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Category: Museums and Exhibts

Treasured Artifacts Vanish From UK Museum

A “PRICELESS” coin collection and other precious artifacts in the trust of Sefton Council are feared to have been stolen from the public.

Roman Coin Collection MissingCouncil bosses admit they have no idea what has become of the Dethick-Brown collection of rare Roman coins, which was housed at the Botanic Gardens Museum, and have reported the loss to the police. A host of other items including rare Victorian and early American coins, Egyptian antiquities, oil paintings and birds’ eggs are said to be missing or damaged.

Tory candidate for Meols ward in the May elections, Mike Swift, has accused public officials of being “asleep at the wheel”. At the Southport Area Committee last Wednesday he asked for reassurance that efforts would be made to find the missing items.

Mr Swift was told about the missing artifacts by coin expert Alan Dawson, secretary of Ormskirk and West Lancs Numismatic Society, who reported the apparent loss of the Dethick-Brown collection to the council in November.

His reply from head of leisure services, John Taylor, said: “Despite a thorough search of the museum and the art gallery, the strong rooms at Bootle and Southport Town Halls and enquires made at other museums likely to have been interested in borrowing it at the time, the collection has not been found. Read full Champion Newspapers Article

Panama-Pacific Expo 5 Coin Set on exhibit at Santa Clara Expo

Octagonal $50 1915-S The Santa Clara Coin, Stamp & Collectibles Expo to be held on April 10 – 13, 2008, will be displaying the finest 1915-S Panama-Pacific International Exposition 5 coin set known.

The historic coins and accompanying documents related to the famous 1915 exposition will be exhibited by Steven L. Contursi of Rare Coin Wholesalers of Dana Point, California.

The display includes the original Shreve & Co. copper and glass frame and original box that housed the coins when they were sold. In addition a $200 invoice to a buyer in Kansas dated July 29, 1915, signed by Farran Zerbe, chief of the Coin and Medal Department for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, along with the June 8, 1940, signed letter and $575 invoice from Texas dealer, B. Max Mehl, who resold the set to a Los Angeles buyer.Original presentation boc and letters

The coins in the set in the exhibit are certified by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation as follows:

  • 1915-S silver half dollar, NGC Mint State 66
  • 1915-S gold dollar, NGC MS-67
  • 1915-S gold $2.50 quarter eagle, NGC MS-67
  • 1915-S gold $50 octagonal coin, NGC MS-65
  • 1915-S gold $50 round coin, NGC MS-67

“The octagonal $50 denomination gold coin is one of five superb condition Panama-Pacific gold and silver San Francisco Mint coins that were registered by Panama-Pacific officials as the sixth of only 24 complete coin sets produced for the event in 1915,” said Ronald J. Gillio, Expo General Chairman. “The ‘Pan-Pac’ set that will be displayed at the show includes the original $200 invoice, but the coins and their original copper and glass frame are valued today at about $700,000.” (more…)

New Orleans Mint Rises

New Orleans MintThe rebirth of New Orleans as a tourist destination means collectors who plan a visit should arrange to stop by the New Orleans Mint Museum.

The museum has been back in business for six months, fully recovered from the wrath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. And there is a wealth of revamped and new exhibitions to see.

When the museum reopened this past October, most of the structure had been renovated, along with a new coat of paint, refurbished plaster, fencing and flagstones, a new carpet and an HVAC system. A brand new and enhanced copper roof replaced what had been stripped, twisted and tossed into nearby streets by the caress of Katrina.

Top of many numismatists must-do list will be the exhibits showing the full range of coins minted at New Orleans. The museum has been blessed by the many collectors and benefactors who have donated or loaned historic New Orleans-struck coins to ensure the display is as complete as possible.

Rick Demers provided his complete date collection of New Orleans Mint silver coinage, with other notable gold and silver coins and coin-related artifacts coming from Lynn Ourso, Frank Patty, Mark Sheldon, and Robert B. Lecce. Read Full Numismater Article

A rush for gold put Charlotte on map

1838-C  $5 GoldIt was a beautiful coin, with a profile of a crowned Lady Liberty on its face surrounded by 13 stars, one each for the original colonies.

And it shone brightly, made of pure gold, gold likely taken from the ground under Charlotte.

On March 28, 1838, the first gold coin — a $5 Half Eagle — was struck at the U.S. Mint branch. It was on West Trade Street where the federal building now stands. The old mint, moved in the 1930s, now houses the Mint Museum on Randolph Road.

The 170th anniversary on Friday connects to other events in the city’s history:

• The first gold rush in the United States, in Charlotte in the early 1800s.

