Jump to content

Recommended Posts

My NewStyle Journey   is from a short paper wot i wrote in 2014  about my journey into the NewStyle.  It confesses a lot about me  and my search for knowledge. The frustrations and disappointments of large organisations, which still exists today, maybe even more so.

2014 was so long ago, coins have come and gone, I have the only (?) FULL 29/28 Thompson early catalogue NewStyles in private hands!  And I have collected  quite a few post-Sullan  NewStyles!  Not too sure where I stand now on the late KERNOS issue now and the "Year without issues" now, slave revolt and all that!  Maybe I have got no where  fast! Or too fast!

My intention was to keep the NewStyles in the forefront of people's minds...I don't think I have succeeded, the lure of the Old Style being ( to me) too strong!

Anyway enjoy the rant.......

 

    From coin collector to numismatist

                                 

 

                       

 

“The British Museum and the future of UK numismatics” is an interesting read of the change in direction of the coin and medals department since its inception.

 

It acknowledges that in the modern world and by implementing UNESCO 1970 that increasing the collection base is going to be difficult and with the digital sharing of resources by institutions maybe is no longer a priority.

 

The Portable Antiquity Scheme and detectorists do get a reasonably positive mention but other sources (illegally dug), do not. But where would be numismatics be without the other source? The BM and other institutions mine auction catalogues for information and do not decry the melting down of “graven images” of unbelievers by extremists and other forms of iconoclasm which collectors rescue from oblivion. The antique world is under greater threat in its “cradles of civilisation” in the modern world more than ever before and the “other source”, which is not perfect, maybe its only chance.

 

Nor is acknowledged the work that is done by the amateur numismatists on such “other sources”. Not only are we collectors but some of us try to add to the knowledge base by studying and publishing our coins and maybe doing some amateur sleuthing. Professional numismatists have a large canvas to fill with much lacunae and maybe they need help from us amateurs but I think the BM does not acknowledge it because of an “us and them” class attitude to us plebs sordida. It cannot “square the circle” of the schizophrenic nature of the coin world where the majority of its foreign holdings are essentially “black” in nature unchanged by the pre-1970 whitewashing. Indeed its “other source” coins collected between 1970 and 2014 must have caused them much angst until an official curatorial amnesia was declared.

 

Below is a post I wrote on my coin collecting activities and how in searching for a meaningful  focus I think I have contributed “on the shoulders of others” to the understanding and  chronological arrangement of the New Style coinage of the Rome-Pontic times.

 

 

                                                 

Review of 2013

 

Collecting coins can be a drug but I am not an addictive personality: the soul-less activity of “yet another one” has an empty ring about it. The fact there was a brilliant book, “The New Style silver coinage of Athens”, Margaret ThompsonANS 10 1961, that described a single series of many coin issues: add the large attractive spread flans with differing monograms, names and symbols naturally attracted me to the beautiful Athenian New Style tetradrachm.

I quickly discovered the brilliant book had flaws and had raised quite heated discussions: now this is a drug.

I discovered I had a fascination for the early monogram types: can I find out if they are really single year issues? Sadly I quickly found that apparently all the very early examples are rare in the market, thus expensive and not a likely fruitful area.

Still I collected them fascinated by the non-seamless way they moved to month controls added a somewhat mysterious second control swapped their positions or forgot about one or the other or both, until a consensus was eventually reached.

This naturally gave rise to examining the chronology. I could find no upto date list so I set about collecting references and compiling a modern list incorporating them into one. I uncovered various arguments and unanswered questions and wondered if I could contribute and not just be an on-looker. 

Post Sullan examples are essentially like the very early specimens, rarer than hen’s teeth, so other than trying to bag one for forms sake that was also a closed avenue.


More reading of papers uncovered the work by De Callatay and which was echoed by Meadows on the “over-represented” New Styles of the mid-120’s BC.
What was needed was an obverse die match between the issues but my searches could not find one: anyway Professor Andrew Meadows seems to have re-ordered those  types without a vital obverse die match in a most satisfactory way.


I collected one example of each and that is that.

