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SP55 Special Pre-publication offer

Special Publication 55 Arab-Sasanian Numismatics and History during the Early Islamic Period in Iran and Iraq: The Johnson Collection of Arab-Sasanian Coins by Hodge Mehdi Malek, Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication no. 55 in two volumes, 832 pages including 130 plates; ISSN 0080 4487; ISBN 0 901405 94 9 

This is the first major work to attempt a comprehensive survey of the Arab-Sasanian silver coinage since Walker’s 1941 Catalogue of the British Museum collection. It includes the latest research on the subject, both historical (chapters 1 to 4) and numismatic (chapter 5 to 15). All the coins (over 1,600), both silver drachms and copper fulus, in the Johnson collection are illustrated on the excellent plates. Where the Johnson collection does not have a specimen of an important coin an example is illustrated from another source, making this a truly important work. 

The extensive chapters on the persons named on the coins, the mints, and the Pahlavi, Arabic and Sogdian legends, make this an invaluable historical source. Other chapters discuss the copper issues with their varied designs, the eras and dates used, metrology, coins struck in the east in Sīstān and further north by the Hephthalites, and countermarks, as well as the designs found on the silver drachms. All Pahlavi and Arabic legends (mints, persons named, religious and other marginal legends, dates) are written out as they appear on the coins in extensive tables. This makes it possible for a beginner in the series to read these sometimes difficult legends.

About the author: The author has been active as a collector and student of Arab-Sasanian coins since 1970. He published a book about the coinage of Tabaristān (RNS SP 39) in 2004 and has written numerous articles about ArabSasanian coins and the related late-Sasanian series. In this work he has brought together his expertise on the coinage, his knowledge of the Persian language and his experience from visiting many of the mint and other places discussed in the book.

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Now available for pre-order: Roman Imperial Coinage Volume II (part 3): From AD 117 to AD 138

By R. A. Abdy, with P. F. Mittag

Ahead of the launch, later this October, Spink are now taking pre-orders, and can offer a pre-publication price of £135 (the RRP is £150) + P&P.  Pre-order requests should be sent to All orders will be invoiced once books are received into the warehouse (around the end of October).

The standard reference work for Roman Imperial coinage of Hadrian now occupies a fully revised and greatly expanded standalone volume to cover the last epoch of what many consider the apogee of Roman coinage – begun with Nero’s reform of AD 64 when great effort was taken over their iconographic designs. It is also a long overdue attempt to reconcile our increased 21st century understanding of this otherwise lightly-documented reign of one of the key figures in Roman history. The rich symbolism of the reign is also expressed in prodigious issues of Hadrian’s medallic pieces, many covered in RIC for the first time.

Richard Abdy has been a curator of Roman coins at the British Museum for many years, with particular interest in the middle and later imperial periods of the Roman Empire. He has had long experience of recording Roman coin hoards through work on Treasure cases in England. Since his university research for a corpus of the coinage from the Antonine Wall (dominated by Hadrianic material due the dynamics of coin circulation), the lack of a recent – or even post-war – typological reference for the coinage of Hadrian, AD 117 to AD 138, has been evident to him.

Peter Mittag, Professor für Alte Geschichte at Cologne University, has already published a corpus of the medallions of Hadrian and presents his research in English for the first time.

Roman Imperial Coinage II.3, From AD 117 to AD 138 – Hadrian by R. A. Abdy with P. F. Mittag

Hardback, jacketed; 275 x 215mm; 608pp; ISBN: 978-1-912667-18-5

RRP £150

President’s Report 2019

By Roger Bland, President

I would like to start by thanking 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.

In any organisation the role of Treasurer is of absolutely key importance and I am extremely grateful to Peter Knapton for all the hard work he has put in in getting the Society’s financial affairs in order and sorting out the Society’s many ring-fenced funds. As you will have seen from the accounts for 2018 the Society is in a healthy position financially and we are also very grateful to Stefano Mazzola for acting as the independent examiner of the accounts.

Brad Shepherd is Joint Librarian of both our Society and the British Numismatic Society has worked very hard in getting the Library into shape so that the management of it can be transferred to the Warburg Institute. Your Vice Presidents Martin Allen and Helen Wang have played an invaluable role in advising Council on medallists and honorary members and other matters. Last, but not least are our editors whom I will say more about shortly.

