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The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 38, September 18, 2022, Article 3

NEW BOOK: ARS CRITICA NUMARIA

Hadrien J. Rambach notified me of this new book on the life and work of the 'father of numismatics', Austrian classical scholar Joseph Eckhel. -Editor

Ars critica numaria book cover Ars critica numaria

Joseph Eckhel (1737-1789) and the Transformation of Ancient Numismatics

Bernhard Woytek, Daniela Williams

Published Online: 2022/09/01

ISBN 978-3-7001-8774-5
Print Edition

ISBN 978-3-7001-9184-1
Online Edition

This richly illustrated volume explores the life and work of the Austrian classical scholar Joseph Eckhel, a crucial figure in the transformation of numismatic studies into a modern discipline. Eckhel has been celebrated widely as the ‘father of numismatics' since the 19th century: still, this is the first book in the history of scholarship entirely dedicated to him.

It contains twenty-one essays by an interdisciplinary group of international authors examining various aspects of Eckhel's biography and scholarly activities: his Jesuit background, his formative study trip to Italy in 1773, his work as director of the imperial collection of ancient coins and professor of numismatics at the university of Vienna (from 1774), and especially his most important publications on ancient coins as well as on gems and cameos.

Among Eckhel's works, his eight-volume „Doctrina numorum veterum (Vienna, 1792–1798) holds a special place as his numismatic opus magnum. Furthermore, the new book considers Eckhel's impact on contemporaries and later generations, with special regard to his role in the development of numismatic methodology in the Enlightenment and beyond.

Published with support from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)

The book is available as a free open access pdf. Here's an excerpt from the opening essay. -Editor

Eckhel plate Ars critica numaria was the title Joseph Eckhel (13 January 1737 – 16 May 1798) had chosen for his groundbreaking project to publish a new systematic multi-volume work on ancient coinage. It was known under this name for quite a few years: from 1786, when Eckhel officially announced his undertaking to the République des médailles in a slim book dealing with the coinage of Antioch in Syria from Seleucid times down to Late Antiquity, until the late autumn of 1791, the year before the first volume appeared, when Eckhel himself thus referred to his work in a letter to his student Georg Zoëga. In the end, however, Eckhel changed his mind and opted for the title under which his magnum opus became famous from 1792 onwards: Doctrina numorum veterum.

The reasons for this surprising U-turn can only be guessed at. In any case, it resulted in a paradox: the title that, at least to the modern reader, seems to best encapsulate the spirit of Eckhel's work, created in the period that Kant famously called Zeitalter der Critik,3 was not used for it in the end. Hence, I thought it fitting to name this collected volume – the first book ever to focus on Eckhel's contribution to numismatics and classical scholarship in general – after the long-standing working title of the Doctrina.

To read the complete book online, see:
https://austriaca.at/0xc1aa5576_0x003da939.pdf

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON JOSEPH ECKHEL A SUCCESS (https://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v18n30a23.html)

HLRC E-Sylum ad 2022-09-18 Lesher Dollar



Wayne Homren, Editor

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The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address: whomren@gmail.com

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