It was obviously pointless in trying to collect all the Athenian New Styles but I collected ones that appealed to me: reverses rather than obverses. I could look for new magistrate and control combinations, maybe with a different obverse and most rare of all, any new obverses and a die-link between types.

This is just filling in the record. Interesting and instructive but still somehow somewhat soul-less-I needed a focus.

This occurred with my penultimate purchase of 2012. 

 

A New Style “Roma” tetradrachm: my 16th tetradrachm and 15th New Style for that year.

had known of the controversies about the Thompson “high” dating and the Lewis “low” were summed up in a paper by Otto Morkholm, “ The chronology of the New Style coinage of Athens”,  ANSMN 29 1984 .

The arguments for the low chronology centred on the King Mithradates issue and he had produced a list that had footnotes about restored coins and a moved issue both with question marks. He wrote about the politics and the historical sense and the like. It looked interesting, full of references and controversies.

I couldn’t read German and I couldn’t read the reference (and I have still never read  Boehringer 1972), but I knew quickly that “Kernos” was wrong-it didn’t look right, Morkholm wasn’t convinced that is why he put a question mark by it.

Just a year earlier than BoehringerMattingly had published two papers with lists based on the low chronology. Both seemed to have advocated a year’s issue gap: one caused by a slave revolt and the other due to anarchia.

I decided to investigate and collect the coins where available.

I read about Athenion and Aristion, RomeAthens and Mithradates and focused on Mithradates and the Mithradatic wars.

The coins studies yielded controversies about the symbols and the identities of the magistrates, and it is with the symbol that I made the first breakthrough.

In buying the “Roma” coin and in reading reviews of Margaret Thompson’s work I found that Russ Holloway had queried the identity of the symbol. Without this base then the die linked coin “Roma & Nike’s” identity would also be doubtful.

I found that Thompson also had written of an imitation of the Athenian original with a similar yet different symbol which she identified with possibly being Aetolia.

Co-incidentally there came up for auction an example, mis-attributed, (to my joy), of this very type which I acquired.

I came to the conclusion that this coin was a mocking of the original. Using this model it then means that the original symbol and thus the allegiances of the magistrates are politically defined.

My only post-Sullan owl, (originally to my angst, now to my joy), I also found amongst Margaret Thompson’s imitations. This lead to my next breakthrough. 

The “Ares” imitation is one of three different reverses paired with a single obverse of quite clear non-Athenian origin. The three reverses consist of one pre-Sullan reverse and two post Sullan ones. Thus the mint must be in the Roman camp and using the argument of the Roma – Aetolia model then the symbol of the reverses must be politically acceptable and thus defines the politics of the “Headdress of Isis” magistrates.

The “Headdress of Isis” symbol I investigated for political affixations, ("Headdress of Isis: who wears the crown? On my academia.edu page below), and found that I could make a case that after the epiphany of Isis at the siege of Rhodes the symbol could only reasonably be used by pro-Roman supporters.  This conclusion re-enforces the case above.

Andrew Meadows had in a review of Delian coin hoards noted two anomalies; the absence of “Kernos” and the position of “Hermes/No Symbol”.

I also did a chart of coin types present in Delian hoards and confirmed Meadows’s conclusion about "Kernos" and my own original doubts: I had thought it just a place-filler anyway.

“Kernos” is now removed.  Now like the other researchers I am left with a gap to deal with.

had forgot about Mattingly’s 1971 article, (“Some third magistrates in the Athenian New Style coinage”, J. Hell. Studies 1971), and found the anarchia as a no coinage year an excellent solution.

 

had discounted an earlier gap due to a slave revolt, (confusingly it was supported by Mattingly in “Some problems in second century Attic prosopography” ZAG  also in 1971),  due to lack of convincing evidence in the coinage and on reading “Athens in 100 BC” by S.V.Tracy, (Harvard studies in classical philology vol. 83, 1979).

I then proposed a new Rome-Pontic times Athenian New Style chronology based on Morkholm but with the “Kernos” removed and a no coinage year in 88/7 BC. 

