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Numismatics the study of coinage, and is a wonderfully useful tool in the archaeologist's and historian's toolbox. One of the best things for an archaeologist to find while digging is a coin. The reason is simple; it can instantly provide some date for the layer they are digging. Additionally, coins provide information for trade, economy, social organisation, mythology, ideologies, personages, leadership, military, important events, and the list goes on.

Parts of coins

To analyse ancient coinage there are some terms that one must first understand:

The Obverse: The obverse is the heads side or the front of the coin. Roman Imperial coins usually display the head of the Emperor or a significant relative. It can be difficult to identify the obverse on a Greek coins because of the images depicted.

The Reverse: The reverse is the opposite side of the coin to the obverse. It is the tails side or back of the coin. Roman Imperial coins usually display some sort of propaganda on the reverse, while Republican coins depict a theme glorifying a certain ancestor. Again with Greek coins it can be more difficult to identify.

Legend: This refers to the inscription on the coin excluding mint characters. It typically runs round the exterior edge of the coin but there are exceptions.

The legend can contain abbreviations, particularly on Roman coins, which are significant to the analysis of the coins. Some of the most common are:

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AVG = Augustus

C or CAES = Caesar

COS = Consul

IMP = Imperator/Commander

PERP or PP = Perpetuus/Continuous

P F = Pius Felix/dutiful to the gods, the state or one's family

P M = Ponifex Maximus

P P = Pater Patriae/Father of his country

S C = Senatus Consulto/by degree of the state

S P Q R = Senatus Populusque Romus/The Roman Senate and People

Field: The field is a flat undecorated area which sometimes contains mint or control marks, which are a sequence of letters or symbols indicating who produced the coins.

Exergue: The exergue is a space at the bottom of the reverse which often separated from the image by a line. Sometimes this space houses part of the legend or a mint mark.

Type: The central design on the reverse which is generally surrounded by the legend and on top of the exergue.

Important Terms to Remember when Analysing:

AE: AE is often found in the description of coins and is an abbreviation meaning that the coin is of a base metal or alloy (eg. Copper or bronze). When used alongside a number it refers to the size of the coin. This measurement is done in millimetres of the diameter of the coin but does not represent the millimetres themselves but a certain category which they belong to. For instance, with Roman coins, AE1 are alloy coins over 25mm and AE2 are 21-25mm etc.

AR: Is an abbreviation indicating that the coin is made of silver derived from the Latin 'argentum' meaning silver.

AU: Is an abbreviation indicating that the coin is made from gold derived from the Latin 'aurum' meaning gold.

Brockage: Refers to a coin which has been mis-struck and the reverse image appears incuse on the obverse of the coin.

Restoration: Refers to an issue of a coin which replicates a previous coin with few minor changes. Often this is to keep the reverence of previously depicted persons by keeping coins in circulation.

Serrated/Serratus: Refers to a coin with a notched edge.

Transverse: Something held at an angle in the image.

Archaeological Sources

The archaeological sources played an important role in constructing or/and reconstructing the history of a region.

The archaeological source of Indian history is only about two centuries old.

The archaeological source enhanced our knowledge about our past and also provided important materials, which we could not have been obtained otherwise.

Up to 1920, Indian civilization was considered to have begun about 6 th century B.C. However, the excavations at Mohenjodaro, Kalibangan, and Harappa prove its antiquity to be of 5,000 B.C.

Prehistoric artifacts found in the excavations have shown that human activities had started here as early as about two million years ago.

Epigraphy and Numismatics are the important branches of the study of history, which has greatly enhanced the knowledge of India's past.

Epigraphy is the study of inscriptions and Numismatic is the study of coins, medals, or paper money.

Coins are an important numismatic source that tells us about the Indo-Greek, Saka-Parthian, and Kushana Kings.

Inscriptions of Ashoka and Samudragupta provide valuable information about social and political status of the people of that period.

The study of these inscriptions reveals the world about Ashoka's views on dharma (religion) and conquests of Samudragupta.

NEW From NUMISCONGO: A Numismatic History of Congo/Zaïre: 1887-1997

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BELOW: 1961 Katanga 5 Franc Bronze Specimen Strike

of HoneyRock Publishing

A Numismatic History . . .
may be ordered directly from the following retailers.

Now Available . . .

A Numismatic History of Congo/Zaïre: 1887-1997

Richard K. LeVan
with contributions
Beverly B. LeVan and Leopold Verbist

Exploring 110 years of Circulation and Proof coinage,
24 chapters, 359 pages with illustrations


THIS book addresses the coinage of Congo/Zaïre . It sets the coins in their historical context as it moves in chronological fashion from the first silver and copper coins authorized by the Belgian King, Leopold II in 1887, for the Congo Free State ( L'État indépendant du Congo ) through the last silver and gold proof coins authorized by Joseph Mobutu in his final turbulent years as the President of Zaïre (1996-1997).

THIS chronicle, the first in English to provide a systematic discussion of this area of numismatic interest, will prove a valuable resource for collectors, coin dealers and auction houses, as well as those with an interest in African studies and history in general. It contains hundreds of pictures as well as specifications (size, weight, mintage figures, etc) for about every coin ever minted for Congo/Zaïre. Many essai /pattern coins as well as coins with notable strike anomalies, such as date over-strikes are also included.

THE majority of the coins in this volume are displayed larger than actual size for illustrative purposes - with the actual dimensions noted. The myriad of pictures were not extensively edited. They were collected from an array of sources, and therefore, vary in terms of quality, as do the coins they display.

AN attempt was made to be as thorough as possible. Therefore, even when a picture was not available of a known, extant coin example, other pertinent information about the coin is included when possible.

IDENTIFYING reference numbers for the coins are drawn primarily from the cataloging work of: Charles Dupriez (1949) and Léon Bogaert (1972), as well as Louis Ciani and Krause Mishler Publications. I have added a number of attributions for coins not previously listed, or clearly delineated. Where I have added attributions they are "built" primarily on the numbering system of Dupriez.

IT has been said that a coin is just a small piece of metal, seemingly inconsequential in the greater scheme of things - until it is examined in light of its historical context. Thereafter, everything changes, as it is revealed that the small piece of metal is actually a reflection of the political and socio-economic realities of its time and place. Whether that time period and culture be peaceful or tumultuous, much can be deduced contextually from the coinage of any particular age.

IN the period from 1887-1997, the Congo went through a metamorphosis. Initially the nation was ruled for some 23 years (commencing in 1885) by a foreign King, who imprinted his image on the first coin designs for the Congo Free State. As absolute ruler of the Congo Free State, Belgian King Leopold II's image was front and center on all the silver coinage of the period (1887-1896). Subsequently, renamed the Belgian Congo, and henceforth administered by the Belgian government, the coin designs for the colony would for decades, continue to portray Belgian heads-of-state, Albert II and then Leopold III, as the centerpiece.

THE Congo's coinage by the 1940's, finally began to reflect fauna of the country - elephants, with no reference to Belgian heads-of-state. In 1965 the newly independent Congo's first circulation coinage was released, featuring a lion design. Katanga's earlier experiment with independence (1961) produced the 1 and 5 franc pieces that included bananas and copper crosses in their design - with no portrait of a government official.

PORTRAITS of heads-of-state, so common in European coin designs, by 1965 were once again utilized on coins in the Congo. This time, however, it was Congo's first President, Joseph Kasa-Vubu that would grace a gold 5-piece Independence Anniversary Set. Subsequently, after Mobutu came to power, his portrait would anchor the obverse of Congo's coinage from 1967-1988, reflecting his central role in, and absolute control over the Congo's affairs. As it would turn out, this one-hundred-ten year period (1887-1997) would end as it had began, with supreme rulers, first Leopold II and then Mobutu, stepping (or forced as the case may be) aside as cries for economic and societal reforms rang aloud both in and outside the Congo. Thus the Congo's coinage is a lasting and tangible testament to the historic and economic realities, of both the Congo itself and the nations with which it interacted . . .

FORTUNATELY , for those who collect and study African coinage, this hundred-ten year period of the Congo's development offers a wealth of opportunity. Almost all the coin types ever minted for the Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zaïre can be found in the numismatic marketplace. These coins while readily available in circulated condition, can in many instances, be found in uncirculated grades as well, even those dating back to the first years of the Congo Free State. In addition, in recent years a number of essai/pattern strikes have appeared in International auctions, some dating from 1887, the Congo's first year of coinage. Hopefully, armed with an understanding of the cultural context and significance of these pieces, all of our collecting experiences will be enhanced, and consequently made more productive, enjoyable and fulfilling.

Numismanic, Nomismatic, Numismatics?

Whenever we tell friends and family where we work, their first response is typically, "What is Numismatics?" Of course, they pronounce it anywhere from "numismatic" to "gnomimatic!" The National Numismatic Collection (NNC) is the Smithsonian's collection of monetary and transactional objects. It houses approximately 1.6 million objects spanning thousands of years and a great variety of materials. One of the best parts of our jobs is getting to share the collection with the world! Numismatics is a far-reaching field, and we've found connections to military history, facial hair, woman suffrage, and even Game of Thrones! We often share things about our favorite objects, but here are a few large, notable collections that you may not know are housed within the NNC. We’re making these available online, and researchers are welcome to contact us regarding their research in these areas.