• The first branch of the U.S. Mint, opened in 1837, a sign of the city’s future prosperity.

• The first museum in North Carolina, created when the Mint building was moved to its current site.

The gold rush and the location of a mint branch did not lead, as is sometimes said, to the banks that now tower over uptown. But these historic events made the city an economic center in the region. Read Full Story in the Charlotte Observer

National Museum of American History Updates Preservation of National Numismatic Collection

National Numismatic Collection NGC designs custom holder to house the 200 most rare, unique and famous American coins in the Smithsonian’s National Numismatic Collection.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History today announced a pilot project to assess the use of protective coin holders for the National Numismatic Collection housed at the museum. The 200 most rare, unique and famous American coins in the collection will be placed into customized plastic holders that will allow greater access to coins while improving their protection.

This initial group of coins was chosen because they are the most frequently handled. The project is a collaboration between the museum, the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation and the Numismatic Conservation Services, which donated their services and developed the holders to meet museum specifications. NGC also provided the materials necessary to re-house the coins, along with two storage cabinets which will offer enhanced security for these numismatic treasures.

“We are pleased to be able to provide superb protection for these rare objects while at the same time extending access to the research community,” said Brent D. Glass, museum director. “The coins are popular for scholarly study and now they can be handled safely.”

“NGC is privileged to work with the museum to help solve a collections management challenge. We are honored to make the full breadth of our expertise and our services available to the NNC and the greater numismatic community,” said Mark Salzberg, chairman of NGC.

David J. Camire, president of NCS, added “The focus that the museum has put on the long-term preservation of the NNC should be strongly commended. It’s a great privilege to commit our resources and energy to this important initiative.”

The holder is made of inert mold-injected resin and the label, identifying the coin in it, is printed on acid-free paper. Its overall size is roughly 60 mm wide by 85 mm tall. It can accommodate coins up to 45 mm in diameter and nearly 5 mm thick. Coins are placed in pre-molded cores that are semi-rigid which is then encapsulated in a clear outer shell. (more…)

Princeton collection is well-rounded

Wu and Latin Orient Collections at Princeton UniversityPRINCETON, N.J. – Alan Stahl has a lot of change on his hands – and not the kind you can cash in at any bank.
The curator of Princeton University’s numismatic collection is in charge of protecting and displaying tens of thousands of coins, tokens, medals and pieces of paper money.
“The funny thing is, I’ve never owned a personal coin collection,” said Stahl, 60.

The 150-year-old collection started as an assemblage of plaster casts of ancient Greek and Roman coins. Stahl estimates it now contains about 80,000 items.

New acquisitions in the past year have made the collection even more diverse: a donation of 2,000 ancient Chinese coins and the purchase of more than 800 medieval Greek coins, bought for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

About a dozen university students each spend a few hours a week cataloging the coins. So far, the collection’s online system has more than 3,000 coins listed, about 1,000 coins entered in each year.

“At this rate, we’ll be done in 50 years,” Stahl said. For the students, cataloging the coins is an education in itself.

Read Full Story By CHRIS NEWMARKER in The Nashua Telegraph

Sassanid coins book to be published

Sassanid Empire of Iran CoinsThe first issue of a book containing pictures of five thousand splendid coins belonging to Iran’s Sassanid period is soon to be published. More information will be posted as soon as we have a publication date and particulars.

Sassanid coins are decorated with original Persian patterns and minted in gold silver and copper. Golden Sassanid Drachma was used only in foreign trade, making them very rare today. Silver coins were used as the main currency and were circulated even in neighboring regions.

Iran’s national museum and the British museum are working together to compile a two-volume publication, focusing on pieces belonging to a period between the rein of Ardeshir I and Kavadh I.

The Sassanid era is considered to be one of the most important and influential historical periods in Iran, witnessing the highest achievements of Persian civilization. Many notable pieces of Pahlavi literature were written and Sassanid music reached its zenith. Many sports such as polo also emerged as pastimes for royalty in this period.

Acquisition of Greek coins enriches study of medieval history

Lesbos and Ainos, Dorino Gattilusio, gold ducat, 1400-1449. A recent acquisition by the University Library’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections of more than 800 coins from medieval Greece will help researchers deepen their knowledge about a period of Middle Age history that has been little understood by scholars.

The Sarmas Collection of coins from medieval Greece is available to researchers on campus and around the world through the University Numismatic Collection. The new coin collection, assembled by London-based businessman Theo Sarmas, comprises coins minted in the eastern Mediterranean in the 13th and 14th centuries following the fall of Constantinople by armies of the Fourth Crusade.

