Roman Coin Displays in the British Museum...

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Gavin Richardson, Aug 14, 2019.

  1. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    ... or, "What I did over my summer vacation."

    So I enjoyed 10 days in England in late July, though I didn’t really enjoy the heat wave. (Air conditioning in U.K. hotels typically involves how much you want to open your window at night--at least in my price range.) A highlight was a Friday evening spent at the British Museum. There may already be threads about ancient coin displays in the British Museum, but here’s my modest contribution.

    Coins are notoriously difficult to display; they are small, two-sided, and often too valuable to be made very accessible. Still, I thought the British Museum did a fine job displaying the coins and providing context that would be of interest to specialists and the general public alike. It seems the British Museum tended to privilege hoard finds in their displays.

    Coins in museums are also difficult to photograph. But perhaps you will get a sense of the displays from the attached photos (including a selfie!). The photos, as you might imagine, do not do the displays justice. And I tended to privilege Roman coins.

    IMG_0987.JPG IMG_0989.JPG IMG_0992.JPG IMG_0994.JPG IMG_1001.JPG IMG_1013.JPG IMG_1015.JPG IMG_1016.JPG IMG_1018.JPG

    I took my selfie with what I thought was the Arras Medallion of Constantine, but then I noticed it was an electrotype copy. Oh well. At least the crosswalk at Abbey Road was genuine.

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  3. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    A couple more for the Celtic and medieval collectors, and George III's Greeks.

    IMG_1008.JPG IMG_1022.JPG IMG_1116.JPG
  4. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Neat pictures would love to go there some day.

    Thanks for sharing.
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  5. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    I wish I would've been into ancient coins back when I lived in London. I spent a lot of time in that museum in the 2 years I lived there.
  6. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Great pics Gavin, I'm glad you had a great holiday. When we went a couple of years back in their summer it was more about trying to keep warm and dry.:)
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  7. ro1974

    ro1974 Well-Known Member

    Nice picture's thanks:)
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  8. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

  9. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    Warren just reminded me that the Arras Medallion is of Constantius, not Constantine. I guess the electrotype is too. o_O
  10. dadams

    dadams Supporter! Supporter

    Stellar! Love the pics. I went to London when I was a kid with not even an inkling of coins on my mind. Someday I plan to get back so I can more fully appreciate the place. Sounds like you had a great time.
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  11. jamesicus

    jamesicus Well-Known Member

    Nice write-up Gavin. I spent many enjoyable hours at the British Museum in my younger days - always a treat. And yes, that is a replica of the famous Constantius commemorative:

    Bronze copy of 10 aurei multiple commemorating the
    restoration of Britain to the Roman Empire by Constantius in AD 296

    The following photograph of a bronze copy of the famous ten aurei multiple (RIC VOLUME VI, TREVERI, No. 34), the original of which presently resides in the museum at Arras, commemorates the restoration of Britain to the Roman Empire by Constantius in 296. It depicts the personification of Londinium (LON) kneeling and supplicating to Constantius (on horseback) outside of the City Fortification while a galley with Roman soldiers waits on the river Thames. The inscription REDDITOR LVCIS AETERNAE proclaims Constantius as the restorer of the eternal light (of Rome). The Treveri (Trier) mint mark (PTR) is in the exergue.

    LON (right) PTR (exergue)

    Bastien records the original (unique) coin as No. 218 in his book on the Arras Hoard and mentions that galvano copies were made and sold by the Paris coin dealer Bourgey. At a weight of 23.0 grams I think the copy depicted here was cast in bronze from one of those galvano copies. There appears to be numerous other copies in circulation in a variety of metals - brass/bronze, silver, gold, gilded copper, etc.

    CNG listed a cast copy for sale a number of years ago - the listing erroneously includes "..... the now lost medal from the Arras Hoard, discovered in 1922". It was never lost.
  12. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    So where is the real medallion now? I thought it was stolen. Is it indeed in a museum in Arras?
  13. jamesicus

    jamesicus Well-Known Member

    I think it was Curtis Clay who mentioned in a post on the AncientsInfo Forum a number of years ago that it never was stolen and that it still resided in the Museum at Arras - at least it did at that time. Please contact Curtis to verify that Gavin.

    It is interesting that this multiple is cataloged in RIC Volume VI under the Treveri mint as No. 34 in the extensive series of magnificent multiple aurei - many of which have Maximian Herculius obverses - and all of which are notated as extremely rare or unique. Sutherland devotes a section of the RIC Vol. VI Treveri mint introduction to a discussion of these medallions. From what I have read, very few have ever been offered for private sale but I seem to recall that a Swiss Auction house did offer a Maximian Herculius aurei multiple from this series for sale many years ago. I posted a link to the sale on the AncientsInfo Forum but it went dead. I do not remember the name of the Auction house or the sold price - I believe it was over a million dollars (not at all sure about that). Of course the Constantius medallion discussed here is undoubtedly priceless.

    I am in no way an expert regarding these aurei multiples - my sparse knowledge relating to them results from casual research I conducted when I purchased some replicas a number of years ago. The photograph I posted here is of the nicest one I have owned - the reverse is my CT avatar. I decided it needed a good home with someone who would cherish it and use it to good advantage in their presentations. So I gifted it to “Mauseus” (Forum) a few years ago. It is too bad I didn’t hold on to it longer - or I would have gifted it to you, Gavin!
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
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  14. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    Oh, with Mauseus it’s in good hands.
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  15. jamesicus

    jamesicus Well-Known Member

    I have found the link to that (2006) post to the thread in which Curtis Clay and I participated but I am not sure of the propriety of posting it here in the open Forum.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
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  16. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

  17. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    Great pictures and always worth a visit!

    By coincidence I also managed to spend a couple of hours at the BM last weekend :).

    Here are two more gold Medallions:

    Bildschirmfoto 2019-08-15 um 10.22.06.png

    ... and another hoard of Aurei:

    Bildschirmfoto 2019-08-15 um 10.23.01.png

    At 1.7 kilograms this is the heaviest "coin" I ever had in hand:

    Bildschirmfoto 2019-08-15 um 10.24.40.png
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
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  18. jamesicus

    jamesicus Well-Known Member

    RIC Vol. VI, Treveri, No. 33

    RIC Vol. VI, Treveri, No. 617

    The above are images of two incredible Bourgey electrotypes of Constantius gold multiples from Trier struck in AD 297 and 305 which I am posting with Hugh Cloke’s permission.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
  19. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    Wow. Stunners.
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