Modern and Miscellaneous Coins

In addition to its world-class medieval coin collection and impressive selection of Roman coins, the Barber Institute Coin Room also houses various selections of modern coins, a small range of Hellenistic coinage and a small but significant collection of Byzantine lead seals.

Some of these have resulted from generous donations. Others form part of the teaching collection of the Coin Room, allowing students to experience something of the range of coins which have been used historically. These include some of the earliest coins minted in ancient Greece – the beginning of coinage in the western world. There are also early and reproduction examples of Chinese coinage, representing the unique and different tradition of coinage which developed in ancient China. Reproduction dies, used for striking ancient coins, can be handled to provide an insight into the technology of coin production.

Coins provide an invaluable insight into the economic and social life of historical societies, but they also represent a modern economy in antiquities and collecting. The Barber Institute therefore also houses a small collection of modern forgeries of ancient and medieval coins. These range in quality and value and offer an important source of comparison when evaluating genuine ancient and medieval specimens. Medals are another important modern use of the coin form: nations strike medals to recognize bravery and unique events, especially in times of war. The Barber Collection contains a small range of modern medals commemorating some of the conflicts of the last two centuries.

These smaller sections of the Barber collection provide an important breadth of resources for research and teaching, but they also represent significant strength in some areas. For more information and for some of the fascinating stories related to these sections of the Barber collection see the main Modern & Miscellanea section.