Tag Archives: mysteries

Mysteries from the Vault: Ancient Amulet

With close to a million objects in the American Numismatic Society’s collections, the curatorial team occasionally comes across items that are mysteries to us. This series will feature some of these objects in the hopes that the collective wisdom of our readers can help us to identify and learn more about them.

With one of our older mysteries recently solved, it seemed to be a good time for a new one!

This is a one-millimeter thin and roughly square piece of metal that features an intricate design. It has been pierced so we presume it was used as some sort of amulet. The pictorial elements and glyphs (and/or writing) are incised on both sides. It weighs 15.31 grams and its dimensions are 49 mm in height and 46 mm in width. We do not have a provenance for the item beyond the fact that it was discovered in one of our ancient cabinets.

Who or what are those little figures at bottom right?

ANS, 0000.999.56759
ANS, 0000.999.56759

 

0000.999.56759.web

Have an idea about what this might be? Let us know in the comments or drop us a line here.

Update:

Some more photos to try and bring out the design (click to enlarge)

 

Mysteries from the Vault: H.R.C. Clock Token

With close to a million objects in the American Numismatic Society’s collections, the curatorial team occasionally comes across items that are mysteries to us. This series will feature some of these objects in the hopes that the collective wisdom of our readers can help us to identify and learn more about them.

With one of our older mysteries recently solved, it seemed to be time for a new one!

This token is 26 mm in diameter and weighs 4.19 grams, with a die axis of 12. One side has a  table top still-life scene wreathed by Roman clock numbers; the other is embossed with the initials H.R.C. and the number 99. It was purchased by the American Numismatic Society as part of a lot of 200 tokens from Schindler’s Antique Shop of Charleston, South Carolina. Click to enlarge the images if you need a closer look.

ANS, 1952.110.51
ANS, 1952.110.51
ANS, 1952.110.51
ANS, 1952.110.51

Have an idea about what this might be? Let us know in the comments or send us an email.

Mysteries from the Vault: Monkey?

With close to a million objects in the American Numismatic Society’s collections, the curatorial team occasionally comes across items that are mysteries to us. This series will feature some of these objects in the hopes that the collective wisdom of our readers can help us to identify and learn more about them.

This rather strange looking metallic object is 28mm in diameter and is rather hefty for its size, weighing 20.7 grams. The obverse features a raised face that I think looks like a monkey. The face is in extreme relief raising 5 mm out from the 3 mm thick planchet. The reverse is plain except for some striations visible on the edges. If you have an idea of what this might be, leave us a comment below. And if you are a new reader, we have solved some mysteries, but others are still unresolved!

ANS, 1993.141.26
ANS, 1993.141.26

20150820_143648

1993.141.26.rev.2295

Have an idea about what this might be? Let us know in the comments or send us an email.

Mysteries from the Vault: Models Medalet

With close to a million objects in the American Numismatic Society’s collections, the curatorial team occasionally comes across items that are mysteries to us. This series will feature some of these objects in the hopes that the collective wisdom of our readers can help us to identify and learn more about them.

This bronze medalet appears to be a membership or attendance medal for some unknown society. It is not exactly clear to us what activity the gentlemen on the obverse are engaged in, but they appear to be building a model house and a model ship. The number 80 is faintly visible in the exergue. It measures 25.5 mm in diameter and the reverse has the legend: C. / O. O. / O’ HOUT / MEI 1916

Mystery Solved! Thanks to Henk Groenendijk who commented below and offered the following history of the medalet:

In the exergue there are the letters B.U. which stands for Begeer Utrecht. Begeer (1880-1919) were a well-known firm in the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands who made many types of medals. The medal concerned is one of their stock medals, made in different sizes and metals for awards. This particular medal is an award for homecrafts (Huisvlijt in Dutch). The reverse of the medal has space for an engraved or, in this case, a stamped inscription.