Another change I have pioneered is based on the symbol drinking pegasos. Is this really a Pontic symbol and Aristion the first magistrate the Aristion the later tyrant? Doubts had been raised but it is too much of a coincidence. Had Aristion influenced King Mithradates in the choice of the pegasos symbol I deemed unlikely but was an argument raised in a review of Thompson’s work by G K Jenkins.

To give this symbol time to percolate into the Athenian’s political consciousness  from its introduction into Pontic and Pontic influenced coinage from circa 97/6 BC, I found I could swap the positioning of the die linked pairings “Winged Agon” and “Coiled Serpent” with “Gorgon Head” and “Pegasos” to no obvious objection.

“Hermes/No Symbol” I left in place between the pairings but it could precede it and bring them into juxtaposition. I await Andrew Meadow’s conclusions on this.

Francois de Callatay's work, " L’histoire des guerres Mithradatiques vue par les monnaies ", Louvain le Neuve 1997 proposed that “ Roma"  and  "Roma & Nike"  should be conflated. I did not find his arguments convincing and came up with counter–precedents to his evidence. (See: "Roma" & "Roma & Nike": a one years wonder? My academia article below).

Another problem I found in his plates was of a “Star between Two Crescents “of King Mithradates and Aristion. I published my views on academia.edu titled “Mithradates in Paris and London” and this piles more evidence that my model of the attribution of the symbols especially of the “Headdress of Isis” is correct.

Now I have published my chronology my work on the New Styles have come to a conclusion: unless others comment on my conclusions that overturn my views.

 

I shall continue to collect and look for patterns in the hoards that are sold piecemeal in auctions un-provenanced from which I obtained an example of the very first New Style with an unknown reverse.
 

My last coin was a fitting end to my Rome-Pontic work; a “Dinking Pegasos” tetradrachm of king Mithradates with a realistic portrait dated to the beginning of the fateful Mithradatic wars: Bithynian-Pontic year 209=89/88 BC.
 


John Nisbet

August 2014
 

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Benefactor
20 hours ago, NewStyleKing said:

My NewStyle Journey   is from a short paper wot i wrote in 2014  about my journey into the NewStyle.  It confesses a lot about me  and my search for knowledge. The frustrations and disappointments of large organisations, which still exists today, maybe even more so.

2014 was so long ago, coins have come and gone, I have the only (?) FULL 29/28 Thompson early catalogue NewStyles in private hands!  And I have collected  quite a few post-Sullan  NewStyles!  Not too sure where I stand now on the late KERNOS issue now and the "Year without issues" now, slave revolt and all that!  Maybe I have got no where  fast! Or too fast!

My intention was to keep the NewStyles in the forefront of people's minds...I don't think I have succeeded, the lure of the Old Style being ( to me) too strong!

Anyway enjoy the rant.......

 

    From coin collector to numismatist

                                 

 

                       

 

“The British Museum and the future of UK numismatics” is an interesting read of the change in direction of the coin and medals department since its inception.

 

It acknowledges that in the modern world and by implementing UNESCO 1970 that increasing the collection base is going to be difficult and with the digital sharing of resources by institutions maybe is no longer a priority.

 

The Portable Antiquity Scheme and detectorists do get a reasonably positive mention but other sources (illegally dug), do not. But where would be numismatics be without the other source? The BM and other institutions mine auction catalogues for information and do not decry the melting down of “graven images” of unbelievers by extremists and other forms of iconoclasm which collectors rescue from oblivion. The antique world is under greater threat in its “cradles of civilisation” in the modern world more than ever before and the “other source”, which is not perfect, maybe its only chance.

 

Nor is acknowledged the work that is done by the amateur numismatists on such “other sources”. Not only are we collectors but some of us try to add to the knowledge base by studying and publishing our coins and maybe doing some amateur sleuthing. Professional numismatists have a large canvas to fill with much lacunae and maybe they need help from us amateurs but I think the BM does not acknowledge it because of an “us and them” class attitude to us plebs sordida. It cannot “square the circle” of the schizophrenic nature of the coin world where the majority of its foreign holdings are essentially “black” in nature unchanged by the pre-1970 whitewashing. Indeed its “other source” coins collected between 1970 and 2014 must have caused them much angst until an official curatorial amnesia was declared.

