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Collection

Numismatics

The Medagliere (Medal Showcase) contains materials which cover an extremely large chronological range, from the first coins struck in Magna Graecia to coins of the Kingdom of the two Sicilies. The coins have been obtained by the museum both due to the acquisition of private collections and due to excavations conducted in the Vesuvian area and southern Italy.

History and formationThe Medagliere (Medal Showcase) contains materials which cover an extremely large chronological range, from the first coins struck in Magna Graecia to coins from the Kingdom of the two Sicilies. The coins have been obtained by the museum both due to the acquisition of private collections, such as the Farnese collection (which represents the first corpus of the museum collection), the Borgia Collection and the Santangelo Collection, and due to excavations conducted in the Vesuvian area and southern Italy. The section was opened to the public in 2001 and consists of six rooms. ItineraryThe first room LI illustrates the history of numismatics from its origins, linked to collecting and iconographic research, and traces its development towards the modern concept of a historical discipline. The following rooms LII – LVI trace the economic, political and social history of southern Italy and Sicily. The display follows chronological and topographic criteria and emphasises the role and different form of presentation of coins in various archaeological contexts: the display also includes hard, each with a different origin and function. The museum display seeks to focus both on the quantity and quality of the material as a reflection of the variety and richness of the collection, which is one of the largest in the world: each display case thus contains a large number of coins of each mint, showing the obverse and reverse of each type of coin using two examples of the same coin. It has been decided to include other types of material together with the coins, such as reliefs and books, in order to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the collection. Prominence is given to the Pompeian evidence which provides a snapshot of the daily circulation of cash and the productive activity of the city: in this context, besides what is perhaps the most famous exhibit in the collection, the gold medallion of Augustus (room LIII), of which no other examples are known, the museum display also contains wax tablets from the archive of Cecilius Giocondus, the relief displaying the workshop of a coppersmith, a frescoed pilaster with a scene from a fuller’s, the takings of a thermopolium (a food and wine shop), but also a safe, part of the collection of jewellery from the House of Menander, and the hoard of the administrator of the same domus: all of the exhibits represent essential pieces of evidence for a well-documented interpretation of the use and value of coinage during this period. The display continues with other rooms devoted to coinage of the late empire, the period of the barbarian invasions, the reign of Frederick II, the Middle Ages and the modern period; the display then focuses on Naples, which had various mints whose location is indicated on an information panel. The last room contains a display of medallions, large coins which were not legal tender but were struck exclusively to commemorate a historically important person or event, together with matrices and old medallion showcases (special pieces of furniture with tiny drawers made especially to contain coin collections).

Further information
Collection data
Bibliography:

Cantilena 1989a; Museo Archeologico 1994; Museo Archeologico 1999; Collezione numismatica 2001.

Location: Mezzanine floor; rooms LI-LVI