Thursday 10 January 2019

Vermont College Acquires Ancient Coins

Middlebury College Middlebury, Vermont has a collection of 'choice works of art that range in date from the fourth millennium B.C.E. to the third century C.E'. - a comprehensive set of Mesopotamian seals, an Assyrian alabaster palace relief, sunken-relief hieroglyphics from an Egyptian tomb, a late Egyptian mummy case, a marble Cycladic figurine, a fine Greek pottery collection, and Roman bronze and marble sculptures (look at the dates of accession here). Now they have 1000 loose ancient coins (Vast Collection of Ancient Coins Is Gifted to the Museum of Art', January 8, 2019):
A coin collector from Lewiston, Maine, with no prior connection to Middlebury, has donated more than 1,000 ancient coins to the Middlebury College Museum of Art. Gary Guimond, who started collecting ancient coins in the 1950s, was looking for an educational institution where his gold, silver, bronze, and electrum coins would be preserved, appreciated, and studied as primary sources of history. 
The college's concept of 'primary source of history' seems to be that these loose objects illustrate book-history, for if they have lost their provenance, they are just now loose old stamped metal discs. It's a real mishmash too:
There are a good number of beautiful and interesting coins from ancient Greece, ancient Rome, the early and middle Byzantine eras, Parthia, and even the Gallic Empire,” said Professor Pieter Broucke, the associate curator of ancient art. The collection is particularly strong in coinage from the Roman Empire, he said, with pieces displaying Augustus, Tiberius, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Septimus Severus, and the empresses Faustina the Elder and Julia Domna. The collection includes a bronze Ptolemy II coin, a Republican silver coin, a number of Justinian coins, and a fourrée coin of Caracalla from the third century CE. The collection also contains several Byzantine cup-shaped bronze coins and some medieval French and Eastern European coins, as well as a cluster of lead tokens and pewter objects that served as currency in Renaissance England. (sic) [...] The Middlebury Museum is in the early stages of determining how the coins will be used,
How many of them have any decent provenances and legitimising collecting histories?  How many can actually be documented as removed from the archaeological record legally and not having been  smuggled out of the source countries?

Vignette: If you want to know what people thought the emperor looked like,

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