I would also like to thank the other members of the Council this year: Rebecca Darley, Tristan Hillgarth, Claire Rowan, Matthew Ball, Simon Glenn, Abigail Kenvyn and Richard Morel. To these were added Andrew Burnett whom we elected as Honorary Vice-President in November and I’m very grateful to Andrew to his continued advice as I took on the role of President.

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 Philips and Susan Tyler-Smith have edited the Chronicle very efficiently for many years now and we continue to owe them a huge debt.

The Society’s Special Publications also have a high reputation and, under Susan Tyler-Smith’s editorship, H M Malek’s Arab-Sasanian Numismatics and History during the early Islamic period in Iran and Iraq, is now in proof (in 2 volumes) and will be out soon. A further three volumes are in active preparation under the editorship of Kris Lockyear and Clare Rowan: Jack Nurpetlian, Coinage in late Hellenistic and Roman Syria: the Orontes Valley; Ken Sheedy and Gil Davis (eds), Metallurgy in Numismatics 6 and Clare Rowan et al. (eds). Tokens: Cultures, Connections, Communities.

At a Publications Committee meeting this year we agreed on a new system for approving proposals for new SPs and have broadened the panel of editors so that hopefully we will be able to increase our output in future.

At the end of April the Society produced its first e-newsletter, packed with useful information, and this is thanks to the initiative of our Council member Matthew Ball – please send your e-mail address to the Secretary if you didn’t receive this. Another issue came out last month. We also continue to send out the biannual Money and Medals Newsletter to all members for whom we have email addresses. Thanks to Matt for looking after the Society’s Twitter account and to Rebecca Darley for maintaining our website, which plays a key role as the public face of the Society.

As usual members have continued to enjoy a monthly programme of meetings, organised by our secretary Megan Gooch and many thanks to our speakers Mark Stocker, Lucy Moore, Johan van Heesch, Julian Bowsher and Robert Kenyon, David Swan and Johannes Hartmann, Andrew Burnett, Richard Kelleher and Jane Kershaw for their papers.

We are, however, having difficulties finding a venue in central London for our meetings, and we were unable to book the Warburg for two meetings in the last session and went to the Swedenborg Institute instead. The Warburg is due to be refurbished at some point in the future and so we do need to look for somewhere else. A small subcommittee of Council has been looking for alternative venues. Meanwhile we continue to be grateful to Spink’s for allowing us to hold our June and December meetings here.

The stock of the Society’s medal is running low and Council has decided to commission a new one. This work is now in progress and we very are grateful to our Council member, Abigail Kenvyn, of the Royal Mint Museum, for helping us through this process.

John Casey, who died in 2016, left the Society a generous bequest in his will. The final payment of this has recently been made and it amounts to £111,665. John generously put no conditions on his gift and the Society decided to use John Casey’s bequest to fund numismatic research, with grants of up to £2500 each, to a total of £8000 a year. I am glad to say that the first three grants have been awarded to Richard Abdy, to help him publish the Roman Imperial Coinage volume on Hadrian, to Nicoletta Rozza to enable her to produce a critical edition of de Pandoni’s book De Talento, published in 1456 and one of the earliest works on numismatics, and to Christopher Whittell, who is carrying out research on crimes relating to the coinage during the English Commonwealth.

The Society has also given grants from the Martin Price fund to Vesta Curtis for a conference on Parthian coinage and from the Nicholas Lowick fund to Karan Singh for research on the coinage of the Shahi kingdom. The total amount offered in grants this year amounts to some £10,825.

Marion Archibald also left a bequest of £40,000 to promote research in the coinage and monetary history of the British Isles, 410-1662 and we hope to make the first awards from that next year.

Congratulations to Sam Moorhead on receiving our Society’s medal for this year; we look forward to hearing him speak at a future meeting. We also awarded the Lhotka prize for the best book for a beginner in numismatics to Clare Rowan for her book From Caesar to Augustus (c. 49 BC–AD 14): Using Coins as Sources and the Gilljam prize for the best book or article on numismatics of the 3rd century AD to Antony Hostein and Jerome Mairat, Roman Provincial Coinage IX.

