Vol­un­teers find 2,500-year-old coin col­lec­tion in drawer at English cas­tle

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - World -

LON­DON — A vast col­lec­tion of old coins from far-flung lo­ca­tions across the globe, in­clud­ing Syria and China, has been dis­cov­ered tucked away in a drawer in a cas­tle in the United King­dom.

The unique set, com­pris­ing 186 coins in to­tal, spans 25 cen­turies of his­tory, the Na­tional Trust, cus­to­di­ans of Scot­ney Cas­tle said on Satur­day, as the col­lec­tion went on show to the pub­lic for the first time.

Other coins in the col­lec­tion, dis­cov­ered at the cas­tle, lo­cated in the English county of Kent, came from closer to home, in­clud­ing a late 18th cen­tury Welsh bronze to­ken.

The Na­tional Trust said the coins were found by vol­un­teers at the cas­tle as they searched for pho­to­graphs in a study drawer.

Re­search into fam­ily di­aries in the ar­chive sug­gests the coins were amassed dur­ing the 19th cen­tury by avid col­lec­tor Ed­ward Hussey III and his son Edwy, who lived at the cas­tle.

The coin col­lec­tion reaches as far back as Ar­chaic Greece, with a sev­enth cen­tury BC piece. This sil­ver to­ken is one of the ear­li­est struck in Europe, and comes from the tiny is­land of Aegina. It fea­tures a clear de­pic­tion of a sea tur­tle, a crea­ture sa­cred to Aphrodite.

The bulk of the col­lec­tion is made up of Ro­man coins, rang­ing from the late sec­ond cen­tury BC to the late fourth cen­tury AD.

The Na­tional Trust said it was pos­si­ble that the Husseys, like many col­lec­tors, were try­ing to gather a “com­plete set” of Ro­man rulers. De­spite the difficulty of this — Ro­man suc­ces­sion was com­plex and many coins of the shorter reigns very rare — they were close to achiev­ing it.

Na­tional Trust ar­chae­ol­o­gist Nathalie Co­hen said: “We know that Ed­ward and Edwy Hussey had a great in­ter­est in col­lect­ing, but this con­sid­er­able cache of fas­ci­nat­ing coins shows just how much their in­ter­est grew into a col­lec­tion of ex­cep­tional im­por­tance. What is a mys­tery, though, is why a col­lec­tion of this cal­iber ended up at the back of a drawer.”

Ex­perts from Mu­seum of Lon­don Ar­chae­ol­ogy have been con­sulted by the Na­tional Trust and con­sider eigh­teen of the coins to be “rare” ex­am­ples.

The Mu­seum’s Ju­lian Bow­sher said: “It was a de­light, as a coins spe­cial­ist, to ex­am­ine such a sig­nif­i­cant and di­verse col­lec­tion.

“A par­tic­u­lar high­light was see­ing Ro­man coins that rarely ap­pear in Bri­tain, such as those of the third cen­tury em­per­ors Bal­bi­nus, Pupi­enus and Ae­mil­ian, none of whom ruled for more than a year.”

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