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THE CATALOGUE OF A COLLECTION, AND THE ARRANGEMENT
30. The Catalogue. Of whatever kind the well ordered Collection may be, it ought to have its own catalogue... and alas very few possess one. Nevertheless to make one sufficient to ensure order is a very simple affair.
Every coin placed in a cabinet ought to have its own number, as for instance on the accession list of a library, and as for this number, it should not be written on the coin itself, but on a small round card placed under the coin. In the corresponding list against each number should be written the notes concerning the coin, such as the place or person from whom procured, the metal, the value, the price given, the description, with references to the printed catalogues of Cohen, Babelon, or Sabatier, &c, if the coin is found described in them, or at any rate a description of the coin itself if it is inedited.
A Catalogue may be made in two ways, which we may distinguish by the names Nominative or Consecutive. Those who wish to adhere to the Nominative Catalogue should begin by writing all the names of the Republican Moneyers or of the Emperors on as many sheets of paper, and then under each name write down the coins belonging to it.
Those on the other hand who intend to content themselves with a consecutive catalogue should enter in a book from time to time all their coins, numbered progressively as each coin is added to their collection, without regard to the name they bear.
As this Catalogue however cannot be made in chronological order it may be completed by another list in which the coins, being described each on a separate sheet, may be placed in any order which may be most desired. To do the work thoroughly the two catalogues are indispensable, but the second is a luxury while the first is a necessity.
31. The arranging of the coins. This is a small matter one might say, and one which for the most part has very little to do with science. But it will not be the only small matter nor the only problem apart from science which will present itself to the collector and which nevertheless must be solved.
Undoubtedly the Cabinet ought to be made as a small cupboard furnished with many shallow drawers presenting the greatest superficies and occupying the least possible height.
The method of shewing the coins under glass can only be partially adopted, as in sample cases, because it would occupy too much space.
But when the trays or drawers have been prepared, by what method can the collection be arranged most convemently?
Should the coins of gold, silver, and bronze be placed in chronological order? or ought they to be classified according to the size ofthe coins? The reply is easy. There can be no scientific reason whatever for not placing together in order the coins belonging to one period, or to one person ; but although this arrangement can be easily followed in a small collection, the necessities of space oblige one in dealing with very large collections to divide the coins according to size. The gold and silver coins being of the same size will form one series. The bronze coins on the other hand will form four series, of which three will contain the three sizes respectively into which the ordinary coinage is usually divided, and the fourth will be reserved for medallions. Thus the trays which contain these last can only have 35 holes (in a tray of about 12 by 16 inches) in five rows of seven holes. The trays for the first brass would only contain 48 (six rows of 8 holes) those of the second brass 80 (eight rows of ten holes) or at the least 63 (in seven rows of nine holes) the trays for the third brass, or for the gold and silver denarii 99 (in nine rows of eleven holes) or even 120 (in ten rows of twelve holes). One easily sees how much space would be wasted in placing all coins of whatever size in holes of the largest size, but if all the holes in a tray are of one size the appearance is more pleasant. Whatever arrangement may be chosen for one's collection it is always advisable to adopt the system of moveable cards placed in the holes which can easily be transferred when any new coin is inserted in the collection.
ON THE ANCIENT DEPOSITS WHICH HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED
32. There are many ways and various channels through which coins, after passing through so many centuries, come at last into our collections. Some of them always remain in circulation from the time in which they were issued from the Mint, this occurs chiefly with gold coins, some of which were still current in the middle ages when they were lost in the hodge-podge of the thousands of different kinds of money then in use. The same thing occurs with the small brass coins which have always circulated as money of the lowest value, and in their case the circulation has lasted even to the dawn of the twentieth century.
In poor countries where centesimi are still current it is not uncommon to find among those of Victor-Emmanuel a farthing of Maria Theresa or a small brass coin of Constantine the Great. One need only examine the almsboxes to realise this fact.
33. The number of ancient coins which come to us in this manner is certainly of little importance and assuredly it is not such coins as these that reach us in good condition. After so many centuries of wear and tear it is only natural that they should be worn out.
The great mass of antique money comes to us from that great storehouse the earth, and from this we draw, in the first place, the ancient deposits, in the second place, the isolated coins found in tombs, in the fields, or in the beds of the lakes and rivers.
By a deposit we mean a more or less important mass of money found almost always accidentally in the course of digging, or field labour, or during the demolition of buildings. These deposits have been attributed to divers causes; now it is the treasure of a miser secretly hidden in the corner of a garden or field in a position forgotten through the death of the owner, now a public or private or sacred treasure buried in a moment of panic at the sudden raid of a hostile horde; now it is a military chest buried provisionally, that had to be abandoned in consequence of a defeat. Many other similar causes might occur to us through which vases, bags, chests of money of all kinds and of all metals were hidden in the ground. From these various causes the importance of the deposits varies immensely both in the number and the value of the coins. Some deposits consist of the few brass coins of the small land-owner, others are a veritable treasure comprising an enormous weight of brass, or perhaps thousands of denarii or gold pieces.
