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Confirmation of New Council for 2018-19

The Royal Numismatic Society “is the UK’s foremost society for numismatics – the study of coins, medals and related currency items.” 

It promotes numismatics by:

  • publishing the Numismatic Chronicle and Special Publications
  • distributing grants for numismatic research and training
  • awarding prizes for publications on numismatics
  • awarding the RNS medal for exceptional contribution to numismatic scholarship
  • awarding Honorary Fellowship for exceptional contribution to numismatics
  • supporting the annual RNS/BNS conference on numismatics
  • providing a regular series of lectures on numismatics
  • encouraging young scholars (student lecture, Lhotka Prize)

All Council Members have specialist expertise and represent different groups of the broader numismatic community. Everyone serving on Council does so on a voluntary basis, and their contribution to the RNS is appreciated.

Following the first meeting of the Society in the academic year 2018/19, the new Council can be confirmed. Further information about the roles and duties of the Council can be found here. The new composition of the Council is as follows:

President: Roger Bland

Vice Presidents: Helen Wang and Martin Allen

Secretaries: Megan Gooch and Henry Flynn

Treasurer: Peter Knapton

Librarian: Brad Shepherd

Members of Council: 

Rebecca Darley

Tristan Hillgarth

Claire Rowan

Matthew Ball

Simon Glenn

Abigail Kenvyn

Richard Morel

Kris Lockyear (Editor, SPs)

Marcus Phillips (Editor NC)

New President


Roger Bland (left) and Andrew Burnett (right) – the incoming and retiring Presidents at the RNS end-of-year dinner, June 2018. Photograph by Sushma Jansari.

The new year brings not just a new programme of meetings but also bigger changes. After five years as President of the Society, Andrew Burnett has retired from this post and is replaced by Roger Bland. As a medallist of the Society, further information can be found about Roger’s career and numismatic interests here. The RNS is grateful to Andrew for his leadership and immense efforts on behalf of numismatics in the UK and beyond. His generosity towards and encouragement of junior scholars has been particularly appreciated, reflected not just in his personal interest but also in innovations such as the introduction of early career lectures in the RNS schedule of meetings, and changes to the deadline for submission of the Parkes Weber Prize (now December of each year) to fit better with assignment calendars of students in Higher Education. The Society, in turn, welcomes Roger to his Presidency and we all look forward to going forward under his leadership in the coming years.

Society Lecture, 16 October: The Politics of Coin Design: The 1967 New Zealand decimal reverses

On Tuesday 16 October 2018 at the Warburg Institute, Mark Stocker of the Numismatics Association of Australia kicked off the 2018/19 Society lecture schedule with a discussion of his research into decimal coin reverses in New Zealand. This presentation drew upon earlier published research (‘“Coins of the People: The 1967 New Zealand Decimal Coin Reverses’, [BNJ 70 (2000)), in which Mark Stocker stated that ‘Tantalisingly, only the minutes of the first, anodyne, meeting’ of the Coinage Design Advisory Committee (CDAC) were ‘deposited with the Treasury papers in the National Archives in Wellington, and the rest are presumed destroyed’.

As he summarised the paper in his own words: Happily, I have been proved wrong. In 1967, Dr Allan Sutherland, the namesake of the doyen of mid-20th century New Zealand numismatics, deposited his late father’s papers relating to the decimal coinage in Auckland Central Library, but only recently have they been catalogued. A history of the reverse designs can now be told far more accurately. This paper aims to do this, drawing on the agendas and minutes of the seventeen CDAC meetings between 1964 and 1966, and also utilises related correspondence to and from Sutherland in the same archive. It benefits from further questioning of the sole CDAC surviving member, my good friend Professor John Simpson, who has just turned 93 but remains as lucid as ever.

What I didn’t know was how the designs – which appeared satisfactory to the CDAC – were suddenly collectively jeopardised when a Cabinet minister, ignorant of abstraction, objected to one of the best designs; or how the dynamic shifted on the committee, with a split between artistic and pragmatic/populist elements, with Sutherland the chief advocate of the latter. The relationship between the CDAC and the ad hoc Cabinet coinage committee is now clearer, revealing individual ministers’ views on the designs, including a surprising one by future Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, on Paul Beadle’s inspirational but unadopted set. Finally, Muldoon’s own influence is repeatedly hinted, but remains enigmatic.

