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President’s Review of the Year, 2019-20

Roger Bland

For the first half of the Society’s year, our business was able to proceed pretty much as usual. Down to February we were able to have our regular ordinary and council meetings and then, in March, the Coronavirus crisis changed everything. We have been unable to have meetings in March, April and May, nor can we hold our AGM in June, but we will be experimenting by having the Presidential address online via Zoom. If that is successful it seems probable we will be holding meetings via Zoom for this autumn at least. We have held our April and June Council meetings on Zoom. 

The RNS, like the rest of society, has had to adapt to completely new ways of working at short notice. I’m confident that we can continue to carry out many of our core activities in these very difficult circumstances, even while some things, such as holding physical meetings, are not possible at present. One casualty of the emergency has been our AGM, which we would normally have held in June. As this is not something than can be switched to a digital platform, we are postponing it until such time as we are able to hold meetings again. I’m very grateful to our Officers and Council who have agreed to stay on in post for the time being.

As ever I would like to thank the officers of our Society, as without all their very hard work, the Society’s affairs would not run as smoothly as they do. Our Honorary Secretaries Megan Gooch and Henry Flynn not only organise the meetings but also look after the membership, meetings, grants and many other things. 

Peter Knapton has continued to look after our financial affairs with his usual efficiency and we are very grateful to him for that. He has, however, decided he needs to focus on his other voluntary and charitable commitments and is stepping down in June. Our thanks for all he has achieved for the Society over the last three years. Thanks too to Stefano Mazzola for continuing to act as the independent examiner of the accounts and to Tristram Hillgarth for his wise advice on the Finance Committee. We are delighted that Paul Hill, of CNG coins, has agreed to step into Peter’s shoes and Council will be invited to co-opt Paul as our Treasurer at its June meeting. 

Brad Shepherd is Joint Librarian of both our Society and the British Numismatic Society, and has continued to worked very hard on getting the Library into shape for the Warburg Institute. We are delighted that the agreement between our Society and the British Numismatic Society and the Warburg Institute was finally signed in November 2019, thanks to the efforts of Brad and our Honorary Vice-President, Andrew Burnett. The Warburg Institute has been closed since March, but library cataloguing continues with the aim of ensuring that all the Society’s books are visible on the University of London’s online catalogue.

Your Vice Presidents Martin Allen and Helen Wang and our Hon. Vice President Andrew Burnett have all played an invaluable role in advising Council on medallists and honorary members and other matters. 

I would also like to thank the other members of the Council this year: Claire Rowan, Matt Ball, Simon Glenn, Abigail Kenvyn, Stanley Ireland and Jenny Adam. Richard Morel, who gave us really valuable advice on our archives last year, was re-elected in June 2019, but had to step down from Council in the autumn because of ill health. 

For the majority of our members, especially those overseas, the Society’s main publication, the Numismatic Chronicle, is probably the most important benefit of membership. This continues to come out with great regularity early in the New Year and it always contains excellent peer-reviewed articles on a wide range of subjects; it has the reputation of being one of the premier numismatic journals in the world. Richard Ashton, Marcus Phillips and Sue Tyler-Smith have edited the Chronicle very efficiently for many years now (Richard since 1998, Marcus since 2002 and Sue since 2014) and we continue to owe them a huge debt. Council has nominated Marcus and Sue as Honorary Fellows in recognition of the debt we owe them (Richard is already an Honorary Fellow).

The Society’s Special Publications also have a high reputation and, under Sue Tyler-Smith’s editorship, H M Malek’s Arab-Sasanian Numismatics and History during the early Islamic period in Iran and Iraq, SP 55 (in 2 volumes) was published in December, followed shortly after by Antonino Crisà, Mairi Gkikaki and Clare Rowan (eds). Tokens: Cultures, Connections, Communities (SP 57).

Two more SPs are now in proof and will be published this summer: Ken Sheedy and Gil Davis (eds), Metallurgy in Numismatics 6 (SP 56) and Andrew Burnett’s ‘The Hidden Treasures of this happy Island.’ A history of numismatics in Britain from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment (SP 58), a monumental three-volume work which we are publishing with the British Numismatic Society. I have edited these two works. Jack Nurpetlian’s Coinage in late Hellenistic and Roman Syria: the Orontes Valley is being edited by Clare Rowan and should be out later this year. The Society had large stocks of old Special Publications in Spink’s warehouse which were about to incur storage charges and we sold 805 volumes to Chris Martin Ltd.

