This is a brief write-up on my trip to the Gallery of Numismatics, which houses the National Numismatics Collection for the Smithsonian Museum. You can find this collection at the Museum of American History. This is by no means a comprehensive overview of the entire exhibit, as it is too vast for just one thread in a forum. But I do hope it gives you an idea of what awaits you if you ever find yourself in Washington D.C. and decide to check this exhibit for yourself.
The entrance to the exhibit is quite imposing, mimicking a bank vault. The exact location is on the second floor, left hand side of the building, at the Museum of American History, which is right next to the National Mall.
I know this is a coins forum, but if you also like paper money then you will not be disappointed. There were denominations there that I had never seen in person, only in catalogs and books. Again, keep in mind that these are but a few pictures...the full collection is...
The story behind the manufacture and release of these two South Korean commemorative coins is a roller coaster ride of tight deadlines and inadequacies at the South Korean Mint; all thrown in with a meddling big-shot friend of the president of the country. And if it had not been for a last-minute policy exception, the whole thing might not have happened at all. Such instability surrounding South Korea’s commemorative coin production was apparently the modal state of affairs in the late 1970s.
The 42nd World Shooting Championships were the biggest international sporting event to have been hosted in South Korea before the 1988 Summer Olympics came 10 years later. The Chairman of the Shooting Championships, Pak Jong-gyu, was the former chief of presidential security in South Korea, and had helped President Park Chung-hee take power in the country's 1961 military coup d'etat. Riding on these coattails, Pak was able to intrude into the coin-design team's...
I acquired this coin recently from @John Anthony and I have to say that I am very pleased with it. It is my first coin of the so-called Diadochi, or successors, of Alexander the Great and it is very interesting for a great many reasons not the least of which is its’ depiction of Alexander III the Great. Warning: This post might run a bit long.
Lysimachus the DiadochiLysimachus is one of the most fascinating and mysterious of the Diadochi largely because there is so little literary information on his life relative to the other companions of Alexander. Lysimachus was born sometime between 361 BC and 351 BC which makes him roughly the same age as Alexander. According to some sources Lysimachus’ family was from Thessaly and therefore not from the Macedonian nobility . Regardless, Lysimachus’ father seems to have been a close adviser to Philip II and Lysimachus spent his youth being educated among the...
THRACE, Hadrianopolis. Gordian III
AE 18 mm, 2.59 gm
Obv: AVT K M ANT ΓORΔIANOC AVΓ; laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right.
Rev: AΔPIANOΠOΛEITΩN; ostrich running like @stevex6 is chasing it with a basting brush
Ref: Varbanov 3833, rare
But ostriches aren't extinct, you say. True, but I believe the bird on this coin is Struthio camelus syriacus, the Arabian ostrich.
The common and extant Struthio c. camelus lives in the southern Sahara and northern subsaharan Africa. Its habitat is shown in orange on the map below. Struthio c. syriacus's approximate habitat at the time of the Roman Empire was in the areas shown in pink. The Arabian ostrich was extinct by the mid 20th century.
The two types are similar in appearance, with the...
I don't seek out many late Roman coins, but you could say this one spoke to me:
"In hoc moneta vinces"
Commemorative Series under Constantine I
330 CE; Æ 14.5 mm, 1.16 gm
Constantinople mint, 1st officina
Obv: POP ROMANVS; draped bust of Genius left, with cornucopia over shoulder
Rev: Milvian Bridge over Tiber River; CONS//A
Ref: RIC VIII 21; LRBC 1066; Vagi 3043
ex E.E. Clain-Stefanelli collection
Small anonymous Constantinian-era bronze coins were presumably issued for distribution at consecration ceremonies for the empire's new capital at Constantinople. Struck from 330-348 CE, with some rare medallions struck for a few more years, there are many types (Victory on prow, she-wolf suckling twins, etc) and in general they are very common. This particular type shows the Milvian bridge, site of Constantine's storied vision in which he received battle tips from Jesus.
"The air was filled with blood and smoke. The Roman Empire was divided, from the pillars of Hercules to the far reaches of the Adriatic, the Western Roman Empire stretched. Sacred earth where men of greatness conquered, but those who followed neglected Rome..."
This was the situation the new Emperor of the west found himself in 395 CE, the Western Empire was in tatters, much of her army lay dead on the river banks of the Frigidus, her economy was ruined by the overburden of state taxes, and her borders were teaming with barbarian migrants. The Emperor was about ten years old so power rested in a small circle of advisors, the most prominent of which was a half Vandal-half Roman general named Stilicho. Theodosius I's corspe was not yet cold in the ground when major problems began to spring up; King Alaric of the visigoth tribe had broken the treaty that the goths has signed with Theodosius I way back in 381 to remain on Roman land in exchange for supplying men to fight in the legions....
On November 25, 1120, The security of the Norman Kings of England suffered a significant blow. The only legitimate son and heir to King Henry I, William "Audelin," died at sea in what has become known as 'The White Ship Disaster.' Historian W.L. Warren likened the White Ship to the Titanic of its day. The loss of the ship, the heir to the English throne, plus numerable noble heirs would set in motion a series of events which would effect both England and France.
Manuscript page illuminating Henry I's line and his descendants being interrupted by the White Ship Disaster. Photo, and an interesting piece about the White Ship taken from Medievalist.net
With Henry losing his heir, he attempted to ensure the loyalty of the nobles of England to his daughter, Matilda. Matilda had essentially been raised at the court of the Holy Roman Emperor, and was...
A recent trip to Israel got me interested in researching some of the numismatic history of the region. I acquired the excellent coin shown below from @red_spork after my attempts to import a similar example were thwarted at customs. Long Post Warning!
Obverse: Paleo-Hebrew inscription in wreath; Greek letter alpha above
Reverse: Double cornucopia with a pomegranate between horns
Coinage has a long history in Judea dating back to the time of the Persian Empire when a Jewish mint was allowed to operate with the permission of Persian officials. Many of the earliest coins of this period are imitations of other common Mediterranean types such as the Persian “Archer” and the Athenian “Owl” . These coins often bear the letters “YHD” (Yehud=Judah) and contain local design elements such as the pomegranate or lily to refer to Judah or Jerusalem. Later, under Greek control, the region minted...
What if I told you that you could hold a medal that was responsible for igniting the passion that enflamed the passions of so many citizens that it brought their countries into WWI?
On May 07, 1915, the German Navy committed arguably Germany’s biggest strategic failures in WWI: the sinking of the RMS Lusitania. International outrage grew as word spread that the ship was sank without warning, killing 1,198 passengers and crew, 128 of which were Americans. To add to this, Karl Goetz, German medalist and sculpture, created a satirical medal in August 1915. His intent was to embarrass the Cunard Line and British Government for allowing a passenger ship to cross hostile waters. The intended effect backfired and the medal inspired other nations to join the war effort in support of Great Britain.
Since I am trying to be better read on the coins themselves and not just the history, I've been making an effort to read more coin related books. I know few here specifically collect medieval coins, but in case anyone decided to venture down this rabbit hole they might appreciate my thoughts on some of the literature out there. Or feel free to ignore it - I do this for myself anyway
Torongo, Paul A. Collecting Medieval Coins: A Beginner's Guide. Self Published, 2013.
Paul Torongo attempted to do the nearly impossible by writing a book on how to collect Medieval Coins. Torongo's book certainly is for the beginner, as many of the basics of coins itself are covered. This is fine in and of itself, but there are numerous problems and difficulties with using the book. Organization seems to be Torongo's nemesis. The order of the contents lacks direction, the reasoning for the inclusion of many coins is...
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