Ursula Kampmann has published another wonderfully illustrated article in this week's issue of Coins Weekly. This one is on one of my favorite numismatic places, the Coin Cabinet of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England. I visited one weekend during while living and working in London in 2007. My gracious host was Ted Buttrey, who spent the better part of a Saturday showing me around. Here are some brief excerpts and a couple image from the article. Check out the full version - it's a must-read for numismatists everywhere.
In 1860, the famous topographer and archaeologist William Martin Leake bequeathed his coin collection to the museum for the modest sum of 5,000 Pounds.
The money could have been taken from the building funds – a member of the museum advisory board, however, strongly protested against that. His opponent became the archaeologist Churchill Babington who campaigned for the purchase in a booklet. He was a visionary and envisaged that an active coin cabinet would attract further private collections.
Coin Cabinet in the Shape of a Vase!
Leake‘s collection is stored in a place separated from the other coins until the present day. The wooden caskets in which some private collections came into the museum are real beauties that contribute to the distinctive atmosphere of the museum's study rooms.
Anyone fond of nostalgia will find in the Fitzwilliam Museum the typical feature of all coin cabinets of earlier days: a unity of collection, library and research. By the look at the cramped place, with the work stations in a localized manner, the visitor might find it hard to believe that Cambridge is the world's leading research center for medieval numismatics.
Ted Buttrey, Keeper of the Coins from 1988 until 1991, likewise made good use of his "retirement" to turn the Fitzwilliam Museum into a center of research: he collected auction catalogues and was especially fond of those pieces others toss away. He intends to document the entire material available on the market. In 2009, Ted Buttrey was able to celebrate his 45,000th catalogue!
Apart from that, the cheerful scholar has become a distribution center. Universities and museums all over the world provide him with checklists of missing auction catalogues. Ted Buttrey sends his duplicate copies. The postal charges he pays out of his own pocket.
Anyone who doesn't have an immediate chance to visit the Fitzwilliam Museum ought to have a look at the excellent internet presentation. Some of the special exhibitions are digitally documented there.
To read the complete article, see:
Medieval times in focus – the Coin Cabinet in the Fitzwilliam Museum / Cambridge
To read my diary entry for the Fitzwilliam, see:
WAYNE'S LONDON DIARY 22 JULY, 2007
To visit the Fitzwilliam Coin Cabinet web page, see:
THE BOOK BAZARRE
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