O’HOUT is an abbreviation of Oosterhout, a city located in the province of North Brabant, in the south of the Netherlands. The date is May (MEI) 1916, which is in the period of the first World War. Although the Netherlands stayed neutral during this war, the army was mobilized. Near Oosterhout there were army barracks. These were visited by the Queen on May 17, 1916. This visit is described in a newspaper for the army (Soldatenkrant, orgaan voor leger en vloot) of May 28, 1916.

The Queen also visited an “huisvlijt tentoonstelling”, an exhibition of objects made by the soldiers in their free time. This exhibition was organized by the “Comité tot ontwikkeling en ontspanning der gemobiliseerde troepen” which can be translated as Committee for development and relaxation of mobilized troops. In the inscription this was abbreviated as: C.O.O. In the newspaper article it is not stated whether or not medals were given by the Queen. My assumption is they were given by the Comité.

1984.15.15
1984.15.15

 

1984.15.15.rev

Have an idea about what this might be? Let us know in the comments or send us an email.

Mysteries from the Vault: Louis Gold Badge

With close to a million objects in the American Numismatic Society’s collections, the curatorial team occasionally comes across items that are mysteries to us. This series will feature some of these objects in the hopes that the collective wisdom of our readers can help us to identify and learn more about them.

******Mystery Solved! See update at the bottom of the post.********

This scalloped-edged badge or medal was found by an amateur archaeologist in fill removed from a building site in downtown Manhattan  sewage sludge removed from drains by contractors in Midtown and lower Manhattan. It measures 48 mm or just under 2 inches in diameter. Everything else we know about it is on the medal itself, which is inscribed with a name, “LOUIS GOLD” and a number, “1258.” There is no further identifying information on the reverse, though I have included an image anyways.

2007.42.22.obv
ANS, 2007.42.22

 

2007.42.22.rev.1140

Have an idea about what this might be? Let us know in the comments or send us an email.

 

UPDATE:

A reader has (we think rightly) speculated that this is a “tool check,” i.e., a tag that was attached to a particular tool in an industrial or construction setting that identified it as the property of the company. Individual or contract workers would thus “check out” and return tools as needed. See, for example, this eBay listing for a metal tool check from the Hudson Car Co., which includes the warning”Penalty for loss twenty five cents.”

It has also been observed that there was a man named Louis Gold who was a prominent NYC builder during the early 20th century. Gold was a Russian Jewish émigré and has a fascinating life story, which you can read more about in the profile reproduced from the Brooklyn Eagle below. The short story for our purposes is that Gold owned a large building company, one that more likely than not employed a tool check system for its workers. The inscription “LOUIS GOLD” and accompanying serial number would make perfect sense in this context.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 1, 1925 (click to enlarge)
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 1, 1925 (click to enlarge)

 

Mysteries from the Vault: A Bronze Key

With close to a million objects in the American Numismatic Society’s collections, the curatorial team occasionally comes across items that are mysteries to us. This series will feature some of these objects in the hopes that the collective wisdom of our readers can help us to identify and learn more about them.

Our first selection is a bronze key of indeterminate age and culture. It has no markings, an overall length of 26mm, and weighs 13.6 grams.

Mystery Solved! Thanks to commenter Forbes who notes below:

Byzantine Folding Key, Circa 5th – 6th Century.

This type of key, commonly used during the Byzantine period, could be easily carried, an important feature at a time when clothes had no pockets. The hoop of the key fits like a finger ring, and the short barrel can be folded into the palm of the hand. Unlike the teeth on modern keys, the slotted holes on this example are purely decorative, while the small crosses were intended to protect the owner’s possessions.

Source: http://ancientart.tumblr.com/post/31670708445/ancient-byzantine-key-5th-century-late

 

1960.136.1

The shaft of the key has a hole through which the ring fits, allowing it swing freely.

mysterykey

What, if any, is the significance of the design of the tip?

1960.136.1-detail

Have an idea about what this might be? Let us know in the comments or drop us a line here.