34. Deposits have always a very great historical and scientific interest as a means of determining the date when the various coins were issued. If for example we find in a deposit some coins fresh from the mint, others which shew signs of use and others well worn we are able to conclude that the last are the oldest whilstthose in a better state of preservation are more recent. In fact it was in consequence of the examination and comparison of coins forming a deposit that it was possible to determine the period of many coins of the Republic.
35. But if the information furnished by deposits is great, that
Roman Coins. 1
given by isolated coins is perhaps not less, for these are found scattered here and thereat different depths in the earth.
This seems strange, but it has its explanation in the numerous battles which took place all over the vast territory of the Roman Empire, and in the consideration that very often the bodies of the slain remained unburied, left as food for the wolves and birds of prey. It would appear at first sight that the coins thus lost would remain on the surface of the earth and it is difficult to understand how they could penetrate as far as they have. But nature has provided for this, both vegetables and animals have in turn concurred in the burial of the coins, and in the long course of years the earth worms, continuing their monotonous work of constructing those little heaps which we so often see on the surface of the land, fulfilling the office assigned to them in the general economy of nature of turning the earth by raising up the under-soil, have unconsciously buried little by little the coins lying on the surface. The vegetation growing over them and decaying formed new soil and thus contributed to bury them more deeply; these then are the reasons why we find the coins so well buried, and why the ploughmen do not always bring them again to light.
These are the coins which the country people in the neighbourhood of Rome bring to the market in the Gimpo dei Fiori at Rome, where among a mass of old coins of no value from time to time fine and well preserved specimens are found which go to increase our Museums and Collections, or more rarely, some unknown coins which provide new matter for our Reviews, and these compete with one another for the honour of publishing the descriptions and illustrations of the new coins.
36. Other coins are found at the bottom of newly drained marshes and others are always being brought up from the beds of rivers, especially from that of the Tiber which has gathered them during the course of long ages.
37. Everything of any value always has been and will be, counterfeited, and hence very naturally, before everything else money has been forged for the sake of criminal gain by the circulation of false coins for the same value as the genuine.
This has happened in all times and all countries, hence also in Rome; but it is not of these base coins we intend to speak but rather of those made in later times to deceive collectors and students. As soon as the enthusiasm of collectors attributed any value to the coins of the ancients, false coiners arose, and they will never cease, but rather are busier than ever now as the value of antiguities increases so greatly. Indeed there is no lack of these false coins, and the collector should be well on his guard and manage by degrees to gain experience for himself so as to escape deception as much as possible, for no coin, suspected however slightly, ought to be received into the collection.
The principal object in studying the coins is to prove historical facts with irrefragable evidence, but if the coins are not genuine they prove nothing and fail in attaining our object.
False coins exist of different kinds but may all be reduced to two principal classes viz. forged coins and falsified coins.
The forged coins are those made in modern times, or at any rate within the last few centuries, in a period later than that in which they were current, and for purposes of fraud. The falsified coins are those which although they are authentic and genuine coins have been made by the art of the falsifier to present a different appearance from that which they originally wore by changing the name or the portrait or some other important point.
38. Forged coins. —Among the forged coins are some which do not deceive any except the most inexperienced, such as certain "specimens: some libral Asses tor example, wit" '•"r>thf*r crt"r suckling the little ones, or with the head of Romulus, of Ancus Marcius, or any bronze coins of Julius Casar with the motto VJiNI VIDI V1C1, of Otho with ADLOCVl'IO or any other legend, of Hadrian with the legend EXPEDlTlO IVDAICA, and many other coins. Especially numerous are some large brass coins of the early Empire which may easily be recognized, by the holes on the surface, to have been cast, although every one knows that they ought to have been struck. Among easily recognised forgeries may be mentioned especially the coins in silver reproduced by galvanic processes, which may be readily detected by the join round the edge, it being understood that by this process the two faces of the coin are reproduced separately and afterwards soldered together. There ate however some coins which need all the skill of a good connoisseur to distinguish the true from the false. This is true to such an extent that there is not a museum in Europe which has not been more or less infested with false coins, and 1 suppose that this is more or less the case even at the present time. One must admit that much has been learned from experience and that the practical knowledge of coins is much more thorough, more universal now than it was in the last century, so that certain forgeries which deceived many eminent numismatists in times past, as for example those of Becker, are now so well known that they no longer deceive a moderately practised eye.