Because of the Warburg’s planned refurbishment, a reorganisation of the joint library that we run with the BNS is necessary. After lengthy discussions my predecessor, Andrew Burnett, finalised an agreement to transfer the management of the library to the Warburg (while we retain ownership of the books) with the Warburg’s librarian just before he left office. Under this agreement the Societies will pay to have the books catalogued on the University’s online library system and our librarian, Brad Shepherd, has been working hard to get them ready for this. We have recently received a revised version of the Agreement from the University of London’s lawyers and we hope to be able to finalise it this year.

Our Council member Richard Morel has been carrying out a review of the Society’s archives: it would be fair to say that they could be better organised and we are very grateful to him for carrying this forward.

Council has known for some time that our By-laws, last revised in 2007, are due for an update. The present By-laws are unnecessarily prescriptive in many respects: for example, they require us to hold ten monthly Council meetings, whereas we have found that half that number is enough, and also specify the exact months when meetings shall be held, while the process of electing new members also does not reflect current practice. Council has agreed a new draft which has been approved by the lawyers of the Privy Council (this is because we are a Royal Society), and that is why we are asking this meeting to approve a revised set of By-laws, after which they will return to the Privy Council for final approval.

Lastly, I am sad to report the loss of three Fellows this year. Derek Aldred died in January and was elected in 1970: his interest was Roman coins. The other two Fellows were both medallists. Michael Metcalf died in October 2018 at the age of 85. He received our medal in 1987 and was a former President of this Society and Keeper of the Heberden Coin Room at the Ashmolean Museum. His area of expertise was medieval coinage and among his many publications were 3 vols in our SP series on Thrymsas and Sceattas in the Ashmolean. An obituary of him by Nick Mayhew appeared in The Guardian on 19 November.

Professor Peter Franke died in December at the age of 92. He received our medal in 1988. He was professor of ancient history and numismatics and head of the Institute for Ancient History at the University of Saarbrücken and was mentor to a generation of numismatists in Germany. His first major publication was a monograph on the coinage of Epirus. His collection of over 4,000 ancient coins is now in Yale.

RNS Medallist: Sam Moorhead 2019

This is part of a series of posts about recent recipients of the RNS Medal.

Sam is the National Finds Adviser for Iron Age and Roman coinage for the Portable Antiquities Scheme. In 2011 he was voted Current Archaeology’s ‘Archaeologist of the Year’ for his work on the Frome hoard, one of the biggest Roman coin hoards ever found in Britain. Its prodigious size involved many months of writing and publicity to progress the case through the Treasure system and raise its public profile (the initial recovery of the hoard was such an example of good practise that Frome was awarded the Golden Trowel for the ‘Rescue dig of the year’ also by Current Archaeology). His A History of Roman Coinage in Britain illustrated by finds recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (Greenlight 2013), won the Royal Numismatic Society’s Lhotka Prize.

Sam is very active in raising the public profile of archaeology, numismatics and Treasure at all levels: he is an Honorary Lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology (UCL) and a NADFAS lecturer but has also visited about 80 Detecting Clubs around the UK and is a prolific writer of articles in magazines such as Treasure Hunting. This fascination with both numismatics and a zeal to communicate it within its wider context is illustrated by his career to date. For twelve years he taught Classics, Archaeology and Ancient History at Ardingly College, before joining the British Museum as Staff Lecturer in Archaeology in 1997. He became the National Finds Adviser for Iron Age and Roman coins for the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) in 2006, based in the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum.

Sam has written widely on Classical numismatics and history (often with other authors – who can all attest to his invaluable creativity in any such partnership): The Frome Hoard (2010), AD 410 The Year that Shook Rome (2010), The Romans who Shaped Britain (2012) and 31 BC, Antony, Cleopatra and the Fall of Egypt (2012). He has also written chapters on coinage in the Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage (2012) and the Oxford Handbook of Roman Britain (2016). His current major research for the new fully revised edition of RIC on the reigns of Carausius and Allectus is eagerly anticipated. Many times Sam has demonstrated his unerring ability to present coins to the public as museum displays often drawing in those who presumed they had no interest in the subject through their connections to grand history and everyday ancient society. His major touring exhibition ‘Rome, City and Empire’ will move this year (2019) from Australia to Belgium in 2020. Concurrently Sam also has a more locally themed show in Torquay, Ipplepen: Rethinking the Romans in Devon’ which demonstrates the amazing breadth of audiences he can regularly juggle. It is a truly stunning lifetime of achievement.