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Coins and medals

The Department of Coins and Medals embraces money in many different forms, from all parts of the world and spanning ancient to modern times, as well as medals since their origin in the Renaissance. With its rich collections and library, the department is a centre for research and teaching in numismatics.

The permanent displays of the Department of Coins and Medals are distributed across the different galleries of the museum, each in the appropriate cultural or artistic context with the objects of the other departments. The numbers in brackets give the gallery numbers used on the Museum map (view map).

Coins and Medals Gallery
Ancient Greek coins Gregg Gallery
Greek & Roman Gallery (21)
Cypriot Gallery (22)
Roman provincial, Greek, Byzantine and Medieval Islamic coins Ancient Egyptian Gallery (20)
Medieval and Renaissance coins and medals Rothschild Gallery (32)
Italian Renaissance medals Upper Marlay Gallery (6)
Italian Baroque medals Courtauld Gallery (7)
Chinese coins (Ancient and Medieval) Far East Gallery (28)
Islamic coins (Medieval and Modern) Near East Gallery (33)
Modern coins and Medals (18th-19th century) Glaisher Gallery (27) (forthcoming)

The coins on display are only a small fraction of our numismatic collection, which are in principle universal in scope, from the origins of coinage to the present day, encompassing Ancient, Medieval, Modern and Oriental coins, tokens, jetons, and paper money.

The collection of medals is essentially one of historical and art medals, rather than military or civil awards and decorations, but it includes school prize medals.

The Department also has a small collection of seal matrices and a large reference set of seal impressions.

Roughly half of the Museum's gems and cameos, those that are unmounted, are curated by the Department, which is also responsible for a vast collection of gem impressions, mainly of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The holdings are summarised by category below.

Collection Number of objects
Ancient Greek 35,000
Roman 25,500
Celtic 900
Byzantine 4,500
Pre-Islamic Iranian etc. 1,000
Islamic 7,000
Indian 12,500
Far East 9,000
Medieval, Continental 20,000
Medieval, British Isles 8,000
Modern, British Isles 12,500
Modern, European 1500-1800 6,500
Modern, World post-1800 18,000
Coin weights 150
Coin forgeries and electrotypes 1,000
Coin casts 1,000
Paper money 6,500
Credit and telephone cards 200
Tokens, jettons & toy money 11,000
Medals and plaquettes 5,600
Wax models 40
Gems and cameos 500
Seal matrices 50
Seal impressions 8,000
TOTAL c. 195,000

These totals last updated April 2008.

Visitors are welcome to consult the collections held within the Department by appointment (see Contact Us - Visiting the Department).


Associated staff

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