The American Numismatic Society will be at this week’s World’s Fair of Money in Chicago. If you have an inquiry or a comment, would like to purchase some of our new publications, or need to renew or have questions about membership, please stop by to see us. Curator of American coins and currency Matthew Wittmann, membership associate Catherine DiTuri, and a team of able volunteers will be at our table so please stop by and say hello.
The pin above is from the 1933 World’s Fair celebrating Chicago’s centennial. Its rather grand theme was “Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Adapts.” One of the more unusual legacies of the fair was Benito Mussolini’s gift of a 2nd-century column from the ruins of Ostia Antica, ancient Rome’s historical harbor. It was removed from a portico near the Porta Marina and shipped to Chicago, where it was unveiled in front of the Italian pavillion to much fanfare. The column was part and parcel of a fascist propaganda effort that also saw a squadron of Italian sea-planes commanded by Italo Balbo visit the shores of Lake Michigan. The column stands today just to the east of Soldier Field in Burnham Park.
One of the neat numismatic connections in the ANS collections to the ancient harbor is a series of sestertii issued during the reign of Emperor Nero (54-68 AD). The reverse of these coins depict a bird’s-eye view of Ostia harbor.
Ostia (a derivation of “os,” Latin for mouth) was located on the south bank of the Tiber River, which flowed into the Mediterranean about 25 km southwest of Rome proper. The reverse depicts a busy port, and amidst the ships is a statute of Neptune set on pharos. In the foreground is the reclining figure of Tiber.
Hope to see you in Chicago!
Update: The American Numismatic Society table is number 1512, and here is the map. We are located next to Harlan J. Berk, and they actually have a sestertius with this Ostia reverse if you want to see one firsthand.