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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.

Updates from the RNS/BNS Joint Library


Books newly returned from the book binder’s.

by Brad Shepherd

The accessioning of Robert Thompson’s bequest of books to the British Numismatic Society has just been completed.  There are over 350 books with a strong emphasis on tokens – which significantly enlarges the library’s holding on this area of numismatic research.


A programme of conservation is also currently underway and the latest batch of books are back from the bookbinders.  It’s great to see them repaired and ready for many more years of use. If visitors to the RNS/BNS library find a book that needs rebinding, then please bring it to the Librarian’s attention by leaving the book and a note on the Librarian’s desk.

RNS Medallist: Pere Pau Ripollès 2016

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 20 December 2016, the President, Andrew Burnett, said:

Per Pau Ripollès, picture from Andrew Burnett.

Pere Pau Ripollès is Professor Catedrático at the University of Valencia, Spain. He has worked for most of his career in the Department of Prehistory and Archaeology, rising up the ranks to the top level of professor.

He himself is a prolific author, as his list of publications indicates. There are so many, beginning in 1977,  that it is hard to know where to start or which ones to cite: his site offers a mere 17 books and 66 papers! I shall mention only a small selection, grouped thematically.

The first group is an excellent series of several catalogues of Iberian coins in important museum collections, such as those in Paris, in Stockholm, in the Royal Historical Academy in Madrid, the Vatican Library and several Italian collections: Monedas Hispánicas de la Bibliothèque nationale de France (Madrid, 2005) ; Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum. Sweden II. The Collection of the Royal Coin Cabinet. National Museum of Economy, Stockholm (Stockholm, 2003); Las acuñaciones provinciales romanas de Hispania (Madrid, 2010);  ‘Corpus Nummorum Hispanorum. I. Medagliere Vaticano’ (Italica 6, 1982); and Le monete ispaniche nelle Collezioni Italiane (Bollettino di Numismatica, Serie Speciale, Roma, 1986).

Secondly, he has authored or co-authored several mint studies of ancient Iberian cities: Valencia, Segobriga, Lauro, Saguntum and, most recently, Saitabi: La ceca de Valentia (València, 1988); Las monedas de la ciudad romana de Segobriga (Saelices, Cuenca) (Madrid-Barcelona, 1996, with J.M. Abascal); Les encunyacions ibèriques de Lauro (Granollers, 1998, with M.M. Llorens); Arse-Saguntum. Historia monetaria de la ciudad y su territorio (Sagunto, 2002, with M.M. Llorens); and Las acuñaciones de la ciudad ibérica de Saitabi (Valencia, 2007).

Thirdly, he has published a series of studies of regional circulation, such as those about the areas of Valencia and Tarraco, and many, many coin hoards: La circulación monetaria en las Tierras Valencianas (Asociación Numismática Española, Barcelona, 1980); La circulación monetaria en la Tarraconense Mediterránea (Valencia, 1982); Hallazgo Numismático en la calle Libertad.  Seu de les Corts Valencianes (Valencia, 1994, with M.M. Llorens and C. Matamoros); and El tesoro de la familia Ferrer de Plegamans (Valencia, 1997, with A. Martínez).

He has also collaborated on the Roman Provincial Coinage project and was of the principal authors of Volume I (Roman Provincial Coinage, From the death of Caesar to the death of Vitellius (44 B.C.-A.D. 69) (London-París, 1992, and subsequent editions). Since then he also has taken on the broader role of responsibility for the publications of supplementary material to RPC, and three such supplements have already appeared. I first got involved together on the RPC project on the special train to York that was chartered for the excursion to York from the 1986 London International Numismatic Congress, and Pere Pau has been a hard-working colleague and a good friend ever since, not least introducing me to Spanish gastronomic delights, such as horchata and churros. Sometimes his interests have taken him in what may seems to us to be surprising directions such as his studies of the contributions coins can make to our understanding of the ancient fauna and flora of Spain.

