Bryn Mawr College’s Coin Collection

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Bryn Mawr College
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Exhibition curated by
Sarah E. Hafner
National Endowment
for the Humanities 2005
Summer Curatorial Intern

 

 

(Click images to Enlarge)

 

Reverse of a tetradrachm of Demetrius Poliorcetes of Macedonia, minted in Salamis, Cypris c.294-288 CE
Elisabeth Washburn King Collection of Ancient Greek Coins Bryn Mawr College Art and Archaeology Collection

 

Obverse of a stater of Aigina c.375-350 BCE
Charlotte R. Long Collection of Greek Coins Bryn Mawr College Art and Archaeology Collection

 

 

 

 

 

Obverse of a denarius of M. Junius Brutus c.54 BCE
Aline Abaercherli Boyce Collection of Roman Republican Coins presented in honor of Lily Ross Taylor
Bryn Mawr College Art and Archaeology Collection

 

The Bryn Mawr College Collection of Ancient Coins contains examples from all the major city-states in the ancient Mediterranean world, from the sixth century BCE to the Byzantine era. The coin collection also includes medieval and modern coins from Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Thus, it is particularly useful as a study collection.

The donor of some of our finest pieces was Elisabeth Washburn King (AB 1916, MA 1937), who presented her collection of archaic, classical, and Hellenistic Greek coins to Bryn Mawr in 1951. Since that time, other generous donations have expanded the coin collection to a current number of approximately 1500 coins. The King Collection of Ancient Greek Coins was published by noted art historian C.C. Vermeule as ‘Greek coins in the Elisabeth Washburn King collection at Bryn Mawr College,’ Numismatic Chronicle, 6th Series, Vol. 16 (1956), 19-41. King collected many rare and unusual coins, all of high quality

Of King’s original gift of 141 coins, 20 coins remain in the collection; the others were sold at auction in 1992. Since this sale, a new collections management and gift policy has been put into place. Several of the King collection coins are on display in this exhibition. Though the absence of the sold King coins is still acutely felt, the gift of Dr. Charlotte R. Long (AB 1947) in 1992 gave to Bryn Mawr College more excellent Greek coins, such as the coin pictured above.

Another prominent donor, Aline Abaecherli Boyce (MA 1928, PhD 1932), gave an extensive collection of Roman coins to the college. In a letter dated May 15, 1952, Dr. Boyce responds to the concern that she may not want to part with her coin collection: “I have not changed my mind, but I certainly appreciate the kindness of all of you in telling me that you know how much I love the coins. That is one good reason for sharing them while my candle still burns!”

Shortly thereafter, the collection was donated in honor of Dr. Lily Ross Taylor, dean of the Graduate school and a professor of Latin with whom Boyce had worked as a graduate student. The Aline Abaecherli Boyce Collection numbers 262 coins, primarily Republican denarii (see example at right), but also includes some Republican quinarii, didrachms, and a few imperial denarii. The collection is particularly enriching because it spans the production of denarii in the Republic. There is a satisfying variety of moneyers and images on the coins, as well, providing an excellent opportunity for further research.

 
 

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