Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I was once, back in high school, subjected to an incredibly boring lecture on ancient coins, and since then my automatic reaction has been to flee from numismatists and their dull obsessions, as the Ceryneian Hind did from Hercules.

However, I've had to revise my prejudices slightly. On my trip last year I was captured by the detail and expression which could be found on the faces of many of the coins which could be seen in the museums. At the risk of becoming boring myself, here are a few of the most striking, all from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

I the think the one of Vespasian is my favourite. He's such an ugly man, and the coin has captured the grumpiness of this fat old man perfectly. The skinny-necked Caesar is also interesting - he looks a lot more frail (and perhaps even a bit nerdy) than the stern-looking busts you see much more often.

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