But, more generally, he has raised the level of numismatics in Spain to a truly international level, from the somewhat mundane state it was in when he began his career, for example by introducing the new methods of die studies, statistics and metal analysis. He has been a regular traveller to other countries, such as France and the UK, and this has led to many fruitful exchanges of ideas and collabortaive initiatives.

He has had several distinguished students, such as Maria del Mar Llorens and Manuel Gozalbes, and he himself has been deservedly honoured elsewhere. He has been visiting scholar at the American Numismatic Society. He is a member of the Real Academia de la Historia. and he was awarded the jeton de vermeil of the Société Française de Numismatique in 1998. He is a member of the International Numismatic Commission, currently its Vice-President. He has done his bit. So I am delighted that we are honouring him today with the award of the silver medal of the Royal Numismatic Society.


In accepting the medal, Pere Pau Ripollès said:

Colleagues and friends:

Thank you, Dr. Burnett, for your kind and generous introduction. I want to thank the Royal Numismatic Society for this very great honour. I never thought I would achieve such an honour when eandre Villaronga showed me the RNS medal, when he was awarded it in 1989.

At that time, I had a pleasant feeling when I handled it, not just because the medal was impressive in itself, in its design and weight, but also because he shared with me his pride and joy of having been awarded it.

In accepting this recognition with which you have honoured me, I would like to acknowledge the debt I owe to many people, some of whom are present here today, because a large part of my research has been conducted in the United Kingdom or with British colleagues. When I was notified of this medal, I thought about my experiences in the United Kingdom and I realized how enriching and valuable they have been. Honestly, I always have received great opportunities from this country. My first contact with British colleagues was in 1986. After the International Numismatic Congress held in London that year, I remained a few days working in the British Museum. The visit was very fruitful in another way, since it was the occasion on which I was invited, by Andrew Burnett and Michel Amandry to work in the Roman Provincial Coinage project.

Since then, I have had the privilege of working in all the leading British institutions. All my stays have been wonderful, but the months spent at the Ashmolean Museum and the British Museum especially have given me many valuable perspectives on numismatics and numismatic research.

In addition, I don’t want to forget the University of Valencia, since it has been my great fortune to be teaching in it for many years, and it is there that I have developed my entire academic curriculum.

Needless to say, I have had and continue to have a lot of support from my wife María José, who has always been at my side.

I am certainly fortunate to have been selected for this honour from among many deserving scholars and colleagues. So, once again, I thank the Royal Numismatic Society for bestowing this honour on me.

Thank you again.

RNS Medallist: Bernd Kluge 2015

This is part of an on-going series of summer posts about recent recipients of the RNS Medal.

In awarding the medal at the Ordinary Meeting of the Society on 15 December 2015, the President, Andrew Burnett, said:

Bernd Kluge, image used from Wikipedia.

Today it is my great pleasure to present the RNS medal to Professor Dr Bernd Kluge, for many years the Keeper of the Berlin State Coin Cabinet and himself an outstanding scholar of medieval numismatics.

Kluge’s career began with the arrival of the young Bernd as the newest member of the Berlin Coin Cabinet in 1972, the institution to which he was to devote no less than 42 years until his retirement in September of last year. In 1988 he became its deputy director, and then its Director a few years later, a position he held until his retirement.

The mere dates obscure the momentous history of Germany and Berlin during those long, difficult, years. In those days, as now, the Berlin coin cabinet was located on the Tiber Island, but then it was only a stone’s throw from the Berlin Wall and in easy sight of the Vopos, the border guards at Friedrichstrasse who would happily have opened fire and often did so, as you all know. The cabinet was an isolated institution acquiring virtually nothing and doing its best just to keep open and re-build its library (never returned by the Russians). So academic links had a political value to all of us in the numismatic community, far beyond their intellectual significance. I remember visiting for some weeks in the early 80s, when the warmth of the greeting from colleagues at the Cabinet stood in sharp contrast to the interview in a metal box that I had endured the day before, on my arrival at the airport; in those days even the letters my little children sent me were opened by the censor and their little pictures carefully examined and stamped. And I was only visiting. The experience of living there the whole time was something else.