Lecture Schedule for 2018-19

Programme of lectures

Meetings take place at 6-7.30pm on the third Tuesday of each month at the Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London WCIH 0AB

However, due to renovation works at the Warburg this year, members are advised to check the RNS website before each meeting to check the location of the talk.


16 Oct Mark Stocker

  The Politics of Coin Design: The 1967 New Zealand decimal reverses

20 Nov Lucy Moore

Medals, Museums & the First World War – a case study from Leeds

18 Dec Johan van Heesch

A new representation of the Antwerp mint (AD 1625)

Presentation of the Medal, Christmas Party

15 Jan Julian Bowsher and Robert Kenyon

Roman London’s first coins

19 Feb Student/early career lectures:

  1. David Swan
  2. Johannes Hartmann

19 Mar Panagiotis Iossif

Big Data, Big Troubles? Approaching ancient numismatics through big datasets; the Seleucid case

16 Apr Richard Kelleher

“So rare, so barbarous, so little known”: Revisiting the coinage of Crusader Edessa

21 May Jane Kershaw

Tracing loot: the fate of European coins in Viking hands in the ninth century

18 Jun Roger Bland

Problems in Ancient Numismatics I: Die-studies versus coin finds: how to   estimate the size of a coinage

AGM, President’s Address, Summer Party

RNS Medallist: Lutz Illisch 2017

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

In awarding the medal at the Ordinary Meeting of the Society on 19 December 2017, the President, Andrew Burnett, said:

Lutz Ilisch (r.) receiving the Society Medal from Andrew Burnett (l.) 2017.

Dr Lutz Ilisch is the leading academic specialist in Islamic numismatics today, as well as a generous and helpful colleague and teacher. His accomplishments as a scholar are matched by his achievements as curator of the Tübingen University collection of Islamic coins, which now ranks as the most comprehensive in the world.

The collection of Islamic coins which he has curated for twenty-five years in the Forschungsstelle für islamische Numismatik Tübingen (FINT) is larger and more representative than any of the great museum collections. It totals 76,000 pieces, and covers all regions of the Islamic world, with particular strengths in Yemen, Greater Syria, the Jazira and the Iranian lands. It is strong in the unfashionable field of late medieval coinage; and it has a consistent coverage of most areas and periods of pre-machine-struck coinage, and indeed some of machine-struck coins. It is a unicum: and now, with his recent retirement, Lutz has supervised its transfer to the Orientalisches Seminar in Tübingen, thus guaranteeing its curation and further integration into the field of Islamic studies for the indefinite future.

Nine volumes of the Tübingen Sylloge of Islamic coins have been published under Lutz’s editorship to date, two of which were written by him. These catalogues are not only of the highest quality, with excellent plates, but have established the principle, long accepted in classical and medieval numismatics but until the 1990s a novelty in the Islamic field, that die studies are a fundamental requirement for the study of monetary history. The Tübingen sylloge series has been taken as a model for catalogues of smaller collections (Oxford and Jena) which followed the Tübingen initiative.

After periods working in the British Museum and Swedish Royal Coin Cabinet and elsewhere, Lutz was subsequently appointed Kustos of the FINT collection. He put his expertise at the service of the academic community. He organised two ground-breaking symposia in Tübingen in the 1990s; he has organised annual meetings of the German branch of the Oriental Numismatic Society from 1987 to the present day; he is famous for being helpful to all; and he has taught a number of younger German scholars, and has had particular success in mentoring and supporting colleagues from beyond Europe, notably from Syria, Egypt, Uzbekistan and Azarbayjan.

His own publications include seminal contributions to the field of early Islamic coinage (in which he was a pioneer of the study of pre-reform copper coinage); a series of ground-breaking papers on Islamic donative coinage in the 1980s; a leading role in a major project of XRF analysis of Islamic and non-Islamic silver coinage; publications of Viking-Age silver finds from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern; many other hoard publications in Coin Hoards and elsewhere; publication of coins and weights from Santueri, Mallorca; surveys of Islamic numismatic research for the International Numismatic commission; as well as a host of shorter articles generated by his work on the Tübingen collection and his knowledge of the history of Islamic numismatic collections.

Lutz Ilisch is very much the doyen of the field of Islamic numismatics today. The Tübingen collection has been shaped by him and will continue to be of unparalleled significance in coming generations.

For these reasons and many more, I am delighted today to present Lutz with the medal of the Royal Numismatic Society.