Ancient Roman coins hoard to sell at Baldwin's

Baldwin's is auctioning a portion of Roman coins from the Bishop's Wood Hoard of 1895 as part of their May 4-5 London event.

The extensive hoard was unearthed at Bishop's Wood near Ross-on-Wye, just across the Herefordshire border and within the surroundings of the Forest of Dean, UK.

Several other smaller finds of similar coins had also been found along the same route, but none as vast or as interesting as this.

It was discovered in a rough walling built against the hillside by workmen. They were in the process of repairing a road when they struck an earthenware vessel containing the coins.

The accidental strike from a pick broke the jar and scattered its contents in various directions.

Details of the hoard were first published in the 1896 edition of the Numismatic Chronicle, and also in the editorial of the Numismatic Circular in November of that year.

The extensive Bishop's Wood coins hoard

In both publications a total of 17,550 coins were listed, although a number had already been lifted and dispersed around the region by the time the coins were rescued.

Many of these coins were subsequently given to local museums and the portion now being sold by Baldwin's (containing 1,661 coins and the restored jar that contained them) has remained in the family of the original landowner since they were found in 1895.

Included with the hoard is a reprint of the article from the Numismatic Chronicle of 1896 and a reprint of "Notes on a Great Hoard of Roman Coins found at Bishop's Wood in 1895" from the Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, vol. XIX, pp. 399-420, both written by Mary Bagnall-Oakeley.

The latter also includes the author's handwritten annotations and a list, dated March 1898, of the

museums and institutions that she was aware had received portions of the hoard.

Following the revolts of the usurpers Carausius and Allectus in Britain in the late third century AD, it is likely that the area in which the hoard was found was occupied by Roman soldiers at the time the coins were deposited.

Given its size it is assumed that the Bishop's Wood Hoard formed part of a military treasure, intended as payment for the legions.

The contents of the hoard are composed almost entirely of bronze coins of the Constantinian family and we can surmise that it was deposited after AD 337 as there are many coins of Constantius II, who had received the title of Augustus in that year, included within it.

Full details of the hoard are listed in the Numismatic Chronicle article with which it will sell. The list of the original 17,550 coins, as reprinted by Baldwin's, is shown below.

In other Baldwin's news, numismatic collectors can also look forward to the auctioneer's sale of an extensive collection of Renaissance and later medals.

The sale is scheduled for May 2010. Ian Goldbart, Managing Director of Baldwin's, talked about the sale in his exclusive interview with Paul Fraser Collectibles.



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