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Joint BNS/RNS Summer Conference, July 10th 2021

Currency Systems: Reforms, Renewals and Failures

Fifty years after the United Kingdom implemented the move to decimalisation, the BNS and RNS are holding an all-day joint meeting which will focus on the reform and renewal of currency systems at different times and in different places.  The conference, titled Currency Systems: Reforms, Renewals and Failures will take place on Saturday 10 July 2021, starting at 9.30 am and closing around 4.45 pm, in the Headley Lecture Theatre at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

The day will comprise a series of papers by leading scholars that will explore why changes were undertaken, what worked and what did not. It will look at the experience of currency reforms and renewal in the Ancient world, Europe and Britain c.500 – c.1650 and in the modern world after 1770. In so doing the Conference will seek to identify some common factors behind the success or failure of coinage system reform and renewal.

As a consequence of the restrictions arising from the pandemic the event will offer the option to attend in person or online (via Zoom). In person attendance will provide a welcome chance to meet up again face to face after the lockdown but places will be limited depending on the prevailing restrictions at any one time. It is expected that an easing of restrictions by July will allow more places to be available for in person attendance. Any availability of additional in-person places will be advised when available. On-line participation opens this event up to anyone interested in this subject wherever they may be.


This Conference will comprise a series of papers by leading scholars working on monetary history ranging from the Roman world, through the medieval period into modern times, and geographically, from the Mediterranean to Britain and the United States.

The day will be structured around four sessions each with two papers covering:

The Ancient World – Interpretation and Implementation

  • Interpreting the coinage reforms of Nero. Professor Kevin Butcher, The University of Warwick
  • Reforming currencies in the Roman imperial provinces: strategies and failures. Dr Dario Calomino, The University of Warwick

Europe. c.500 – c.1650 – Replacement and Revolution

  • The coinage reform of ‘abd al-Malik – why was it so successful? Marcus Phillips
  • The 13th-century Gold Revolution and the advent of the late-Medieval Gold Standard in Europe.
    Dr William Day, Medieval European Coinage Project, Fitzwilliam Museum, The University of Cambridge

Britain c.500 – c.1650 – Reform and Renewal

  • Late Anglo-Saxon England – Reform and Renovatio.  Dr Rory Naismith, Corpus Christi College, The University of Cambridge
  • Reform and Recovery: the Tudor Great Debasement.  Dr Murray Andrews, The University of Worcester

The Modern World – Transformation and Change

  • Transformation of the American Monetary System in the last years of the American Revolution.  Dr Andrew Edwards, Brasenose College, The University of Oxford
  • UK Decimalisation: Commonwealth and European Influences. Dr Andrew Cook


Attend in person at the Ashmolean, Oxford (£30/ticket), or attend online via Zoom (£10/ticket). Bona-fide students may attend online free of charge.

Initially 20 tickets for in-person attendance will be available, but if Covid restrictions ease up as expected then further tickets will be released. These will first be offered to persons who have booked to attend via Zoom (£20/upgrade ticket). Total Zoom attendees are limited to 100 persons.


RNS early career lectures: call for papers!

The Royal Numismatic Society is looking for two students or early career professionals, or people who have recently begun working with numismatics, to give a lecture to RNS members in 2022.

If you are currently studying an aspect of numismatics at university or in the museums and heritage sector, involved in a numismatic research project, or if you are working on any cataloguing, display or public engagement projects featuring museum numismatic collections, and are interested in promoting this work to a wider audience then we would like to hear from you.

The Society is taking submissions for lectures now, so if you are interested please send a short proposal for consideration to this email address:

Your proposal should include:

•         Your name

•         Your job title and institutional affiliation (optional)

•         Your contact details

•         A title

•         A short abstract (up to 250 words)

•         A short personal biography (up to 100 words)

Please circulate this information to anyone who you think might be interested in this opportunity.

We welcome submissions from all over the world and can assist with travel costs, up to a limit of £250.

Deadline for submissions is Friday 21st May 2021

RNS/BNS Library – Announcement on reopening

In line with the Warburg Institute’s Coronavirus policies and procedures, the library will be open on Tuesdays between 11:00 and 15:30 only.

Beside the duty librarian, only one visitor can attend the RNS/BNS library on each Tuesday. Visitors must request an appointment to visit the RNS/BNS Library at least 1 week in advance by emailing the librarian at

Please wait until your request has been confirmed by the Librarian before making any travel arrangements. The Warburg will not admit anyone without an appointment into the building

It is momentous that the RNS/BNS Library is able to reopen, allowing members to again access this important resource. Hopefully we will be able to return to our normal access and hours before long; once COVID procedures allow.

Announcing the publication of an important new work

Coinage in the Orontes Valley of Syria (1st century BC – 3rd century AD), by Jack Nurpetlian

Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication no. 59

This book is a comprehensive study of the coins minted by Apamea, Larissa, Raphanea, Emesa and Laodicea ad Libanum in Syria during the late Hellenistic and Roman periods. It offers a historical overview of the individual cities, followed by in-depth discussions of the production, circulation, metrology and iconography of the coins. The text is supplemented with numerous die studies providing a structural framework of the various issues. A catalogue of 1,367 coins is also provided. Detailed discussions of the coinages and comparisons with contemporaneous issues of neighbouring mints reveal the diverse nature of the coins. The volume bridges the gaps in our understanding of coinage in the Orontes Valley and surrounding regions.
Jack Nurpetlian is a faculty member in the Department of History and Archaeology at the American University of Beirut. His research interests focus on Hellenistic and Roman period coinages of the Syro-Phoenician territories, in addition to investigating coin production and minting techniques with the use of die studies. The author has participated in numerous excavations on the eastern Mediterranean coast and is actively engaged in several multi-national numismatic projects.

Price: £45 (Fellows of the Royal Numismatic Society £30). To order: visit the Spink online store.

Hardback pp. xx + 199, 5 plates. ISBN 0-901405-38-8

RNS Hardship Grants: applications now open

The Society is offering small hardship grants to those who have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Anyone based in the UK whose work or study involves a significant amount of numismatic study is eligible to apply.

Ten grants of up to £500, to be used for academic or professional purposes, or living expenses, will be made to those who:

a) have held a temporary post in a UK Higher Education Institute, or in the heritage sector, in the last 12 months and whose employment has come to an end during 2020;

b) self-funded post graduate researchers (MA/MPhil/MSt/PhD students), especially those in their third or fourth year;

c) PhD students whose work in their final year was affected by Covid and whose funding has now come to an end

Applicants should email Andrew Burnett ( with the following details: a brief account of the personal circumstances necessitating the grant, the purpose for which the money is to be used, and the precise sum needed (not more than 300 words in total). They should also include the name of their previous line manager or thesis supervisor as appropriate and ask them to email the same address separately to confirm their personal circumstances in broad terms.

Applicants are responsible for contacting their referee and the reference should arrive before the closing date of 15 January 2021.