Thanks to the energy of Matt Ball, the Society’s monthly E-newsletter has continued to come out regularly (with a break in the summer), and is proving to be an excellent way of keeping the Society’s members in touch with our activities. We now have e-mail addresses for most Fellows, but there are still some for whom we don’t have an e-mail; please send your address to the Secretary if you didn’t receive this. We also continue to send out the biannual Money and Medals Newsletter to all members for whom we have email addresses. Thanks also to Matt and Megan for looking after the Society’s Twitter account and to Matt for keeping the website up to date.

As usual, until February members have continued to enjoy a monthly programme of meetings, organised by our secretary Megan Gooch and many thanks to our speakers Susan Eberhard, Alexandra Magub, our medallist Sam Moorhead, Panagiotis Iossif, Laura Burnett and Ylva Haidenthaller for their papers. We are sorry to have cancelled out meetings in March, April and May and we hope that those speakers will be able to come next year. Laura and Ylva gave their papers in the early-career lecturers’ slot in February, which we advertise through an open call. We have received so many applications for this, that in April Clare Rowan invited early-career researchers in numismatics to give papers at a conference organised in conjunction with Warwick University. This had to be switched to Zoom at short notice, but it was a successful event and our thanks to Clare for organising it.

We have now found a satisfactory alternative venue to the Warburg institute for our meetings, in the Council room of the Institute for Advanced Legal Study, on Russell Square. However, as the IALS isn’t suitable for parties, we have been going to either the Swedenborg Institute or the Institute of Archaeology for the December and June meetings.

In August 2019 the Privy Council, no less, approved the Society’s new bye-laws, which we had approved at our AGM in June 2019. These were last updated in 2006 and it was agreed that they were in need of revision. They are available on our website ( 

The main changes are intended to reflect the current way in which new fellows are elected and to give the Council greater flexibility in the when and how often we hold council and ordinary meetings, while also giving the Society’s membership a greater opportunity to be involved in electing officers and council members at the AGM, bringing them into line with best practice as laid down by the Charity Commission.

In particular, the new bye-laws:

• simplify the method for recruiting new Fellows and bring it into line with current practice, as formal elections are no longer held;
• bring in simplified way for recruiting young and student Fellows at a reduced subscription;
• mean that Council will not need to meet ten times a year and will give Council flexibility over the frequency of these meetings;
• give Council flexibility over the frequency and timing of Ordinary meetings;
• bring the procedure for examining the Society’s accounts into line with Charity Commission guidelines;
• give greater flexibility over the roles of the Society’s officers;
• modify the procedures for electing Council at the AGM in line with the Charity Commission’s best practice.

Last year Council decided to it was time to commission a new medal and we are very grateful to Council officers Abigail Kenvyn, of the Royal Mint Museum, and Henry Flynn for helping us through this process. Council agreed to invite Natasha Ratcliffe and Robert Elderton to produce drawings for a medal. We look forward to choosing a design from their submissions in the coming year.

The Society has also given grants from the Casey, Lowick and CNG funds totalling £10,100 to Andrew Burnett, Vesta Curtis, Sam Moorhead, Victoria Stopar and Connor Sweetwood.

We also awarded the Shamma prize to Dorota Malarczyk for her contributions to the Islamic sections of the Polish 5 part Inventory of Early Medieval Coin Hoards and the Parkes Weber prize to Sophie Hemmings for her essay, ‘Imperial identity and the production of gold coinage in the Carolingian world’.

Congratulations to Keith Rutter on receiving our Society’s medal for this year; we look forward to hearing him speak in 2021.

Lastly, I am sad to report the loss of six Fellows who have died over the last year: 

Simon Bendall (, who died in June 2019 at the age of 81 was an Honorary Fellow of our Society and well-known to many, having had a career in coins at Spink’s and Baldwin’s. He was an expert in the coinage of the later Byzantine Empire and published important books on the Later Palaeologan Coinage and the Coinage of the Empire of Trebizond.

Jay Galst ( died of coronavirus in April 2020 at the age of 69. Hewas a leading ophthalmologist in New York and also a keen collector of coins who combined his career with his hobby by becoming an expert on ophthalmology on coins. He was aleading member of the numismatic scene in New York and a kind and generous man.

Peter Gaspar (, who died at the age of 84 in July 2019, was professor emeritus of chemistry in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He combined his profession as a research chemist with a passion for medieval English coins and was an expert in the technical aspects of metallurgy and coin production. He was a regular visitor to London and served on the Council of the American Numismatic Society.