The Wall came down and things got better, but in the euphoria of unification and its aftermath, it was Bernd Kluge’s job to re-establish the Berlin collection as a major international cabinet. This job had its physical and intellectual aspects. After decades of neglect, the museums were falling to pieces and a massive building programme between 1998 and 2006 saw the rebuilding of the coin cabinet. But the world had changed: the financial and collecting climate remained difficult, the internet had been invented and there was increasing need for sponsorship.

Once the rebuilding was completed, the cabinet began to construct a web site which now has tens of thousands of objects on line. There is a now permanent exhibition occupying several rooms on the top floor of the museum. All of this has been achieved with limited resources, a total staff of only 4 curators for one of the world’s greatest collections, and a total less than 10 persons in all.

Professor Kluge had already begun the publication of a new journal Berliner Numismatischer Forschungen in 1987 and this turned into major series of monographs which has now reached no. 11. This is now complemented by an additional series Das Kabinett devoted to publishing the Museum’s material. Colloquia were organised and the Cabinet made its first major acquisition since the 1930s, with the Friedrich Stefan collection. The decision to hold the International Numismatic Congress in Berlin in 1997, an event in which I was privileged to participate, was a wonderful recognition of what had changed and what was being achieved: but it was of course more work (not least the editing of the 1488pp of the Proceedings)!

Given all these pre-occupations, Bernd Kluge’s own publication record is remarkable. By our reckoning there are over 200. Don’t worry I won’t read them all out! But let me mention some of the major books:

SCBI 39 State Museum Berlin, Anglo-Saxon, Anglo Norman and Hiberno-Norse Coins (Oxford, 1987).

Deutsche Münzgeschichte von der späten Karolingerzeit bis zum Ende der Salier (ca. 900 bis 1125) (Sigmaringen, 1991).

Numismatik des Mittelalters. Band 1: Handbuch und Thesaurus Nummorum Medii Aevi, (Vienna, 2007).  ‘It is well constructed and clear, and it displays wide learning and sound judgment. Altogether a miracle of compression’ (Michael Metcalf, NC 2008, p. 489)

Am Beginn des Mittelalters. Die Münzen des karolingischen Reiches 751–814. Pippin, Karlmann, Karl der Große (Das Kabinett 15), (Berlin, 2014). ‘A full discussion by Bernd Kluge of all the coins of Pippin and Charlemagne in the Berlin collection, probably the best in the world, with full colour illustrations and discussion of types, mints, etc. Fantastic!’ (Simon Coupland).

For achievements such as these Bernd Kluge was appointed an Honorary Professor of Medieval Numismatics at the Humboldt University in Berlin, and a few years ago he was awarded the Archer M. Huntington Medal of the American Numismatic Society.  It is only right that we, the Royal Numismatic Society, should now honour him for all that he has done for our subject, and I so I am happy now to present the medal for 2015 to him.

In accepting the medal, Bernd Kluge said:

When Andrew Burnett so kindly wrote to me in the early part of this year that I was to be presented with the medal of the Royal Numismatic Society, I was quite surprised. I value traditions highly and consider today’s distinction by the oldest – and perhaps most famous -Numismatic Association in the world to be a great honor. I am myself a member of the Numismatic Society of Berlin which, while founded in 1848 and thus 12 years later than the RNS, is nonetheless the third oldest in Europe and the oldest in Germany. Thus if you think that I am not undeserving of this award, I can assure you that, in me, you have found an honoree who regards the RNS and its traditions very highly. Each time I stand in the library of the Coin Cabinet before the long row of the Numismatic Chronicle volumes and leaf through these impressive volumes (which also look quite impressive just from the outside), I am filled with veneration for this truly unique journal and the society which supports it. As of today, I am bound to it even more strongly, and for this I offer my heartfelt thanks.

RNS Medallist: Roger Bland 2014

This is part of a series of posts commemorating recent awardees of the RNS Medal.

