Sunday, August 10, 2008

Morton & Eden to sell 38,000 Hispanic Society coins

Peter Tompa comments upon Matthew Russell Lee's Inner City Press story on the upcoming sale of Archer Huntington's 38,000-strong collection of Hispanic coins.

The Hispanic Society's paintings make it worth a visit no matter what happens with the coins. (There are some mediocre ancient coins on display at the museum as well.)

I will be very grateful if Morton & Eden's catalog of the coins includes photographs of all 38,000 specimens — but somehow I doubt it. I expect unphotographed group lots for the non-star pieces. More important than the break up of the collection is the loss of the chance to photograph it. 38,000 photographs with Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike licenses could have done a lot for future scholars. I don't think the ANS asked its membership to consider the desirability of contributing to such a project. It's possible the Hispanic Society did (or that it's being done anyway by Morton & Eden or out of a general fund.)


Cultural Property Observer said...

Ed- It is my understanding that over 30,0000 of the coins have already been photographed, but evidently the Court ordered the ANS to turn over the images to the Hispanic Society as part of it's construction of the original loan agreement. God only knows if the Hispanic Society will preserve these images after they sell off the collection and, as you point out, I highly doubt the catalogue will include a large percentage of the images.

Best wishes,


Ed Snible said...

Did the court order the ANS to give the images and exclusive rights to images to The Hispanic Society? Or merely to let the HSA use images taken by ANS photographers?

Two HSA coins are online via the ANS Magazine: the gold 8 escudos that was exhibited at the American Museum of Natural History and a Spanish escudo.

I remember reading in Michael Bates' magazine column that Huntington put a condition on the collection that it not be illustrated. Is it usual for a donor to make that kind of condition? What would motivate it?