Westport Library exhibition focuses on the local suffragists of Westport, who helped change the course of history for American women of all succeeding generations, and is therefore a fitting contribution to the nation’s centennial celebration of the ratification of the 19th amendment.