an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

Counting the Money: More Details on Hispanic Coin Trove Returned to the American Numismatic Society

Some of the Hispanic Society of America’s 37,895 coins, on pre-auction display in February at Sotheby’s
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

In today’s NY Times piece, which followed up on my June 13 post about on the fate of the nearly 38,000 coins sold last March by the Hispanic Society of America, Felicia Lee gave a brief description of the 9,000 pieces that recently came back to the American Numismatic Society (thanks to an anonymous benefactor), reunited with the 1,004 Visigothic coins that constituted the first batch reclaimed from the HSA’s castoffs. The incomparable collection of the coins of Spain and Spanish-speaking countries, 5th century B.C. to the early 20th century, had been on long-term loan to the ANS, until removed by the HSA for sale.

Here’s what Ute Wartenberg Kagan, the ANS’s executive director, told me yesterday about the 9,000 new arrivals:

The curatorial staff of the ANS, with the assistance of Dr. Alain Baron of Numismatica Genevensis SA [a Geneva coin dealer], has been able to produce a preliminary list of the coins from the Huntington Collection, which were received on loan last week.

It is clear that we will be able to restore our status as one of the world’s preeminent collections of ancient coins from the Iberian Peninsula. Among the 2,000 or more coins of ancient Spain that are returning to the ANS are long series of a number of important mints, which will facilitate detailed study of the coinages they produced.

Among these are more than 160 coins of the mint of Carteia, 160 of Carthago Nova, 70 coins of Castulo, 80 coins of Celsa, 150 of Gades, 90 of Malaca and 65 of Bilbilis. Also returned to the ANS are coins of nine rare mints, that would not otherwise be represented in the ANS collection: Abariltur, Arketurki, Iptuci, Karalus, Lacipo, Laiescen, Tabaniu, Uirouias and Vesci.

As the curatorial staff will sort through thousands of coins to inventory them, the new owner and the ANS will get a better idea what coins in the medieval and modern Spanish sections have been received.

Wartenberg Kagan also noted that it wouild be an “enormous amount of work” to properly reinstall these coins in their proper places within the ANS’s expansive collection, which includes more than 600,000 objects in its database. She added that she plans to use some of the ANS’s $6-7 million in acquisition funds to buy back additional ex-HSA coins, including some coming up at next week’s auction in Madrid, organized by Jesús Vico, a leader of the consortium of dealers who were the winners in Sotheby’s sealed-bid auction last March.

COMING SOON: One of the most disturbing aspects of the Hispanic Society’s coin disposal.

an ArtsJournal blog