Programme of lectures

Meetings take place at 6-7.30pm on the third Tuesday of each month. All meetings will be held online via Zoom until further notice (although we hope to be meeting again in person by the end of the year!). If we are able to resume in-person meetings there will be parties following the December and June meetings.

Zoom log-in details for Tuesday 15th June
Meeting ID: 921 5352 1690
Passcode: 942446

20 Oct Fleur Kemmers (Venue: Zoom)

‘Making Money in Republican Rome (c. 300-100 BCE)’

Abstract: Roman society was thoroughly monetized in the 5th and 4rd centuries BCE, using weighed out bronze bullion in all classic monetary functions. From the late 4th c. BCE onwards Rome started to mint its own coinage, haphazard and small scale at first. By the turn to the 3rd c. BCE coin production was massive, and largely based on silver. What was the impetus to start producing coins? Why did things accelerate in the late 3rd and early 2nd centuries BCE? What triggered a change-over from a system of value based on bronze to one largely based on silver?

In this paper I will argue that the changed economic opportunities and state obligations, brought about by Rome´s expansion into Southern Italy, and subsequently the entire Mediterranean, led to new requirements and possibilities for monetary instruments.

Fleur Kemmers, Lichtenberg Professor for Coinage and Money in the Graeco-Roman World at Goethe University, Frankfurt

17 Nov Jonathan Callaway (Venue: Zoom)

‘The evolution of Irish paper money 1919 to 1929’

Abstract: This presentation covers Ireland’s paper currency in the decade from 1919 to 1929, spanning some of the most momentous years of Irish history including armed conflict against Britain, Independence, Partition and civil war. We will focus on the many design changes the Irish public had to get used to over this decade; the genesis of independent Ireland’s two paper currencies and the solution adopted in Northern Ireland.

We will review the situation in 1919, when the currency throughout Ireland was British sterling and all circulating paper money was provided by six commercial banks.  We will then consider how, after Independence and Partition, it was clear that the status quo could not continue and how the authorities in the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland responded. 

  • In Dublin, a twin track solution was devised involving the creation of Legal Tender Notes, issued and backed by the Currency Commission (the Lady Lavery series) and a new issue of Consolidated Bank Notes (the Ploughman series) which enabled the commercial banks to maintain a limited role.
  • In Belfast, the six banks were allowed to continue to issue their own notes, although now payable only in Belfast with circulation restricted to Northern Ireland.

In summary, this left Ireland in 1929 with a total of 17 different note issues for just 4 million people.  But the solutions devised in the 1920s lasted essentially until the present day:  the common goal of maintaining currency stability was achieved despite the many jurisdictional and design changes

Jonathan Callaway, Director of the International Bank Note Society.

15 Dec Early Career Lectures (Venue: Zoom)

  1. Emily Tilley

‘Dirty Money: Tracing Wakefield’s Third Century Clay Coin Moulds’

Abstract Between 1695 and the 1830s hundreds of Roman clay coin moulds and a number of funnels, crucibles, and cast coins were found at a site known as Lingwell Gate on the outskirts of Wakefield.  The moulds were used to create cast contemporary copies of silver denarii dating between the late-first century and the mid-third century AD.

In the early-nineteenth century Lingwell Gate drew the attention of a broad community of antiquarians, many of whom visited the abundantly productive site and collected its artefacts, dispersing them across the country.  Many moulds and associated production materials have since been acquired into museum collections, but an unknown number remain in private ownership or have been lost.

The Yorkshire Museum holds 54 coin moulds from Lingwell Gate in its collection and in 2019 was awarded a Money and Medals Network Regional Research Fellowship to trace Lingwell Gate coin moulds in other museum and private collections, to identify the coin types being copied, to locate their findspot, to reassess their probable production date, and to re-evaluate the assemblage from a 21st century perspective.

This talk will share the findings of the Regional Research Fellowship, including new information about the production, discovery, and distribution of the moulds.  To date over 300 Lingwell Gate moulds have been traced across eight public collections, allowing these artefacts to be studied together for the first time since their discovery.  This fresh analysis improves our understanding of this intriguing production site and highlights the vast potential for further research.

Curatorial Assistant, York Museums Trust

2. Maria Marsh

‘Wonders of a Volunteer Hoard Project’

Abstract After the Athelstan Museum acquired a late Roman coin hoard in 2015 a project was started for cataloguing and research by volunteers.  We also set about obtaining the funding to properly conserve the coins and pot.  Luckily we have been able to get all 1266 copper alloy nummi professionally mechanically conserved.  The main part of the project was the training and use of an entirely volunteer team to record and photograph the coins including the detectorist who found the coins.   The fun part, besides getting to study each coin, has been the public engagement. There have been many lessons learned and we still have the final display to do including deciding on the display case.  The one thing we will all take away is the look on school children when they get to hold a real Roman coin. 

This has been a fantastic long term community project that everyone is very proud of, one that is very special to all those involved.  Before we started none of us really had any previous knowledge of Roman coins, numismatics or conservation of copper alloy objects but I think it is safe to say we all know much more about them now,  and though we may have doubted our abilities before, we can now ‘read’ the most challenging inscriptions!  It is also fun to talk about the coins to interested  groups and to try to put them into context of Romans in and around Malmesbury (as much as we can).