Greco-Roman Collection

Ancient coins have long been collected because of their beauty, age, history, and sometimes rarity. Even dating back to the Renaissance, aristocrats and royals sought to add ancient coins to their collections. It makes sense then that the NNC would also have an extensive collection of these fascinating coins donated by various collectors over the years. Scholars recently dove into the collection to assess its strengths as compared to other notable museum collections. In doing so, they created a detailed listingof the holdings and discovered the collection contains approximately 26,900 Greek and Roman coins! These coins offer a great opportunity to study economics, art history, ancient coin production, classics, and more.

Greek and Roman coins reflect a wide range of iconography and diversity of design. Greek coins often feature gods or goddesses, animals, symbols, and heroes. The tetradrachm coin shown above is just one example depicting the beautiful artistry of these coins. Athena, the goddess of wisdom and patron of Athens, is featured on the obverse, or front, of the coin, while the reverse (shown here) features the owl associated with her. Roman coins often feature portraits of real people, typically the ruling emperor of the time period on the obverse. Reverses often feature religious and political symbols.

East Asian Collection

The Asian coins of the NNC were accumulated almost entirely through private donations. Some of these donations include the George Bunker Glover bequest of more than 2,000 coins of China, Japan, Korea, Siam, and Annam a collection of Japanese obans and other coins gifted to President Ulysses S. Grantfrom the Japanese Emperor Meiji a set of Japanese gold and silver coins from Japan's Minster Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, the Honorable Arinori Mori and, most recently, a portion of Howard F. Bowker's collections of East Asian coins. These unique and beautiful collections have grown the NNC's East Asian holdings into one of the best representations of the development of East Asian Numismatics.

The NNC currently houses more than 5,100 Chinese, 1,300 Korean, and 1,300 Japanese coins and metal currencies, and we're putting them online for your browsing pleasure! Everything from the money of samurai and antique Chinese knife money to the coins of modern Korea is being made available thanks to a generous donation made in the memory of Howard F. Bowker.

The United States Treasury Collection

The NNC is the collection of record for the United States Treasury. As a part of this, the collection holds over 270,000 proof sheets from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing that reflect the monetary history of the United States from 1863 to the early 20th century. These proof sheets were recently digitized as part of a collaborative effort to make our collections more digitally accessible. These proof sheets are valuable resources to researchers examining the changing iconography of United States currency, and they offer a glimpse into the process of supplying currency for an entire nation.

The NNC also holds many specimen notes and representative samples of almost every type of currency produced by the Treasury. Some of the highlights from this collection include the 100,000 dollar bill and the Grand Watermelon Note. The 100,000 dollar note pictured above is one of four specimens in the NNC's collection that were transferred from the Treasury in 1978. It features the portrait of the 28th U.S. President, Woodrow Wilson, as well as a geometric design in orange ink on the reverse. The orange ink on this note signals that its purpose was to facilitate the transfer of large amounts of gold between Federal Reserve Banks rather than for use as legal tender, the currency used by the general public.

So however you end up pronouncing it (it's nü-məz-ˈma-tiks, by the way), we hope you have fun exploring our National Numismatic Collection.

Hillery York, Jennifer Gloede, and Emily Pearce Seigerman are collections staff in the National Numismatic Collection.

Henry Chapman’s Granddaughter Sets the Record Straight

A few weeks ago I gave a talk at a meeting of the New York Numismatic Club (NYNC) on the Philadelphia coin dealers S. H. and Henry Chapman. The day before the event, I was delighted to learn that Henry Chapman’s granddaughter and great-grandson would be attending. By complete coincidence, Henry’s great-grandson is a neighbor of former ANS curator Carmen Arnold-Biucchi, a NYNC member.

Henry Chapman Jr., 1912

I spend a lot of time researching and writing about things that happened in the 19th- and early 20th-centuries, and sometimes the characters I encounter from those days begin to seem almost fictional to me. So it is always a bit of a shock and definitely a thrill for me to encounter someone with such a close connection to the distant past. Because she was so young when he died, Henry’s granddaughter has no memory of him, but she remembers his wife, Helen, vividly, having lived with her until the age of 14. (Helen ran the coin business after Henry’s death in 1935.) I certainly never thought I’d have the chance in 2021 to talk to someone who knew the wife of one of my early subjects, especially one who started his business in 1878!

Henry Chapman’s wife Helen, taken at the American Numismatic Association convention in Philadelphia, 1908

One of the great benefits of this encounter is that she was able to set me straight on some facts. I wanted to take this opportunity to correct a mistake I made in identifying someone in a photograph I published in ANS Magazine (2019, no. 4, p.34). In 1983, Henry’s three daughters paid a visit to the ANS along with other family members.

Henry Chapman Jr.’s three daughters visited the ANS along with other relatives in 1983. They are, from left to right in the front row, Helen Arndt, Henrietta Judson, and Jane Huber. The gentleman between Helen and Henrietta is John Arndt, Helen’s husband. Also pictured are ANS executive director Leslie Elam (tallest in the back row) and librarian Frank Campbell (on the extreme right).

In the photograph taken that day, I misidentified John Arndt, Henry’s son-in-law, as Henry’s son Joseph, who is not in the group picture. Correct identifications accompany the photograph reproduced here.

Henry Chapman Jr.’s son Joseph

Henry’s granddaughter did supply me with a photograph of the real Joseph Chapman, which I have included here. He was Henry’s only son who survived to adulthood. Another son, Henry Chapman III, died at the age of three, according to Find A Grave.

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by David Fiero PhD

Eyes Wide Open, Ears Wide Shut: Ecuador's Struggle in the Nineteenth Century. Responsible "Minthood" or Quixotic "Enchantment".

"Memory is an essential part of man's rationality without it we would always be the children of yesterday." El Quiteño Libre, 16 May 1833.

Perhaps surprisingly, the essence of the "message" in Michael Anderson's Numismatic History of Ecuador is to be found in the appendices, which consist mainly of the correspondence between the directors of the Quito mint and Ecuadorean political leaders, primarily in the first two thirds of the nineteenth century. Editorialists for the capital's main liberal newspaper, El Quiteño Libre, complete this fascinating window on the past. The political exchanges tend towards a sharply rhetorical polemic, at times acrimonious since both sides claimed to espouse the same goals whilst admitting no personal failures. The editorials cited, however, are largely whimsical, even philosophical musings on the purpose of money itself, and on the importance of establishing a national mint, which was fighting for its very existence.

The Andean republic of Ecuador, a small nation arising from the ashes of Simón Bolívar's dream of a unified federation of South American states, or at the very least, of the Greater Colombia that he was so instrumental in founding, was born, it can be safely asserted, with its eyes wide open. Neighbouring countries had already provided ample proof that a nation debases its currency at its peril. Since the definitive withdrawal of Spanish colonial overlords in 1825, in fact throughout the decade of the 1820s and beyond, the autochthonous monies coined by the northern tier of fledgling South American nations possessed one element in common. "Good Spanish silver", the colonial coins prized world-wide for their constant weight and fineness, had been driven out of circulation by "moneda feble", a quite feeble money indeed, containing at most two-thirds silver. This was expressed upon the coins, if at all, by the term "eight dineros", a fineness of .666 as twelve "dineros" was pure silver. Most notorious were the ubiquitous pesos of Cundinamarca in neighbouring New Granada (Colombia), bearing the symbolic visage of an Indian in head-dress and the reverse emblem of a pomegranate. Mostly dated 1821, they continued to be struck long afterwards. Even the Bolivian four real pieces dated 1830, depicting a high-cheekboned, somewhat "indigenous" visage of the Liberator, Simón Bolívar, and struck in Potosí, the very fountainhead, or mother lode, of South American silver, were of similarly low fineness.

Nearly two centuries earlier, during the great scandals of the 1650s at the mint in Potosí during Spanish colonial times, when similar fraud was widespread, albeit clandestine, there had been consequences. Even a greatly weakened Spanish crown was to be feared when its money was tampered with, and as a result heads had rolled and lessons had been learned.

Now, it would seem, they had been forgotten. As an editorial in "El Quiteño Libre" admonishes: "There is no lack of politicians who advise the forgetting of past evils. Let us avail ourselves of the good, after having suffered the evil". A simple extension of Gresham's Law, that bad money drives out good, could perhaps be stated thusly: just because "bad money" has become the norm, accepted (at whatever discounts) in the domestic marketplace, this does not by any means imply that the "State" has gotten away with anything, and is in some sense "home free". On the contrary, if modernisation was some day to take place at the national level - for example by importing, from abroad, machinery to produce coins - this would mean dealing with technologically more advanced foreign states, which demand "good money". If such has gone "underground", due to the forces at work in Gresham's Law, then it would just have to be "dug up" again, or rather struck by melting down a quarter century's worth of debased national coinage. It was this very conversion which would lead to the demise of the Quito mint.

