Press release from Princeton University
The Princeton University Numismatic Collection has announced the
acquisition of one of the most comprehensive collection of Sasanian
coins in private hands, that of Robert W. Schaaf, a New Jersey
resident employed in the electronics field.
For four centuries, the Sasanian Empire was the eastern neighbor of
the Roman Empire and for most of the period its adversary.
For the most part, Sasanian history is known indirectly through
Roman accounts and much later Persian sources; the material culture of
the Sasanians, mainly within the modern borders of Iran and Iraq, is
very difficult to study.
The coinage of the Sasanian Empire, however, preserves a unique
documentation of the rulers and minting cities over the centuries, and
has the potential of revealing places and periods of relatively high
and low monetary activity, which can be interpreted in terms of
military and economic phenomena.
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In the words of John Haldon, Princeton’s Shelby Cullom Davis
Professor of European History, and Director of the Mossavar-Rahmani
Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies, “The Sasanian period of
Iranian history is one in which Princeton already commands respect in
terms of faculty and research interests, and the acquisition of the
Schaaf collection will undoubtedly make a significant contribution
both by attracting international scholars and researchers as well as
through being a major stimulus to inter-disciplinary and
inter-departmental cooperation on campus.”
The Schaaf Collection has been purchased for the Princeton
University Numismatic Collection with generous support from a gift to
the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies, and
from the Friends of Princeton University Library.
Alan Stahl, Princeton’s Curator of Numismatics, notes that the 723
gold, silver, and copper coins of the Schaaf Collection were assembled
during the course of decades of specialized collecting to include
representation of rare mints and short-lived rulers.
He remarked, “The new acquisition provides a strong complement to
our existing holdings of Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic coinage to
illustrate the transformation of the monetary system of Late Antiquity
into that of the Middle Ages, the focus of an extensive research
program at Princeton.” He added, “The publication in 2014 of a
complete catalog of the Schaaf Collection by the Austrian Academy of
Sciences, written by the leading scholar on the series Nikolaus
Schindel, will greatly facilitate the integration of the new coins
with the existing Princeton collection of almost 300 coins of the
dynasty and the description and illustration of the entire Sasanian
collection on our online database.”
The Princeton University Numismatic Collection is part of the
Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Firestone Library.
Those parts of the collection already in the database can be
accessed from the Library website. Objects in the collection may be viewed
by appointment with the curator. Contact Stahl via email.