Society Meetings

Meetings take place at 6-7.30pm on the third Tuesday of each month at The Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London WCIH 0AB, except: Tuesday 20th December 2016 and on Tuesday 20th June 2017 at Spink & Son Ltd., 69 Southampton Row, London WC1B 4ET.

President A. Burnett giving a lecture at Spink's during the RNS AGM in June 2014

President A. Burnett giving a lecture at Spink’s during the RNS A.G.M. in June 2014


Programme of lectures 2016-2017

18 Oct Thomas J. Derrick and Matthew Ball


Michael Economou

Coin stamping on Roman glass perfume bottles: imperial largesse, taxation, or maker’s marks?


The Coinage of the First Jewish Revolt: Context and Meaning

15 Nov Simon Glenn Coins and Power in Hellenistic Bactria: the ‘pedigree’ issues of Agathocles and Antimachus I
20 Dec Pere Pau Ripollès The Iberian coinages, 6th – 1st century BC
– Presentation of the RNS Medal –
17 Jan Lyce Jankowski Era names and power regalia on Song coinage, China
21 Feb Christopher Eimer Mehmed II and Constantinople: An Early Portrait of the Ottoman Prince
21 Mar Henry Flynn Mapping the nation’s collections: the Money and Medals Network
18 Apr Sabrina Ben Aouicha The Notgeld collection at the British Museum
16 May Klaus Vondrovec Deformed Skulls and Buffalo Crowns – The Coinage of the Iranian Huns and their Successors
20 Jun Andrew Burnett Coinage in Rome and the Roman provinces IV. The High Empire
– AGM & Summer Party –

Tuesday 18 October 2016 (Two Student Lectures; Warburg Institute, 6pm)

(1) Thomas J. Derrick and Matthew Ball: Coin stamping on Roman glass perfume bottles: imperial largesse, taxation, or maker’s marks?

Abstract: This paper discusses the phenomenon of stamping small glass flasks with coin impressions in the Roman world. This behaviour has been linked to, broadly speaking, three motivations in the ancient world: (a) The granting of perfumes/make-up/medicines as largesse at state events, chiefly the triumph. (b) A system of taxation in which certain perfumes (often considered Judean balsam) pass under direct imperial control (and thus bottling). (c) A (non-imperial) desire to pick something recognisable as a maker’s mark.

A detailed analysis of the issues chosen for the base of these vessels is vital for placing them within their specific socio-political milieux. By combining this detailed numismatic work with a broader analysis of the potential find spots of these vessels, an assessment of the perfume and glassblowing industries in those regions, and a wider consideration of respective socio-political events in each case, we will be able to assess each of these motivations in turn. Through such an interdisciplinary approach it is hoped that we may well have a greater understanding not only of the motivations behind the manufacture of these vessels, but also a more nuanced impression of how these interrelated economic, social, and political processes functioned in antiquity.

Thomas J. Derrick, PhD student, University of Leicester, and Matthew Ball, Museum Development North West

(2) Michael Economou: The Coinage of the First Jewish Revolt: Context and Meaning

 Abstract: In recent years there has been a movement towards reintegrating coins with their archaeological and art historical context. As a result, new questions are now being asked of coins, leading to meaningful and original insights. The purpose of this study is to apply this method to the coinage of the First Jewish Revolt. Various layers of context will be considered from local numismatic and artistic trends down to deposition. This will involve examining a wide range of evidence, including several generations of Jewish coins (from the Hasmonean era down to Roman Procurator coins), inscriptions, wall paintings and excavation reports. It will be argued that this approach can fill some of the gaps left by traditional studies, which have generally focused on questions of religious symbolism and ‘ideology’. There will also be a call for change in emphasis in how we consider these coins. Broadly, it will be argued that we should move away from attempts to pin a messianic or nationalistic ideology to the coins, and towards a focus on how they are used to project traditional authority in terms which were specific Iudaea. The conclusions reached will then be applied to wider debates about the Revolt and its historiography.

Michael Economou, PhD student, University of Cambridge

Tuesday 15 November 2016 (Warburg Institute, 6pm)

Simon Glenn: Coins and Power in Hellenistic Bactria: the ‘pedigree’ issues of Agathocles and Antimachus I

Abstract: The history of Hellenistic Bactria, an area roughly consisting of modern-day Afghanistan, is particularly obscure and its reconstruction contentious. Very little evidence survives from literary sources and inscription; the best primary source is the large quantity of coins issued under the “Greek” kings who ruled the area from the third to the first century BC. One of the ways to make the most of the numismatic evidence is through die studies, an approach that has rarely been taken with Graeco-Bactrian coins. This paper will present the results of a completed die study of the coinages of Agathocles and Antimachus I with a particularly focus on the unique series of ‘pedigree’ coins issued under these two kings. Quantification of the coinages as well as die groups and links provide a valuable insight into the production of the coinage and allow attempts at understanding why these issues were struck as well as the historical background and the possible reasons for their minting.

Simon Glenn, Research Fellow, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford


Tuesday 20 December 2016 (Spink & Son Ltd: Presentation of Medal, 6pm)

Pere Pau Ripollès: The Iberian coinages, 6th-1st century BC

Abstract: During the 6th-1st century, the Iberian Peninsula was a territory inhabited by a remarkable variety of cultures with very different levels of social, political and economic development. The first coinages were minted by Greek colonies: Emporion and Rhode, since the 6th century BC. The introduction of the coinage between the Iberians was a delayed, slow and territorially unequal process. The monetisation of the Iberian Peninsula began with the development of the Second Punic War. After the war, the Roman dominion had important repercussions in the life of the natives of the Iberian Peninsula, because it generated a slow and complex process of assimilation and sociocultural exchanges. The Romans integrated the native productive economies with those of the Roman state, and contributed to the increase of coin use. The monetisation of the Iberian Peninsula took place largely from within, from the issues minted by more than 200 populations.