The difficulties encountered in reversing such processes had been realized back in Spain even before the disasters at the Potosí mint. In a type of "denomination debasement" or "face value creep", King Felipe III had doubled the nominal value of the billon coinage used by the common people in fulfilling their immediate needs. As of 1602, the coins of four maravedís were simply counterstamped with the Roman numeral "VIII". These "cuartos", since they had been worth four maravedís, had now been "miraculously" turned into coins of "dos cuartos". Though the total value of the low denomination currency had technically been doubled, the inflationary results were instantaneous, even at the local level among the largely illiterate populace. Like the "enchantment" of the alchemist, this failed experiment bordered on the surreal, seemingly right off the pages of Don Quixote, the best-selling novel which even then was in the process of being written.

In fact, the resulting monetary chaos led the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, who published his satirical Don Quixote in 1605, to ridicule the king's expedient on the very first pages of the "first modern novel". The narrator claims that Rocinante, Don Quixote's nag-become-warhorse, had "more cuartos than a real", with the term "cuartos" possessing the double meaning of "four maravedís" and "a disease afflicting the hooves of horses. Rocinante was a fraud as a battle steed, as was the false "Knight" who rode him, Don Quixote. So was the king's new money, regardless of how many "cuartos" he tried to squeeze out of a real. That the very term "real" also refers to royalty made this triple pun complete. Don Quixote may have been betting on the wrong horse, but the Spanish common people were not to be fooled by number-crunching monarchs, although as always they revered their king personally.

Only in satire could even the most subtle of authors succeed in what today is considered "social satire". A few years later, in 1609, none other than an official of the Spanish Inquisition made the mistake of spelling out exactly what the king had done. Father Juan de Mariana had written, in a treatise for royal consumption:

The truth is that when there is much billon, it causes good silver to go into exile, because everyone must pay the king's taxes in silver coin, but His Majesty in turn only pays his employees in billon. Although he remains in custody of the good silver at first, it soon must be paid out to make purchases abroad. I can only conclude that the worst of many side effects of such a process is that the king himself becomes the object of the hatred of the masses. A wise man has said that everyone tries to take the credit for prosperity, but attributes his adversity only to those in command.

King Felipe, far from following this thinly veiled warning, had Father Mariana thrown into prison. Thus, in an absolutist state, literature can reveal the truth far more freely than people in high public office it was simple for people to laugh at Don Quixote's follies, which were in reality those of his nation and even its monarch. Readers, including royalty, had their laugh, were relieved, and no one felt directly offended. Ecuador, on the other hand, saw no need to censor its editorialists, as long as they threw only verbal brickbats. They were simply ignored, as it was more convenient not to listen. Business limped along as usual, although no one was laughing and the cycle of economic backwardness persisted. Would the new nation be able to learn from history, imitating what the Spanish had done right, whilst avoiding its mistakes?

Ironically, it was the newly independent Ecuadorean government itself which was fomenting both the depreciation and, much more seriously since it threatened the very autonomy of the state, even the counterfeiting of its own currency. Horace Flatt, in his excellent series of books on the effects which Bolivia's debased coinage had on its neighbour, Peru, has shown how the one practice can lead perforce to the other. There was no profit in counterfeiting good money - the difference in colour alone betraying the hand of a forger at work - and there seemed to be little further harm caused by counterfeiting a currency which was already essentially "bad". Lending the force of authority to either the emission of coins of low fineness, or to the widespread practice of counterfeiting in order to have some circulating medium of exchange, only increased the evil. The newly independent "state" was now engaged in becoming the instrument of its own economic demise. And no official "mint", unfunded and given the mandate to emit a depreciated coinage on the model of its neighbours, could compete on any level. Spain's disastrous experiment with revaluation - at a time when it controlled the majority of the world's reserves of precious metals - had not taught any lessons to Ecuador's neighbouring countries. For Colombia, Peru and Bolivia were far richer in precious metals than Ecuador, to the point of having become nearly synonymous with the same. In a process of historical-linguistic "embedding", these countries had come to be thought of as the lands of "El Dorado", of the Incan treasure of Atahualpa, and of Potosí, the Mountain of Silver, respectively. Even Don Quixote, from the far-off "madre patria" of the hated "gachupines" of the Iberian peninsula, had once remarked that he "would give a Potosí" to discover whether Dulcinea returned his love. And although she was but a fantasy, the Knight's comparison was well-taken, symbolising by antonomasia "all the money in the world". Ecuador, on the other hand, would remain the "poor cousin" of its mineral-rich neighbours for centuries, whilst imitating their monetary folly as soon as it gained independence in 1830.

Much less could a law-abiding, but again unfunded, mint compete with counterfeiters who were never prosecuted, but rather encouraged, by officialdom. Again and again we hear the laments of successive mint directors, who laud the nearly superhuman efforts of honest employees who went unpaid for years on end, finally being forced to quit to avoid starvation. When the Quito mint did manage to turn a slight profit, the funds disappeared immediately into the quicksands of a labyrinthine bureaucracy. At the same time, allocations earmarked by the Legislature for the purchase of proper equipment or the long-overdue payment of salaries rarely arrived, and certainly not in their entirety or in a timely fashion. Nonetheless, the mint itself was held at fault for the resulting delays in capital improvements and production. No mint director could afford to stay in that post for long, keeping his employees alive on his own personal funds out of patriotic idealism. Whilst perhaps laudable, to do so was, in the long term, a form of "quixotic enchantment", without foundation in reality.

Each director in turn would point out in vain that the establishment could easily pay for itself and even contribute to the Public Treasury. That is to say, it could have, if only there existed "seed money", some initial capital to purchase those precious metals brought to it by private citizens. These were beginning to prospect, with some success, for the gold and platinum which the still largely unexplored, underpopulated countryside turned out to contain after all, although silver, as in Colombia, was at most to be found as a by-product of the more precious metals. These would then be exported, leaving the home country a virtual monetary backwater. The occasional attempts to coin silver of high fineness were later to meet with the same fate: immediate exportation.

The Spanish colonial empire had been founded on a model of enforced mercantilism. As the Spaniards never learned to profit from this system of "closed markets" by developing their own industries, Spain had been in economic decline for centuries. In nineteenth century Latin America a type of economic colonialism was revived once again with greater success. Success, at least, for the countries doing the importing of raw materials, while exporting value-added, finished goods in return. One difference was that the most capable minds of the now independent Ecuador were free to express themselves openly in writing. Well after the onset of the industrial revolution, they were fully aware of what is at stake when nothing is produced for domestic consumption or export through industrial fabrication. In this model of chronic economic infirmity, raw materials are cast out upon a world market of industrialised nations only too eager to give in exchange a far smaller quantity of finished goods for more of the same raw materials with which to perpetuate the never-ending cycle of dependency.

In truth, a "post-colonial" model still prevailing today in a new millennium was already being born. Wiser heads saw this process for what it was, but could do nothing. They could not even mint a quantity of coins of high fineness sufficient to begin the process of modernisation and true independence, although it is precisely in the field of coining money that the "value added" component is already built-in to the product itself. This is the very tenth, or one-twelfth when coining gold of 22 carats, part of each coin composed of base metal alloy, in which are contained the profits necessary for the entire enterprise to function. Since a mint need only break even to succeed, mint directors realized that to stay in business they simply had to fulfil their basic function of minting coins of high quality. Our current concept of seigniorage, in the present-day system of token coinage, formerly consisted of that "magic tenth or twelfth" which comprised the difference between the face value and the intrinsic value of a precious-metal coin. And sound money encourages the national market in general, as mint directors never tired of pointing out.

The tragedy is that this process could never be sustained the miracle was that it was fully recognised, and even occurred on a sporadic basis. By 1858, beautiful silver crowns of .900 fineness were being produced, but never in a quantity sufficient to redeem the great mass of debased silver coinage. Only then was the true extent of the folly of producing coins whose metallic content was at least one-third of base metal fully realized by politicians. No one had ever wanted these, it being much cheaper to purchase forgeries of forty to fifty per cent base metal. They looked no worse than the genuine article, and national esteem was no longer an issue with the mint itself already engaged in what its own directors considered as fraud. But once set in motion and perpetuated for nearly thirty years, this was a difficult cycle to break out of, one which would eventually "break the mint". Full monetary autonomy was something Ecuador was not to achieve within the first phase of its existence, in the nineteenth century.

Attempts were made to improve this situation. Plans had been made as early as 1856 to import large cents from the United States, for Ecuador had never struck copper coins, or found a means of conducting small transactions without defrauding the great mass of its poor, largely indigenous, population. And just when it seemed that the new crowns of 1858 would provide a means to achieve the stable currency required to deter counterfeiting, gain respect for Ecuador in the international marketplace, and prevent profiteering at home by unscrupulous merchants, disaster struck. Or rather, a whole series of disasters ensued. On the monetary front, the new crowns were found to contain a bit less than .900 silver, complicating dealings with the United States regarding the importation of coining machinery. Nor could they be produced in sufficient quantity to redeem the discredited "moneda feble", of .666 silver, which continued to dominate in the marketplace. Lastly, provisions for the transition were cloudy at best, the legislation having called for redemption on a basis of 80% of the face value of the old "feeble money" to be redeemed in new, good silver, coins. Since this was well above their actual intrinsic value - providing, in essence, "too good a deal" in order to encourage redemption and avoid defrauding anyone - such an exchange rate could not have been maintained even had the new crowns existed in sufficient quantity to do so, which they did not.