 

Below is a post I wrote on my coin collecting activities and how in searching for a meaningful  focus I think I have contributed “on the shoulders of others” to the understanding and  chronological arrangement of the New Style coinage of the Rome-Pontic times.

 

 

                                                 

Review of 2013

 

Collecting coins can be a drug but I am not an addictive personality: the soul-less activity of “yet another one” has an empty ring about it. The fact there was a brilliant book, “The New Style silver coinage of Athens”, Margaret ThompsonANS 10 1961, that described a single series of many coin issues: add the large attractive spread flans with differing monograms, names and symbols naturally attracted me to the beautiful Athenian New Style tetradrachm.

I quickly discovered the brilliant book had flaws and had raised quite heated discussions: now this is a drug.

I discovered I had a fascination for the early monogram types: can I find out if they are really single year issues? Sadly I quickly found that apparently all the very early examples are rare in the market, thus expensive and not a likely fruitful area.

Still I collected them fascinated by the non-seamless way they moved to month controls added a somewhat mysterious second control swapped their positions or forgot about one or the other or both, until a consensus was eventually reached.

This naturally gave rise to examining the chronology. I could find no upto date list so I set about collecting references and compiling a modern list incorporating them into one. I uncovered various arguments and unanswered questions and wondered if I could contribute and not just be an on-looker. 

Post Sullan examples are essentially like the very early specimens, rarer than hen’s teeth, so other than trying to bag one for forms sake that was also a closed avenue.


More reading of papers uncovered the work by De Callatay and which was echoed by Meadows on the “over-represented” New Styles of the mid-120’s BC.
What was needed was an obverse die match between the issues but my searches could not find one: anyway Professor Andrew Meadows seems to have re-ordered those  types without a vital obverse die match in a most satisfactory way.


I collected one example of each and that is that.

It was obviously pointless in trying to collect all the Athenian New Styles but I collected ones that appealed to me: reverses rather than obverses. I could look for new magistrate and control combinations, maybe with a different obverse and most rare of all, any new obverses and a die-link between types.

This is just filling in the record. Interesting and instructive but still somehow somewhat soul-less-I needed a focus.

This occurred with my penultimate purchase of 2012. 

 

A New Style “Roma” tetradrachm: my 16th tetradrachm and 15th New Style for that year.

had known of the controversies about the Thompson “high” dating and the Lewis “low” were summed up in a paper by Otto Morkholm, “ The chronology of the New Style coinage of Athens”,  ANSMN 29 1984 .

The arguments for the low chronology centred on the King Mithradates issue and he had produced a list that had footnotes about restored coins and a moved issue both with question marks. He wrote about the politics and the historical sense and the like. It looked interesting, full of references and controversies.

I couldn’t read German and I couldn’t read the reference (and I have still never read  Boehringer 1972), but I knew quickly that “Kernos” was wrong-it didn’t look right, Morkholm wasn’t convinced that is why he put a question mark by it.

Just a year earlier than BoehringerMattingly had published two papers with lists based on the low chronology. Both seemed to have advocated a year’s issue gap: one caused by a slave revolt and the other due to anarchia.

I decided to investigate and collect the coins where available.

I read about Athenion and Aristion, RomeAthens and Mithradates and focused on Mithradates and the Mithradatic wars.

The coins studies yielded controversies about the symbols and the identities of the magistrates, and it is with the symbol that I made the first breakthrough.

In buying the “Roma” coin and in reading reviews of Margaret Thompson’s work I found that Russ Holloway had queried the identity of the symbol. Without this base then the die linked coin “Roma & Nike’s” identity would also be doubtful.

I found that Thompson also had written of an imitation of the Athenian original with a similar yet different symbol which she identified with possibly being Aetolia.

Co-incidentally there came up for auction an example, mis-attributed, (to my joy), of this very type which I acquired.

I came to the conclusion that this coin was a mocking of the original. Using this model it then means that the original symbol and thus the allegiances of the magistrates are politically defined.

My only post-Sullan owl, (originally to my angst, now to my joy), I also found amongst Margaret Thompson’s imitations. This lead to my next breakthrough. 

