The Princeton University Numismatic collection comprises the largest and most comprehensive collection of coins, medals, tokens, decorations, and paper money of any teaching institution in the United States. In addition to the basic collection of Princeton University Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections, it includes the numismatic holdings of the Princeton University Art Museum, the Department of Near Eastern Studies, and the Antioch Excavations. While we continue to acquire individual pieces to build our collection for teaching, exhibition, and research, the strongest areas derive from the acquisition of collections that have been built over the course of decades by dedicated and expert individual collectors. Featured in the Welcome Additions exhibition are six such collections, acquired by gift, bequest, and purchase over the past few years.
Three collections of coinage have helped us build areas of strength beyond the Greek and Roman collections that have been the heart of our holdings. The Robert Schaaf collection of Sasanian coins has given us world-class strength in the coinage of the eastern neighbor of the Roman Empire. The acquisition of the Peter Donald collection of over 5,000 Byzantine coins has made us one of the preeminent collections in the world of the coinage of the successor to the Roman Empire. The bequest of the Benjamin Bell collection of gold ducats and their imitations makes ours the strongest collection worldwide for this important, but little studied, late medieval monetary phenomenon.
Robert Ross has followed up on his extraordinary series of gifts of Latin American decorations with pieces that illustrate the foundation of the system of orders of early modern Europe (shown on page 28). The Henry Morris collection of commemorative medals related to printing ties in with the holdings of other collections within the Library, as does the recent purchase of a complete set of paper money containing the image of the grouse that was the first published bird illustration by John James Audubon.
Numismatics Collections Highlights