The resulting vicious circle would prove to be a cul-de-sac from which there was no escape. The wide discrepancy between face value and intrinsic value in the old money turned out to be one more form of "enchantment", another case of spurious alchemy to which politicians turned a closed ear, preferring to ignore those few who saw the truth. And even darker days of reckoning were close at hand.

From the south, Peru was poised to invade, never having fully accepted the existence of Ecuador as an independent nation. Always on the periphery, its continued existence was now especially imperilled. On one side lay the former Spanish colonial viceroyalty of Peru - of which Ecuador had been an outlying province, or "audiencia" - where the high Andean plateau including the former Incan seat of Cuzco extended south into Bolivia to include the mining district of Potosí. To the north was the former department of New Granada. Here, the Colombian dictator General Mosquera still held dreams of re-establishing the "Greater Colombia" which had held sway until 1830, including both Ecuador and Venezuela. Plans for a power grab, not unlike the division of Poland between Hitler and Stalin in 1939, were well under way when an earthquake felt throughout the country devastated Quito, the capital, in 1859, demolishing the mint as well.

Thus, the hastily mobilised Ecuadorean militia had to divide its efforts between national defence and emergency reconstruction. It was questionable whether the country could be sustained as a political entity in such circumstances, rebuilding the mint could hardly be a priority. Never having achieved complete political stability in the best of times, Ecuador now saw various factions begin to court the invaders, seeking their own ends through secret treaties of accommodation. With as many as four Ecuadorean armies involved in the ensuing civil war and bearing shifting allegiances to the invading powers, the Peruvian fleet blockaded the entire coast, briefly holding the port city of Guayaquil, the country's economic centre and gateway to the outside world. However, by 1861 Gabriel García Moreno, a centralist opposed to both the federalist and accommodationist factions, had achieved something resembling a cease-fire with honour. Although border wars with Peru continued to flare up until recent times, Ecuador's existence as a nation would never again be seriously threatened. It had survived its "baptism of fire and rubble" surprisingly intact even today history manuals refer to the period from 1859 to 1861 as the "Dark Years".

The integrity of the precarious pile of rubble which had been the national mint was upheld, in theory at least, by its chief assayer, an unpaid expatriate Scotsman turned Ecuadorean who had guarded the site, and even set about rebuilding on his own. Much remains to be said about the man who took on this thankless, largely symbolic, and ultimately futile task, and around whom Michael Anderson structures much of Numismatic History of Ecuador. His steadfast allegiance to Ecuador never wavered, in an era when even patriotic nationals often succumbed to despair, and worse.

Continuing our analogy from Spanish literature will illustrate several points at this juncture. Our friend Don Quixote once remarked that his nation had become "the Indies of the foreigner". This was entirely true, as Spain produced little but money which was (usually, despite our mention of occasional lapses) of high quality. In its heyday, it had also manufactured the armaments with which to conquer and defend those silver and gold producing regions whose wealth helped to create the very stuff of that, and this tale as well. Genoese, German and Flemish merchants and money-lenders whisked away the lion's share of each arriving plate fleet's profits upon its arrival in Seville or Cadiz, often purchasing titles of Spanish nobility from the frequently bankrupt Spanish crown.

By the mid-1500s, with the conquest of the New World largely complete, the king had nothing else left to offer, already having "hooked" each incoming fleet's profits up to five years in advance of its arrival. Still, European moguls of high finance made excellent scapegoats in a Spain loath to sully its own fingers with the often dirty work of actual industrial production and genuine world-wide commerce or free trade. The history of European colonisation from the Spice Islands to the New World, from Sarawak to Nicaragua, offers numerous examples of countries in which foreign exploitation lived up to its reputation as the "bogey-man" of what are presently termed "third world" countries. Only Simón Bolívar's dream of unification of the former Spanish colonies could have prevented their becoming isolated from one another, to be exploited economically by a succession of European states, and later by multi-national companies from Anaconda Copper to the United Fruit Company. Subsequent fears of cold war communist takeovers would complete this picture of general instability into recent times, continuing to fan a widespread violence which continues to this day, as former Marxist guerrillas take hold of drug-trafficking throughout the northern tier of South American nations.

All this, as well as the initial political immaturity which led to disastrous wars between and within individual countries from the very moment of their achieving independence from Spain, was to cause Bolívar's worst nightmare to come to pass - the formation of "banana republics" which was to become the model for Latin America in the twentieth century. Before his death in 1830, leading to and coinciding with the birth of Ecuador as a nation, Bolívar had correctly recognised the bitter truth of his continent's destiny, that "attempting to unite South America is tantamount to trying to plough the sea".

Michael Anderson describes at length the trajectory of a different type of foreigner altogether, William Jameson of Scotland, or "Guillermo Jámeson" as his hispanicised name appears in contemporary chronicles. A doctor, botanist and inventor whose services as assayer caused his initials to appear on many an Ecuadorean coin throughout the middle third of the nineteenth century, he dedicated much of his adult life to sustaining the mint in Quito in whichever capacity he was most needed. Most of Ecuador's early coinage carries the assayer's initials "G.J." in honour of the now-assimilated "Guillermo Jámeson". Eventually he became mint director himself in 1861, largely in recognition of his having "held the fort" - or what was left of it - throughout the "Dark Years".

This was one case in which abilities and needs were well-matched, and where personal profit could not have been the motive, as there was none to be had. Even as the personal friend of President García Moreno he was seldom paid, either as mint director or as a professor at the University of Quito. Already during the dictatorship of General Flores in the 1830s he had continued to serve even after seeing several friends, themselves heroes of the independence struggle against Spain and founding members of "El Quiteño Libre", butchered by the dictator's faction, with their naked bodies left to hang in the main Plaza of Quito.

A scientist at heart and an unpaid public servant in response to what he saw as his civic duty, Jameson himself tried to avoid politics, limiting himself, in a letter to fellow scientist Sir William Hooker, to the comment "It is not to be wondered at that we are subject to revolutions when such practices are persisted in". This comment was directed both against the obvious barbarism he had witnessed and the impossibility of establishing autonomous civic institutions, such as the university or the mint, in a political climate which saw public funds disappear into a black hole of graft and corruption. On occasion generals would openly raid the mint itself to finance military takeovers.

South American history is replete with examples of figures whose surnames, often of Anglo-Saxon origin, belie the extent to which they identified with their new homeland - Jameson took the very radical step, for a Scotsman, of converting to Catholicism - and who were typically most active in the natural or metallurgical sciences. Such figures, of whom he was one of the most exemplary, go a long way towards reversing the common stereotype of the arrogant, cruel or profiteering colonial capitalist in Latin America.

If anything, Jameson tended towards an unshakeable idealism he behaved like a nineteenth century Don Quixote, believing in his "quest" far longer than had Bolívar himself. And, before final disillusionment came, there would be a heavy price to be paid for his public-spiritedness, as he was not only to toil nearly without remuneration until the end of his days, but lived to see many of his family members, whom he had helped to establish in Ecuador, die of disease or neglect. The example of such tragedies, repeated often enough over the centuries, has clearly done little to encourage would-be "strongmen", who unlike Jameson did covet power, wealth or fame, to behave in a more civilised fashion.

The history of the Ecuadorean mint throughout its early years can be viewed as a corollary of the political struggles between opposing parties in the wake of the Latin American wars of independence of the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Originally, as in the struggle against the dictator Flores, these had been battles fought out of firm convictions in one or other of the two main factions of early Latin American politics: a conservative, even reactionary, tendency, favouring the wealthy oligarchy centred in the capital, often the offspring of the original Spanish colonial families, and an opposing populist faction based upon the exporting needs of rural agricultural interests. Over time, and after uncounted revolutions and changes in military dictatorships, the lines between the two factions became blurred. In the words of Latin America's best-known author, the Colombian Gabriel García Márquez, in his classic work One Hundred Years of Solitude, the situation had become one in which the protagonist, an old liberal revolutionary himself, could rightfully claim: "Now we are only fighting for power, nothing more. The only difference between the Conservatives and the Liberals is that the Conservatives go to seven o'clock Mass and the Liberals at nine".

In spite of the confusion reigning throughout battered Ecuador, Jameson had rebuilt and streamlined the operations of the Quito mint by late 1863, putting it on a firm financial footing through the expedient of privatisation. Whilst naysayers could claim he had "sold out" to the financial interests of private bankers in Guayaquil, the simple truth was that the central government, still reeling from the strife and destruction of the "Dark Years", was no longer in a position to provide even minimal support. Even with Jameson's friend García Moreno in power, a government which had not previously wanted to hear the truth concerning debasement no longer possessed ears, eyes or even arms with which to act. And so Jameson acted on his own, on yet another quest for which he would only be paid in the unlikely event that the mint, granted this brief reprieve, produced a profit. In this last desperate attempt to shore up the identity of his chosen homeland by preserving its national mint, he had resorted to using capital from the country's economic centre on the coast, where there still existed an economy of sorts and where the destruction had been less complete.

