Ancient coin collectors will soon be able to begin viewing examples
of Cornell University’s 1,500-piece ancient coin collection on the Internet.
With a grant provided by the Grants Program for Digital
Collections in Arts and Sciences, the university in Ithaca, N.Y.,
plans to catalog, scan, digitize and post online images of the entire collection.
The coins, scanned as high-quality digital images, will be paired
with rules within the image to indicate actual size, and the images
will be posted on the Internet as they are completed. Cornell
officials estimate that the project will take about two years to complete.
According to Dr. Annetta Alexandridis, assistant professor of
Classical Art and Archaeology, Department of History of Art and Visual
Studies at Cornell, the coins were “originally acquired by Cornell’s
first classical archaeologist, Alfred Emerson and his follower, Eugene
Andrews (the latter mostly focusing on Greek coins) in the period from
the late 19th century to the 1930s.”
“The most systematic contributions were made under Cornell Prof.
Frederick O. Waage (who created the Dept. of History of Art at
Cornell) between 1939 and 1964,” Alexandridis said.
The collection was originally catalogued by Professor Peter
Kuniholm and Professor Andrew Ramage with student assistance
approximately 10 to 20 years ago. As well, the late Professor Philip
Grierson identified the circa A.D. 300 Byzantine coins that are part
of the collection.
Currently, the coins are randomly stored in paper envelopes and
their information is cataloged on file cards. One goal of the project
is to organize the coins and place them in protective archival
materials as well as verify and transfer the coins’ information to the database.
Assisting Alexandridis in the endeavor will be Laura Wilke, a
master’s degree student in archaeology, who will create the metadata
for the project, including weighing and measuring the coins and
ensuring that catalog information is correct for each. Wilke will also
be charged with identifying and cataloguing approximately 300 coins
within the collection that have not yet been cataloged.
Alexandridis stated the university will consult with numismatic
experts for difficult questions related to identification and preservation.
The university has not yet established a website to allow public
viewing of the coins. “I hope we’ll be able to do this as soon as we
have made sufficient progress with digitizing,” Alexandridis said. ■