“This makes Princeton an unrivaled resource for the study of a coinage about which there are many unanswered questions,” said Alan Stahl, curator of the University Numismatic Collection. “Until now there has been no specialized collection of the coins of the Greek lands of the later Middle Ages available for study to the public.” Read Full Story

Graham Pollard: Expert on Italian Renaissance Medals

John Graham Pollard, numismatist, museum curator and civic campaigner died on 17 December 2007.

Graham Pollard was the leading authority on Italian Renaissance medals in the post-war period. He will be best remembered as the author of the multi-volume catalogues of two of the greatest collections in the world, those of the Bargello Museum in Florence and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. But as a curator of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge – whose coin and medal collection he did much to enhance – his influence was far wider, as he shared his knowledge and judgement with students, scholars, collectors and dealers. Read Full Obituary

America’s Greatest Sculptor — On Every Scale

Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s statue of General William Tecumseh Sherman, at Grand Army Plaza.The year that is about to close marks two noteworthy and related centennials. In 1907, America’s greatest sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, died. Also in that year, the federal government issued the gold coins — in $10 and $20 denominations — that it had commissioned Saint-Gaudens to design.

Most people know of Saint-Gaudens for his large-scale public works that ennoble certain lucky American cities, including and especially New York. But as a fine exhibition mounted by the American Numismatic Society at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York attests, the master sculptor was equally adept on a scale as small as a coin.

…By this point, the visitor may wonder why the American Numismatic Society would mount their show in one of the hardest-to-enter buildings in New York. Once I’d been cleared, I saw why. The groin-vaulted galleries of York & Sawyer’s splendid building, marked off by wrought-iron fences by Samuel Yellin, America’s greatest artist in iron, may well be the most exhilarating exhibition spaces in the entire city. Read Full Story

Complete Survey of Renaissance Medals Collections at the National Gallery of Art Now Available

Pisanello - Veronese, c. 1395 - 1455 Washington, DC — The most important public collection of Renaissance-era medals in the United States resides at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and is the focus of a new publication, Renaissance Medals.

The first comprehensive catalogue of this collection is available as a two-volume set covering 957 medals acquired through 2003. Of these, 163 are currently on view at the National Gallery of Art in the West Building ground floor sculpture galleries.

The catalogue, compiled over more than twenty years, offers the most detailed art historical and scientific assessment of the collection available to date, including technical information such as the alloy composition of each medal. Volume one features Italian medals, including dozens of masterworks by Pisanello, who essentially invented the medium of portrait medals. Volume two focuses on French, German, Netherlandish, and English medals, including works by Guillaume Dupré, Albrecht Dürer, and Jacques Jonghelinck, and continues through the Baroque and later periods. (more…)

Museum of American Finance Moving to Wall Street

Museum of American FinanceThe Museum of American Finance is currently preparing its new home in the former headquarters of the Bank of New York at 48 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. The Museum will occupy 30,000 sq. ft. of space in the building, including the majestic grand mezzanine banking hall, which will be utilized as exhibition space, and two additional floors featuring a state-of-the-art financial education center, auditorium, and research facility.

The Museum plans to open on Wall Street in January 2008 (with administrative offices moving in the fall of 2007). In conjunction with the announcement of the move, was an official name change from the “Museum of American Financial History” to the “Museum of American Finance.”

The Museum’s exhibitions will use the collections to tell the stories of American finance and by doing so help inspire people to take control of their own financial lives. The permanent collection contains more than 10,000 documents and artifacts and is constantly growing.

The Museum holds one of the largest collections of 18th century financial documents as well as many of the papers relating to the Supreme Court Case Gibbons – v – Ogden, the decision which established free competition for interstate commerce. The Museum collects stock and bond certificates from the Gilded Age, including companies such as U.S. Steel, Standard Oil, and the New York Central Railroad.

Collection highlights include the oldest known photograph of Wall Street, a U.S. Treasury Bond issued to George Washington with the first known use of the dollar sign, a 1791 letter from Alexander Hamilton to the Bank of New York urging the bank to continue purchasing Treasury Bonds from the first bond issue, a stock ticker from 1867, a ticker tape from the morning of October 29, 1929, and the archives and order books from the American Bank Note Company.

Proof 1930 Australian Penny Goes on Display

Photos used with permission and courtesy of CoinWorks

The 1930 Proof Australian copper penny, the world’s “most valuable” copper coin, will appear alongside a range of Australia’s rare coins at the Dollars & Dumps Exhibition display Tuesday November 27th- Friday November 30th at a historic ANZ bank branch in Collins Street in Melbourne, Australia.