He was, however, forced to emit more coins of only .666 fineness in order that there existed any circulating medium at all, as the .900 fine silver crowns had disappeared from circulation during the previous three turbulent years. In an article entitled "The End of the Quito Mint", Melvin Hoyos Galarza describes how Jameson brought the final issues, of 1862, up to a European standard in terms of style, fabric and uniformity, in order to discourage counterfeiters. This he did by contracting with the noted Paris engraver, Albert Barre, whose signature the coins bear to the left of the date.

It was, alas, to be of no avail. Despairing of ever breaking even, the national government had turned over the entire operation to the "Banco Particular" in Guayaquil, to whom only the "bottom line" would matter. It was true that, through this act of privatisation and the zealous efforts of Jameson, both counterfeiting and corruption were stifled. But when, at the end of the first biennium in 1863, losses totalling nearly 20% of the amount coined appeared on the balance sheet, the final word had been spoken.

In December of 1863 the mint was closed for good, and the facilities Jameson had so arduously rebuilt and modernised were used, first as a military barracks, and finally, in 1865, ceded to the Jesuits to be utilised as the "Colegio Nacional", a type of elite "National Prep School". As a college professor himself, Jameson must have felt great pride over this solution, for it meant that children in the capital city no longer would have to be educated abroad. In a very real way, education represented the ultimate creation of basic "infrastructure" in a country lacking structure of any sort. And Jameson, ironically for a creator of money, had certainly never been "in it for the money". Still, "free market forces", operating under nearly impossible circumstances, had accomplished what earthquakes, enemy invasions, civil wars and long years of ever more "quixotic enchantment" in the form of government neglect had failed to destroy. His life work, the establishment of a permanent mint, could have been a source of national pride, as he well knew. But he exited gracefully, without fanfare. He only noted, much as Don Quixote's squire Sancho Panza had said 250 years earlier, upon losing his post as governor of the mythical island of Barataria, that he had started with nothing, done much, stolen nothing, and was leaving with just as little. In other words, he could be defeated, but he could never be corrupted.

Financially, Jameson would eventually receive a settlement of only seven per cent on the more than forty years of unpaid salaries owed him, despite the personal intercession of his friend, the President García Moreno. This perhaps embittered him more than receiving no payment at all, as he had long since ceased to hope for a reward which would lighten the rigours of an old age spent in near poverty perhaps he was a happier man before his eyes were fully opened to the reality of a world which hardly notices those who toil quietly, without clamouring for recognition. Nearing the end of his days, he is claimed to have remarked only, in the laconic style of a true Scotsman: "This is a bad country to live in, and a worse one to die in." Still, it must be noted that he had returned from a trip to Europe to Ecuador in 1873, although he was already on his deathbed. Like Don Quixote, he had come home to die, preferring the penury of his chaotic, adopted homeland to a well-deserved retirement in Scotland, where he was honoured and held in esteem by the entire European scientific community. And although the author of A Numismatic History of Ecuador, Michael Anderson, does not expressly say so, it is clearly to the spirit of those public-minded individuals who remained incorruptible, patriots and expatriates such as William Jameson alike, that this book is dedicated.

Early coin collecting

The long-held view that coin collecting began with the Italian Renaissance has been challenged by evidence that the activity is even more venerable. Suetonius ( ad 69–122) relates in his De vita Caesarum (Lives of the Caesars Augustus 75) that the emperor Augustus was fond of old and foreign coins and gave them as gifts to his friends. In addition to this account and a variety of other literary accounts of collecting from Greek and Roman sources, there is tangible archaeological evidence that coins have been collected at least from the Roman era and probably for as long as they have existed. For example, a hoard of some 70 Roman gold coins found at Vidy, Switzerland, did not contain any two specimens of the same type, which implies that the coins were collected during the period of Roman rule in that town.

The broader field of art collecting, for which specific and reliable accounts do exist, began in the 4th or 3rd century bc . Since coins of that period are universally recognized as works of art, and since they were among the most affordable and transportable objects of the art world, it is not surprising that they would have been collected even then. Certainly, they were appreciated for more than their value as currency, because they were often used in jewelry and decorative arts of the period.

During the reign of Trajanus Decius ( ad 249–251), the Roman mint issued a series of coins commemorating all of the deified emperors from Augustus through Severus Alexander. The designs on these coins replicated those of coins issued by the honoured rulers—some of the original coins being nearly 300 years old by that time. It would have been necessary for the mint to have examples of the coins to use as prototypes, and it is hard to see such an assemblage as anything but a collection. In ad 805 Charlemagne issued a series of coins that very closely resemble the style and subject matter of Roman Imperial issues—another example of collected coins providing inspiration for die engravers of a later era. The Nestorian scholars and artisans who served the princes of the Jazira (Mesopotamia, now Iraq, Syria, and Turkey) in the 12th and 13th centuries designed a magnificent series of coins with motifs based on ancient Greek and Roman issues. Some of these so accurately render the details of the originals that even the inscriptions are faithfully repeated. Others were modified in intriguing ways. The only difference, for example, between the reverse of a Byzantine coin of Romanus III and its Islamic copy is that the cross has been removed from the emperor’s orb in deference to Muslim sensibilities. The great variety and the sophisticated use of these images reveal the existence of well-studied collections. The eminent French numismatist Ernest Babelon, in his 1901 work Traité des monnaies Grecques et Romaines, refers to a manuscript dating to 1274, Thesaurus magnus in medalis auri optimi, which recorded a formal collection of ancient coins at a monastery in Padua, Italy. Petrarch (1304–1374), the famed humanist of the Italian Renaissance, formed a notably scientific and artistic collection of ancient coins.

Fascination with the images on the coins—depictions of famous rulers, mythological beings, and the like—seems to have generated much of the interest in collecting in these early periods. Because the coins of Asia and Africa did not usually feature images, collecting was not common in these areas until relatively modern times.


At the August 1930 American Numismatic Association Convention in Buffalo, William J. Schultz, Cincinnati numismatist, armed with telegrams from Cincinnati hotels, Mayor Russell Wilson, and many others, invited the ANA to have its 1931 Convention in Cincinnati. Harley Freeman of the Western Reserve Numismatic Club, Cleveland, seconded Cincinnati for the 1931 convention after Toronto and New Orleans were mentioned as possible 1931 hosts. Sam Kalealo, member of the only other Ohio coin club, Youngstown Numismatic Club, also invited the ANA to Cincinnati for 1931. Dr. J. M. Henderson, noted Columbus numismatist, also voiced support for a Cincinnati ANA Convention in 1931. So it was moved, seconded, and unanimously carried that Cincinnati be the next ANA convention site. The Board of Governors agreed.

The Cincinnati Numismatic Association, with a membership of 15 actual coin collectors, was brought into being within one week after the Buffalo convention. Temporary officers named were Herbert A. Brand, Chairman G. L. Schultz, Secretary and William J. Schultz, Publicity Chairman. These were the officers until the first election in January 1931. The Constitution and By-Laws, after a second reading, were adopted October 28, 1930.

It was decided that the Cincinnati Numismatic Association be closed to charter membership in January 1931. At that time the roster of the Cincinnati Numismatic Association made an exotic picture. It was made up of 17 wealthy collectors from Cincinnati, and the other 18 were some of the greatest names in numismatics of the era, including many officers of the American Numismatic Association. They were:

CNA Charter Members

  1. William J. Schultz, Cincinnati patent attorney
  2. S. Schultz, his son, and
  3. G. L. Schultz, his daughter.
  4. Harley Freeman, Cleveland, Ohio financier and numismatic great.
  5. George J. Bauer, Rochester, New York banker and president of the American Numismatic Association.
  6. Charles J. Thul, partner in the Armstrong Stationary Company of Cincinnati, and an avid collector.
  7. Herbert A. Brand, Cincinnati, sales engineer and general manager of a New York firm a specialist in medals and obsolete bank notes.
  8. Galen M. Lyon, Cincinnati district attorney and avid obsolete bank note collector.
  9. D. C. Wismer, wealthy Hatfield , Pennsylvania. collector who authored extensive State listings on obsolete bank notes.
  10. Nelson J. Thorson, Omaha, Nebraska collector and past president of the ANA.
  11. Waldo C. Moore, Lewisburg, Ohio banker, poet, past president of the ANA, and author and researcher of many many numismatic articles.
  12. Edmund Kerper, Cincinnati attorney and avid collector and trader.
  13. J. M. Henderson, Columbus, Ohio wealthy medical doctor and avid collector and trader.
  14. Max Mehl, Fort Worth, Texas dealer the first great mail order coin dealer in the country.
  15. Moritz Worsmer, Millionaire numismatic great. At this time still a collector and officer in the ANA, he later founded New Netherlands Coin Co., and made many great contributions to numismatics.
  16. Henry Chapman, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The last of the Great Chapman brothers who were among the foremost coin dealers of their era.
  17. Byron H. Burns, Cincinnati, Officer in the Fifth-Third Bank and an avid collector.
  18. Delvin Leach, wealthy Cincinnati businessman.
  19. J. Lazar, President, Cincinnati Federal Reserve Bank and a noted collector.
  20. Walter Boebinger, Cincinnati, president of a chain of men’s wear shops.
  21. William Hesslein, Boston, a wealthy physician and famous numismatic great.
  22. Farran Zerber, New York, Chase Manhattan Bank. A numismatic great and peerless contributor to numismatics.
  23. William H. Schwarz, owner of Cincinnati Gold and Silver Refining Co. Also struck medals.
  24. William L. Doepke, Cincinnati Financier and owner of a large department store. A famous collector of coins and stamps.
  25. Henry F. Wolfe, wealthy Yazoo City, Mississippi businessman and noted collector.
  26. Willis O. Crosswhite, Cincinnati financier and vice president of the Southwestern Publishing Company and ardent collector of coins and currency.
  27. Charles Markus, noted Davenport, Iowa collector.
  28. Albert A. Grinnell, Detroit, Michigan financier and numismatic great.
  29. Otto Kersteiner, Hamilton, Ohio, Officer of Champion Paper Company and an ardent collector of tokens
  30. Ronald Stanforth, Cincinnati Businessman and avid collector.
  31. Alvin Schlesinger, leading Cincinnati attorney and businessman, and a noted collector.
  32. Faye W. DeCamp, noted Camden, Ohio collector of the era.
  33. Henry Kercher, Cincinnati, Owner of the Cincinnati and Newport Bridge Company and an avid collector.
  34. L. M. Brown, wealthy Cincinnati Collector.
  35. James F. McGarr, Covington, Kentucky, banker and an avid collector.,

