Society Lecture, 21st May: Tracing loot: the fate of European coins in Viking hands in the ninth century

On Tuesday 21st May at 6pm Dr Jane Kershaw, Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford, will present a lecture to the Society at the Warburg Institute.

Abstract:Written sources indicate that huge numbers of coins were seized by Vikings during their raids on the Continent during the ninth century. Yet remarkably few Carolingian coins survive within the Scandinavian homelands. Do the written sources exaggerate the amount of wealth seized, or did the Vikings take this wealth with them to their new Western settlements, melting down coinage into ingots and rings? In this talk, I discuss recent results of archaeometric analysis which allows us the trace the fate of Carolingian coins for the first time.

Society Lecture, 16th April: “So rare, so barbarous, so little known”: Revisiting the coinage of Crusader Edessa

On Tuesday 16th April at 6pm Dr Richard Kelleher of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, will present a lecture to the Society at the Warburg Institute.

Abstract: The County of Edessa is probably the least known of the four mainland Crusader states established in the wake of the First Crusade (1095-1099). It was the first state to be established and the first to be annihilated in 1144. Despite its short existence copper coins, showing Byzantine, Islamic and Norman influence were struck at Edessa under its four counts and their regents.

It has been more than 40 years since John Porteous published his seminal article on the crusader coins of Edessa in the Numismatic Chronicle. This work outlined the chronological arrangement of the heavy types of follis attributed to Edessa through studying the complex, and occasionally baffling, sequence of overstrikes seen on many coins. Porteous gave us the relative sequence in use today and updated the arrangement devised, more than a century ago, by the eminent French numismatist and scholar Gustave Schlumberger in his classic Numismatique de l’Orient Latin.

Since the publication of Porteous’s work there has been four decades of new coins coming through the trade. Bringing together material from museum collections in Europe and America and from auctions and sales, this paper will evaluate the full sequence of heavy and light Edessene folles and offer some opinions on the chronology and identity of some of the more enigmatic pieces, which have hitherto been known from just one or two specimens.

Lord Stewartby – The Numismatic Legacy

Friday 28 June 2019, 09.30-17.15, at the British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace LondonE

Lord Stewartby (1935-2018) was among the leading figures in British numismatic scholarship in the second half of the twentieth century. He published over two hundred papers and was a major contributor both to the development of what became the Medieval European Coinage publication project at Cambridge and other widely regarded publications. His interests ranged across the Romano-British coinage of the London mint, Anglo-Saxon and Viking coinage, mediaeval English coinage as well as Scottish coinage, the latter being a field in which he was pre-eminent both as a collector and as a scholar.

This all day Symposium on 28 June at the British Academy comprises a series of papers by leading figures who place the use of numismatic evidence at the forefront of historical and archaeological interpretation. Structured around topics with which Lord Stewartby was deeply engaged with it will explore recent work which build on his contributions to Numismatic scholarship.    

The day will consist of four sessions, each themed:

  • Britain c.300-400 AD. Coinage and Continental Connections
  • Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Viking England, c.800-1100. Money, Mints and Monarchs
  • The British Isles.c.100-1150. Coinage, Management and Circulation
  • Scottish Coinage, c.1140-1707. Interpretation and resources

The event programme can be downloaded here.

Booking is required for all wishing to attend

Fees: £25 per person. Students in Full time Education – FREE

TO BOOK YOUR PLACE please visit the BNS website’s ticketing portal here.

Society Lecture, 19th March: Augustus and Nero: two emperors who tried to reform the coinage

Owing to unavoidable circumstances, the scheduled lecture has been changed, and will now be given by Andrew Burnett, former President of the RNS on ‘Augustus and Nero: two emperors who tried to reform the coinage’.

Please not that this will take place at the Swedenborg House, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way, London, WC1A 2TH.

