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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.

Numismatic Job Opportunity

The Royal Numismatic Society has been made aware of a job opportunity as Senior Curator (Numismatics and the Welsh Economy) at St Fagans and National Museum Cardiff. Details can be found below.

Senior Curator: Numismatics and the Welsh Economy
St Fagans and National Museum Cardiff 
Uwch Guradur: Niwmismateg ac Economi Cymru
Sain Ffagan ac Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd 
Permanent Contract
35 hours per week
Grade E £26,095.18 – £32,089.12
The ability to speak Welsh is desirable for this post.
Contract Parhaol
35 awr yr wythnos
Gradd E £26,095.18 – £32,089.12
Mae’r gallu i siarad Cymraeg yn dymunol am y swydd hon.
Closing date: January 2019 (by 5.00 pm) For more information and to complete an application form go to www.museumwales.ac.uk/jobs Dyddiad cau: Ionawr 2019 (erbyn 5pm)   Am fwy o wybodaeth ac i lenwi ffurflen cais ewch i www.amgueddfacymru.ac.uk/swyddi

Happy New Year and Society Lecture, 19th January

Welcome back to 2019 from the RNS. The first meeting of the new year was held on 19th January when Julian Bowsher and Robert Kenyon presented on ‘Roman London’s first coins’.

Abstract: Archaeological activity in London produces more Roman coins than any other type of coin. A number of large-scale excavations by Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) over the last 20 years, in particular at the Bloomberg site, have provided a rich potential resource for research.

This talk concentrates on the coins in use during the first twenty-five years of Roman annexation and rule of Britain. In a number of excavations, certain types appear again and again in early archaeological contexts almost becoming – in modern parlance -‘signature collections’. This is, of course, matched at other sites in southern Britain associated with the initial invasion which suggests that, apart from official funds, the first coins came in soldier’s purses. The absence of any British Iron Age presence in central London confirms that the large number of pre-Claudian Roman coins was associated with post-invasion deposition rather than pre-conquest exchange.

A typical assemblage includes Republican denarii and coins of the first three emperors – plated copies and aes – whose circulation can be gauged from their presence in early archaeological strata. However, bronze coins of Claudius I (AD 41-54) are the most commonly found coins in those early archaeological contexts and it is the production, supply and use of those coins that will be a major focus of our talk.

Excavation of the 453 bronze coins of Claudius I found at Bloomberg and adjacent sites in London provided an opportunity to reconsider the classification of those coins previously described as “Claudian copies” in light of the important work by Paul-André Besombes and Jean-Noël Barrandon published at the turn of this century. In that work Besombes and Barrandon, employing stylistic, metrological and chemical analyses,concluded that the majority of Claudian copies found in Gaul were in fact products of secondary imperial mints operating in the western provinces of Gaul and the Iberian Peninsula. The results of Besombes’s analyses of the 8,666 Claudian copies found in the river-bed deposit at Saint-Léonard allowed him to reclassify almost seventy percent of those bronze coins as orthodox coins, the majority of a provincial style, with the remainder being the products of illicit mints. However, the results of our analyses of this sample of Claudian aesfrom London suggest a very different picture of coin-supply to Britain in the early period of its annexation as a Roman imperial province.

The production and issue of irregular Claudian coinage continued after the emperor’s death in AD 54, but it would be a further ten years before the resumption of minting aes occurred under Nero. The production of good weight and quality aes in cAD 64 was to sound the eventual death knell for the prolific irregular Claudian pieces in Roman London where many are found in Flavian deposits.