With this great group of the numismatic elite solidly behind him, Schultz and his friends appeared at the Buffalo ANA Convention in 1930 and overlooked no opportunity to win over every important person attending. He brashly requested the 1931 ANA Convention for Cincinnati, to enable him to form a new ANA Club and got it.

This was an unbelievable accomplishment of dedication and determination. Especially so since the East, in 1930, still though the civilized U.S. ended at Jersey City and Cincinnati was still Daniel Boone and Indian country.

The following is quoted verbatim from an editorial in the 1931 The Numismatist:

“Those who have carefully read these articles of the 1931 Convention City are probably convinced by this time that Schultz knows his Cincinnati. He has figuratively taken prospective conventioneers on a tour of the big city on the Ohio.

When Mr. Schultz appeared at the Buffalo Convention last year and told the members that Cincinnati wanted the 1931 Convention, and that it would mean the formation of a local club if the Convention would meet there, the Buffalo gathering felt inclined to grant his request without argument. He went home and in a few weeks, the Cincinnati Numismatic Association was formed . . .”

(How could he miss with Bauer, Zerbe, et al on his side?)

“Besides being an attorney . . . during the last nine months his time has largely been devoted to making arrangements for the ANA Convention . . . Although Buffalo was the first convention he attended, and he was a stranger to most on the first day, by the time the convention was adjourned he knew everybody and everybody knew him. Big and jolly, he has a personality all his own and does things when others are thinking about them. With Schultz in charge of the entertainment, those who attend the convention are assured of six days of the best vacation they ever experienced . . .”

Now having obtained his ANA Convention, Schultz really went to work to make it the best since the ANA was founded. He asked for, and was granted, the use of the June-July-August “The Numismatist” for his Cincinnati buildup. He started his story with Longfellow’s poem in the June issue:

“The Queen City of the West

On the banks of the beautiful river.”

In his three monthly articles, Schultz dramatically pictured every notable and important item of interest of Cincinnati’s glorious past and present that might be of interest to a visitor, in order to entice every ANA member to attend the convention in 1931.

No form of innovation was overlooked by Schultz and his group to entertain their visitors.

At the December 8, 1930, meeting of the CNA, a committee was named by Herbert Brand composed of William L. Doepke, William J. Schultz, and Walter J. Boebinger to create a design emblematic of Cincinnati for the CNA token, which was planned to be distributed to the visiting delegates as a memento. These tokens were to be struck in silver for founding members and gold for life members.

The design created by the committee and adopted by the CNA was characteristic of Cincinnati. The center of the design has the well known Tyler-Davidson Fountain, which stands in the center of the city. Surrounding this is “Cincinnati Numismatic Assn. 1930.” This design has been reproduced on the letterhead of the CNA every year since.

The obverse of the token or medals had this design and the reverse had “One Itannicnic” (Cincinnati spelled backward) with two palm branches and space for engraving name and number. Five pure gold, twenty-five pure silver, and three hundred copper pieces were struck. The gold medals were for life members and cost $100, the silver were for the founders and cost $10, and the copper were for members at $1. The dies were made and the medals struck by the Gregg Wright & Sons Company from metal furnished by CNA member and owner of Cincinnati Gold and Silver Refining Company, William H. Schwarz.

The 1931 Convention Committees were:

  • Herbert A. Brand
  • Herbert A. Brand
  • William L. Doepke
  • William J. Schultz
  • Galen M. Lyon
  • William H. Schwarz
  • Willis O. Crosswhite
  • Byron H. Thul
  • William J. Schultz
  • Byron H. Burns
  • Waldo C. Moore
  • Dr. J. M. Henderson
  • Mrs. Herbert A. Brand
  • Mrs. William J. Schultz
  • Mrs. Charles H. Thul
  • Mrs. Waldo C. Moore
  • Mrs. William H. Schwarz
  • Mrs. Galen M. Lyon.

The, for then, lavish entertainment and civic cooperation in the setting of the most beautiful hotel on the continent, the almost new Netherland Plaza, pleased the numismatic fraternity greatly and they all left agreeing that Schultz had fully kept his promise of one of the finest vacation weeks of their lives in the beautiful Queen City.

An interested gentleman of the city attending the convention was Sol Kaplan, already a veteran of 17 years in the stock brokerage business (he started at the age of 13!) Since many of these wealthy members were clients, any of their activities in the field of money interested him, and he sensed that this might be an even more lucrative field for his talents. It was not too long before he became involved enough to become Cincinnati’s first full time coin dealer and during the following era he attained his major stature in numismatics.

The ANA convention was a success as on the last day, September 3, 1931, resolutions were made, seconded and passed giving a hearty vote of thanks to Schultz, all of his chairmen, committees, Rembold, Doepke, the Netherland Plaza Hotel, City of Cincinnati, and the Cincinnati press. There were 81 registered at the convention.

The culmination of the 1931 ANA Convention, which was a great success for both the ANA and the host club, set the numismatic tide in Cincinnati surging and leading to the great era which Jule Silverman termed the “Golden Age of the Morganatic Angels.”

Despite the dark days of 1931 and 1932 with banks closing doors even faster than businesses were failing nationally, conservative Cincinnati weathered the storm nicely. The exposure to numismatics enticed wealthy collectors of stamps, guns, and other items to this new exciting field of coins, currency and medals.

Schultz and his founding group, having an acquaintanceship with the bankers, financiers, and businessmen, easily attracted them as new members to the club, and with the avidity of a child with a new toy, and they soon became the leaders, guides, and the “angels.” Angels were as always, of utmost importance to a club. It was not unusual for an H. Gibbs of Pittsburgh to invite the entire club to his baronial estate for a meeting, or for F. C. C. Boyd of New York to foot the bill for refreshments for all who attended his club meetings.


Coins of fixed weight, stamped with governmental authority and used as money for exchange of value, and also medals, frequently supply dates, depict styles of weapons, clothing, and art forms, indicate attitudes, or testify to the existence of an institution or administrative procedure otherwise not known from written or archeological sources. They thus have value for both religious and secular history. They are important not only for tracing the evolution of the Roman Empire but also for the history of the Church from antiquity to modern times. After a brief survey of the Roman imperial coinage as background, this article discusses chiefly the coins and medals of direct concern to Church history. Hebrew coinage, and Hellenistic coinage that is pertinent, are covered in other articles.

Roman Coinage from Augustus to Constantine. During the Republic, magistrates called the tres viri auro, argento, aere flando, feriundo (the three men for minting and striking [coins] of gold, silver, and bronze) controlled the issue of coinage under the authority of the Senate, which was indicated by the stamp S.C. for Senatus consulto. The obverse image gradually changed from the goddess Roma and the Dioscuri on horseback to Jupiter, to the figure of Victory, to Juno of Lanuvium in a chariot, etc., and eventually to the personal history and portraits of the magistrates. In 44 b.c. the head of Julius Caesar appeared on silver coins. Augustus permitted the Senate to coin bronze, but in practice he exercised complete control of the mints, and only the portraits of members of the imperial family were authorized. On the reverse side of the coinage political phrases were employed, such as the signis receptis of Augustus commemorating the recovery of the standards lost to the Parthians at the battle of Carrhae. Later Vespasian proclaimed his subjection of the Jews with the legend Iudaea capta. Further propaganda purposes were served by the portrayal of civic virtues,

such as Abundantia, Concordia, Pudicitia, and this continued almost to the end of the empire. The imperial coinage regularly records the titles of the emperors and, until the reign of Alexander Severus (d. 235), the current or last consulship of the given princeps and his tribunician year.