Terry Hardaker ( died at the age of 79 in October 2019 was a distinguished cartographer by profession (he founded Oxford Cartographers) with interests in archaeology and numismatics: he wrote a number of books on the punch-marked coins of India.

Colin Narbeth (, who died in May 2020 at the age of 90, was the founder and driving force of the International Bank Note Society.

Ulla Westermark ( died in February 2020 at the age of 92 received our Society’s medal in 2001 and was co-author, with Kenneth Jenkins, of The Coinage of Kamarina, our Special Publication no. 9 (1980). She was an authority on ancient Greek coins, especially those of Sicily, publishing a monograph on the coinage of Akragas, and co-ordinated the series Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum from 1976 to 1986. Her career was at the Royal Coin Cabinet in Stockholm, where she was Director from 1979 to 1983.

RNS/BNS Library Update

Currently the Warburg Institute, where the RNS/BNS Library is located, is closed in response to the government guidelines during this COVID-19 event. No date has been given for when it will reopen.

But work on re-cataloguing our library continues.

The RNS/BNS Numismatic Library holds over 19,000 items – and items are being added all the time. Our current electronic library catalogue is only accessible using an old computer in the RNS/BNS Library.

Over the past year all the books have been re-catalogued to provide more bibliographical information about each title held.Off-prints are now catalogued. New shelf marks have also been added, which are clearly labelled on the spine of each book – making it easier for you to find items on the shelves.

The next step, when the library re-opens, is to get our new catalogue added to an online academic library website ( This will allow our library collection to be easily searched from the internet at any time.

As also holds the catalogues of many UK academic institutions, if we don’t hold an item you are looking for, you will be able to see who does.

The process to add our information on to is complex and will take time, so there will be an update once this has been completed.

In the meantime, a searchable spreadsheet of all the books held in the RNS/BNS Library is now available on the BNS website. Please note: It does not include the periodicals or sales catalogues, which still need re-cataloguing

Finally, for anyone interested in looking for archived auction catalogues from the comfort of home, there are several excellent online resources:

  • The Newman Portal at Washington University in St. Louis, has thousands of scanned auction and sales catalogues from the U.K. and U.S.A.
  • Issuu has hundreds of more recent auction catalogues from the U.K. around the world

And, most auction houses now have archived catalogues that can be searched online from their own websites

New volume on Roman coin hoards available for pre-order

Iron Age and Roman Coin Hoards in Britain

by Roger Bland, Adrian Chadwick, Eleanor Ghey, Colin Haselgrove, David Mattingly, and Adam Rogers

Publication date: 30 April. Available from Oxbow Books at a pre-publication offer of £48.75 (normal price: £65).


More coin hoards have been recorded from Roman Britain than from any other province of the Empire. This comprehensive and lavishly illustrated volume provides a survey of over 3260 hoards of Iron Age and Roman coins found in England and Wales with a detailed analysis and discussion. Theories of hoarding and deposition and examined, national and regional patterns in the landscape settings of coin hoards presented, together with an analysis of those hoards whose findspots were surveyed and of those hoards found in archaeological excavations. It also includes an unprecedented examination of the containers in which coin hoards were buried and the objects found with them. The patterns of hoarding in Britain from the late 2nd century BC to the 5th century AD are discussed. The volume also provides a survey of Britain in the 3rd century AD, as a peak of over 700 hoards are known from the period from AD 253–296. This has been a particular focus of the project which has been a collaborative research project between the University of Leicester and the British Museum funded by the AHRC. The aim has been to understand the reasons behind the burial and non-recovery of these finds. A comprehensive online database ( underpins the project, which also undertook a comprehensive GIS analysis of all the hoards and field surveys of a sample of them.

Chapters include

Overview and analysis of the dataset

Theories of Hoarding and Deposition

National and regional patterns in the landscape settings of coin hoards

Analysis of excavated hoards

Coin hoards as archaeological objects: material and context

Coin hoards and society: chronological syntheses

Coin hoards and society: debating the third century: crisis or continuity?

New Release: Coinage and History in the Near East 6

New research into Byzantine and Early Islamic coinage in Syria, Palestine and Egypt, plus their archaeological and historical background. Articles on additional themes include Umayyad weight standards, and the significance of die axes for medieval mints. 

Well over 250 coins are illustrated, many of them for the first time. The book is published by Archetype for the Seventh Century Syrian Numismatic Round Table and contains the papers presented at the Round Table conference held in Worcester in April 2019. The Round Table organises informal conferences for numismatists, archaeologists and historians with an interest in Late Antiquity/Early Islam in Syria/Palestine and the surrounding area. 