Malmesbury Coin Hoard Project Manager, Athelstan Museum

19 Jan Hiroki Shin (Venue: Zoom)

‘The Radius of the Bank of England Note Revisited, 1690s–1830’

Abstract This paper discusses the geographical and social penetration of the Bank of England note in Britain from the 1690s to the 1820s. Its research methodology draws on John Clapham’s official history of the Bank of England (published in 1944), in which Clapham examined what he called ‘the radius of the Bank Note’ using the records of claims for lost Bank of England notes.Significantly expanding upon Clapham’s early attempt, the present research analyses a data set compiled from more than10,000 lost note claims that are found in the Lost Note Books in the Bank of England Archives.

The conventional understanding of historians has been that throughout the eighteenth century, the Bank of England note circulated only in London and the Home Counties. The lost note claims indicate that there were an increasing number of Bank Note users outside these areas, especially in the later part of the century. After 1797, when the Bank of England suspended cash payments in response to the wars with France, claims from English provinces and from Wales, Scotland, and Ireland increased even more. Yet the Bank Note’s geographical penetration was uneven. Not only economic conditions but also social and cultural factors established the patterns of the Bank Note’s diffusion. A close examination of the Lost Note Books provides important clues about how the Bank of England note became a dominant currency in British society.

Hiroki Shin, Queen’s University, Belfast

16 Feb Medallilst’s Lecture: Keith Rutter (Venue: Zoom)

‘King and satraps: aspects of coinage in the Achaemenid Empire.’

Abstract: The lecture discusses aspects of the coinages produced during the period of Achaemenid Persian rule in Asia Minor (550-333 BC). It focuses in particular on Persian elements in the coinages, traditionally discussed under the headings ‘satrapal’ and ‘royal’. These elements include such items as types, names, language and lettering, but there are further questions to ask: to what extent is it possible to detect the influence of Persian culture (‘a gift-centred economy’) in the creation of coins? And, to what extent is it possible to detect the influence of individual Persians in the coin-making process?

Presentation of the Society Medal

Keith Rutter, Emeritus Professor of Classics and Honorary Professorial Fellow, Edinburgh University

16 Mar Anja Thompson-Rohde (Venue: Zoom)

‘Stories from the Coins: How can museums use their numismatic collections to engage 21st century visitors?’

Abstract Coins are one of the most ubiquitous types of object in museum collections, with almost all museums holding at least a few numismatic items. However, the visibility of coins in heritage displays and activities is often very poor, and at the very least it is clear that museum coin collections are not being used to anything like their full potential. This talk will examine this phenomenon, presenting the results of an aspect of the author’s doctoral research which aimed to shed some light on how museum audiences respond to coins, and how we can tap into their potential for engagement and understanding.

Anja Thompson-Rohde completed her PhD on the English coinages of William I and II at the University of Nottingham in 2020.

Anja Thompson-Rohde, Librarian (Special Collections and Conservation), Bromley House Library

20 Apr Johanne Porter (Venue: Zoom)

‘The St Edmund “Memorial” Coinage: A Reassessment’

In 869, the ‘Great Army’ returned to East Anglia, and the king of the East Angles, Edmund, was killed in battle. Within thirty years, the new Scandinavian rulers of eastern England were striking coins invoking the authority of Edmund as a saint. This talk will present aspects of the author’s doctoral research which aimed re-examine the St Edmund ‘Memorial’ coinage to enhance our understanding of eastern England in the Viking-Age. Not only will this reassessment challenge the assumption that the coinage was issued in ‘memory’ of St Edmund, but will also discuss the distribution pattern of this coin-type to demonstrate the extent of Viking authority and control in eastern England. 

Johanne Porter, University of East Anglia

18 May Robert Iliffe and team (Venue: Zoom)

‘Newton, gold, and the goldsmiths’

Abstract In this talk I discuss Newton’s attitude to gold and his occasionally tense relationship with goldsmiths over the three decades of his presence within the Mint. I look at his concern with precision in the refining of gold coins, and place this in the context of his relations with goldsmiths, notably during the trials of the Pyx that took place during his tenure as Master of the Mint. I also examine his periodic appraisal of the value of the guinea and of foreign coins, and more broadly, I place his work on fixing the relative prices of gold and silver coin in the context of the continuing outflow of silver to the Far East.

Robert Iliffe, Professor of the History of Science, University of Oxford

15 Jun Roger Bland (Venue: Zoom)

‘Problems in ancient numismatics 3. A tale of lockdown: cataloguing the coinage of Gordian III’

Abstract In a change from the planned title, which I have been unable to pursue because of the lack of access to libraries during lockdown, I will describe – in a way that I hope isn’t utterly tedious to non-specialists – what I have been working on during these last months. This is a revision of my 1991 corpus of the coinage of Gordian III from the mints of Antioch in Syria and Caesarea in Cappadocia. I will contrast the way I went about the project 30 years ago, physically visiting coin collections around Europe and America, to how one can carry out such research today. There has been an exponential increase of the number of coins appearing online, and digital images have had a huge impact on die studies.

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