Thus the life of the Roman state is depicted on its coins: official acts of the princeps, his liberalitas in the distribution of money and bread, the arrival of the grain fleet at Ostia, the departure on a military expedition against the barbarians, the adventus or salute by the troops to the emperor sitting before them on horseback, the circus games and temple sacrifices, public and family religious cults and ceremonial, the association of members of a dynasty or colleagues in the rule of the empire, and the rise and fall of individual emperors. The establishment of the tetrarchy by Diocletian after 293 is depicted on medals, and the coins of Diocletian demonstrate the gradual growth of the emperor's religiopolitical consciousness of himself as the prot é g é of Jupiter (Iovi conservatori Augusti ) and the coins of Maximian show him as a prot é g é of Hercules. The emperor gradually assumed a maiestas divina, as the comes or numen praesens of the godhead he possessed the divine virtues of pietas and felicitas. This concept was already portrayed on coins that began with Aurelian's deo et domino nato. In solving the difficult historical problems concerned with the chronology of the tetrarchy and the reasons for its dissolution, coins play an essential part.

Constantine and Christian Coinage. In 306 constantine i is depicted on the imperial coinage as still a prot é g é of Hercules in the divinely ordered Diocletian tetrarchy but in the official speech delivered at Constantine's wedding to Fausta, the daughter of Maximian (spring 307), the latter is compared to the sun god (Sol invictus ) rather than to the Jupiter of the tetrarchy's political theology. After 310, with the death of Maximian, Constantine's coinage no longer portrays Hercules instead, Mars conservator is depicted as the protective deity accompanying the Sol invictus. This is a return to the tradition of Aurelian and Gallienus. Stress is placed, too, on the legitimacy of Constantine's rule, which can be traced to his lineage as the son of Constantius Chlorus. Subsequent coinage indicates the steps whereby Constantine gradually achieved full control of the empire, the year 312 being the turning point in both his religious and political thinking.

Silver coins minted at Treyes (312 – 313) portray Constantine as Victor, crowned with an ornamented helmet at whose peak is the Christian monogram chi-rho and a similar portrait appears on a silver medallion at Ticinum (315) and on coins issued at Siscia (317 – 318). Coins in 320 carry the Vexillum with the Monogram of Christ in 326 the Christian labarum appears with the legend Spes publica. However, as the empire was still pagan, Constantine did not interfere with the ordinary representations of the civic cult or the pagan portraiture of the emperor, and it took a century before all signs of pagan cult disappeared from the imperial coinage. Under Constantius II, Victory is depicted on a coin in the form of an angel crowning the emperor, who holds the standard of the cross. The legend reads: Hoc signo victor eris. During this period the Christian monogram appears frequently and is often accompanied by the alpha and omega. After a temporary revival of pagan types under Julian the Apostate, Christian-oriented coins predominate.

Byzantine and Medieval Coins. A medallion in gold commemorates the founding of Constantinople in 330 with the turreted statues of the two capitals, Rome and Constantinople, as the subject of equal veneration. After the death of Theodosius I (395) the gradual partition of the empire under Honorius (395 – 425) and Arcadius (395 – 408) is pictured on the coinage current at the time of the birth of Byzantium. Byzantine money as such begins under the Emperor anastasius i (491 – 518) with a new copper coinage and also a gold coin modeled on the solidus of Constantine, eventually called the bezant. It was divided into a half (the semissis) and a third (the tremissis). The main silver coin was the miliarensis, along with a small coin, the siliqua or keration.

Under Heraclius (610 – 641) the double miliarensis was first issued. Gradually the effigy of the emperor on the obverse of these coins was changed to that of the basileus in a majestic setting and clothed in hieratic vestments. Christ appears first on the reverse of a coin of a.d. 451, where He is depicted as assisting in the marriage of Marcian and Pulcheria. His next appearance, however, is much later, namely, on the coinage of Justinian II (685 – 695). From c. 900 the Virgin Mary, and eventually the saints, appear on coins, despite the difficulties over iconoclasm, whose history can be traced to the coinage of the period.

From the 10th century the Byzantine emperor is usually depicted in the company of a sacred personage this is particularly true of the cup-shaped solidi called the nummi scyphati, which appear in the 11th century. In 1261 michael viii palaeologus issued coins with the Virgin Mary standing in the midst of the walls of Constantinople after its reconquest from the Crusaders.

The principal inscriptions on the later Byzantine coinage refer to the emperor on the obverse and to the city of minting on the reverse, along with a reference to the saint depicted and often a prayer. From the time of justinian i profiles give way to the full face of the emperor, and the language of the inscriptions changes from Latin to Latin and Greek under Heraclius and to Greek alone under alexius i comnenus.

Coinage of the Medieval West. The Byzantine solidus or bezant had a widespread use in the Middle Ages and was the dominant gold coin to the 13th century. The Merovingians still imitated the golden triens of the Romans, but Charlemagne struck silver denerii in imitation of the Roman imperial types. Under the Capetians, however, the Byzantine influence is marked the king is represented as a basileus, seated beneath a canopy, or standing with scepter in hand, or on horseback, or as a knight in battle. The legends have both a religious and a political significance: Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus Imperat or Karolus Dei gratia Francorum rex. Under Henry II of England the Ave Maria on coins issued in his name as king of France reflects a political situation that lasted until the end of the Hundred Years' War.

The Arabs first adopted current Persian silver coins in the Orient Byzantine copper coins in Syria and Palestine and in Africa, the current gold coinage. Byzantine influence predominates in the Caliphite mints begun at Bashran (a.d. 660) and in the regular coinage established by Abdalmik (a.d. 695), having a gold dinar, silver dirhem, and a copper fels. The inscriptions are in Arabic and are uniformly religious. The various dynasties, such as the Omayyads and Abbasids, the Fatamids and Seljuks, continued the adaptation of Byzantine coinage, whereas the Mongols and Ottomans gradually adapted their coins to those of the Mediterranean commercial powers.

With the development of feudalism, individual suzerains as well as cities and monastic centers issued their own coinage. Although the golden solidus was the ideal coin, its large value gave way before a silver coinage under the Carolingians, and for general usage the denarius or penny of some 24 grains became almost the sole coin in circulation. The Arab silver piece, the dirhem, was worth two denier or denarii and spread with the Carolingian coinage to Germany, Italy, England, Scandinavia, Castile, and Aragon. A continuous depreciation in the value of coinage, which Gresham's (1519 – 79) law of bad money driving out good money would later explain, brought the denarius so low by the 12th century that it was issued in Germany as a bracteate, stamped on only one side.

Normans and Venetians. The Norman dukes in Sicily and southern Italy quickly adopted the Muslim money, but Roger II (1130 – 54) struck Latin coins with the legend Dux Apuliae, and they accordingly came to be known as ducats. Frederick II (1215 – 50) continued the Arab coinage but also struck Roman gold solidi and half solidi showing his bust on the obverse, as the Emperor Augustus, and the imperial eagle on the reverse side. The famous gold florin with St. John the Baptist on the obverse and the lily of Florence on the reverse was first struck in 1252 and quickly became a standard of value. Venice struck gold coins of the same weight as the florin (c. 1280), showing Christ standing on the obverse and the doge receiving the gonfalon from St. Mark on the reverse. Although it was at first called the ducat, it became known as the zecchino or sequin. This coinage, which was imitated by the other maritime and commercial Italian citystates, caused the Mameluke sultans of Egypt to employ the weight of the florin and sequin for their gold money in commerce between Europe and India. In the 14th century a heavy silver coin appeared called the denarius grossus, or groat, and in its successive types can be traced the artistic evolution that was leading into the Renaissance.

Papal Coinage. The popes began to strike money when Adrian I (772 – 795) issued a gold Beneventan type coin on which a crude hieratic human figure adorns the obverse, and a cross with an inscription, the reverse. The names of the popes and the Western emperors are associated on papal coins from Leo III (795 – 816) to Leo IX (1049) in monogrammatic inscriptions. Under John VIII (872 – 882) the bust of St. Peter appears it is crowned with a conic miter in coins of Sergius III (904 – 911), whereas on the coins of Agapetus II (946 – 955) Peter is depicted with the keys and a cross. With Benedict VI (973 – 974) a series of papal effigies began. However, from Leo IX (1049) to Urban V (1362) no papal coins were issued. The Roman Senate struck coins after 1188 with the effigies of Peter and Paul crowned with nimbi on ducats of gold and with inscriptions, such as S. Petrus Senator Mundi, Roma Caput Mundi, and SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus ).

Boniface VIII (1295 – 1303) issued a large silver coin from the mint at Ponte della Sorga bearing his portrait under a miter he carries a key and cross in his right hand, and the whole is accompanied by the legend Domini Bo (nifaci ) Papae. Clement V (1305 – 14) depicted the pope in frontal figure with miter, giving his blessing, and John XXII (1316 – 34) stamped the full figure of the pope on the obverse, mitred and sitting on a throne. Charles of Anjou (King of the Two Sicilies 1266 – 85), struck gold ducats when he was governor of Rome, and Cola di Rienzi (1347 – 48) did the same as tribune. Charles's coins imitate the Venetian type and show Peter giving the gonfalon to a kneeling senator later coins portray the coat of arms of the senator who issued the money.

