Money Makes the World Go ‘Round: Ancient Greek Coin

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Obverse of Ancient Greek silver coin
Obverse side of Silver Phoenicia Aradus, 4th C BCE, silver, Accession #1937.0483.000005

At the beginning of this year, I came across an article in the Virginian Pilot that discussed a coin collection held at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras, NC. All of the coins, 55 in total, were found on the beaches of the Outer Banks by a couple who visited the barrier islands starting around 1940. Impressively, some of the coins are over 2,000 years old and come from Ancient Greece and Rome. My mind raced – I immediately wondered if our own museum held similar coins.

To say I was surprised would be an understatement. We have more than a few coins from the ancient world, some of which are in excellent condition like the silver piece above. On this coin that is well over 2300 years old, we see a floating galley on the reverse and a curious figure on the obverse. Some records of similar coins from the Phoenician city of Arados label their male figure as Poseidon, or sometimes Zeus, but these are Greek deities.   Read more

An Ode to Silver, or, Silver: A Story of Love, Betrayal, and Triumph

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Hello, reader, it’s me!

What’s in a name? That which we call silver by any other name would be as difficult to photograph. Look, when someone brings you what is, effectively, a mirror and asks you to take a photograph of it a few things will likely run through your head. I won’t list them here because it involves some cursing. Don’t despair, however, all you need are some basic physics.

Yup, physics.   Read more

Artifact of the Month – Commonwealth Model

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5.1.3

This month’s artifact is one of my favorite pieces in the collection.  It is a music box model of the steamboat Commonwealth.

Commonwealth was built in 1854-1855 by Lawrence & Foulkes in Greenpoint, Long Island, NY for the Norwich and New London Steamboat Company.  She was built for service between New York and Connecticut, and was commanded by Captain Jerome Wheeler Williams until 1864.  In 1860 she was acquired by the Stonington Line, and then by the Merchants Navigation and Transportation Company in 1863.  December 29, 1865, a fire at the wharf where Commonwealth was docked caused the ship to be destroyed by flames.   Read more