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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Ancient Coin Forum (Moderator: Danny S. Jones)  |  Topic: Institutions which sold off their coin collections 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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OldMoney
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« on: May 13, 2020, 12:59:04 pm »

Is there a list of the (many) institutions which sold off their coin collections
(ancient especially) over the past couple of centuries?

The famous British Museum duplicates sale comes immediately to mind, as do
the Hermitage Museum sales in the early part of last century. And then there
is the controversial BMFA sale in the 1970's, and more recently the perhaps
even more controversial sales of the Huntington Collections.

Do many others come to mind?

- Walter
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« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2020, 03:22:11 pm »

Not a museum but the John Adams collection, which was owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society.  I was surprised they sold it.  He had some ancients.
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PMah
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« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2020, 07:09:11 pm »

An excellent and interesting question,  Walter. You may want to define your terms, as many institutions have "deaccessioned " or "focused" or ""right-sized" over the years.  And "controversial " is  a multi-layered label.
 But a fascinating topic.  
  Many of the Metropolitan Museum's  coins went to the block in the 70s to buy a big greek vase or two.  Hoving treated it in his book as  something between a no-brainer and blowing his nose.
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Dominic T
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« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2020, 07:14:20 pm »

Not a museum but the John Adams collection, which was owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society.  I was surprised they sold it.  He had some ancients.

https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/auctionlots?AucCoId=3&AuctionId=516470

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Carausius
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« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2020, 10:32:22 pm »

I can think of several institutions and schools:

1. In the 1870s, the British Museum sold many duplicates to seed collections among various British schools and colleges. 

2. Boston Museum of Fine Arts has sold duplicates from time to time.  Some group lots from Boston MFA were included in Triton I.

3. Eton College sold a portion of their ancient coin collection, including many British Museum duplicates purchased in the 1870s.  These coins were sold by Sotheby's in December 1976.

4. Westminster School sold a portion of their ancient coin collection, including British Museum duplicates purchased in the 1870s.  These coins were sold by Sotheby's in May 1976.



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« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2020, 02:43:46 am »

If I remember rightly Joe bought the entire Butte College Foundation collection 5 or 6 years ago.

I purchased 2 coins from this collection.

https://phoeniciancoins.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/ar-no-tpap-129ng12-b-hx/

https://phoeniciancoins.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/ar-no-tpfa-150rysht12-d-hh/

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OldMoney
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« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2020, 11:54:22 am »

I also found:

- Johns Hopkins University
- Rockefeller University
- James Madison University Foundation
- Ohio Wesleyan University
- CT Historical Society
- University of Rochester
- Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University
- St. Mary's College, Birmingham
- Eton College
- Hebrew College Museum, Massachusetts
- Bryn Mawr College
- Saint John's College - Vatican Museum duplicates
- Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Institute
- Arts Institute of Chicago

. . . any others?

- Walter


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« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2020, 01:23:35 pm »

Dear Walter and Group,

Copenhaegon apparently sold off some of their Greek duplicates (at least) during probably the 1970s.  Several of them were bought up by BCD and noted as such on his tags. 

I will have to review some of my old correspondence with the BM, but I vaguely recall being told that they had also sold off some duplicates during the 1920s or early 20th century.

Then there is the truly amazing Apostolo Zeno Collection which the Monastery of Saint Florian was sadly forced to part with in the 1950s.  I will let Andrew McCabe tell the particulars of that story:

https://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=99079.0

And I almost forgot...  In my own collection are five LRBs from the large Ihnasyah Hoard found in Egypt during the first decade of the 20th century.  It was acquired for the Royal Ontario Museum before its opening in 1912.

 
Best regards,

Mark Fox
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PMah
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« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2020, 06:32:43 pm »

Indeed, I checked and Forum accepted a consignment including, and quickly moved, a consigned denarius of mine that had been in the BMFA Triton sale that Carausius noted.  A beautifully toned coin, really old-school in a good sense. 
  One problem with institutions and coins is the difficulty of making them accessible in a meaningful way.  (Putting aside the Met and Hoving -- you have to read the book to understand the priorities in the 70s..... Hint:  "art history interns!")   I have back-strain from the Palazzo Massimo rooms years ago, and that's one of the best presentations.
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« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2020, 06:45:28 pm »

I recall, from my unnamed New England college, that the Dean's office had displays of ancients on the wall, but I did not know enough then about casts and electrotypes to now say whether they were coins or copies.  Or perhaps still on the wall 35 years later.  I have not seen any report of sales, but the college was discrete in all things back in the day.   
  I do recall, and hope it is still true, that when you did ask to see something up close, you were handed it.  I recall holding a bible in Carolingian miniscule latin manuscript as legible as a pdf tax form today.
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JBF
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« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2020, 07:51:43 pm »

Carnegie Museum originally had a coin cabinet, new curator came in, asked for the keys, and sold off the collection (since the focus of the museum was natural science).  Upset a lot of people, especially people who had coins on "permanent loan" to the museum.  The museum hadn't distinguished between what was its, legally, and what it was "only holding."  Of course, many merely trusted the museum, instead of having a loan worked out legally.

I assume this all happened in the 1950s.
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« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2020, 10:42:21 pm »

. . . any others?

You can add the Ashmolean to the list.

It de-accessioned (i.e. sold off) "duplicates" last century (1960s-1980s), even though they were not duplicates in the true sense of the word.

Here's an example that was even listed/plated in Mitchiner's catalogue of Bactrian coinage...     
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-128265

And here's another poignant de-accessioned item from the Ashmolean ....    
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-128797
They didn't even have respect for the legacy granted them by a former Keeper of the Coin Cabinet at the British Museum!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.S.G._Robinson

You really have to question the motivation of the administration of this institution that purports to be repository of cultural heritage and knowledge.

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« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2020, 11:16:25 pm »

Copenhaegon apparently sold off some of their Greek duplicates (at least) during probably the 1970s.  Several of them were bought up by BCD and noted as such on his tags.  

Yes. One such coin from the Danish National Museum ...

https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-116647
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« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2020, 05:28:43 pm »

Walter
Please be aware that the Hermitage did not sell off parts of their collection. The coins were stolen by Stalin and sent to the German auction house Felix Schlessinger in Berlin for sale, to finance Stalin's communist idealogy. Schlessinger described them in some of the catalogs as "Dubletten" which was, as he later admitted, a lie.

The sales took place on
2. May 1933 (1,640 European coins and medallions, all from the Hermitage)
26. February 1934 (401 ancients, all from the Hermitage)
27. &. 28. February 1934 (1,405 European coins, medals and medallions, some from a "private collection")
4. February 1935 (1,655 ancients, all from the Hermitage)

In the Hermitage there are a huge number of empty holders waiting, as the curator told BCD several years ago, "for the coins to come home again".
It was an absolutely criminal action committed on the orders of Stalin who, by stripping the Hermitage of  over 4,000 rare and beautiful gold and silver coins, as well as lovely bronze coins, proved himself to be on the same level as Hitler's minions who stripped numerous European museums of their treasures - not to mention US troops who - against specific orders that museums etc. were not to be looted - helped themselves to the coins on display in the Berlin museum and shipping them home in the crates which every soldier was permitted to send back to the US uncontrolled. Which is why, now that so many of those soldiers are passing away and their family are inheriting their possessions, so many nice ancient coins are coming onto the market "from my late father's collection".
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