The Ancient Coin Collection of Wheaton College

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Ancient Greek and Roman Coins in the Collections of Wheaton College in Massachusetts

Wheaton College Collection of Greek and Roman Coins
J. David Bishop and R. Ross Holloway
New York: American Numismatic Society, 1981

Many colleges and universities in the United States have a few ancient Greek or Roman coins hidden away in the storage rooms of their art museums or libraries, unknown to all save the curator or librarian who has nominal charge of them. This is a shame, because in their details these tiny gems of ancient art exhibit just as much grace and artistic skill as any black-figure vase or marble statue. Students of Classical numismatics must therefore regard Wheaton College in Massachusetts as doubly fortunate, not only in having a substantial collection of 450 ancient coins, but also in having had its collection so appreciated that it has been attractively published and made available for vicarious study by those not able to view the specimens in person.

The Wheaton College collection was established in 1931. Thirty-nine specimens were received from the American Numismatic Society in the 1930s and 1940s, and twenty specimens were the gift of Professor Eunice Work in the 1950s, but the great majority were received in a 1967 bequest to the college from the estate of Adra Marshall Newell, wife of the noted American numismatist Edward T. Newell. Representation is quite broad, as befits an educational collection, and is about equally divided between Greek and Roman examples. A great many famous types from a range of city-states are included in the Greek series: Arethusa and her dolphins from Syracuse, the beautiful ear of grain from Metapontum, the winged Pegasus of Corinth, the dove of Sicyon, the eagle of Olympia, the Artemesian stag of Ephesus, and the rose of Rhodes, not to mention 21 old-style and four new-style Athenian owls, 51 Alexanders from a variety of mints, and seven turtles of Aegina, the world’s first great trade coinage. The Roman specimens include a wide range of both Republican and Imperial strikings, including aurei of Nero, Hadrian, Sabina, Antoninus Pius, Faustina I, Commodus, Caracalla, Diocletian, Constantius I, and Maximinus II.

The format of the volume is that of the well-known Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum series, and it provides, for each specimen, a very brief description including weight and die orientation, some details of attribution or a citation to an authoritative reference, and a life-size photographic reproduction of the obverse and reverse. The photographs, by Michael Di Biase, are gathered in 32 plates and are of high quality, even though—as is standard for volumes like this—many of the individual images are very small and are best studied under magnification.

Wheaton College Collection of Greek and Roman Coins is a scholarly work that will appeal to serious collectors of Greek and Roman coins and to academic specialists in Classical numismatics. The volume is number three in the American Numismatic Society series Ancient Coins in North American Collections (ISSN 02714019 · ISBN 0897221907).

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