Roman

The Roman Department of the ANS includes all coins conventionally identified as Republican or Imperial, as well as the silver coins of the imperial provinces, incorporating Roman Alexandria, which sometimes belong to Greek Departments with other significant institutions. There are approximately 6,500 coins of the Republic, about 46,000 of the mainstream imperial coinage, from Augustus until Zeno, 16,000 Provincials, and 2,500 modern copies or replica, for a total of over 72,000 pieces. As it stands currently, this is one of the most important Roman collections worldwide.

As for the Greek collection, the bulk of the Roman collection, i.e., circa 30,000 coins, originates with the spectacular contribution represented by the coins donated by E. T. Newell, whose collections have so enriched the Society at large.

The single greatest strength is the aes grave holdings, the early, heavy bronze coinage of Rome. Spectacular pieces, ultimately from the Strozzi collection, were acquired at Wayte Raymond's sale of the J. P. Morgan collection in 1951; the later purchase of the Wulfing collection (1954) and the E. R. Miles bequest (1967) both broadened and deepened the holdings. The ANS collection contains approximately 6,000 Roman Republican coins, making it one of the top half dozen public collections of this material in the world. Among other prominent contributors to the collection, Richard Hoe Lawrence is best known for his work, over a century ago, on Paduan imitations of Roman coins. He was also among the earliest donors to the Roman department. In 1938, his widow gave his collection of Republican silver coins, which can almost invariably be relied on to provide the finest specimen of any series. The single greatest strength is the aes grave, the early, heavy cast bronze coinage of Rome. Spectacular pieces, ultimately from the Strozzi collection, were acquired at Wayte Raymond's sale of the J. P. Morgan collection in 1951; and the purchase of the Wulfing collection (1954) and the E. R. Miles bequest (1967) both broadened and deepened the holdings. Richard Hoe Lawrence is best known for his work, over a century ago, on Paduan imitations of Roman coins; but he was also among the earliest donors to the Roman department, and many of the finest specimens of Republican silver are from his collection. And, as with most of the ANS ancient holdings, many of the rarest and most interesting specimens are from the Edward T. Newell donation. More recently, the donation of duplicates from the Charles A. Hersh Collection has strengthened the holdings of early silver, as well as the issues with control marks, in which Hersh specialized. Very recently, the Society has been able to obtain a number of rare struck bronze issues from the sale of the Rick B. Witschonke Collection, supplemented by some generous donations by Rick Witschonke himself.

Within the Imperial range, George Clapp, the great collector of large cents, donated the collection of E. P. Robinson in 1941, the year of E. T. Newell's death; and while there have been few large donations since, purchases have helped to round out control-marked series, early anonymous issues with symbols and monograms, and rare varieties otherwise missing from the collection. Over the years Mark and Lottie Salton have given hundreds of coins in memory of Felix Schlessinger, almost all selected to fill gaps in prior holdings. For many years (1954-1980) imperial aurei were given anonymously by Mrs. H. L. Chalifoux; her gifts eventually reached over 400 pieces. The purchase of the Tell Kalak hoard in 1956 yielded at one stroke over 2,300 silver coins, and the Bastien collection, purchased in 1984, nearly 2,300 late Roman copper-based coins. The later empire remains an area requiring development, mainly in the precious metals. As a result, the collection incorporates a large proportion of the Roman Imperial coin-types ever produced, with a coverage ratio exceeding one-third. Finally, several thousands coins from the Huntington Collection have reached the collection recently, as a result of a long-term loan extended by the generosity of an anonymous benefactor, with notably a very high number of Iberian issues of the Republican period.

The last two decades have seen a reformulation of the conventional definitions of "Greek" and "Roman" for the imperial period; still, tradition dies hard, and there are legitimate arguments about how to arrange material in a fashion likely to be useful for academic research, collectors and students alike. Silver coins of the empire, whatever language they bear, were struck on imperial authority, but provincial copper coins outside of Alexandria were mainly (though not exclusively) produced on local initiative. As a consequence imperial silver (including Alexandria) now resides in the Roman department, while copper remains in the domain of the Greek curator. The Society possesses the largest comprehensive collection of Alexandrian coins anywhere.

The collection belongs solidly in the first rank of collections worldwide and stands at the forefront of the digitization movement, which is now reaching so many different areas of the Classic World. The Roman coins are entirely recorded in the Society's computer database, many coins being photographed already with the help of several donors, foremost among them Mike Gasvoda and the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. They are catalogued following the prevailing references for each period of Roman history – e.g., Crawford’s RRC for the Republican coins, or the RIC volumes for the Imperial coins. Moreover, the ANS is leading a major project to create an multi-collection collaborative online reference tool covering all coin types of the Roman Imperial period: OCRE - Online Coins of the Roman Empire. The project was awarded a major grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities, announced in April 2014, which will allow all Imperial coins of the collection to be fully referenced and pictured ultimately. Among other collaborative collections, the Berlin Münzkabinett and the British Museum are part of the project.

Inquiries about the Roman collection and the OCRE project should be directed to Gilles Bransbourg.

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