Some papal issues of money were struck at Avignon between 1342 and 1700, and there were papal mints at Ancona, Bologna, Piacenza, Parma, and Ferrara. On his return to Rome, Urban V (1362 – 70) claimed the sole right to issue papal money and from Martin V to Pius IX there was a continuous papal coinage on which the effigy of the popes appears in realistic and often highly artistic style. Callistus III (1455 – 58) struck ducats of gold and an issue of silver grossi denarii exhibiting the bark of Peter (or navicella ) with full rigging surmounted by a cross and the legend Modice fidei quare dubitetis. Julius II (1503 – 13) put both Peter and Paul on the ship with a blown sail and the legend Non prevalebunt. This type was continued under later popes. Papal coins were struck also with Biblical scenes, representing Christ, the crib, the ark of Noa, etc., or to commemorate the architectural accomplishments of Renaissance and later popes.

Renaissance and Modern Period. With the issue of the thaler or dollar in Germany in 1518, silver money was widely used all over Europe, but it did not displace the denier since it was issued in various weights and purity by different countries. The ability to represent nature, the human portrait, and other objects had reached the zenith of accomplishment in Renaissance medallions, and the artistic style of medals influenced that of coinage. However, the requirements of rapidly expanding trade soon made the production of coins a commercial interest, and art was all but forgotten. In general trade the denier was the coin of exchange, while the solidus or German shilling was used as a gauge for money of account, and the system of librae (L), solidi (s), and denarii (d), was adopted the pound was divided into 12 shillings and 20 pence to the shilling.

French and English Coinage. In France during the Middle Ages the common coin was the denier of the Abbey of St. Martin of Tours (denier tournois ), while the royal coinage was known as monnaie parisis. St. Louis IX (1226 – 70) introduced the gold sou and the gros tournois, and thus began an important reform in the French monetary system. Fourteenth-century French coinage had considerable artistic merit, and French medallions produced during the Renaissance and the Napoleonic period exhibit the same high artistic quality.

Following the example of Pepin, Offa of Mercia (757 – 796) introduced the silver penny into England. Some types have the king's head or a religious symbol on the obverse and an ornament and inscription on the reverse. This coinage was imitated in the several English kingdoms and prevailed down to the late 10th century. Edward III in 1343 introduced a gold coinage that included the florin and the noble showing the picture of a rose. Edward IV (1461 – 70) struck a new gold coin, the angel. Henry VII brought in sovereigns worth 20 shillings and the shilling itself his coins show a marked advance in portraiture.

Several attempts were made to introduce a copper coinage to replace the private tokens in wide, local circulation, but it was only in 1613 that John Harrington obtained a patent to produce copper farthings. The gold sovereign of James I was called a unite from the legend Faciam eos in gentem unam. Owing to the scarcity of gold during the civil wars, 20-and 10-shilling silver pieces were issued but the Oxford mint put out 3-pound pieces, on one of which John Rawlins depicted the king on horseback looking over the town, and on the reverse, the heads of the "Oxford Declaration." In 1672 a true copper coinage of halfpence and farthings was introduced.

Italian and German Coinage. In Sicily and southern Italy the Normans first adopted the Arabic currency but gradually Robert Guiscard (Duke of Apulia) and Roger I and Roller II of Sicily introduced also gold and silver coins modeled on Latin usage, while the Emperor Frederick II issued the first gold ducats or augustals. Charles of Anjou's gold coinage, already mentioned, quickly spread through the Levant. With Ferdinand I of Aragon the coinage of the Two Sicilies began to display the artistic portraiture that was characteristic of the Italian city-states all during the Renaissance.

In Germany, after Louis IV of Bavaria (1314 – 47), local coinage in the Low Countries, along the Moselle, and in the Rhinelands and Bavaria predominated over the imperial coinage. The introduction of the groat and the florin late in the 14th century began the modern period. From the 16th century, the thaler — first produced by the Counts of Schlick, in St. Joachimsthal in Bohemia, in 1518 — became the dominant silver coin. The counts Palatine, who began coining in 1294, had mints at Heidelberg and Frankfurt. The margraves of Brandenburg minted coins in the late Middle Ages also, continuing the practice after 1701 as the kings of Prussia.

An abundance of gold in the 15th and 16th centuries is evident from the coins of Hungary and Transylvania. Early Polish coinage reflects direct English, German, and Byzantine influence, while the emerging Scandinavian states adopted the Anglo-Saxon types, using the runic alphabet for legends. During the late Middle Ages these lands drew upon the common European inheritance. In the Balkan states, both Byzantine and Venetian influences were predominant, as they employed images and legends that are entirely Christian. In Russia the Byzantine coinage held sway until Peter the Great modernized the currency. Ecclesiastical city-states, such as Cologne, M ü nster, Treves, Augsburg, Salzburg, and Mainz, issued their own coinage between the 11th and 18th century, as did other independent cities.

Contemporary coinage, while generally reflecting the standards of modern minting skills, suggests the vagaries of political fortunes in the various nations of the world. Moreover, it is dominated by the practical demands of trade and commerce, artistic considerations playing a secondary role. Modern metal coinage has become largely token currency paper money takes the place of the earlier gold and silver coinages.

Numismatic Study. Collections of coins and medals are known to have existed in antiquity. On the occasion of celebrations, the Emperor Augustus gave rare or valuable coins to his entourage and the bronze medals issued by the Antonine emperors trace the legendary history of Rome on their reverse festive gold medals of Constantine Chlorus struck in 302 were discovered in Arras in 1922.

During the Middle Ages a number of medals were issued in commemoration of special events, such as the expulsion of the English from France at the close of the Hundred Years' War, and were distributed as gifts among the civil and ecclesiastical nobility. The main collections of coins and medals were inaugurated by the monasteries, most of which had a treasury for coins connected with the copyrooms and libraries. These monastic collections, seized by modern European governments after the French Revolution, became the foundation of many numismatic displays in public museums.

Petrarch and his circle of savants were among the first to recognize the value of coins for the interpretation and illustration of literary sources. With Cola di Rienzi, Petrarch turned to the study of numismatic evidence in an attempt to resurrect the customs of the ancient Roman republic and suggested that every library be equipped with an archive of numismatic specimens. This suggestion was honored by amateur savants and princes as well as by emerging commercial houses, such as the Fuggers, and by ecclesiastical nobles from prince-bishops to cardinals and popes. In 1553 Guillaume Rouille published a Promptuarium, which contained engravings of the Roman emperors obtained from coins and medals and in 1570 Fulvio Orsini, the prot é g é of Pope Gregory XIII (1572 – 85), issued his Imagines et elogia virorum illustrium et eruditorum. His predecessors had been interested mainly in the iconography of the Roman rulers, but he extended his study to include a view of the past in all its achievements.

The treatise De asse et partibus eius by the great French classical scholar Guillaume Bud é (1468 – 1540) was the first really systematic study on Roman coinage. Despite the increasing interest in coins and medals, the science of numismatics was founded only at the end of the 18th century by the Jesuit J. H. von eckhel (1737 – 98). Since that time the study of coins and medals has been pursued systematically and scientifically throughout the world. Owing to the progress of archeology, furthermore, large numbers of coins and medals not hitherto known are constantly being added to the earlier collections.

Bibliography: p. grierson, Coins and Medals: A Select Bibliography (London 1954). j. babelon, "Numismatique," L'Histoire et ses m é thodes, ed. c. samaran (Paris 1961) 329 – 392. h. hochenegg, Lexikon f ü r Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer andk. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957 – 65) 7:1069 – 70. g. lanczkowski and w. jesse, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 7 v. (3d ed. T ü bingen 1957 – 65) 4:1184 – 87. r. s. poole et al., Encyclopaedia Britannia, 24 v. 11th ed. (New York 1911) 19:869 – 911. j. eckhel, Doctrina numorum veterum, 8 v. (Vienna 1792 – 98), v.9, Addenda (Leipzig 1826). j. maurice, Numismatique constantinienne, 3 v. (Paris 1908 – 12). p. gardner, A History of Ancient Coinage (Oxford 1918). c. sutherland, Art in Coinage (London 1955). h. mattingly, Roman Coins from the Earliest Times to the Fall of the Western Empire (London 1928 rev. ed.1960). w. wroth, Catalogue of the Imperial Byzantine Coins in the British Museum, 2 v. (London 1908). b. laum, Ü ber das Wesen des M ü nzgeldes (Halle 1930). c. t. seltman, Greek Coins (2d ed. London 1955). r. sedillot, Toutes les monnaies du monde (Paris 1954). e. bernareggi, Monete d'oro con ritratto del rinascimento italiano (Milan 1954). m. bloch, Esquisse d'une histoire mon é taire de l'Europe (Paris 1954). c. serafini, in b. apolloni-ghetti et al., eds., Esplorazioni sotto la confessione di San Pietro in Vaticano, 2 v. (Vatican City 1951), numismatic appendix.

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APA citation. Loehr, A. (1911). Numismatics. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Loehr, August. "Numismatics." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Michael L. Mueller. Dedicated to my beautiful wife Mary.