In awarding the medal at the Ordinary Meeting of the Society on 16 December 2014, the President, Andrew Burnett, said:

Image result for roger bland

Roger Bland, image linked from the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Roger Bland is President of the British Numismatic Society and Vice President of the Royal Numismatic Society. He has also done more than his ‘share’ of supporting the RNS: two stints on the Council, the joint Librarian (1987-90) and Secretary and Special Publications Editor (1990-95).

Roger is currently Keeper of Department of Britain, Europe & Prehistory at the British Museum. He was previously Keeper of Portable Antiquities and Treasure, but his career began as a curator in the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum (1979-2005), but, as we shall see, his coin work began long before that. He is also now an Honorary Lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, University of London, and a Fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge. He is also an editor of the Roman Imperial Coinage series, and has been editor for the series Coin Hoards from Roman Britain.


Roger has made a fundamental long-term contribution to the recording system for archaeological and numismatic finds across the country. During a period of secondment at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, he was responsible for drawing up the provisions of Treasure Act 1996 and in general for cultural property policy. During the time he inaugurated the first steps and the rapid expansion of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which has revolutionized the collection and use of numismatic and other archaeological data in England and Wales. Neither it nor the Treasure Act had an easy birth, and that they exist today is the result of Roger’s legendary powers of persistence and persuasion. He started the collection of data across the country, working with over 30 partners, and against a background of much initial suspicion from both the archaeological and metal detecting lobbies. Between them (the Treasure Act and the PAS system), these new provisions have transformed the situation here, and have provided a model for the rest of the world. Far more hoards are now declared Treasure than ever before and many of them find their way into museums, predominantly outside London, for future posterity. Since its inception PAS has recorded information about over 1 million objects, an incredible achievement and a source of knowledge which would otherwise simply have been lost. But the scheme has not just recovered information about finds; it has also stimulated a enormous number of research projects: over 400 in all, including 13 major AHRC, etc., projects and 86 PhDs. Roger himself has lead many of these (as PI or supervisor). To support it all he has raised money for Collaborative Doctoral Awards and Research Projects (to a total, when I last counted, of £4.8m). In respect of this work for the public good he was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2008, for services to heritage.

In terms of his own numismatic work, Roger has been described as ‘one of the finest and most prolific numismatic scholars of his generation.’ His online CV lists 36 (!) monographs and 217 articles or other works. He started young (he needed to!), his first article being published when he was only 19. His particular area of expertise is the coinage of Roman Britain and the western provinces, but he has worked intensively on the East as well. He has researched and published widely on coin finds and the Roman coinage of the third century AD and later. His most substantial recent book is a Corpus of Roman and Early Byzantine Gold Coins found in Britain and Ireland (2010, with X. Loriot). Other highlights include The Cunetio Treasure (with E.M. Besly, 1983) and The Normanby Hoard (with A. Burnett, 1988), which both marked major advances in our knowledge of, and a revised classification for, the coinage of the third century AD and of the Gallic Empire in particular.

Roger’s main future project is to produce a new edition of the standard Roman Imperial Coinage IViii (Gordian III – Uranius Antoninus, AD 238-254). The grounds for this work were laid long ago in his PhD (The Coinage of Gordian III from the mints of Antioch and Caesarea); he does eastern Rome as well as western, an unusual combination  which can make a crucial contribution to our understanding of the Roman monetary system as a whole. There is a desperate lack of die studies of coinage in the third century AD, which are key to quantification and thus to our understanding of the economic aspects of the third-century ‘crisis’. Roger’s thesis made available data and analyses of general importance for economic history as well as for Roman numismatics. The focus of the work on the East is important, as the vast majority of recent work on Roman imperial coinage had been on the West.

Roger’s achievements are without parallel and there is much more to come. He has always been a good colleague, to many of us, not just those in the British Museum, and is much loved throughout the world. It is no surprise that in 2012 he was awarded the Jeton de Vermeil of the Société Française de Numismatique, and in 2011 the Prix Allier de Hauteroche of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. Most recently he was appointed a Visiting Professor at the University of Leicester. I can think of no one to whom it would give me greater pleasure to award the RNS silver medal than Roger Bland.