Pere Pau Ripollès, Professor of Archaeology, Universitat de València


Tuesday 17 January 2017 (Warburg Institute, 6pm)

Lyce Jankowski: Era Names and Power Regalia on Song coinage, China

Abstract: Inscriptions on coins are often chosen by rulers to broadcast a political statement. China in no exception. Coins produced during the two Song dynasties usually bear the nianhao or era name. However, on some occasions, the emperors preferred to adopt a guohao or dynastic name on their coinage. Should this be understood as a political or linguistic choice? One may also notice that not all the nianhao were illustrated on coins. The dynasty stands out by the large number of nianhao chosen by the different emperors. The nine emperors of the Northern Song had 35 different nianhao (28 of them were used on coins), while those nine of the Southern Song dynasty used 21 nianhao, (17 of them are on coins). This paper explores the absence of certain of these nianhao by referring to historical, linguistic or political elements and will address the political message involved in the choice of an inscription on coinage.

Lyce Jankowski, Research Fellow, Worcester College/Ashmolean Museum, Oxford


Tuesday 21 February 2017 (Warburg Institute, 6pm)

Christopher Eimer: Mehmed II and Constantinople: An Early Portrait of the Ottoman Prince

Abstract: Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, has been a much studied figure. Born in 1432, visual evidence of the sultan has been preserved by a small group of medallic portraits, and perhaps most famously survives on a restored oil by Gentile Bellini. Though these portraits date from the latter part of Mehmed’s life, and are far removed from our idea of the ‘young Turk’ at the height of his physical powers in the early 1450s, they have constituted our only source material. The recent discovery of a far earlier portrait of Mehmed II has provided an entirely fresh perspective from which to consider the man; casting, as it does, fresh light on a period where no other iconographic material, and very little manuscript evidence, has survived.

Christopher Eimer’s interest in medals and medallic art goes back more than forty years

Tuesday 21 March 2017 (Warburg Institute, 6pm)

Henry Flynn: Mapping the Nation’s Collections: the Money and Medals Network

Abstract: The Money and Medals Network is an Arts Council England co-funded project that exists to build and develop relationships between UK museums with coin, medals and banknote collections. Its purpose is to provide support to people working with publicly accessible numismatic collections in a climate of declining specialist expertise.

Henry Flynn is the Project Curator for the Network and he is responsible for two of its core aspects. The first is a collections mapping project which involves the gathering of information about numismatic holdings in public institutions, conducting site visits to view objects in storage and on display, making face to face contact with staff responsible for the collection, and developing a national database on the Money and Medals website. The second is the provision of training for people working with numismatic collections in local museums and the establishment of regional sub-networks to aid the sharing of knowledge and expertise.

The work of the Network has extended beyond England into Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with new ground being covered all the time. Henry Flynn will be speaking about the development of the project in more detail, some notable case studies and future plans.

Henry Flynn, Project Curator for the Money and Medals Network, The British Museum 


Tuesday 18 April 2017 (Warburg Institute, 6pm)

Sabrina Ben Aouicha:The Notgeld Collection at the British Museum

Abstract: In 2015 the British Museum was awarded the Friedrich-Gundolf-Prize for further the understanding of German culture abroad for its exhibition German: memories of a nation. The Museum decided to put the prize money forward to a project to catalogue and properly conserve its collection of Notgeld, primarily German emergency money, dating 1914-1923. This paper will discuss the rationale behind the project, its aims, and the British Museum’s collection in general. As there is a lack in English publications about Notgeld this project has multiple outcomes, not least that the entire German Notgeld collection will be catalogued and imaged on the website and made accessible to the research community it will also open up areas for future research.

Sabrina Ben Aouicha, MA, The British Museum


Tuesday 16 May 2017 (Warburg Institute, 6pm)

Klaus Vondrovec: Deformed Skulls and Buffalo Crowns – The Coinage of the Iranian Huns and their Successors

Abstract: The Huns in Europe have made a reputation that lives on until the present day. But while they faded from the scene in the mid-fifth century AD their distant relatives that entered the ‘Iranian world’ adopted not only urban living but also the production of money. The total lack of a historiography of their own and the explicitly bad reputation that was awarded to them by foreign writers make their coinage – issued according to their own specifications – the most important primary source in reconstructing the history of the Iranian Huns. From their coins we learn that there was not only one monolithic Hunnic empire, but several succeeding or overlapping realms on the territory of modern Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India. The coins of the various Hunnic states use Middle Persian, Bactrian and Indian scripts, and many issues are bilingual. The coinage of the Alkhan Huns, for example, prominently feature their own token of royalty – the artificially deformed skull.

Klaus Vondrovec, Curator, Münzkabinett, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna


Tuesday 20 June 2017 (Spink & Son Ltd: President’s Address, AGM, 6pm, followed by the Summer Party)

Andrew Burnett: Coinage in Rome and the Roman provinces IV. The High Empire

Abstract: The fourth instalment of this account of the Roman Provincial Coinage picks up the story from the mid-first century AD, and looks at the changes that came over the coinages in the later first and second centuries AD. Both the physical nature of the coinage and its typology – both inscriptions and images – underwent a series of changes as the coinage more and more lost its ‘Greek’ character, and became more ‘Roman’. The system of organisation seems to have changed, and the coinage did not stabilise at some new standard, but regional patterns become increasingly visible.

Andrew Burnett, President of the Royal Numismatic Society