Abstract: It is fashionable to think that the Roman emperors, unless they were motivated by some short-term reason of profit, did not care very much about the state of the currency in the empire. But it seems that both Augustus and Nero did so and they both made attempts, across the empire, to introduce changes. Some of the coinage reforms by both Augustus and Nero have been considered before, but usually only from the limited perspective of the mint of Rome, and an examination of the empire as a whole reveals a much broader scope. The changes they introduced were experimental, and not altogether successful, and the reforms introduced by Nero (‘a good administrator’) emerge, strangely, as more effective than the attempts made by Augustus.

Society Lecture, 19th February: early career lectures

On Tuesday 19th February, two early-career numismatists, David Swan and Johannes Hartmann, will present on their current research. The papers will be presented at the Warburg Institute, on the following topics:

David Swan, The Silver Corridor: The Impact of Caesar’s Invasion and its aftermath in North-West Gaul, seen through coin hoards.

Julius Caesar’s invasion and later Roman Imperialism had a major impact on the politics, economies and societies of Gaul and, due to the close relationship maintained through cross-Channel trade and communications, Britain too. This paper explores these cross-channel relationships, and the impact of Roman intervention up to AD 43 upon them. This is accomplished through the use of coin hoard evidence, to map geographical and chronological differences in the composition of metals within them.

Debased silver coinage was hoarded extensively not only in eastern Brittany, but also directly opposite in what is now Dorset. I have termed this phenomenon the “Silver Corridor”, owing to its strong regional tendency towards the metal in coin hoards as opposed to the more gold-rich hoarding regions either side of it. It is suggested that the aftermath of Caesar’s invasion led to this pattern, as north-west Gaul struggled to recover from Caesar’s assault and the trading situation suffered as a result. The changes brought by Caesar’s invasion can be demonstrated from a long-term perspective, as the hoarding patterns of north-west Gaul and south-west Britain preceding and following the hoards of the Silver Corridor are examined. This includes the limited hoarding of the early first century BC, the larger-scale hoarding marking the tumultuous period after the war, and the rapid decline in indigenous coins and hoards from the time of Augustus onwards.

While there is great variety in the archaeological record amongst the Channel-bordering communities, coin hoards appear throughout almost all Channel-bordering regions, and act as a fixed variable to study connectivity and divergence amongst these communities. Roman texts and the limited number of surviving objects that had crossed the Channel have previously been favoured for such examinations, so using a dataset as large as coinage provides a new understanding of Channel-bordering regional connectivity. Additionally, within Iron Age numismatics, few studies have compared regional hoarding patterns from both Gaul and Britain simultaneously, and this paper and the wider study of the PhD Thesis addresses this.

Johannes Hartmann, The Nation in an Album: Collecting the German Notgeld, 1914-1923

In the time from 1914 to 1923, the German Reichsbank periodically allowed municipalities, cities, and occasionally event businesses to issue their own money – the so-called ‘Notgeld’ (emergency money), in order to combat cash shortages. These ‘Notgeld’ banknotes became a wide-spread form of currency until the introduction of the Rentenmark in 1923. The designs of the notes became increasingly elaborate and they gained enormous popularity among collectors. 

In my presentation I will focus on these Notgeld collectors of the early 1920s. By that time, Notgeld collecting had already become a wide-spread hobby. As I will show, the demand by collectors had a significant impact on the increasing issuance of Notgeld, and towns and municipalities made a considerable profit by designing evermore aesthetic and elaborate Notgeld to sell to collectors. The divide between Notgeld as currency and as collectors’ items became increasingly blurred, a fact that makes the classification of Notgeld often difficult for historians and numismatists today.

To explain the ‘Notgeld craze’ of these years I will take a closer look at the Notgeld images and their ‘themes’, to find out why they appealed to so many Germans in the post-war years. Combined with an analysis of collectors’ journals and periodicals of the time, I will attempt to determine who the Notgeld collectors were, and why this gained such rapid popularity in the early 1920s.