The “Ares” imitation is one of three different reverses paired with a single obverse of quite clear non-Athenian origin. The three reverses consist of one pre-Sullan reverse and two post Sullan ones. Thus the mint must be in the Roman camp and using the argument of the Roma – Aetolia model then the symbol of the reverses must be politically acceptable and thus defines the politics of the “Headdress of Isis” magistrates.

The “Headdress of Isis” symbol I investigated for political affixations, ("Headdress of Isis: who wears the crown? On my academia.edu page below), and found that I could make a case that after the epiphany of Isis at the siege of Rhodes the symbol could only reasonably be used by pro-Roman supporters.  This conclusion re-enforces the case above.

Andrew Meadows had in a review of Delian coin hoards noted two anomalies; the absence of “Kernos” and the position of “Hermes/No Symbol”.

I also did a chart of coin types present in Delian hoards and confirmed Meadows’s conclusion about "Kernos" and my own original doubts: I had thought it just a place-filler anyway.

“Kernos” is now removed.  Now like the other researchers I am left with a gap to deal with.

had forgot about Mattingly’s 1971 article, (“Some third magistrates in the Athenian New Style coinage”, J. Hell. Studies 1971), and found the anarchia as a no coinage year an excellent solution.

 

had discounted an earlier gap due to a slave revolt, (confusingly it was supported by Mattingly in “Some problems in second century Attic prosopography” ZAG  also in 1971),  due to lack of convincing evidence in the coinage and on reading “Athens in 100 BC” by S.V.Tracy, (Harvard studies in classical philology vol. 83, 1979).

I then proposed a new Rome-Pontic times Athenian New Style chronology based on Morkholm but with the “Kernos” removed and a no coinage year in 88/7 BC. 

Another change I have pioneered is based on the symbol drinking pegasos. Is this really a Pontic symbol and Aristion the first magistrate the Aristion the later tyrant? Doubts had been raised but it is too much of a coincidence. Had Aristion influenced King Mithradates in the choice of the pegasos symbol I deemed unlikely but was an argument raised in a review of Thompson’s work by G K Jenkins.

To give this symbol time to percolate into the Athenian’s political consciousness  from its introduction into Pontic and Pontic influenced coinage from circa 97/6 BC, I found I could swap the positioning of the die linked pairings “Winged Agon” and “Coiled Serpent” with “Gorgon Head” and “Pegasos” to no obvious objection.

“Hermes/No Symbol” I left in place between the pairings but it could precede it and bring them into juxtaposition. I await Andrew Meadow’s conclusions on this.

Francois de Callatay's work, " L’histoire des guerres Mithradatiques vue par les monnaies ", Louvain le Neuve 1997 proposed that “ Roma"  and  "Roma & Nike"  should be conflated. I did not find his arguments convincing and came up with counter–precedents to his evidence. (See: "Roma" & "Roma & Nike": a one years wonder? My academia article below).

Another problem I found in his plates was of a “Star between Two Crescents “of King Mithradates and Aristion. I published my views on academia.edu titled “Mithradates in Paris and London” and this piles more evidence that my model of the attribution of the symbols especially of the “Headdress of Isis” is correct.

Now I have published my chronology my work on the New Styles have come to a conclusion: unless others comment on my conclusions that overturn my views.

 

I shall continue to collect and look for patterns in the hoards that are sold piecemeal in auctions un-provenanced from which I obtained an example of the very first New Style with an unknown reverse.
 

My last coin was a fitting end to my Rome-Pontic work; a “Dinking Pegasos” tetradrachm of king Mithradates with a realistic portrait dated to the beginning of the fateful Mithradatic wars: Bithynian-Pontic year 209=89/88 BC.
 


John Nisbet

August 2014
 

Thanks for the write-up  and observations on New Styles, an area that I find completely daunting and at the same time fascinating.   My piecemeal approach to collecting new style owls  has been quite haphazard, at best. 

Your point on the role of collectors as caretakers and researchers of the coins in their collections is spot on.  While playing often second fiddle to the great inistitutions, such as the British Museum, the knowledge gained from collector research and discoveries is, I think, of an equal footing.

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...