One of just six of its kind, the Proof 1930 Penny, was created as a work of art not intended as currency, exhibition coordinator Belinda Downie said.

“The original intention of striking a proof coin was to go in government vaults to preserve for history,” said Ms Downie, managing director of Melbourne-based coin dealer Coinworks.

“A lot of the mints would send their proof coins overseas, almost like a showpiece … not advertising as such, but to brag……For decades, Australia’s Proof 1930 Penny has always been the world’s most expensive copper coin.”

The private owner of the coin to be exhibited has been approached to sell, but declined, Ms Downie said. All six Proof 1930 Pennies that were created are worth between $1 million and $1.2 million.

One is held by the British Museum, a second by the Museum of Victoria, and a third by the Art Gallery of South Australia, according to the Coinworks website. The others are held by private collectors. (more…)

Princeton University Exhibit on “Numismatics in the Renaissance”

Ancient Roman CoinsA major exhibit on “Numismatics in the Renaissance” will be on view in the main exhibit gallery of the Firestone Library of Princeton University from November 9, 2007, through July 20, 2008. The exhibit will include rare fifteenth and sixteenth century books from the Princeton collection that discuss and illustrate ancient coins and a display of some of the treasures of the University’s numismatic collection, featuring gold, silver and bronze coins of Greece and Rome as well as coins and medals of the Renaissance that were inspired by them. The exhibit will also include manuscripts and prints and drawings from Princeton University collections and a print of Pirro Ligorio’s monumental map of ancient Rome, made in 1561.1561 map of Rome by Pirro Ligorio

While ancient coins were found throughout the Mediterranean region in the millennium following the end of the Roman Empire, it was only in Renaissance Europe that they began to be systematically studied and were reproduced in the earliest printed books to carry engraved illustrations. The Princeton collection is particularly rich in these impressive examples of early printing, ranging from the 1517 edition of Andrea Fulvio’s Images of the Illustrious with its highly decorated settings of each coin image, through Hubert Goltzius’s large-scale chiaroscuro reproductions of imperial portraits of the 1550s, to Antonio Augustín’s systematic classification of ancient coinage and guidelines for detecting counterfeits from the end of the sixteenth century. (more…)

ANA, Contursi Amicably End Museums Project Pledge

Steve Contursi - Rare Coin Wholesalers(Colorado Springs, Colorado) – The American Numismatic Association (ANA) and Steven L. Contursi, President of Rare Coin Wholesalers of Dana Point, California, have reached a cordial agreement to withdraw from the earlier announced $1 million funding for three ANA museum projects. The termination of Contursi’s financial pledge follows decisions by the ANA Board to cancel or delay the projects for which the funding was earmarked.

“Based on the ANA’s inability to commit $40 million right now for these museums, we have reached an amicable, mutual agreement to cancel any arrangements made by the ANA and Steve Contursi in conjunction with these projects. We sincerely appreciate Steve’s commitments to the ANA,” said Barry Stuppler, ANA President.

“I believe in the ANA and its education mission. Perhaps there will be another major ANA project in the future that deserves the strong support of contributors, including me,” said Contursi. (more…)

ANA Cancels Washington, D.C. Museum Plans

(Colorado Springs, Colorado) — The American Numismatic Association has halted plans for a previously proposed museum in Washington, D.C.

“At this point in time we can’t make the financial commitment to raise over $20 million that would be needed for the Washington project. When the association’s finances allow us to do so, we may revisit this proposal in the future,” explained Barry Stuppler, ANA President.

In a vote conducted by telephone on October 2, the ANA Board unanimously approved, 9-0, a motion by Vice President Patricia Jagger Finner and seconded by Governor Joseph E. Boling “to cancel plans to open a museum in Washington, D.C.” A colloquy to the motion stated: “Further evaluation and feasibility studies will be engaged regarding San Francisco and Colorado Springs.” (more…)

Rare coins donated to Astan-e Qods Museum

TEHRAN — A rare collection of coins has recently been donated to the Astan-e Qods Razavi Museum in Mashhad by collector Jafar Asadi.

The collection contains over 200 silver and copper coins belonging to various epochs including the Safavid, Afsharid, Qajar, Pahlavi eras and also some contemporary coins, said the head of the museum.

Mohammad-Baqer Kafshdar-Tusi noted that the coins, minted in the cities of Tabriz, Urmia, Yazd, Isfahan, and Tehran, narrate the evolution of coinage in Iran through the ages.

“The oldest item in the collection is a silver coin minted in Tabriz during the dynasty of Shah Abbas Safavi. On one side it bears the name of the twelve Imams and the other side is inscribed with a piece of poetry,” he added. (more…)