2020, vi + 221 pp., illustrated throughout. Price £32. ISBN: 978-1-909492-73-8

For further details contact Tony Goodwin:


  1. Anastasius I at Theopolis – Real or Imagined? Steve Mansfield
  2. Using the iconography and inscriptions on Heraclean Dynasty coins to construct an historical narrative of the 7th century Byzantine Empire. Stephen Maxfield
  3. A New Coin Type from the mid-seventh century? Maria Vrij
  4. An Overview of the Phase 1 Byzantine-Arab Coinage. Andrew Oddy
  5. The Lazy S Workshop: Coin Production in Early Arab Syria. Andrew Oddy
  6. A very peculiar group of early Pseudo-Byzantine coins. Tony Goodwin
  7. Greek Monograms and Countermarks in Seventh-Century Syria. David Woods             
  8. What can we learn from ‘Transitional’ coins? Tony Goodwin
  9. Yet again on Justinian II’s gold coinage, ‘Abd al-Malik’s monetary reform, and the ‘War of images’ Federico Montinaro
  10. Die Chains and Die Links with the Mint Name Ḥalab. Ingrid Schulze
  11. The Standing Caliph Coins with the Mint Name Qūrus (قؤرس) A new Die and a new Die Link. Wolfgang Schulze
  12. From Scythopolis to Baysān: A Glimpse at the Coins of The Hebrew University’s Excavations at Beth Shean. Nitzan Amitai-Preiss
  13. The Umayyad Coins excavated during the Danish-German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project 2012–2016. Ingrid  and Wolfgang Schulze
  14. Coins and Papyri in 6th/7th Century Egypt. Tasha Vorderstrasse
  15. The weight standard of copper coins as a means for understanding the Syrian tradition of the seventh century. Dietrich Schnädelbach
  16. From Ancient to Medieval: The Significance of Fixed Die Axes. Marcus Phillips

SP 57 – Now Out!

Special Publication 57 Tokens: Culture, Connections, Communities by Clare Rowan, Mairi Gkikaki, and Antonino Crisà, Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication no. 57, 248 pages; SBN: 0 901405 35 3.

We are pleased to announce the publication of RNS Special Publication no. 57 – the first volume dedicated to the study of tokens from the Neolithic until the modern age.

This volume examines different tokens from different periods in detail, addressing the makers, users, types and contexts of these objects.

Unpublished material is presented in several of the contributions. This comparative approach reveals the recurring characteristics of tokens across time, as well as their importance to human society.

The entire volume is FREE to download from the RNS website. Follow this link.

Those wishing to own a copy can buy it for £40 from Spink.


  • Introduction, by Antonino Crisà, Mairi Gkikaki & Clare Rowan
  • The Invention of Tokens, by Denise Schmandt-Besserat
  • Some Notes on Athenian Bronze Tokens and Bronze Coinage in the Fifth and Fourth Centuries BC, by Kenneth A. Sheedy
  • Tokens Inside and Outside Excavation Contexts: Seeking the Origin. Examples of Clay Tokens from the Collections of the Athens Numismatic Museum, by Stamatoula Makrypodi
  • The Armour Tokens from the Athenian Agora, by Martin Schafer
  • A Rare Clay Token in Context: A Fortunate and Recorded Discovery from the Necropolis of Tindari (Messina, 1896), by Antonino Crisà
  • Roman tesserae with Numerals: Some Thoughts on Iconography and Purpose, by Alexa Kuter
  • Lead Token Moulds from Rome and Ostia, by Clare Rowan
  • Tokens of Antinous from the Roman Province of Egypt, by Denise Wilding
  • Tokens in the Athenian Agora in the Third Century AD: Advertising Prestige and Civic Identity in Roman Athens, by Mairi Gkikaki
  • Using and Reusing Tokens: Some Remarks About Christian Graffiti on Contorniates, by Cristian Mondello
  • The Holme Cultram Abbey Series: English Medieval Tokens and a Cistercian Use Case, by Kate Rennicks
  • How Royal Tokens Constituted an Art Medium that Participated in the Monarchical System Between 1610 and 1661, by Sabrina Valin
  • For Change and Charity: Identifying the Motivations and Characteristics of Issuers of Tokens in the British Isles in the Mid-Seventeenth Century, by Laura Burnett
  • ‘Success to the Seventeen United Bright Stars’: The Spithead Mutiny of 1797 Recorded on a Sailor’s Love Token, by Bridget Millmore
  • The Politics of Token Economics, Then and Now, by Bill Maurer
  • Index